The annual “welcome coffee” for parents the first morning of this fall term for my son’s grade school should be a no-brainer for others to emulate yet hunch is it isn’t.
Turns out, as I asked around, that most places don’t do anything like it.
Why does it seem so hard to do the little things when you know that it’s both the big events and the little touches that get stored in people’s memories.
You are what you say but more important you are what you do. Treat people well and they’ll remember; treat people badly and they’ll remember even better.
In a future post I’ll write about my experience applying to 50 jobs online as part of research for the career counseling side of my consulting practice. Here’s the quick headline; most places didn’t even send an acknowledgement that they received my application. For candidates the failure to do the little thing – “hey we can’t your resume. Thanks! We’ll contact you if it might be a fit” is one of those no-brainers.
There are tons of ways to set tone, vision, culture and in the end performance for an organization but when you strip it all away it gets pretty simple; what’s the message you want to convey, and what are the ways by behaviors and actions you can consistently and effectively drive that message home.
So what’s the underlying message for the welcome back coffee at Traylor’s grade school? Simple. The school attempts to be a diverse and inclusive community (three thoughts: diverse + inclusive + community) and one of the ways you become inclusive is to be sincerely welcoming.
The origin of the world welcome is Old English from around 900 A.D. – Wilcuma – and originally meant “one is who coming in accord with another’s will.”
This event is simple (not to take away all the work that makes it happen). It’ a coffee with morning snacks provided by volunteer parents, some brief welcoming remarks from the Head of School and the President of the Parent Board, and time for parents to mingle.
New parents (who had already been formally welcomed at a late spring event) got to renew acquaintances and meet returning parents – the serendipity of living in a big community with many one degree of separation connections means there are people you know who are ready and willing to introduce you to people you don’t know.
Total time for the event? About an hour.
Cost? Low – thanks in part to the volunteers help and time.
Value of the welcome? Priceless.
So the welcome coffee is a good example of a small thing done well in support of a broader set of behaviors and actions.
Big things are important. Little things count too.
Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.