Pay Attention

Relationships require attention. Parent-child relationships require attention. Employer-employee relationships require attention. Sibling relationships require attention. And, of course, marital relationships require attention. If a relationship is going to be healthy, the people in the relationship must give each other their attention.

When I was a student in Elder Stephen A.L. Richardson's Bible class (way back in the Dark Ages!) at Pine Forge Academy, he was teaching us a lesson on Christian courtship. I remember him saying that relationships require four things: trust, openness, freedom, and time. A wife who says to her husband, "You never have time for me" is really crying out for her husband's attention.

Let me be quick to admit that one must strike a balance. Some people are so insecure that they demand an excessive amount of attention. We've all seen them. And they are not the subject of this post. I'm suggesting that a husband or a wife is not being unreasonable to desire the time and attention of their spouse.

This truth about the need to pay attention is also applicable in the workplace. Things can sour quickly between employees and employers when those who hire feel that simply providing a job and a paycheck to those who are hired should be enough. When an employee who spends 40, 50, or 60 hours a week plugging away faithfully at a job, that individual who is giving more of their life to your enterprise than anything else wants to know that somebody is paying attention.

Clayton Christensen wrote the book How Will You Measure Your Life? In it he refers to "money, status, compensation, and job security" as "hygiene factors." He argues that the hygiene factors need to be "adequate." But then he goes on to point out that hygiene factors alone won't make someone happy, nor will they ensure loyalty or long-term commitment from employees. We all know stories about Fortune 500 corporate executives, White House Cabinet members and career politicians who one day wake up and say they are resigning "to spend more time with their family." Look at Bill Gates who left Microsoft to pursue humanitarian causes with his wife Melinda.

Employers need to care for the people that work for them. Employees are more than "cogs in a wheel." They are human beings with families and interests and feelings.

Saying "thank you," acknowledging hard work, and rewarding 2nd mile service are simple common sense ways that employers can show employees they are paying attention. If you are a leader (or if you want to become a leader), pay attention! When you have good people working hard for you, let them know that you notice! Communicate. Find time to shoot them a text message. Hand write them a note. Mention them in your newsletter. Pay attention! Take note of their contributions. Don't take them for granted.

I close with this word of caution: if you ignore good team members, do not be surprised when another company makes them an offer they can't refuse.



Popular Posts