It is better to have loved

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Losing people that are keepers makes you want to just go home, pull the drapes and hide under the covers. That end-of-the-day, "Can I talk to you for a minute?" The closed door and the bad news you've heard before, "I've been offered a great opportunity I can't pass up." It’s like getting food poisoning. One minute you’re fine, the next you feel like a truck has hit you. Afterwards you go through the, "What did we do wrong?” phase.

Today one of our people came in and gave us the bad news. And this one hurt because I know they were one of the reasons we were getting where we want to go. But to be honest, I felt positive for them and for us. They're moving on to an opportunity we can't offer in the foreseeable future. We are going to use this to take stock in how we can be better at keeping those we need to keep. And then we’re going out to find another ace.

I had a talk with the departing employee. She wasn’t in the creative department so I asked if she’d come by for a chat. She said how hard it was, you know, all the niceties. I asked her to give some thought on what would have made it even harder, maybe impossible to leave. I mentioned a few what ifs: making more money, having more responsibility, independence, getting more positive reinforcement.


She was leaving for the independence of running her own department first and foremost, but she felt that if we were better about frequently telling people how great they are, it would have made it much, much harder.

I've worked at a lot of agencies and I can say very objectively that we do reward and appreciate our people. We are one of the last remaining agencies that actually shares profits with each and every employee. We give nice gestures of appreciation for extra effort, like dinner on us, etc. So, I could have defended our agency with a number of "what abouts." I didn't. I agreed with her. What she was talking about is the daily walk. The “How's it going?” and “That looks fantastic!” The little pat on the back. Verbal thanks, delivered each and every day.

That's what our departing star felt we could improve upon. Sounds almost too simple, doesn't it? It something that I'm embarrassed to say does not come naturally to me. I'm a worker bee. I get in early, get the engine stoked and crank. Getting up for a cup of coffee and shooting the breeze with the guys for a few minutes is blasphemous. I'm wasting the company's time. I'm a loafer. Wrong. What I'm learning is that this daily walk is a big, important part of my job. And the great thing is it's fun. Who doesn’t enjoy making people feel good? Telling people they’re doing a good job and that they are integral to our achieving our goals is like being Santa Claus.

The voiced appreciation of bosses is the mortar that makes a great group of people stay together. I guess I'm learning. From now on I'm going to be a little more wasteful of my time on the people that make us great.
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