Kindness-1It’s been so heartwarming to see the outpouring of kindness and generosity from neighbors near and far in the wake of the fire disasters in the North Bay.  There’s something about disasters that makes people set aside their differences and come together in the spirit of compassion for their fellow human beings.

Why can’t we always be this way? How can we change the bad behavior that is increasingly becoming normalized in the workplace, and normalize kindness instead?

Leaders, it starts with you.  Set the example by treating your individual employees, your team, your customers, your vendors, your job candidates, everyone, for that matter, with kindness. Express your feedback – even when negative – in a positive, constructive way. The command and control style of leadership, although we see it in the news every day, should be a thing of the past.

Remember that the number one reason employees leave is because of their boss. With an improved job market, good talent has plenty of options. Don’t lose that talent by normalizing bad behavior. Be kind.

Encourage your employees to be kind by rewarding people for helping others and demonstrating kindness. The seasoned employee who makes an extra effort to help a new employee feel welcome and get acclimated.  The leader who inspires his/her team to volunteer for community service. The employee who goes above and beyond to help a customer have a good experience. The leader who consistently models positive behavior in word and deed.

Caution employees not to get caught up in the rumor mill, and to seek the truth, in person, before making assumptions about a situation. All too often conflicts get blown out of proportion because too many people are brought into the loop via emails that are over-copied and over-shared. Remember, emails are one-way communication and you have no control over where that email goes once you send it.  Create an environment where employees know that the first step in a conflict is to try to resolve it face to face with the other person, and if that doesn’t work then to involve you, as their leader.

These sayings are old, but definitely apply today: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything,” and, “Words, once they are printed have a life of their own.”

Let’s all try to be kinder, EVERY day.

“No act of kindness is ever wasted.” – Aesop