The amount of times that the term “Champion” was used in conversations this week was unusually high. The perspective that HR folks were asking for kept pointing back to the position of a champion within the organization. And it isn’t always easy to find the champions. They are not always front and center; sometimes they serve on the sidelines. Sometimes they are vocal and sometimes they are heads down getting it done. They are heroes and shadows. They are your champions.
It may be easy to see the champion when it’s someone who captivates a crowd. It may be easy to see the champion who puts in extra hours. For sure, we may need to shower those champions with gratitude, but we also, need to validate those who keep the need for a rescue to a minimum. Plotlines often demand conflict/problem and then someone to heal/correct. These heroes are seen as the champion of the story.
And yet, most real stories need consistency in action and response. Think of the school teacher who shows up ready to invest in kids each day. Think of the administrative assistant who, in addition to core duties, ensures that meeting spaces and catering needs are handled quietly behind the scenes. Think of the manufacturing professional who enters each work daily with a quota and understated drive to meet it. These folks, too, are champions.
Both of my grandmothers were waitresses for decades. They went into work, set tables, did kitchen prep, excelled in guest service, cultivated regulars, and were as reliable as the day is long. There were never big parties of appreciation for them at work. They did not get gold watches after 25 years of service. They were wired to be diligent, thoughtful and consistent. They were champions.
It’s time to unmask these champions. Address each with thankfulness. Regale them with the effects of the work produced. Connect the dots for each by showing them how the ethic/performance qualities affect the larger picture of success. Even if you think they already know it, tell them again.
Champions may grow tired of the underappreciation. They may feel that an organization has become expectant of their consistency in a demanding or non-considerate manner. It may be a “yeah, yeah, yeah” in response to the “you do know how valuable he/she/they are, right?” That dismissive, non-thoughtful answer or demeanor will not draw people to you. And certainly, it may move people far away from you.
Recognition is a fundamental business value. It may take different paths in expression, but it’s a value that our staff expect. What have you done to show gratitude to those champions? Is it a gift card? Please. There’s nothing wrong with a gift card, but is that it? If that’s the biggest expression…well, you know. These champions bleed for the company, the team. Think about what type of gratitude expressions would be best. Knowing your people well will help you in knowing what to do next.
And if you happen to feel like you’re a champion and no one takes the time to appreciate you, then let me say, “Good job.” I am grateful to have people like you in the mix. You are not overlooked by everyone. I count.