It was a busy day at the plant and I was feeling particularly pressed for time. The quarterly service awards were to be presented that afternoon but there was no time in my day for such trivial things. I’m a busy man in a busy food manufacturing plant and after all, my boss has time for that sort of thing. Not only did I have deadlines quickly approaching, I also needed to spend my time on the production floor driving improvements. I quickly checked my e-mail for any critical messages and made my way to production for my first plant walk through of the day. Everything was going well so I started walking back towards my office and our HR Manager caught up with me. Susan was always good to work with but was bringing news I didn’t want to hear. “You know that the Plant Manager is out today, right? He wants you to present the service awards this afternoon.” Grrrrr. I managed to suppress my first reaction and mustered my best, “I’d love to” though I doubt it was very convincing.
There was still several hours before the service awards yet I knew the day would slip by quickly and thought I’d better prepare right away. Dale Carnegie teaches 30 HR principles including 9 principles for enhancing relationships. Principle 2 is to give honest, sincere appreciation. Principle 9 is to make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The service awards ceremony was the perfect opportunity to give sincere appreciation to those receiving the awards. I took some time to think through what I sincerely appreciated about each of the recipients. There was one recipient that was going to be easy to praise. John was a model employee who was moving up the ranks and was taking classes at the local college. I started with what I would say about John then moved on to the other recipients.
I have my thoughts together and decided to get back into the plant. The rest of the day flies by and it’s time for the service awards before I know it. I was glad that I prepared earlier in the day. I present the awards and express sincere appreciation for each of the honorees. As it turns out, presenting the awards wasn’t that bad and really didn’t take too much time. I felt like I made it through the ceremony OK and was eager to get back to work.
A week goes by and one early morning we are having some issues with our auxiliary equipment. I happen to see John as we are both heading back to the dock to check it out. John brought up the service award and thanked me for honoring him. He was so excited that on his way home he bought flowers and champagne to celebrate with his wife. I was floored. All I did was express sincere appreciation and that young man was feeding off every word. You cannot believe how happy I was that I had the privilege to present his award. I was even happier that I took the opportunity seriously.
Let me challenge you today. Who do you know that you sincerely appreciate? Who do you know that does little things well? Who do you know in a less than glamorous job that does it every day with little recognition and without complaint? Let them know that you noticed and you care. You’ll make their day, and feel better about yourself. Expressing sincere appreciation builds relationships and makes you a better leader.