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Anniversaries Are Important

November 26, 2009

The everyday operating concerns of your business, the people, the problems, the planning, and the pursuit of profits are the matters that occupy us daily. Dealing with these issues in straight forward, common sense manner is a worthwhile objective for us all.

This is the second anniversary of “It’s Your Business”. I know that we share common view points on many of the issues raised in this column during these past two years. The real challenge in managing, however, is to be able to effectively apply our well thought out ideas. To do the things that we know we should be doing is not always so easy while operating under the pressures of our daily schedules.

Employment milestones and anniversaries, the subject of the first anniversary column of “It’s Your Business”, highlighted some of these shared areas of concern. Published for the first time just one year ago, it went something like this.

Anniversaries are important. Forget one year and you’ll see just how important. Birthdays are important. Just look at the anticipation of children of all ages as their special day approaches.

There is another kind of milestone that often remains unrecognized. It is your employment anniversary. It generally doesn’t get the attention that it deserves but it is a date that few of us forget. From the most menial of jobs to the most meaningful, we all feel a bit neglected and under appreciated from time to time.

In companies that don’t recognize employee anniversaries, you probably won’t hear much talk about them and you might think that people really don’t care that much. Don’t make that mistake. Believe me, you might not hear it, but particularly at times of triumph or tragedy, people can always be heard to say, “I worked at that place for x years.”

Use the self test if you doubt the importance of employment anniversaries. Don’t you remember how many years you have had at particular job? Don’t you remember the day you started that job? Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody came up to you and said, “We will have been working together for eleven years on Friday. Let’s get together for lunch to mark the occasion.”

Your recognition of an employee’s anniversary shows your appreciation for what that individual has contributed. People not only contribute their labors for which they are compensated, but they are also contributing their lives. Your interest will give meaning and a sense of satisfaction to people as they reflect back on how they have spent their years.

Your recognition of these milestones will recall, for both you and your employee, the commitment, the enthusiasm and the high expectations that each of your shared when you started to work together. You will have the opportunity to review with pride your mutual accomplishments. In a relaxed setting, you will remember the frustrations and hard times with sentimental amusement.

There was a time when I was too busy, or perhaps just not smart enough, to remember these occasions. On more than one occasion an employee came to me, shook my hand with pride and said they had been working for me for three years as of that day. I felt bad that I hadn’t remembered the anniversary and that I hadn’t initiated the conversation. I came to understand the importance of these milestones.

Service awards for longevity are an accepted tradition in many businesses. They are good programs and should be continued. But the handing out of a two, five or ten year pin at an annual company dinner doesn’t fully recognize the contribution of each person that receives those awards. Complement a formal program that publicly acknowledges the individual with a gesture that shows your personal recognition of that person’s dedication.

Some years ago I had an employee, Stan, who had worked in this business for many years prior to my arrival. On the 30th anniversary of Stan’s employment I asked him to join me for breakfast. At 7 o’clock that morning we meet on the shop floor. As everyone else headed to their work stations, he and I headed for the parking lot and a short ride to the coffee shop. We had a great breakfast. We talked for over an hour and the bill wasn’t more than ten bucks.

Stan said that breakfast meant a lot to him. Despite all his accomplishments and responsibilities, nobody had ever spent time like that with him before. He said everybody knows you’re the boss and that you took the time to be with me. That’s important.

That might seem like a small and simple story in today’s fast paced world, but the need for that recognition is there. People who dedicate themselves to a job deserve that recognition. You have the power to meet that need and in so doing create a better company.

Readers can contact “It’s Your Business” C/O The Herald, P. O. Box 271, Monterey, 93942 or write to J. L. Driscoll & Co., P. O. Box AV, Carmel, Ca 93921.

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