4 June 2019 / Read Comments / By: Andrew
The Trifecta (Part One) When you decide to ‘leave’ the building, what is it you’ll leave behind?
Over the past couple of years I have watched a good number of former work colleagues take redundancy packages from the company where we had been employed. One such person was a frontline Manager I’ll call John, mainly because that’s his actual name. John’s decision to vacate his position and the building after 35 years of loyal service was tempered by excitement for him and more than a little envy by those he was leaving behind. In particular it was a great tribute to John that so many people turned out to wish him well. However, as I listened to John and other retirees talk about how they was planning to spend their spare time, I also couldn't help feeling a sense of sadness that those staying put were losing many good people, confidantes and friends. It reminded me of the important role people make in creating great places to work.
You see, far removed from John's employment record, his behavioural profile and key performance indicators, were the ‘actual’ things he brought to the company. These things can be both difficult to explain and understand by way of a score or performance rating. In fact, those lucky enough to work with John learned some valuable lessons from him that don’t show up or can be implemented through traditional assessment methods.
For example, we learnt that John looked after his customers and his staff because he wanted to. He enjoyed it. He made the most of conversations. Not because he was told to, or because his position description said that was his job. John also didn’t spend a lot of time reading his position description! Instead he created his own job in many ways: one that had a positive and meaningful impact.
We learnt that he was popular to work with, not because he was a soft touch, but because he was considered fair and reasonable and approachable. If he needed to correct performance it was because someone’s performance wasn’t up to scratch. Usually the other person knew this too and corrected it before John needed to because they respected him.
Speaking of respect, he received plenty from his colleagues because of his honest approach and his genuine interest and concern for them, rather than because of his title, position or the size of the consequences he could hand out.
Not surprisingly customers enjoyed their interactions with John too. They respected his decisions even if they didn’t necessarily agree with them because he involved them, valued them and kept them informed.
John made his work place a better place for everyone because of what he did - his actions, rather than his rank and role.
The time he put aside to directly listen and engage others, the calm approach he used to defuse conflict, or the quiet confidence he demonstrated that made you feel everything would be all right when it wasn’t, defined his career. Above all else it was ‘what he did with what he had’ that in my opinion was the greatest key to his leadership. Importantly these keys aren’t just John’s. They’re available to everyone, including you.
So it’s with this story I encourage you to renovate, even remodel your building...your work place. Don't wait for others to do it. Do it with your humour, your compassion or your interest in others. Use the simple power of your smile, your stories, your courage to stand up for what you believe in, your confidence, your knowledge, personality, imagination…whatever!
Don't be someone who occupies the building. Be someone who shapes it! Respect the people who came before you, by remembering their unique contributions, hard work and determination to keep the renovation going. If you were shown how to do it, then offer the newer occupants the same gifts.
The memories you will leave aren't because of your title or position. In fact it makes little difference at all. What you do with your ability to influence and encourage others while you are still there is where it’s at.
Do you help others when times are tough, make them laugh, make their day (not Dirty Harry style) or listen when they need someone to talk to? Do they feel better for having spent a little time with you or are they just waiting to celebrate when you take the redundancy cheque and move on?
It is people that will always make the difference. People like you. Take a moment to ask yourself what difference you will create. What will be remembered about you? Will it be good or bad or indifferent? Will you be remembered at all? Will your friends and colleagues take a little of what you gave them and perhaps even incorporate your best qualities into their professional and personal lives?
In the end I guess we can treat our time at work like any relationship. We can consider it as a wonderful thing that we enjoy, learn and benefit from, or a prison sentence that has to be served until we've done our time. That’s everyone’s individual choice to make.
John's greatest attributes and accomplishments were found in his people skills and interestingly they are the very reasons that, despite him taking retirement, he never actually ‘leaves’ the building. Instead his influence can still be found everywhere. From how he treated others, to how he handled himself and how he shaped a business. John has left a legacy just as rich in his absence, as it was in his presence.
So take a moment to consider this question: When you ‘leave’ the building, what is it you will leave behind?