Last week my blog focused on the top five gifts your staff wants for the holidays. I was recently reminded of the importance of these gifts via a heartfelt conversation with a dear friend who works for a small, family-run manufacturing business. She is not in the upper echelon of the company, nor is she one of the production staff. She works in the office handling ten thousand responsibilities as is typical of that variety of company. She enjoys her job and believes in giving it a one hundred percent effort. But, she is also often taken aback by the owner’s lack of acknowledgment of the production staff. Here is the story she conveyed to me:
My boss, the owner of our company, is generally a nice guy who treats the office staff and managers pretty good. He supplies us with special occasion treats, incentive bonuses, and necessary flex hours. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t do the same for the production employees. You know, without them we wouldn’t have a company. We only have 35 employees and he doesn’t even know all of their names and doesn’t care to know them. He doesn’t seem to connect to them at any level. For example, last summer I wanted to have a barbecue for the guys on the floor. Just to let them know how much we appreciated their hard work. We had extra money in petty cash and I was willing to do the food shopping and cooking. I had one hour for my lunch break and the shop guys had a half hour. I would get everything prepared during the first half hour of my break and have them enjoy the food and conversation during the second half. They wouldn’t have missed any time away from work and it just would have been nice for everyone to get together. My boss could have joined us and gotten to know his employees a bit better. But, when I asked him for the okay to do this, I was told no. And, he couldn’t give me one good reason why. I was really upset by his response and still think about it today. I don’t understand his elitist attitude and I don’t think it’s fair.
As I listened to her tell her story I though what a great leader she would be. She wanted to give back a little something to the long-ignored production workers and bring her boss into the fold, and was astute enough to consider the impact of time away from production. But what struck me most of all was what she understood about giving. She understood that by giving, even a little, the company would get a lot. She understood that her employer needed to spend time with and acknowledge his employees, that by doing so the employees could feel more a part of the company. They would become more than just a “number”. They could become a team, working as a whole. What a gift that would have been!
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