When my children were younger and I went on work trips, some of the most exciting gifts I could bring home for them were the free hotel soaps and bottles of shampoo. These simple objects brought my kids so much joy. They would fill the bathtub with “magic potions” concocted from the colourful little bottles of shampoo and bath wash that dad had brought home.
When I travel now shampoo and soap don’t quite cut it anymore. My children are much older and far more interested in a block of chocolate from Haigh’s or a gift which is much more elaborate!
What is it about the bottles of shampoo – and now the chocolate – that elicited so much happiness? I don’t think it had anything to do with the gift as such.
What I think my kids loved was the fact I cared enough to remember them and bring something home.
Even when I’d been in another part of the country or world, they knew I’d been thinking about them. In other words, the gift symbolised thoughtfulness, an interest in them even when they weren’t there. It showed I cared.
As leaders, we often take for granted the people that work with us and the teams we have built. Sometimes we don’t think about “bringing home the small gifts” that let our people know we care. Regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, we need to make sure our teams know we value them, care for them and want the best for them.
This reminds me of a wise saying I was taught as a young man, and that is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s a rule I’ve tried to apply in all areas of my life – especially when I’ve had the opportunity to lead or manage people.
As leaders, we want our people to grow and develop. It’s how our teams remain happy, efficient and productive. But unless we are thoughtful and mindful of our teams, we’ll never truly understand them. Importantly, we’ll never know what opportunities they require and desire.
This is an important point. For people to be interested in gaining specific knowledge, skills or experience; they need to be invested in it, they need to want it. Our ability to understand what our teams require and desire is what allows them to acquire what it is they truly need.
What gifts do you bring to your team?
As a leader, what thoughtful gifts do you bring to your team members daily to let them know you care?
Now, I’m not talking just about “things” here. The gifts I’m talking about are opportunities and conversations they can be involved in, so they may grow and develop. What do they require and desire? What can you enable?
Recently, I read a blog post by business storytelling expert Yamini Naidu. In this post, she reflected on the tragedy of the commons, which is when people act in self-interest over the common good. As leaders, we can work to prevent a tragedy of the commons happening in our teams, our workplace and in our home by showing them how much we care.
Often, it’s the little things that are most important.
Here are some simple yet effective ways you can demonstrate to your teams you care:
- Make time for them. Have regular conversations with your team members. Interact with them and get to know them.
- Be interested. Show a genuine interest in their hobbies, families and lives outside of work. Show you appreciate them as workers and as people.
- Provide opportunities. Ensure all team members have the opportunity for training, learning and new experiences.
- Trust them. Give your employees autonomy to make their own decisions, so they have ownership over their work.
- Treat them. A surprise lunch, morning tea or happy hour is a great way to show your team members you appreciate them.
- Say thank you. Recognise and praise people’s hard work. It shows you’ve been paying attention.
There are lots of ways to demonstrate to your team how much you value and appreciate them. When they know how much you care, they will connect with you and work to support you in your journey as you work to support them in theirs. They will never let you into their worlds until they know you care.
I’d love to hear how you show your people how much you care?
Be kind, be well, be true, be you.