By: Kevin Lowry
My oldest son Christian was born with a gift for fixing stuff. Anything, really. So while he lived at home, he was our home improvement guru, plumber, and handyman. Even more important, he inherited the computer gene from my Dad — a gene that completely skipped me. When the wireless network went down, or we experienced various and sundry computer problems, Christian was our go-to guy. So that’s a good thing, right? Christian contributed to the family’s needs, learned a bunch of valuable skills in the process, and gained some personal satisfaction through having his talents appreciated by the rest of us.
Then he moved out.
After he left, we struggled. Christian received many phone calls, pleading with him to fix the latest computer glitch. His talents shone through with greater intensity than ever as we recognized how integral he had been to our daily lives. Not only did we miss him, we were bereft of our fixit guy. In the workplace, we often find that the same thing happens when a colleague leaves the organization. Sometimes, we appreciate people most after they leave. One of the drivers of organizational achievement is simple: effective teamwork. It’s matching shared purpose with diverse talents. Regardless of whether you’re a Fortune 100 global enterprise, or a sole proprietor who outsources certain functions, teams are capable of doing great things. Teams of people. People who like to be appreciated.
So here’s the challenge: next chance you get, express appreciation for someone else on your team. Pay her a sincere compliment, send him a short note of encouragement, buy him a cup of coffee, whatever. Don’t wait until they leave the organization to let them know you appreciate their efforts. This actually accomplishes multiple purposes — it increases employee retention, builds teamwork, and meets the very human needs to belong, and feel valued. A timely compliment can have a powerful impact on our co-workers — and our relationships. From a spiritual perspective, it also recognizes God-given gifts being put to good use, and affirms the individual’s value and dignity as a person.
So how did things with Christian turn out? Well, he became an information technology professional. The family still struggles, but his talents, along with those of his long-time buddy and business partner Michael Aquilina, are responsible for the existence of this web site.