Raises + Empathy = People Who Walk Through Fire For You

I gave everyone in my life a raise. Now they are giving me stuff I didn’t know I needed.

This December, I gave everyone in my life a raise. My assistant, my kids’ tutor and the cleaning people got cash. My kids got programmable robots and enough legos to get them to stop whining about how they never get good presents. For now, anyway.

Why did I do this? Because I am swimming in cash? Quite the opposite. My husband and I had an excellent year, but we also have to pay off debt left over from my company and the last baby. Was it because I am some sort of bleeding-heart altruist? Not really.

I did it because I want to keep these people in my life. They’re not stupid, you know. They see me buying new clothing and furniture. Is this stuff necessary? Only if I want to stay married. My husband has been complaining for three years about tripping over shoes and backpacks when he opens our front door. Now the kids have labeled cubbies where — with only a little nagging — they deposit their backpacks after the daily homework pillage.

And the clothing? Is absolutely, 100% necessary. I have been living out of clearance racks for the last nine years — ever since I became a mother and started the crazy weight boomerang. If I want to reenter the workforce at the high managerial level I left, I need to look the part. Heck, I need to look better than I used to since I am trying to show that I am a leader. And leaders don’t look like everybody else. So that means feminine, stylish, FITTED and unusual outfits. Goodbye, Ann Taylor.

So back to the raises. Every single person who works for me has been with me for years. I trust them with my children, my business and my home. So when I am spending money on myself, the right thing to do is throw some cash their way even if they don’t ask for it. I would a million times rather be proactive and give people stuff they don’t ask for than have them resent me silently and then leave.

And the effect? Has been extraordinary. My staff is being extra flexible with me, volunteering to change their schedule around mine and working even when it’s not convenient for them. This is NOT the effect I was aiming for when I handed out raises, but if people see I have an important business meeting coming up where I would do better without the kids, if they volunteer to work a double shift so I can attend without a diaper bag, I gratefully accept.

I wish I could afford to hire my staff full-time, but during the limited hours they are with me, I want them to get as much out of this relationship as I do. Because who knows? They could wind up hiring me in a few years.