Hello! Good Morning! How are you today?
Did you know these three phrases can start the morning right for you and for everyone you meet on the way into your office? As a manager of even a small team, these words can make a big difference.
My coauthor of Discretionary Effort Leadership, Douglas Ross, discovered these three phrases when he worked for a short time as a security guard.
After being hired by a high tech company, he was told that his security job duties required him to say hello to everyone who entered the building for work every morning. At this company about 300 people would arrive between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. in the morning.
Dutifully, when the first people walked through the door at 6:29 am, he said, “Hello.” He soon became bored just saying hello in a monotone, mechanical voice. He changed it up by saying “Good Morning” and sometimes added, “How are you today?”
Then he became aware of their body language and noticed the mood they were expressing. At about person 75, he decided to test his perception of their moods. If they looked sad, he said good morning in a soft and reassuring tone of voice. When they looked happy, he mirrored happiness. He received many a blank stare, a grunt, a simple nod of recognition or was totally ignored.
However, as he matched their mood, he began smiling and the more he smiled, the more people smiled back, proving the old saying that when you give a smile away, it always comes back to you.
His words and smile changed from mechanical and rote to genuine and warm. If there was a short lag in people coming in, he would ask the arriving worker about their drive in. Many stopped to talk for a brief second to explain about the traffic, their lack of sleep or to express “I sure hope this will be a good day.”
Doug perceived that the very simple task of greeting the company employees with a positive attitude helped them leave the annoyances of getting to work at the door. He realized that the little job of saying good morning was an important start to their day even though they would not remember it by the time they made it to the 14th floor. Doug told me, “I felt I was making a difference in their day.”
Just as a security guard can make a difference in a worker’s day, you as a manager can help get the day off to a good start for your employees. Here are some suggestions:
- If the number of employees is not prohibitive, greet them as they get their coffee or soon after they settle in at their desk.
- Ask if there is a block you can remove to enable them to complete their work on time. This is also a gentle reminder of an approaching deadline.
- As time permits create rapport by asking about their family, pets or leisure activities of the evening before.
If you are in separate buildings or your team works remotely send them a quick email first thing in the morning reporting a piece of good news or giving them an uplifting quote.
I knew a manager who would rotate through his employees and each day he would send one of them a short congratulatory or thank you note. The short email brightened the day for the employee and put them on the path to positive productivity.
As Doug greeted each employee he moved from the basic requirement of the job, saying hello, to giving discretionary effort or going beyond the stated job description.
As a manager, greeting your employees or team is probably not in your job description; at least I’ve never had a job description that included that request. By greeting your employees or team, you are modeling what discretionary effort looks and feels like. You are using the 21st century technique of earning the gift of discretionary not the 20th century technique of mere engagement.[tweetthis]Engagement is 20th Century! Discretionary Effort is 21st Century!@KarlaBrandau#Management[/tweetthis]
The simple ideas presented here can work magic on morale in your company, especially when adopted by all team members who greet each other in a positive way every morning.
Karla Brandau is a leadership and time management/productivity guru. She specializes in 21st century leadership skills, especially when leading virtual teams and working with multiple generations in the workplace. Karla is the founder of Workplace Power Institute and is launching a new leadership initiative with Douglas Ross and their forthcoming book on how to earn the gift of discretionary effort. She is a sought after keynote speaker and workshop presenter.