When a Rubberband Means More Than You Realize

Kayla Cruz of Gen Y Girl is a young twenty-something who has made her mark in the digital world by sharing her personal experiences in a way that’s both moving and enlightening. In one of her recent blogs, she recounts the story of attending the memorial service for the Director of one of the departments of the company where she works.

Since the company had arranged the service, she decided to go, despite not knowing the person being honored very well. She describes him as “the happy guy I’d wave to every time I saw him in our cafeteria.” When she stepped into the auditorium where the memorial was to be held, she found herself impressed by the sheer number of people who had come to pay their respects. The experience was incredibly moving for her. From the words spoken about him by those who knew, to the outpouring of respect, she wished she had taken the opportunity to get to know this man better while he was alive.

According to their stories, he wasn’t the sort of man who was pretentious, he didn’t have a management style that made others feel inferior. In fact, the truth was quite the opposite. The director would start meetings by inquiring after his employee’s families, and be generally interested in their lives. This is because, and this shouldn’t be surprising but it is, he actually cared about them. It’s remarkable how many people in management really don’t.

Cruz also mentions something odd happening during the service. The ushers passed out two rubberbands to each attendee, requesting that each wear them on their wrists. The employees who knew him best explained that the Director used to wear rubberbands on his own wrists, “just in case someone needed one.” He made it his personal mission to anticipate others’ needs, and to provide whatever was needed as soon as or before it came to his attention.

This was how people remembered him, not as a man who was a “good manager” or “highly educated” or someone who drove a nice car, but as someone who made people laugh, who made them feel loved, who made them feel appreciated. He was the sort of person who made people feel like they mattered. Because of that, he mattered to them.

Many people in leadership positions feel that to be recognized in the company they have to do great business things – increase profit margins, acquire large client portfolios, have the most successful sales calls – and sure this is all part of it; but when it comes down to making a positive impact on people, whether they’re customers or employees, there’s something fundamentally more important to focus on. How you treat them is what matters most.

Read the full story from Gen Y Girl at Lostgenygirl.com

At every school, company, and organization where I was employed (especially as I was “learning the ropes”), I can think of at least one person who reached out and said an encouraging word, pointed me in the right direction, or took a supportive interest. Those moments still stand out in my mind vividly: Terry Dwyer helped me see the invisible guard rails of my first teaching job at a small boarding school in NH. When Ken Blackney returned his review of the first article I submitted for publication, it looked like it was hemorrhaging, but actually contained very helpful suggestions to improve clarity and address larger issues. Fred Bockman at Apple pointed out in my first meeting, about 2 months in on the job where I was working remotely from the majority of the team, that my project work was saving them from spending about $80,000 with an outside firm. I’m so glad that I was open to their influence and recognized their contributions in time to thank them in person. It makes a difference.

What have you done recently to make others feel appreciated? Has there ever been a time in your life when someone took the time to make you feel important? What impact did that have?

 

Photo Credit: EEPROM Eagle at en.wikipedia