In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a predictable wave is washing over the Northeast. People are helping each other clean up, clear out and rebuild. The worst brings out the best in us, and acts of kindness are popping up all over. Kindness smooths the way for families to get back on their feet.
Kindness is good for business, too. If you listen to that other Northeastern blowhard, Donald Trump, you might mistakenly believe that business is brutal. That business isn’t personal. That there has to be winners and losers in business. Not so. Better to be kind. Better to offer help to those who need it and humbly accept it when we’ve been laid low. Kindnesses, delivered to our customers, team members, even our competitors…come back to us in multiples. Here are five simple ways to be kind…and make more money as a happy side effect.
- Be Flexible. Some employees have to show up on time, every time. Others…don’t. Could you provide flex time and virtual work options for those team members who can work from anywhere at any time? Bookkeeping, marketing, administrative tasks are not super time sensitive. If you create flexible options – particularly for parents of young kids, students, disabled people – you can get million dollar talent for less than you would pay for a full time office team member. They save…on travel, uniform, time…so you save. Profits ensue.
- Be Clear. Do you have written expectations of team members? Sales trainer Harry Friedman says that, “75% of your time is spent correcting people on behaviors you never made clear in the first place. If it isn’t written, it isn’t real.” Clarify expectations. Get together with your team and write simple, concise position descriptions. This means less time scolding your employees and more time being kind to them. Happy employees? Priceless.
- Be There. After the storm, organize your team’s rebuilding efforts. Who was hit hardest and how can you help? Offer what you do well and easily – restaurants provide food, plumbers…water, boutiques…clothes. No need to work anonymously. Wear your team shirts and bring the pride when you come to the rescue. Your neighbors will remember. They may write your thank you notes that say, “While your prices are on the high side, I know you give back to the community. Consider me a customer for life.” Ka-ching, ka-ching.
- Be Aware. Share the road. I’ve been a runner for a long time and have had some close calls with cars. I assume that drivers just might not see me, so I run defensively. The other day, on a lonely country road, a car nearly ran me over and the driver flipped me off. In my endorphin bliss, I just shook my head. It make me think that if that fellow had hit me, I would have a very rough day. And so would he. The cost in time lost, energy, money, heartbreak…it is just not worth it to drive like “Mr. Wheeler.” Be kind when you drive. Huge financial savings.
- Be Thankful. Day in and day out we are faced with business challenges. It’s easy to forget how many things are going right. Make it a habit to point out and thank people for getting sales made, products delivered and numbers crunched. Thank clients and employees and strangers who hold the elevator for you. A friend of mine put 10 pennies in his right pants pocket every morning. Each time he acknowledged a job well done, he moved a penny to the left pocket. He disciplined himself to say at least 10 nice things every day. He told me he believes that exercise has helped him retain great people at his company, with others in his industry have tremendous turnover. Less turnover means more profit.
I love business! It gives us a chance everyday to dream, to take action and to realize our intentions. It can bring out the best in us.