Betina Echols is circulation manager for Modern Healthcare. On a day-to-day basis she has the tough job of keeping up with new subscriber requests, list rentals, title changes and a host of other things a circulation professional has to deal with if a magazine is going to get out on time and to the right people. There's a lot of stress, but she handles just about everything thrown her way in a calm manner. However, just to make sure everything keeps running smoothly, a few months ago we initiated a system whereby every few weeks Echols personally briefs me, our editor and our national sales director on any problems or developments in the circulation department. So far it's worked very well. But something happened recently that I consider remarkable.
Echols was updating us on a variety of matters when she brought up the extra duties one employee was handling in the department that makes sure the mailing addresses of Modern Healthcare's readers are up to date. She named the person and proceeded to tell us how this individual, because of the department's heavy workload, had been taking work home on weeknights and weekends. Then Echols said something that immediately caught my attention. She didn't make a big deal out of it, but was I impressed. Because of all the extra work the clerk was doing, Echols took it upon herself to give the employee a frequent-flier ticket she had earned from one of the major airlines. I asked her why she had done this, and she said it was simply her way of rewarding a colleague who had gone out of her way to do a better job. Now that's what I call going above and beyond the call of duty.
I asked Echols how many free tickets she had stashed away from all the trips she took on that airline. She said that was the only one, but she was happy to give it to her colleague. I was so proud of Echols that I stopped the meeting and told her how inspiring that story was to me. I also told her she had the one quality most effective leaders possess: thinking about the needs of their employees. In too many cases leaders forget to reward good people. They worry more about themselves and their own rewards than they do about those who toil in the trenches doing the work that needs to get done if a business is going to flourish.
Effective leaders are always on the lookout for people who go the extra mile. And when they find them they reward them. It might be a handwritten note, a plant or a couple of tickets to a ball game. Whatever it is, it's a token of appreciation for a job well done. People who go out of their way to show they care about their charges are big-time managers in my eyes.
We all know bosses who think this is a bunch of bull. Their reasoning is simplistic. They believe the person is already getting paid and is expected to do a good job. So why go any further? But it shouldn't take a genius to figure out why. When the boss goes out of his or her way to thank an employee who has done exceptional work, it shows the boss cares. And that can send morale sky high. Some studies even indicate that this kind of reward does more for a person's morale than a raise.
To Betina Echols I say thank you. Thanks for being the thoughtful person you are. You made my day. You shouldn't have any trouble with your future at all. That's because you've got a winning attitude, and it's contagious.