My Mom turned 86 last month so you know I am no kid, even though the image here might make it seem so. (This is actually an old photo! It’s not my mom by the way, oh, and that’s not me. Actually I have no idea who this is but I like the ocean and I like my mom, we did live in California for a while close to the Pacific so I decided to use this shot. I wish we had a photo of the two of us like this.Maybe we do and I have just never seen it!)
Does your Mom read your blog? Mine does and not only that she almost always sends me comments or questions based on the theme I have chosen for the week. She doesn’t always get exactly what I am working on, she never worked in a very large organization like many of those I have consulted to over the past twenty years, but she does a pretty good job and mainly I appreciate the encouragement.
Having my Mom read my blog got me to thinking about engagement from another perspective than I had recognized in the past. Is there a connection, reflection or correlation between love, which I know is the motive behind my mother reading my blog, and a manager’s engagement with the people reporting to them?
I recall that my very first “grown up” manager after graduate school really spoiled me by caring as much as he did. From the very beginning he took a personal interest, not only in me but in each person who reported to him. One of the events that truly impressed me back then was an occasion when I was really pressed for time on an assignment. Shortly after I turned in the work my manager appeared in the doorway of my office and asked if we could talk, of course I accepted his request. He had the assignment I had left with him in hand but began our conversation by asking me how I was doing personally as he seemed to know that I had been jammed up by the pressure of multiple deadlines. We talked for a while and then just as he rose to leave he handed me the assignment in his hand and suggested that I take another day before turning it in. He said that when he looked over the work I had presented he was concerned that I was stressing because what I had turned in was not my best work. Eventually this manager was one of two people I mention in the dedication of my 2006 book THRIVE: Standing on Your Own Two Feet in a Borderless World.
Did I experience being “loved” by this manager? No, at least not in the same sense that I feel with my mother. I did feel cared about as a person and honestly, in a work environment that was much more than I had anticipated would be available. It made a huge difference to me then and it made a huge difference to me later as an employer myself. I have always made it a point to let the people working in our organization know in obvious ways that they were cared about. We have never paid the most, in fact virtually everyone who has ever worked for my company has taken a reduction in salary to join us. It seems that over time we have developed a reputation for being something more than the ordinary workplace, some place offering a special experience, like the special experience of having your Mom read your blog.
With my Mom I know it’s love, with the people that work for me, they can call it whatever they like, it is free and it is authentic.
If you are a manager, do the people reporting to you have a sense that they are cared about as people?
If you are not a manager, do you have the experience of being cared about as a person?