WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

November 30, 2012

WordFood of Respect

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 5:59 pm

The old man was struggling up the breezeway ahead of me, his boarding pass in his left hand, his bag in his right. Periodically he would reach out for balance and touch the walk, taking small, hestitant steps on his way to the regional jet that would take us from Milwaukee to Denver early this morning. His hair, a brilliant white against his dark blue baseball cap, belied his age. I walked slowly behind him.

As he started up the narrow plank to get on the plane he started to trip and I caught his arm, and the attendant inside took over for me. He greeted her enthusiastically and they spoke for a few minutes, and she got him settled into his seat.

After landing in Denver, I picked up my bags and was on my way out when I saw him again. This time, he was seated in a wheelchair, with an airport attendant at the ready. His family had picked up his bags and was busily directed traffic around him.

What bothered me was their language.

“Take him over here,” the daughter said, right over his head.

“No, he needs to go to the other exit,” said a man who appeared to be her husband. This conversation went on for several minutes over the man’s white head.

The attendant swiveled his head between the two, looking for leadership. The old man looked defeated and lonely.

“He” had a name. “He” wasn’t a piece of luggage or a bag of garbage to be moved around. And “he” could also hear himself being discussed as though he was deaf and dumb. He was being dismissed as a human being by all three people around him, and he knew it.

It was offensive to me that this apparent family member was being so casually discussed without the courtesy of using his name. However this is done in hospitals and rest homes and facilities everywhere. Caregivers do this without thinking. Family members talk over their so called loved ones as though they have no emotions. Clearly this man did, and he didn’t much like it.

Perhaps this man was a war veteran. Perhaps he was a beloved uncle or granddad. I have no idea. I don’t know the family dynamics. No one ever does. What I do know is that especially with our elders, and with anyone who is disabled or in a wheelchair, there is a real call for love and respect, and the acknowledgment of their humanity. To not be treated as a piece of beefsteak being carted from place to place.

Everyone has a name, a history, a place. When it is your turn in the wheelchair, your turn in bed with caretakers talking above you like a piece of stale fried chicken, remember. This especially is a time for love. We all simply want to be noticed and acknowledged.

June 3, 2012

UnderCover Boss WordFood At Its Best

I’m a big fan of Undercover Boss, the CBS program where a CEO goes underground in his or her own company to work as a new employee. They learn the ropes and on the way, they are deeply humbled by the stories of their own people, their goodness and commitment. On rare occasions they see less than stellar behavior but by far and away they are blown away by the generosity of spirit, the personal stories and capacity for giving.

At the end of each program the CEO brings these employees back to headquarters. The employees think they’re going to assess the “newbie” they worked with but instead they meet with the CEO who ends up giving them wonderful WordFood about how they performed on the job. How hard they worked, their commitment to the job, how they give to the community, their generosity to their employees. Then, depending on the individual situation, the CEO may give a financial gift to help with education or a vacation.

The program has grown in popularity and has been moved to the prime Friday night slot. I believe that the reason Undercover Boss has become so popular is that we love those moments when the big boss compliments their people. We hunger for that from our own CEO or manager. We wish someone would recognize us that way. It’s not even about the $5000 vacation they’re giving away- we’d just like someone to notice how hard we work. The times we come in early. The hours we spend coaching younger workers. How dedicated we are to doing good work every day. We’d just like to be noticed. In fact, some of your best people are probably starving for attention.

Time and again the employees on Undercover Boss say the same thing: they never thought anyone would ever notice them. Leaders and managers, pay attention. If you want your people to be engaged, to be committed and truly put their hearts into their work, it doesn’t take much. It takes the WordFood of acknowledgement. Notice people doing things right. Watch people every day and tell them you appreciate their hard work.

UnderCover Boss is a study in how to make people feel like a million dollars. It’s a weekly lesson in how to treat your employees well. And it’s not about giving away money. It’s about how we talk to them every day. It’s the acknowledgement that’s most important. People want to know that what they do matters, that someone is paying attention.

If you haven’t seen Undercover Boss yet, start watching. It’s full of ideas on how to really treat your employees.

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