Ignoring the Help

A year ago I took an unusual holiday – my kids were attending camp for a week, so my wife and I volunteered to work in the horse corrals for the week. It was very different work, tiring, rewarding, and relaxing in its own way. What I did notice was how easily I was ignored by the campers.

Let’s just be clear: the staff and kids at the camp were wonderful – grateful, fun, friendly – the campers were reasonably indifferent, though respectful and friendly when we interacted with them. I am not complaining, this is what anyone would expect with 12-16 year-olds, or anyone really (especially since we were mostly shovelling horse manure)!

What this experience caused me to notice was how many people were serving me during this week (someone cooked my meals, washed my plates, cleaned my room, etc.), and I had really not noticed until I started to think about it.

But this is not a lecture on being grateful (hopefully it does not seem like a lecture at all!). What I think we do is to define “the help” relative to our own role – clerks, receptionists, junior managers, subordinates – and then how we often ignore them. And this despite the fact that we ourselves may be defined as “the help” by someone else who is ignoring us in turn…to our great displeasure!

I will leave to you any potential connections from treating “the help” better for improved customer service, staff morale and personal growth (and promotion prospects). I suspect that those links are pretty strong. Certainly I know that when I feel valued and appreciated I feel that I am making difference, and I work harder as a result.

What can you do for your “help”? Personally, I like the three “F”s – be friendly, make it fun and occasionally provide food. If those aren’t for you, type in ‘how to appreciate your staff’ in any search engine and see if there is something that works for you there.

Attention ladder-climbers: people will not remember you for that report you got in on time, rather they will remember you for the type of person you were. And in 50 years, they likely won’t remember you at all. Make your time, and theirs, something more!


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