“Pretend that every person you meet has a sign around her neck that says,
‘Make me feel important.'”
~ Mary Kay Ash
Isn’t that a nice idea from Mary Kay?
What if we actually carried it out in the workplace?
When employees don’t know their own significance – the value of their work and how it makes a difference – everyone suffers. Employees feel burnt out, leaders struggle to manage disengagement, the organization experiences turnover.
And as consumers, we’ve all experienced what it’s like to be served by someone who couldn’t care less about his job.
Mary Kay was definitely onto something with her suggestion. And her multibillion dollar company supports the notion that helping people recognize their own significance isn’t just nice, it’s good business practice.
Here are 4 ways you can help your employees – and yourself – feel a sense of significance at work:
1. Catch people doing things right.
Offer praise for specific actions – especially when they least expect it.
For example, after a tough meeting, you might tell your employee, “You really kept your cool during that presentation when everyone’s emotions were running high. I admire you for that – great job!” Ten seconds of praise could impact an entire career.
2. Trust your employees to make smart decisions.
Top-performing companies like Starbucks and Disney give their employees room to solve problems, handle client issues, and in some cases even choose their professional development.
If you can’t trust your employees to make smart decisions, determine how you can provide stronger training, coaching, and modeling in order to give them this autonomy.
3. Ask for – and listen to – feedback.
As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, you can empower your employees by modeling what to do when you don’t have the answer! “I don’t know but I can find out” was the response drilled into my mind repeatedly as a student counselor in college and has stuck with me all these years.
Consider approaching your employee with, “Here’s my challenge. What suggestions do you have? How would you handle this?” This can go a long way towards boosting self-esteem and professional growth while creating a culture of trust and collaboration.
4. Follow the Platinum Rule.
We love the Golden Rule – treat others as we want to be treated – but must remember that not everyone shares our preferences.
Follow the Platinum Rule instead: Treat others as they wish to be treated. Learning an employee’s strengths and preferences doesn’t require a lot of time but yields exponential results.
Meaningful work is no longer a “nice-to-do;” it’s a foundational principle for success. How else can you uncover your employees’ – or your own – significance at work?
Dr. Christi Hegstad helps you successfully do what you love! As President of MAP Professional Development Inc., she coaches business owners and leaders to get unstuck and reach Bold Goals with clarity, confidence, and meaningful action. Learn more at www.meaning-and-purpose.com and follow Dr. Christi on Facebook and Twitter.