Base Hit or Home Run?
A father took his son fishing every weekend for his entire childhood growing up. When the son left home and had a son of his own, his father asked him, “Are you going to take him fishing every weekend like we did?”
“No, dad,” the son replied. “I’m going to ask him what he would like to do.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dad, you liked fishing. You never asked me if I liked fishing.”
A father asked his son every weekend, “What would you like to do this weekend?” And they would spend the entire weekend together. When the son left home and had a son of his own, his father asked him, “Will you spend every weekend with your son like we spent every weekend together?”
“No, dad,” the son replied. “I’m going to hug him and tell him I love him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dad, you liked doing stuff every weekend. I would have rather had a hug and heard you say you loved me.”
These tiny stories are trying to tell us something. Don’t get me wrong — every act we do to see someone else and validate them is a base hit. It’s progress and shouldn’t be ignored. Often, I like to think of a simple question from Suzanne Pellican: How are we creating a culture to do the best work of our lives? How are we taking opportunities to hit the home run with people?
How do you celebrate spending time together? How do you show appreciation for your troop?
Birthdays? A card?
Boss’s Day? A cake?
Administrative Professionals Day? A lunch out?
These are good opportunities to make people feel good, feel appreciated, but I wonder if we are really taking advantage of these opportunities the way we could.
Are birthdays, boss’s days, and administrative professionals days good enough? Do we simply use these because they are tradition and scheduled in advance for us?
How do you strategically plan to build your team all year around?
How well do you know the ways in which your team, your people, like to be recognized and served?
One idea is to think of the “five love languages” (from Gary Chapman’s book) or ways that people prefer to be recognized — gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service — and to try to understand who your troops are in terms of how they prefer to receive recognition. How do you know? Look at the ways they try to reach out to others. Often, not always, but often, the ways we express appreciation for others tells quite a bit about our own preferences.