Russ, customer satisfaction technical assistant for a paper mill in northern British Columbia, Canada, told Session 4B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In August 2007, while my family and I were unpacking from our recent move from Thunder Bay to Mackenzie, B.C., I rediscovered a thank you letter that has been in our family since 1927. The letter is addressed to my grandfather, who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad as an engineer for most of his career. The letter of acknowledgement was from his superintendent. The letter was on company letterhead and still in the envelope it was originally sent to my granddad in.
I first found the letter several years ago among my fatherís papers during a move my parents were making. My grandfather and I share the same name, so when I saw my name on the letter, I removed it from the envelope and read it (see attached). It was a simple letter, thanking my grandfather and his crew for services they provided some of the customers on their rail line. The impression I got from reading the letter was that their customer service efforts were truly appreciated. As I read the letter, I felt proud of my heritage, proud of my family, and proud of my name. The fact that my grandfather had kept the letter his whole life, and my father had kept the letter through many moves, and now I am keeping it, is
pretty remarkable. Think of all the pay stubs that have come and gone, Christmas cards that were quickly read, shared around, kept a week or so, at most a year or two. The recognition of this extra effort from my granddadís boss is truly valuable.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that when I make extra effort, a part of my work practice people do value it. More importantly, I learned that when I take the time to recognize my team, my associates, for their extra efforts, I add value to their life that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
The action I call you to is take the time to express the genuine interest required to recognize others. Donít take their extra effort for granted. If they go the extra mile, then you go the extra mile. Donít hold back. They werenít too busy to put forth some little extra effort, so write a note, send a letter, and put a copy in their file. You never know. You could be impacting the life of a son, a daughter, even a grandson or a granddaughter, and be assured it is appreciated.
The benefit you will gain is an empowered team of high performers and your influence will last for generations to come."