My Aunt Lily passed away last week. At last night’s service, family members shared precious memories they had of their mom, aunt, sister and friend. I learned that my Aunt Lily’s favourite colour was red, that she loved to sew and that she thought 81 was way too young to die.
As I listened to the various stories shared, I realized how much more there was to my Aunt Lily than I had ever known. And as I looked around the room, I realized that many of the people there were familiar strangers. I recognized the faces but could not necessarily remember the names. Family members have moved and big family gatherings with all the aunts, the uncles and cousins are a distant memory. With the re-introductions came stories, shared memories, laughter and the comfortable feeling of being a part of something bigger.
There are many people that feel disconnected personally and professionally. At work, emails have replaced face-to-face or telephone conversation as the preferred method of communication for many. Demanding workloads keep people at their desks instead of in the lunch room or at home with family and friends. Relationships and opportunities for personal connections are lost in the daily rush to accomplish tasks and complete to-do lists.
How much do you really know about the people you see every day at work? Do you know something personal about each of the people on your team? Do you know who prefers a good book to a night at the movies? Do you know the name of their partner and perhaps children? Do you celebrate when an employee achieves a personal milestone? Do you pick up the phone or walk over to someone instead of emailing?
How well do you know your customers? Do you know their names or are they familiar looking strangers? Do you know their likes and dislikes? Do you try and personalize each interaction or is it just one more transaction to complete before the next one? Do you pick up the phone or meet with your customer personally instead of relying on email as the only method of communication?
We work with people, not colleagues. We serve people, not customers. Taking the time and making the effort to get to know the person behind the title or the order, helps create the connections that build trust and loyalty and make work a much more fulfilling place to be.