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Guest Commentary: Time To Take Notice

In life and in business, we all encounter people who, no matter what the situation is, are always there to resolve an issue or a conflict, meet an impossible deadline or handle a difficult customer, then go about their business with very little fanfare or drama – the unsung heroes.

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

iStock - Unsung Heroes - g-stockstudio

Photo credit: iStock.com/g-stockstudio

In life and in business, we all encounter people who, no matter what the situation is, are always there to resolve an issue, solve a problem, resolve a conflict, meet an impossible deadline, handle a difficult customer and go about their business with very little fanfare or drama – the unsung heroes.

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They make substantive contributions and, many times, their efforts go unacknowledged or appreciated. They show quite the strength and courage and come in many sizes, ages and colors… and make a difference in our lives every day. They also do not get the recognition they deserve in most organizations and families. They are the go-to person, and no matter the size of the problem, or crisis, they handle it with class and conviction. They give themselves for the greater good.

It could be the maintenance person who comes in at 4 a.m. to ensure the parking lot is cleared during a snowstorm, or the accounts payable person that calms an upset vendor, or a warehouse person who stays late on a Friday before a holiday to get out a key customer’s order.

Given the pressures of the day-to-day challenges, we forget to acknowledge their sacrifice and contributions. We all need to pay attention to these “special givers.” Giving to the good of the organization is indeed a thing of choice – it is an act of will!

The real path to fulfillment is making a difference and finding a place we belong.

Let us find ways to acknowledge the nurses, maids, postal workers, teachers, firefighters and truck drivers, as well as the automotive aftermarket technicians who keep Americans safely on the road. Do they feel appreciated? Isn’t it time to recognize the people who make your company successful?

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In everyday organizations there are a group of people who “GET IT DONE!” They are the employees who volunteer for the difficult assignments. They are the go-to-people when things get tough and many times make others look good. They eat lunch at their desks, come to work in a snowstorm and turn the lights off at night. They should never be taken for granted. Thus, we should never forget that our unsung heroes are there for us. This group of special people are loyal to the cause and are the core of the organization. They marshal their personal and intellectual resources to advance the workplace and strive to make a difference. Unsung heroes take intentional and individual action to contribute often. They are the smartest person in the room, talk the least and get the most done and do not have a big ego. They do not second guess the boss – they do!

We all have experiences when an unsung hero resigns. The company counter offers, which then adds insult to injury. The time to show appreciation is now! Remember silence is not feedback! It is time for positive action. Take time to show your unsung heroes that you care. Never forget the power of positive affirmation (feedback). Design a reward system to further show your appreciation. Implement an “Unsung Hero of the Year Award.”

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Unsung Heroes bring forth new ideas. Are you listening? They can be game-changers and exist at every level of your organization. Your receptionist or customer service professionals are the mirror of the company’s values, communication style and culture. Are you investing in your key customer contact employees? They are the voice of your company. Are they properly trained? Do they have knowledge of the company’s products and value proposition?

Unsung heroes have a desire for attention – they want to be heard, respected and to be taken seriously. They tend not to seek credit but should be given credit when it is due. Recognition should be given in a trusting manner and demonstrated that we value others.

“It is a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found.” – D.W. Winnicott

Paying proper attention to your organization’s unsung heroes means to not only notice them but to hear their words and value their experiences and to understand and appreciate their needs. I am sure that from time to time, we all get up on the wrong side of the bed and yet in every organization, there are employees that give us a warm smile and a sincere, “Good Morning.” Their positive attitude is contagious and changes our mood.

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Let us all never forget the unsung heroes, that behind the scenes, those heroes who play such an important role to make the company succeed. As we start a new year, let us sing the praises and never forget their significant impact.

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