There’s a very special lady I know (let’s call her Christine) who happens to work at a local, family-owned chocolate store in town. She works in the back of the shop with one of the owners meticulously preparing sea salt caramels, dark chocolate dipped wine bottles, hundreds of finely detailed chocolate turkeys, and even chocolate dipped potato chips for certain chocolate addicts.
The pride she takes in her work is evident as she strives to ensure that every sweet treat represents the store’s brand in a way that will keep people coming back season after season for another chocolate fix. Some of this pride simply comes from who she is as a person. Another piece comes from knowing that the family business depends on her doing a great job to deliver a high quality product.
Over the last few weeks Christine has been making hundreds of chocolate sheriff’s badges. Christine didn’t know much about why someone wanted a few hundred chocolate badges but she did know it was her job to produce the best chocolate sheriff’s badges possible so the customer was satisfied. It wasn’t anything new for her since that’s the way she approaches every mouth-watering piece of chocolate she’s responsible for making every day.
Then, on the walk home from work last week she passed the crossing guard working outside the local Catholic grade school. They exchanged their typical, friendly “Hello, how are you’s” and Christine expected to keep walking the final few blocks back home. But something was different in that day’s interaction.
The crossing guard stopped her and asked, “Are you the one making the chocolate sheriff’s badges for the fundraiser?” Christine replied in her happy and positive way saying, “Yes. We’ve made quite a few so far.” It was the next response from the crossing guard that suddenly made Christine truly appreciate the PURPOSE of chocolate and her work.
“Thank you so much for making the badges. Those are for the fundraiser we are doing for my husband who has Stage 4 cancer. It means so much to us knowing that you are making the badges to help us raise money for his ongoing treatments. It’s been a tough battle and everything this community is doing to help our family is really making a difference.”
When Christine made it home that afternoon she immediately shared the story. You could tell something in the conversation with the crossing guard had really had an impact. Knowing that she was making chocolate sheriff’s badges that really mattered in someone’s life made her appreciate the PURPOSE of her work. The information didn’t change the way Christine would make the next batch of badges. She always did her best to make them perfect. However, it did change her attitude and appreciation for what she was doing because know she knew it really mattered.
Far too often we fail to help people (employees) like Christine appreciate the PURPOSE of their work. Most people show up every day to do a job. They fire up their computer, turn on the assembly line, crank out financial reports because they know that’s what needs to be done. Just imagine if we took a little more time at work to remind everyone of the PURPOSE of their work. Every last job in an organization matters no matter how simple or complex.
As you show up for work tomorrow take a minute before you dive into that first email or meeting. Ask yourself, “What’s the PURPOSE of my job today? Who am I helping by doing the best job possible? Will my efforts potentially impact someone else’s life in a positive way?” I think you’ll surprise yourself at what you might learn and how motivated you are to do your job exceptionally well.