You can’t always get what you want.
I learned this life lesson as a child, partly from my parents and partly from The Rolling Stones. It holds true today, especially as we venture through this crazy year. I want to go to Disney. I want to see my friends and my family. I want to high-five my co-workers and show them they are appreciated.
I miss having the opportunity to let people know face to face and consistently that what they do matters. I am guilty of allowing the distance and separation of power to change how I interact and influence the people I used to see day to day. No longer can I scoot by and holler, “Super Job, Super you!” Or listen over the wall to one of our reps handle a difficult situation and walk over and give a silent clap and a thumbs up. I can’t leave post-its notes on people’s desks because they are great. But I can still make an impact. We all can. We just have to do it a little different for now.
I didn’t even realize these interactions were missing until today when my IM beeped, and I was pleased to have received a message from this great fella that I don’t talk to as much anymore. He thanked me. He thanked me for all these things that I didn’t even realize I did, I was just doing my job. But by me doing my job my way, by believing in someone who didn’t always believe in themself, by apparently giving responsibility and demanding accountability, I was worthy of receiving a thank you. It didn’t come with a hug or even a handshake, but the words hit me hard. I am not emotional, at least not outright, yet even I will admit my eyes got a little wet. It wasn’t fully the words that made the difference. It was the thought behind them. This guy took time out of his busy day to let me know that I mattered and that my actions made his work life better.
It is really easy right now to get stuck in the day-to-day. Wake up, throw on some pants, head to the (home) office, and start checking off tasks on the to-do list. As important to the business as these must-dos are, none of them will give the warm fuzzies we all miss (even if you won’t admit it). There is just something that feels good knowing that you are appreciated and that you have done a job well done.
Those of us lucky enough to have been considered essential, even though we don’t need to be in the office to perform our essential duties, have some pretty giant hurdles to overcome. Yes, we are safer at home. Yes, we have the perk of a one minute commute. Yes, we accidentally dye our hair purple and not risk public humiliation. But these perks come with a significant responsibility. Not only as leaders, but as co-workers and peers we must continue to make sure that our workmates feel the love and that they are recognized and acknowledged. It is our responsibility as a virtual office to show gratitude and thankfulness to one another. Gone is the era of the tangible or edible reward, but at the end of the day it was never about the sandwich it was about the thought behind it.
I challenge everyone to give that virtual pat on the back. Words of admiration are free, use them copiously.
So far this year I might not have gotten everything I wanted. But today I got just what I needed.