20 May 2013

Tall poppies...

Reality hit home to me on Friday as I walked out the door of my current work for the last time. I've spent the past 3 years working with over 100 other people, some of whom I now know very well, others a little, and still others not at all. There was a morning tea farewell for me on Friday morning, which about 30 people came to. My boss said some kind words, as did one of the lovely girls who I manage in my team - talking about my blogging and creative streak and how I wasn't just a typical accountant. The HR Manager who is now a good friend also said a few lovely words - I'd held it together pretty well until she, standing in close proximity to me, spoke with tears in her eyes, which made the same well up in mine.


I managed to pull myself together, and in return spoke some words from the heart about the difficult times we as a company have been in, and are still facing now. Words that I hoped right for the times we have found ourselves in, and hopefully words of encouragement for those who will be continuing on there in the months and years to come.

Afterwards, I had a number of people come up to me throughout the course of the day and tell me that it was a really good speech.

In my final handover with my boss that afternoon, we talked through a variety of things. Things that still needed to be done and who would do it. And at the end he thanked me, told me how much he had enjoyed working with me and said that I was 'one of the best Finance people he's ever worked with'. Which brought me nearly to tears...again.

I then came across the CEO later on in the kitchen while I was stacking my dishes for the last time in the dishwasher and he also told me that he thought it was a really good speech, hugged me and told me I'd been 'a model employee and a star' which, to be honest, was a complete surprise to hear. Other people wrote really kind words in my farewell card, words which I'd never heard them utter to my face.

And it got me to thinking...why is it that I only heard people's real opinions as I was walking out the door on my last day? Lovely though it was to hear, it feels a bit like it was all a little too late.

And yet I think it happens all the time, and not just at work. We only tell people how great we think they are when they're going, or worse, when they're gone. How many funerals have you been to where you hear amazing things said about the departed and realise that you never knew that about them, or that you never realised that person felt that way about them.

Here in NZ, I think we are particularly bad at giving praise, which I'm sure is part of the whole 'tall poppy' syndrome. Not wanting to be seen to give people a big head when they have done something really well, instead we say nothing, and just assume people know how we feel about them and their achievements, when in reality they are probably crying out for a 'well done on that piece of work' or 'hey that was an awesome thing you did there'. It takes so little to do, but it means so much to the recipient.

 

I guess because I believe one of the God-given gifts I have been given is that of encouragement that I probably notice more than most when recognition is given, and when it is not. I try really hard with my team members to let them know regularly that I appreciate their efforts, and with specific examples, but I know I still could do more. At home, I try really hard to encourage the boys in their daily lives, in their small successes as they grow and learn, and to encourage them through their disappointments too. But I know I could do so much more.

Is there someone in your life who you have thought about thanking or rewarding or recognising or encouraging but you just haven't done it yet? Please don't hold back. Tell the people that you love all the reasons, big and small, why you love them. Tell the people you come across in your daily interactions how you feel about them - whether it's their positive attitudes or the quality of the work they do. Don't assume they know. Because all they really want to do is to hear you actually say the words. It will mean more to them than you can ever know.


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