• Bruce Malcom

The Art of Caring

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

One way to a build stronger organization and to put your municipality on the right path to success is to let them know you care. But how can you demonstrate genuine care?  It’s an ART.

Here are three simple ways to do it:

Affirm them. Request their opinion Take a genuine interest (ask about their families).

Affirm them: If you have travelled in the United States in the past few years, you have likely experienced something heart-warming that many of our American friends do very well. I have noted with admiration when the many soldiers I see are greeted by appreciative countrymen who offer a “thank you for your service”. It makes me feel good just to hear it, and I’m just an observer … imagine how the recipient feels!  Wouldn’t it be a great thing if you regularly remembered to thank your staff … the “soldiers of your municipality” … for their service to you and the people of your community?

If you’re like me, you may not even be aware that you don’t regularly express the specific gratitude you feel toward the people that matter the most. Too often, we assume they know how much we appreciate them and fail to express it in a meaningful and timely way.

In addition to saying thank you, you could also write a note in recognition of their contribution to the municipality. As business guru Tom Peters says, “…Kindness is FREE … never forget why you are here.”

Staff who get recognized for their efforts are a lot more likely to put in the extra effort again in the future … perhaps at a time when it will really matter. So, go ahead, take a chance and affirm the men and women in your organization who really deserve it by writing a note and just watch them respond in positive ways!

Now, just in case you are imagining getting writers cramp writing all those letters, you need to know it doesn’t take much … just a few thoughtful words. Go ahead – affirm a member of your staff for their enthusiasm or a well-thought-out solution to a problem. What about a respectful attitude you noticed, or a good decision made? How about their efforts to keep the peace around the office, not to mention the way they handled a situation with a difficult taxpayer? These are all ways to let employees know you couldn’t have done it without them.

Request their opinion 

When staff feel listened to and heard, they feel important and respected. Those who are allowed to have meaningful input into the organization feel attached and valued.   Something as simple as an employee survey will let people know you really care about what they think. Another great way to demonstrate care is to actually do something about what you hear. According to researcher Frederick Herzberg, who studied human behaviour 50 years ago: “When people feel valued, they will behave in extraordinary ways.”

Take a genuine interest 

Don’t be like Cliff, a guy I worked for many years ago, who once told me after I arrived late one morning due to a tough family situation that I would have to “make a choice between my family and my career”! Honest … he actually confronted me with that demand … and in all sincerity! That’s probably when I made up my mind to leave.

A month or so later, as the end of my last day with the company was drawing to a close, Cliff invited me into his office for what we used to call an exit interview. He asked me, in all sincerity, why I was leaving. “What went wrong?” he asked. So, I told him. “Cliff, the best way I can think to tell you what went wrong is by asking you three questions. First, what’s my wife’s name?

He really was wondering now, completely flummoxed, and very likely sorry he had asked what went wrong. But, he soldiered on, once again demonstrating he really didn’t have a clue. “I don’t get it,” he said, “what does any of that have to do with why you are leaving?”

Care! Don’t just pretend. Always make sure that you are genuinely interested in employees and their lives, and make sure they know it.

“I dunno,” he offered with a puzzled look on his face. “Okay, Cliff what are my three kids names? Once again, the puzzled look. “And finally, Cliff, what’s my dog’s name?”

My answer? “Well, Cliff, your wife’s name is Linda. Your kids are Jimmy, Melissa and Karen, and your dog’s name is Ginger”.

I’m not sure but I imagine poor old Cliff is still scratching his head trying to figure it all out!


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