Yesterday, a wise (not old, but wise) woman said to me, “People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
This woman speaks the truth. Caring is the core of high performance. And while we may know it in our logical brains, the best among us show it in our actions.
How do you demonstrate to a customer/client that you care? Contrary to popular belief, your “care factor” is not demonstrated by how fast you respond to an email, how many hours you work, or how well you set up your spreadsheets. Volume doesn’t cut it. Nor does process. Nor does expertise – at least not all on its own.
What makes a difference is your heart, your focus, your attitude, your overall posture toward your work.
I can tell if someone is enjoying client work by:
- The inflection in their voice
- The kinds of questions they ask – and how they listen to the answers
- How they sit at a conference room table
- Where their attention is focused (warning: not on the blackberry)
- How they share information
- Their openness to the “aha” moment
- Their appetite for spending time, face to face, with the people they serve
- Their interest in understanding how an organization works, not just on paper, but in reality
- Their ability to anticipate and interpret what might happen next
- Their optimism, even in the face of dysfunction
Smart managers can help their employees harness this care factor by fostering a culture of leaders as opposed to order takers. According to Hay Group’s new 2010 Best Companies for Leadership Study, 100% of Best Companies give all employees the opportunity to develop and practice the capabilities needed to lead and 90% of the Best Companies expect employees to lead, regardless if they have a formal position of authority.
A professional – in an agency, working for a corporation, or as a freelancer – will tell you in many ways whether they care. You just have to observe. It’s all right there.
And without question, we all do our best work when we care. Don’t you think?
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