This is a refreshed version of a post I wrote a few years ago. It’s a simple story but I like to think its message bears repeating.
I often make reference to the importance of listening and how this enhances communication. A lot of other people talk about it too. And that’s a good thing. But I’m wondering, after we make the effort to listen, how much of what we hear do we actually remember when we’d like to or need to?
I must say my memory for some things is awful. A little research has enlightened me however to the possibility that it doesn’t have to be awful as long as I give it some regular exercise. So why would I want to?
Here’s why. There is magic in remembering.
Many years ago, when I was working as a Personnel Officer in the Head office of a very large organization, I was invited to attend a breakfast and listen to the President & Chairman of the Board, talk about our goals and challenges. The organization employed at that time, something in the neighbourhood of 35,000 people worldwide and so you can imagine that the goals and challenges were significant.
Before we sat down to breakfast the Chairman took a turn about the room, which was hosting about 350 people. Quite by accident, he happened upon me. I introduced myself and we talked for a very brief time. And then he moved on.
We had breakfast and then the Chairman got up to speak. He was eloquent in his description of the organizational goals and realistic when he described the challenges we faced.
And then it happened. He said something like, “I was talking to Gwyn earlier and she reminded me of the importance of people to our organization”
Suddenly, I was no longer a blurred face in the crowd or a very small cog in a very large wheel. I was important. I was heard. And I was included.
Remembering details, like people’s names, may seem like a small thing when you have so many other things competing for your time and attention. But simple acts of acknowledgement are very powerful. They make us want to participate. They make us want to do better and be better. And that is, to me at least, the essence of employee engagement.
Of course, it’s not just about remembering. It’s about paying attention and about caring. Without that, remembering becomes memorizing. And, when that happens it loses its magic.
That’s what I think anyway. What do you think?
p.s. Here, just for fun, is a little Sarah McLachlan.