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Dec 12, 2014

You’re running late to work.

Maybe you’re going a tad bit too fast. You look up and — oh, no! — you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

What goes through your mind at this moment? Does your stomach jump into your throat? Do you think, “Not now. I don’t have the time! I’m already late.” Or perhaps, “Not this time of year. The budget’s already tight for Christmas presents. I can’t pay a speeding ticket, too!

A little gratitude to lighten the holiday load

I imagine that was the experience for many of the people in this video – an effort by local police to brighten the holidays for motorists in Lowell, MI.

Officer Scot VanSokema pulled over motorists for minor traffic violations that might not have warranted a traffic stop. He engaged them in conversation, casually asking about top gifts on their Christmas lists. Then colleagues listening in from a nearby store quickly raced to buy the items and bring them to the motorists.

A dark, worrisome moment, quickly turned into a positive, happy interaction – actions such as this are particularly important at this time of year which, for many, can be quite stressful.

An opportunity to say thanks at work

The same is true at work. Think about the boss calling an employee into the office saying, “John, can you spare a quick minute? I have something to discuss with you privately.”

Even in the best of relationships, there’s likely some measure of trepidation with a request like that. Perhaps John is thinking, “I wonder if I didn’t do a thorough enough job on that last project.” Or “No, I don’t have a quick minute. I’m slammed over here! How can you not see how busy I am?”

What a great opportunity for the boss to share a deeply personal and sincere message of appreciation and praise. Think how John might feel if he hears from the boss, something like this:

John, I wanted to take a moment to pause in our hectic schedules and tell you how much I appreciate your dedication and commitment to excellence in everything you do. I know how busy you are. I see the hours you’re working and the quality deliverables you’re turning in. I very much appreciate your work and generally positive attitude. What can I do to help?”

Showing how much they care

Which brings us back to the video; did you watch it through to the very end? The last screen shows this message:

While we don’t encourage minor traffic violations, it’s important for police departments to take the time to show their citizens just how much they care.”

That’s valuable advice for all of us. Just twist it slightly in your workplace to something like: “It’s important for leaders to take the time to show their employees how much they care.”

Actually, that’s too limiting. We can all make the day brighter for others. So perhaps a good reminder for us all is:

It’s important for everyone to take the time to show their colleagues how much they care.”

What have you done to show your colleagues you care? What’s something special someone has done for you?

This was originally published on the Recognize This! blog.

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