Memo to Bosses: Have a Little Heart

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Cupid’s fickle bow is poised for Valentine’s Day. Florists’ windows scream roses, card stores devote entire aisles to sentiments loving and lewd, and chocolate packers are on overtime. While it is not customary for bosses to send candy or roses, there are some free gifts they can deliver any day. The ideas all come from that same old non-love song I’ve heard in offices over a long career.

  • Let’s start with two simple words: thank you. Other than “bye bye,” it is one of the first two-word phrases we learn. Then it gets discarded like baby teeth. From a manager’s lips, these pearls, too often rare as blue lobster, are second in value only to an unsolicited raise.
  • Here’s another good two-word cluster: Good morning. Morning sullenness from a manager is disgusting. With two seconds and a pleasant smile, you can show your employees that you see them as human and not as high-tech robots that require little more than periodic maintenance of their parts rather than their hearts.
  • To increase loyalty, don’t act like royalty.
  • Mailings get stuck. Reservations get fouled up. Faxes get lost. Deadlines are missed. Accept some blame yourself sometimes when something goes wrong. Maybe it is your rushed input or failure to communicate clearly that leads to a blunder.
  • Helicopters hover. Mangers should not. Trust that your employee will get the job done even if you don’t check in every hour with a “How’s it going?”
  • You don’t have to be as pedantic as Henry Higgins, but to take the time to mentor. You’ll be free to do “more important things” if you bring along those hungry for thought-provoking work. Just don’t do it dump-truck style. “You asked for it, you got it.”
  • Employees are not valets. They should not be called on to book Fifi’s grooming or your manicures. It is not their pleasure to “pick out something nice for your wife or mother,” even though the chances are they will not balk.

These heartfelt suggestions can bring hearty dividends. But let’s not underestimate the healing power of chocolate. Commercial though it may be, Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. It’s only a one-day gesture, but it’s a good preamble from your heart to those who are indispensible. Make mine dark, please.

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