Networking Article from Networking Today Canada, Nat'l
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A Little Gesture…A Big Difference in Someone's Life
A few months ago, during the course of some training research, I had a very uplifting experience. I visited one of our retail stores and caught a glimpse of a customer trying to get my attention. As I approached her, she said:
"I noticed by your security card that you work for this company. I want to give you a message to take back to the Corporate Office. I have a young daughter who, for a long time had been very withdrawn due to personal problems. She was hired by your company a couple of months ago. Prior to this, she would go straight to her room when she came home and not interact with anyone. After she started working for your company, I noticed positive changes in my daughter. Bit by bit she started to come out of her shell. As the days progressed, she even sat with us for meals and joined in conversations. We were very impressed with her and though we were curious to find out who or what inspired such a remarkable change, we thought it best to wait for her to tell us when she was ready – and she did.
"One evening, bubbling over with excitement, my daughter finally decided to fill us in. She was so happy working for this corporation and could not believe how much of a difference they made in her life. Her excitement escalated as she spoke of a training consultant who was genuinely interested in listening to her views. For her, this was amazing. No one was ever interested in her opinion before and even though she was a little reluctant at first, she felt comfortable speaking to this lady. Most importantly, she had a renewed sense of self-pride thinking someone actually cared about what she had to say. She then continued to explain that for a long time, she was confused and unsure of her career goals. One day she approached the training consultant for some advice. The trainer suggested they work together in establishing a career development plan and an outline of the training classes she would need to help her achieve this goal. Then she made special arrangements for her to use the company's computer training room after her work shift since my daughter could not afford a computer of her own.
"My daughter was so thrilled by all this; she just could not stop talking about the company. She finally has something she can look forward to and this new-found passion has made an incredible difference in her life. With the help of the training consultant and the H.R. Manager, she was able to channel this energy in a positive way. She now has something to aim for and a better chance of realizing her career goals. Added to that is the renewed confidence and belief in what she can achieve. I wanted to thank your Corporate Office and to let them know, whatever they did to create such a positive change in my daughter… please do not stop. Who knows, they may be able to touch someone else as they did my daughter."
I thanked the lady for her kind words, assured her I would pass the message on, then left the store with an enlightened belief in how precious “human capital” can be and the significant difference a little effort on a manager's part can make in an individual's life.
This happy outcome was not the result of some pre-planned corporate development program. A great leader will always be vigilant and listen intently because it is so easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is close at hand. A great leader will be vigilant so that they don't throw away the chance they were given to make a difference in someone’s life.
Published in Networking Today, January 2002.
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