I recently attended a seminar and one of the exercises asked us to identify a person who had impact in our life. I have been asked this question before, and I have typically identified my parents, loved ones, friends, bosses, … you know, the usual response. The facilitator then added the comment, “This person’s presence was a miracle to you!” That statement jarred my thinking, and I immediately remembered a situation that occurred years before.
When I was 25 years old, I lived and worked in downtown San Francisco. One evening, I worked late, and about 7 o’clock I started to walk to the bus stop to go home. I noticed a man on the other side of the street who appeared to mirror my every step. When I stopped, he stopped, and continued to stare and follow me on my path. I started to get frightened, and realized I was being stalked. I did not know what to do other than to hope that the bus was waiting for me to board and safely take me home. I arrived at the bus stop, and looked left and right, but no bus was in sight. The man was standing directly across the street and staring at me. We were 1/2 a block from a viaduct that was a dark and an enclosed area, nobody was around. It was one of those moments when there were no cars, and the silence was deafening. I was in danger and afraid.
Out of nowhere, a gentleman walked up beside me. He walked to the end of the sidewalk and looked left and right, as though he was looking for the bus. I looked at him and said, “I believe I am going to be attacked. Can you please help me?” He followed my gaze and looked at the man across the street. He came and stood next to me, and I could feel his coat next to my arm. We both continued to look at the man across the street, and after what felt like eternity, he turned and walked away. The gentleman stood beside me and waited until the bus pulled up and I got on. We never spoke other than the “thank you” I said as I boarded the bus. We were probably only together for a minute yet; those 60 seconds changed my life forever! I can describe the man, tell you how tall he was, and what he wore as though it were yesterday. He was a miracle!
This situation reminds me of the impact you can have on someone in just 60 seconds.
When you consider the people who have had impact on your life, you may list parents, spouse, kids, coach, boss, or a friend. When asked what they did that had impact on you, you may smile and say…
- They had my back.
- They smiled when I needed it.
- They gave me feedback that changed the direction of my life.
- They saw something in me that I did not see, and gave me a chance.
- When I made a mistake, they did not get angry, instead they asked what I learned?
- They had high expectations because they knew I could do it.
These interactions may have occurred with their presence, a nod, or a passing comment, but they all have impact.
As a leader you cast a shadow on your team. When you are supportive, positive, and empathetic this results in higher engagement, creativity, and productivity. When you are stressed and “in your own stuff,” employees may not feel important to their leader or the business.
I recently spoke with a business owner who said, “When I am in the middle of the day-to-day business challenges, my ability to focus on the people and provide coaching or feedback goes to the bottom of the list.” I commented, “When people feel they are not paid attention to, their absence and potential turnover will go to the top of the list.”
A recent article in Forbes, stated:
“It’s hard to overstate the impact a proactive, insightful manager can have on a business — and its employees. At a time of unprecedented turnover, feeling connected to, respected by, and engaged with one’s manager is vital. Not to mention, recent research from analytics company Visier shows that highly effective managers drive 48% greater profits for their organizations than average managers.”
How can you be a proactive, insightful manager?
Today employees want frequent acknowledgement and feedback to know that they are important, and on the right track to reach your goals and their goals. This does not need to be a detailed, long, or arduous conversation.
Consider, if you only have sixty seconds to connect, what could you say or do that is direct and meaningful?
If I heard the statement, “You made a difference on this project…,” I would continue to strive and feel engaged and connected to my supervisor and the business. Connection and employee engagement have a direct relationship, meaning as one increases so does the other. As I learned standing on a corner waiting for a bus, connection can come when you least expect it.
In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact. Les Brown