Insights on business, and practical
ways to improve your own.
Simple acts make a big difference.
by Kate (October, 2003)
(Note: Kate is a mid-level manager at a major craft
In the days immediately following the death of John Ritter, tributes
filled the airwaves, newspapers, message boards, and chat rooms.
Reading the tributes from fans like myself who loved the characters
of Jack Tripper and Paul Hennessey wasn't a surprise. What did catch
me off guard was seeing the Hollywood tributes from John's teary-eyed,
non-celebrity co-workers -- the "worker bees." Their
comments revealed one of the keys to John's true legacy: the example
he set by treating everyone, cameraman or A-list celebrity, with
respect, and by doing his utmost to make every workday productive
If for some reason you were to be gone tomorrow, will your employees
and co-workers say the same about you?
For several years I had the good fortune to work with a well
respected gentleman in the craft industry. His genuine love of the
industry was evident in the care he took in developing his products.
His genuine love of people was evident in the little things he said
and did. He greeted everyone with a smile and "hello,"
even those few whose names he didn't know. He led by example -- no
task was ever too menial. Even when the pace was crazy and stressful
he found a way to put a smile on your face. At trade shows he was
always sought out for advice by a wide variety of industry people.
We, his employees, were often looked at with a bit of envy.
More recently I worked with a man whose focus is the bottom line. He
would say "hello" as he passed, but rarely smiled. His
products were good, but they could be better with a bit more time
and effort. When the pace was crazy and stressful, he looked the
other way and didn't want to know what sacrifices people had to
make, as long as the deadlines were met. His trade show booths were
busy, but buyers saw what was new, placed orders, and left. Even
those few who did seek his advice often found their conversations
interrupted when his cell phone rang or someone more important
The contrast between the two bosses was obvious. People who had
contact with the first boss knew they were respected, their opinions
and ideas had value, and their efforts were acknowledged. It didn't
matter how menial their job was, every position was important. The
result was people always gave that extra effort, even under the most
difficult of circumstances.
Employees of the second boss felt like machines, paid to crank out
products as quickly as possible. Even the occasional luncheon or
heartfelt "thank you" from the boss was met with
skepticism, and they cared more about collecting a paycheck than
These two bosses may have had different overall goals for their
companies, but why should their treatment of employees helping to
meet those goals be so vastly different?
This isn't about developing loyalty, per se; it's about respecting
the people you have around you, no matter what their role in the
It's a good way to live, and it's good business, too.
(Note: Kate's previous columns are archived. To access any of
them, click on the titles at the top of the right-hand column. Have
any comments about stolen designs or products? Email Kate at email@example.com.)