The little things count

Think twice, then once again before making comments to your people or responding to remarks made to you. All it takes is one mindless or indiscreet statement to set the adverse tides of opinion surging against you. Industrial psychologist Dr.
By Raymond Dreyfack January 1, 2000

Think twice, then once again before making comments to your people or responding to remarks made to you. All it takes is one mindless or indiscreet statement to set the adverse tides of opinion surging against you.

Industrial psychologist Dr. Mortimer R. Feingold tells the story of a supervisor who, in a fit of temper, roared, “I don’t care how long you’ve been in this firm. Seniority means nothing in my department.”

The union, which for years had been trying to break into this company, seized on this impulsive comment to gain entrance. Its organizing theme: “Seniority means nothing.”

In another case, I recall an engineer friend confided he had received a more attractive job offer. “Sounds good,” I replied. “Take it.”

“I feel the same way,” said my friend. “But I can’t bring myself to leave a company where my boss visited me three times when I was ill in the hospital, and offered any help he could give, including a loan.”

People don’t forget, and wax sentimental about, small human kindnesses. It works the other way as well. In one plant, a chief engineer, up to his neck in work, brushed aside a key person’s persistent request for a change in his vacation schedule. The person resigned the next day without notice, costing the company a well-trained professional and leaving the department in a bind.

Question: In the plant engineer’s place, what would you tell the chief?

Walden’s response: You probably guessed it. “No matter how busy you may be, never be too busy to pay attention to the small human things that are important to people.”