During a staff meeting one day, one of my employees passed out paper bags – the kind you packed your lunch in as a kid. She sat a big box in the middle of the table and lifted the lid. Inside, it was filled with magic markers, crayons, chalk, and colored pencils. She instructed us to decorate our own personal bag in such a way that would make us smile. Everyone dug in, laughing, commenting on favorite colors, and began the art project.
Next, she passed out skinny strips of paper and asked each of us to write something we liked about every staff member around the table, then fold it up, and drop it in his or her bag. She suggested that, in the coming weeks, we keep the bags on our desks and that we continue writing these simple acknowledgment notes for one another. Then, whenever we need a “pick me up,” reach in, grab a handful of notes, and read them to ourselves.
Funny. It’s now five years later and the bags are still on the desks, full of notes. I’m no longer with that organization, but the bag sits on the desk in my new office. Powerful, isn’t it?
How often do we pause to say nice things about those with whom we work? To let them know how much we truly appreciate what they do? The formal feedback, like annual performance reviews, gets done, but what about the simpler things? Isn’t it really these simple things that make the biggest difference? It’s what defines a workplace’s culture – mojo I call it. And it’s a key part of building team commitment, loyalty, and satisfaction.
In all workplaces, but perhaps even more important in the nonprofit sector, we need to identify the simple, yet powerful actions and benefits that help us recruit and retain our human capital. After all, it’s our single greatest resource.