When her husband died unexpectedly, it ended up being one of her co-workers that stepped in and rescued her by showing a little kindness. Each week for an entire year the co-worker would send a note of encouragement to the young widow, affirming her and giving her hope. Whether it was a simple ‘thinking of you’ card or a handwritten note, the co-worker did not miss an opportunity to express or convey some type of kindness.
In this day and age, there is an overwhelming amount of bad news occupying the minds of most people, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you personally, or for your business.
According to Bill Taylor, in a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, kindness is not only contagious, it is able to be spread just as fast as bad news, if we are intentional about practicing it.
As the saying goes ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’. In many respects, no truer words were spoken. Just like the story in the beginning of this piece, there are many other stories just like it that are taking place in businesses across this country and around the world every minute of every day. The only problem is no one ever hears about them and very few media entities bother to tell them.
Taylor goes on to discuss kindness as a core tenet of businesses, just like yours. Obviously, from a customer service perspective, kindness is an expectation. But, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot pervade your entire organization. He goes on to say “the way to unleash kindness in your organization is to treat it like a contagion, and to create the conditions under which everybody catches it.” He cited Stephen Cannon of Mercedes-Benz referencing the fact there is no book or set of rules to follow when it comes to practicing kindness. Actually, Cannon had to convince (Mercedes) dealers and their staffers to join a grassroots movement that treated kindness as if it were contagious. So, that is what they did, from the basic foundations of the organization.
“There was one dealer who’d closed a sale and noticed from the documents that it was the customer’s birthday. So he ordered a cake, and when the customer came in to pick up the car, had a celebration. Then there was the customer who got a flat tire on the way to her son’s graduation. She pulled into a Mercedes dealership in a panic and explained the problem. Unfortunately, there were no replacement tires in stock for her model. The service manager ran to the showroom, jacked up a new car, removed one of its tires, and sent the mother on her way.”
Here are some ways you might consider to help implement a kindness contagion in your company:
Recognize Good Deeds.
As was alluded to earlier in this article, there is not near enough good news out there. When you have an employee who does something right, acknowledge it. Not by just mentioning it to them, but by notifying the entire staff of what was done. E-mail is usually the best medium for doing it.
Celebrate Successes at Staff Meetings.
If you have staff meetings on a regular basis, they are a perfect forum for celebrating milestones like employment anniversaries, birthdays, customer compliments, and any other form of good deed. If you don’t have staff meetings, maybe now is the time to have them.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon has said “Part of company culture is path-dependent— it’s the lessons you learn along the way.” If your company can instill a spirit of kindness in everything you do, it will help to define the path to follow for its’ entire existence. Furthermore, the more kindness that is exhibited by your company over time, the more likely it is to become a part of your culture, just as Bezos said.
A study performed by psychologist Jamil Zaki of Stanford indicated a direct connection with generosity and kindness. He goes on to say “participants who believed others were more generous became more generous themselves.”
Leaders of most companies want to see their organization grow. More and more research is finding that going the ‘additional mile’ in being kind to others will more than result in your company becoming more kind in its’ culture, which should result in your company achieving greater growth.