Making your team feel good

imgres-1We were discussing how difficult it is to be a leader particularly when it comes to managing a team.  Each leader wants to get things accomplished yet everyone goes about how they manage differently.  For some, management is the most difficult thing that they do.  For others, management is innate.

I have always loved management.  Maybe it just comes naturally but I have never had any issues with telling the good with the bad and setting goals and expectations for everyone.  It has worked well for me over the years even when it comes to investing.

The other day we were sitting at MahZeDahr bakery where we saw a woman purchase a large amount of treats to bring back to her team for a milestone that they just met.  She wanted to acknowledge their work and it makes the team feel good.

Years ago when I was the Assistant Store manager in Macy’s New Rochelle I was well aware of how the people who worked in the store had seen managers like myself come and go for decades.  We come in, get to know everyone, try and make an impact on the business and then get promoted to our next gig.  It you were good you didn’t stay more than a year at best.  I believe I stayed around 10 months.

I was responsible for training the managers to understand their businesses as well as getting them promoted or in some cases telling them that there was no path for them in the company.  I also had to engage the staff so that they enjoyed coming to work on a daily basis.  I honestly loved the job…one of my favorites.  It was important to me to make everyone feel wanted.

On the day before the last one day sale during the holidays I decided to do something for everyone.  I did not have a lot of cash but I did know how to bake.  On my day off I stood in our miniature studio kitchen and baked 5 different varieties of cookies that totaled up to almost over a thousand cookies.  It took me hours.  They had to last all day from morning to late at night for each shift of employees.

I came in the morning of the sale and put a huge box of cookies in each departments (the ones that reported to me) back room so everyone could go back there during the day and have a homemade treat.  It made me feel as good to do that as it is did for everyone who worked for me.

When I returned as a buyer to check on my department in the store, I was not only remembered but embraced.  I did something that made all of those people feel good and sometimes that is all it takes.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Caring and empathy are not only what makes us human but also good managers.Being tough and doing the hard stuff in no way means your can’t and don’t care.

    1. Gotham Gal

      for sure

  2. pointsnfigures

    Winston Churchill famously said to always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge. “In Victory, you deserve it. In Defeat, you need it.”. I always have some chilled in my fridge.You are very correct on team building and esprit de corps. Sometimes it’s little things like a cookie that can make a big difference. When things are going bad, sometimes it’s best for a team to take a step back-maybe even bake some cookies together to get the machine humming again. I remember when I was at the USAFA. My flight won the drill competition for the entire Academy. That night we got pop and popcorn. A cold pop and popcorn never tasted so good.

  3. Laura Yecies

    This reminded me of a time I made banana breads for my entire team – it was a full weekend of bread making 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      and I am sure they were immensely grateful.

  4. Anne Libby

    There’s an important boundary, though, between taking an action to show people that you appreciate them — and trying to make other people happy. It’s a boundary thing. One is solid leadership, the other can almost veer into co-dependency.Beyond not acting like a jerk, you can’t lead other people’s responses. I see too many managers feeling burned out when their efforts to “make” other people happy don’t achieve some desired outcome.(I still remember 20+ years ago, when a manager who reported to me told me, “I’m never bringing cookies in to my team again.” I can’t remember the specific event caused her to draw the line. And she comes to my mind every time I talk with a young manager today, about the importance of having some boundaries.)So yes, do bring cookies. Send a thank you note. Whatever means appreciation to you. And remember that you can’t control the result.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I love this post and this comment.One of the biggest lessons I have learned in any type of role that involves managing or influencing people is that you cannot control the result. I also learned this in public speaking.And yet… how does this square with managing outcomes?

      1. Anne Libby

        Thought provoking question — one I can’t do justice to now without sounding like a total jerk.I’ll risk it, you know me well enough to have some context. The outcome we’re actually trying to manage: make a business that works. When we have a happy team/company, it’s a fortunate consequence of being able to run a business, and to do so successfully enough to have employees.(And in Joanne’s case, she never would have been embraced if she had been a jerk who brought cookies. My guess would be that she was embraced for all of the day in day out relationship management and advocacy she did as a manager — and the success the team created together. The cookies were the cherry on top of the sundae.)

        1. Gotham Gal

          Totally agree. The cookies were the cherry on the top

          1. Anne Libby

            Have a great day/week!

  5. Donna Brewington White

    This is the significant take away for me:It was important to me to make everyone feel wanted.This post reminds me that I need to be more attentive to this with my team.And for managers out there, the hardest people for me as an executive recruiter to lure away are those who feel truly valued and appreciated.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Managing is tough. Sometimes people react in a positive way and sometimes in a not so positive way. When it doesn’t work then changing your style is key here.

  6. Donna Brewington White

    Huge advantage that you can bake. My gosh, as I think about it, what a renaissance woman!My oldest son always wanted to include homemade cookies with his Valentines in elementary school — and this was a school where you had to bring a Valentine for each and everyone in the class. Plus he would add the principal and office staff.It should not surprise me that he is now in culinary school. Nor that he has a natural knack for influencing people.