If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you may have noticed the emphasis I place on investing in those you lead. Investing in your people is crucial to the success of any company or organization, and it also creates a successful, well rounded culture. Investing in people is the most important action leaders should perform. As Todd Whitaker states, “It is people, not programs, that determine the quality of any organization.”
People are the life force to any organization. I worked retail for numerous years, and we were told to invest into each customer, because they are the ones that determine if we have a job or not. At the time, I agreed with what I was told. Today, I don’t necessarily disagree with the statement, but what I have learned is that the more management and leadership invested in me, the more I wanted to invest into the customers. If leadership was aloof, not present, or only communicated with me on things that I was doing wrong, my desire to do better for the company, work harder for the company, and help the company become more successful was little to none.
In a previous post, I mentioned the time I had a manager show me what true investment in employees looked like and how it made me feel. As a young man of 16 years old, still getting used to the idea of what work really was and the responsibilities that went with it, I was working as a busser in a restaurant. I didn’t have meaning or a purpose at work. I just came in, did my time, and waited for the paycheck. One day, as I was cleaning a table, my manager was standing off to the side and watching me. She came over and told me to watch what she did. She took my towel and started to bus the table. Mind you, she wasn’t really dressed to get messy, as she was the manager and face of the restaurant. Nevertheless, she got in the ketchup, water puddles, and used plates like it was nothing. She quickly got the table done, turned to me and said, “You are one of the most important people in this place. You are the person that prepares the table for the customer. Without you, customers would not have a place to sit, eat, and enjoy themselves. Make sure you remember that and show it in how you bus and prepare the table.”
There were a myriad of ways she could have handled my lack of work ethic, if that’s what it was called. She could have told me to do better. She could have pulled me into the office and chastised me. She even could have berated me in front of customers and fellow employees. But she didn’t do any of that. Instead, she took the time to invest in me by showing me what my job is and by expressing how important I am to the company and the customer. Needless to say, the way I did tables changed from then on out, and after a month, I was promoted to head trainer for all bussers.
Another example of leadership investing into their people is how they communicate with them. How many of you have been “called into the office” for a conversation? I know I have many times. Some of those conversations are difficult to have and may possibly get heated, others may be just to share information. Either way, the moment you have been called to the office, an uneasy feeling sets in. It’s like walking into a dark cave not knowing what you might run into.
Leaders, there is a much better way to have “conversations” with your team. First, go to them. Have conversations with them on their turf. Walk into their office and sit in front of their desk rather than having to be behind the desk. If they work in a warehouse, pull them aside to the lunch room or some place neutral on the production floor. The point is, go to them. Show them that they are important enough to get out of your office and your comfort zone.
The bottom line is your team should be the most important thing to you as a leader. The more you invest into them, the more your company, organization, department, classroom, etc. will thrive and succeed. Investing in people is about speaking truth into their life. It means you show them their value to the company/organization. It means you take the time to meet them where they are at and make time for them. When people feel valued, they feel a sense of worth and pride in themselves and their job, ultimately having a positive impact on the company and those around them.
- Invest in your people. As Todd Whitaker wrote, “It is people, not programs, that determine the quality of any organization.”
- The more you invest in your people, the more successful your company/organization will be.
- Go to your people. Don’t make them come to you.
- Express to your people the value they bring to the company/organization.
- Speak life into the lives of your team. Be someone who encourages, listens, and supports their people.
As always, stay humble and serve well.