I was watching an episode of “The Middle” recently (okay, Curry College COM/PR students and CCPRSA members…don’t judge!) in which Axl proclaims that of course he’s going to get the job he’s going to interview for…he has amazing hair! Needless to say, the hiring manager didn’t notice this one detail and Axl didn’t get the job.
The very next morning, I had what I term a “deep philosophical discussion” with the owner/manager of the apartment complex where I’ve lived for more than 20 years. I was merely reporting a leaking faucet that I’d like repaired. He proceeded to lecture me on the “proper” way to report these issues…NOT through the convenient, staffed, knowledgeable on-site management office BUT through an out-sourced, anonymous answering service. His attitude was clearly “you are an inconvenience to me.”
These two “lessons,” one real, one not, triggered a memory from a quarter-century ago when I asked the senior staff at the Blood Bank of Hawaii, for which I was Communication Services Director, “What is the one thing that, if we don’t have it, we’re out of business?”
Answers centering on “patients” and “blood” ricocheted around the room until finally I piped up with “donors.” My reasoning centered on a couple of things: first, there had been studies on the feasibility of manufacturing a blood-compatible product; second, as long as there were telephone poles and trees and people were allowed to drive cars, there would always be patients.
My point in this was just this…the “manufactured” blood was still a conversation; the non-ending stream of patients was an ongoing reality. Without generous individuals who were willing and able to donate a pint of blood, we would not be able to fulfill our mission.
The result of this conversation was a minor tweak in our communication initiatives to place an even greater emphasis on the importance of “you…the blood donor.”
“So what’s the point of all this?”, you ask.
Simple. It’s about attitude…about recognizing and admitting that, without the support and participation of others, you are NOT going to succeed. And it’s about demonstrating to those on whom your success hinges that you know that and appreciate their contributions to your success.
I’m not suggesting that you roll over and give away the store. What I am suggesting is that you demonstrate, either verbally or visually, your appreciation for each individual’s contributions, large or small.
Another quick memory: I once consulted for a nonprofit educational organization in Boston. Once a year, we conducted an alumni fundraising activity, encouraging donations large and small.
The founder/president acknowledged every single donation, regardless of size, with a personalized hand-written note…hundreds of hand-written notes. It was time-consuming, and I suggested that I design a nice generic note and we mail-merge the thank-yous. An adamant “no way.”
The result was that, each year, we saw increases in donations from individual donors with their own notes expressing gratitude for our recognition of their participation.
It wasn’t rocket-science. Purely and simply, it was “You are important. Because of you, we are able to continue providing the first-class educational opportunities that you benefited from. Please help us continue that mission.”
The “bottom line” here is just that…the bottom line. Your customers don’t need you. You need them. So lose the ’tude.