It’s More Than Birthday Cards

25 Jun

BL75HBeCIAAM0-4On June 4, 2013, I celebrated my one year anniversary as the President & CEO of Feed The Children. The staff surprised me with a luau themed cookout at lunchtime. It was a great party and I was touched and honored that they went to so much trouble to honor this milestone in my tenure at FTC. I probably should have suspected something when everyone was wearing flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts that day, but it was an incredibly busy day so I was easily distracted (now that I think about it, maybe that was the plan!).

After a couple of very nice speeches by senior staff members, I was presented with a photobook highlighting the events and trips of my first year in office. It brought back a flood of memories and made me realize how far we've come in just one year. While I didn't have time to read it all at the party, I took a break later that afternoon to sit quietly in my office and read page by page what was written.

It was a collage of photos from my first year and notes that employees had written me during that time. I noticed, as I read, a headline that said "it's more than birthday cards".

I continued to read and saw several references to birthday cards.

The first week I started at FTC, I started handwriting birthday cards to each employee and if at all possible, I hand deliver them on the appropriate day.

I began doing this simply because it was a gesture that just seemed normal to me, to remember people on their special day and thank them for who they are and what they contribute to the FTC family. Who doesn't like to receive a birthday card? Who doesn't like to know they are appreciated?

But, after reading the book I was given, I pondered for a moment and realized that simple gesture must have meant so much more than I could have possibly imagined. In recognizing employees birthdays, I was telling each and every staff member at FTC that I saw them and that they mattered to me.

Leadership lesson number 1: employees want to be personally recognized. Employees want to be appreciated. Birthday cards matter.

So to all the FTC employees, I say thank you. Thank you for welcoming me, working so hard alongside me, for surprising me on my one year anniversary, and ultimately for reminding me that it's how we treat and care for each other that matters the most regardless of how small the gestures may seem.

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One Response to “It’s More Than Birthday Cards”

  1. Mark Asbury June 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    This year my birthday happened to be on a day that started me on a new life path. One that has been a challenge compared to the one I was on. I received a hand written birthday card from you that day and even with the sadness of the day, it brought joy and I truly appreciated it.
    Employees are the backbone of the company and by empowering them they will left you to success.
    Keep up the good work!

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