Any thoughtful leader knows the professionals in support roles are the backbone to a successful organization. Early in my corporate career I learned THE most important roles in any company include the Executive Assistants, Security Guard, IT team, and the catering and cleaning team. I made it a point to learn their names, their coffee orders and something special about each of them.
Professionals in support roles are truly some of the most important, most informed and most powerful people in your company. They have access to decision makers, understand company culture and the idiosyncrasies of leaders and they can help you in if you get caught in a jam.
Anytime I visit the gorgeous corporate offices of one of my clients at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia it’s not uncommon for the reception team to come around from behind the desk to give me a hug or when I am on the executive floor, for the team from catering to come into a meeting or a session I am hosting, and I stop to give them a cuddle and hear about their kids.
It’s vital to make sure that everyone in your company feels seen and heard, especially those in important support roles.
The receptionist knows everyone’s schedule and they are the first point of contact for your company. My little sister has this role in a major firm in Australia and we often chat about how important it is to be kind to them. Grab them a coffee occasionally; ask them about their weekend, they are your client’s first impression of your business. Pay attention to how much they do for your company brand and the atmosphere in your office.
The executive assistant or your leader’s assistant not only manages their calendar, they know how the leader is feeling, what they like and don’t like and also what your peers are working on. Their role is also to be a gatekeeper – respect their role and don’t try to go around them. Befriend them, seek their advice and always be organized in your conversations and requests of them. Pay attention to their systems to best work with them (not against them)
The security guards know the coming and goings of all the team, and over my career they were the only ones there when I arrived and often when I needed to get to my car late at night. Over the years I have learned so many fascinating things about their careers, how they have served in different roles and why they have chosen this career to support their families. Always smile, be kind and make a point of acknowledging the important work they do for you and your team. Pay attention to them when you enter and leave the building.
The IT department members are vital. Ever had your email or server go down… yep, you don’t know what to do with yourself! They are talented, often under appreciated and they work long hours. Respect their systems, be kind when you make requests, spontaneously do something generous for them, buy them lunch or bring in treats for their coffee and never be angry or impatient with them. It’s not their fault your devices don’t work; don’t take it out on them. Pay attention to your tone with IT.
The catering and cleaning team often go unnoticed and they are deliberately discreet on a daily basis. Stop what you are doing if the cleaning staff enter your office, take a moment to look up, thank them and get to know them a little. You don’t need to have long conversations, just a moment of gratitude. I meet the most ah-mazing people in my travels and recently while speaking in North Carolina I met Rose, a beautiful woman who was cleaning the bathrooms in the hotel and she had been married over 50 years and was working to help one of her children with medical expenses. She was such a delight with a gorgeous smile, I always learn their names. These team members work hard to create a productive environment for you and to prepare food you will enjoy. Pay attention to how they make your life so much easier and more pleasant and remind them when you can of how much you appreciate that.
When you pay attention to the little details you enjoy big rewards. Who are the most important people in your company? Invest 15 minutes today to surprise and delight those in support roles that you work with and let them know you appreciate them, that you see them and you value them.
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