When Alejandro Bustamante became president of Plantronics Mexico some years ago, he inherited, among other problems, a dispirited workforce with dysfunctionally high employee turnover. Nobody wanted to work there. Charged with turning around the plant, which makes telephone headsets and other communications gear, Alejandro knew he could do nothing to change the people working in the plant. But what he could do was show respect for each one of them. It was a tough environment. There was fierce competition for labor in the industrial region where they were located. Everybody was looking for qualified workers.
So, Alejandro had business cards printed for every person working in the factory. Every assembly worker, custodian, engineer, office professional, warehouse worker, you name it. They got cards, professionally printed, with their name, and title. People went back to their neighborhoods and villages and showed their friends and families their business cards, and suddenly the Plantronics factory in Tijuana had more job applicants than they could easily process. “It was the best problem I could ever have hoped for,” Alejandro told me when I visited the factory. Sometimes, it’s the little things, isn’t it? Like a 2 by 3 ½ inch business card. Or just knowing someone’s name, and using it. Paying enough attention to remember what grade their kids are in, or what they take in their coffee. Maybe you see an article online that you know would be helpful to someone you lead, and you take a minute to send them the link. Or you see someone having a hard time, and you offer your help. It doesn’t take much. Just remembering to tell people from time to time that you appreciate them. Sometimes the smallest acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, or encouragement can make such a difference. Today, come up with something small that you can do to show your respect and appreciation for someone on your team. Then go out there and do it. We’ve all heard it’s the thought that counts. But when you transform that thought into an action, however small it might be, the effects can sometimes be immeasurable.