I Need a Bucket !!

Before you think this is a post about Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, it really takes a different twist (even though I’m a devout Python fan !!)

There has been a recent trend in blog posts that came to life at work for me this week.  I first came across Susan David‘s fabulous post on Harvard Business Review on engagement and meeting employee’s needs. Secondly, I read one of my faves Paul Hebert on Symbolist and his take on finding out what employees want.  If you take nothing else from this post, make sure you connect with these great folks and resources !!

This all came to life for me through one of my favorite Team Members.  Greg has been with us for over 30 years and he started when he was 16.  Greg is fantastic because he has always done the work that most people look down upon or consider below them.  Greg started with us as a dishwasher taking care of all of the various dishes from our guests as well as the kitchen equipment.  It really is one of the key positions in our pizzerias !!  A little over a year ago we asked Greg to try something new and clean the parking lot for our anchor store as well as the parking lot for the Corporate Office.

Greg has always taken great pride in his work, and he welcomed the new opportunity.  A few weeks ago he asked me for a new bucket.  I didn’t think much of it because he had a bucket, but something seemed wrong.  He seemed out of sorts which doesn’t happen that often.  When Greg saw me, he’d check in and see if I had found a bucket yet.  I asked Greg what kind of bucket he wanted and he said, “Something big and colorful.”

Lowe's BucketI took Greg’s request to heart and found a beautiful, blue bucket at Lowe’s.  I walked it over to the pizzeria and asked the GM to get Greg and have him meet me at the restaurant.  He thought something was wrong, but his eyes lit up when he saw me with the new bucket !!

He explained to me that someone had ruined his last bucket and it was great to have something new !!

You need to know something fantastic about Greg !! He is a Special Needs Team Member who is flat awesome.  In fact, when we had a group of sixth graders visiting us, Greg asked if he could speak to the class.  He was absolutely captivating because he spoke from his heart about how much he loved working for us, and he encouraged all of the kids to make sure to apply to work for us when they turned 16 just like he did !!

A bucket.  Something that seems to be insignificant and simple to most, changed Greg’s day.  I can see him now across the street as his blue bucket bops up and down as he walks joyfully through the lots.

What’s something that’s staring you in the face which may mean little to you, but would change an employee’s life ??  We make HR so layered and difficult, and miss people’s needs that are right in front of us.

This week, strip off the layers and look for those “bottom shelf” needs that you have been missing.  Recognize that it’s important to someone else and then fill their bucket !!

15 thoughts on “I Need a Bucket !!”

  1. Steve
    So true! Sometimes it’s the “little” things that can have the biggest impact. My first boss was really extraordinary .One day when I was having a bad afternoon , he went to the nearby Baskin Robbins and brought me “surprise: ice cream. That was almost 30 years ago and I still think about it. To me he set the standard of a good leader.

  2. Thanks for the story. Sometimes we miss the connections right in front of us. This story does put the “human” back in human resources…take care!

  3. What a beautiful post. Simplicity made simple. I’m so proud of you and the work you do to make people feel special. You bring out the best in people. Bravo.

  4. I like the meaning of your post…not overlooking what is glaringly obvious is often times the best way to show employee’s that you appreciate them, that they are valuable and that small gestures make big differences.

  5. Thanks for sharing that simple truth, Steve! Good reminder for all of us when we feel like we’re getting sucked into the daily “muck.”

  6. This is what management lacks – Listening skills. Everything they hear is filtered through their brains after analyzing using the criteria what they (as management team) looks for to accomplish. If only management is present physically to simply listen and act on ideas provided by grass root employee, it makes the employee empowered.
    A couple points in your post struck me and made me think were
    1. “He is a Special Needs Team Member who is flat awesome.”
    2. I took Greg’s request to heart and found a beautiful, blue bucket at Lowe’s. I walked it over to the pizzeria and asked the GM to get Greg and have him meet me at the restaurant. He thought something was wrong,………….”

    Why does an employee get the feeling when summoned that he/she is being called for reprimanding rather than get the feeling of joy knowing he/she will be awarded or recognized. Is it the “Fear driven work environment & culture” management has created or something else?
    Is special treatment given to different employees due to “Favoritism” or “who he/she knows in the C-Suite” or “Special category employee who is protected by labor laws”, etc. or I am being too critical and should chill out………

  7. Ashok – I appreciate your comment and don’t think you should “chill out.” I do think you missed some of the point of the article. We don’t have a fear based culture in the least. I do think, however, that employees have traditionally approached management aprehensively because of inconsistency that they’ve seen in how they interact.

    The company I work for is phenomenal, but even we have to work on relationships between employees and management. It’s an on-going opportunity to improve things and make it better with every interaction.

    I wanted to emphasize that small, positive moves make a huge difference. Thanks again for the comment.

  8. Steve,
    I am so sorry that I did not communicate my thoughts precisely. My comments are not about your organization but in general. With my 27 years of experience in industry I have yet to experience an organization where as you say it right “employees have traditionally approached management aprehensively because of inconsistency that they’ve seen in how they interact.”

    I am very glad that you have experience that is seperating your organization with general management style of “fear or autocracy based culture” that I have experienced.
    Respect & Trust an employee is surely a paradigm that should be embraced by management teams to gain traction in employee involvement & engagement.

    1. No problem Ashok. I think your comments were spot on and a great reminder to all of us that we can all improve as individuals and organizations !! Thanks for being connected more and for sharing your insight. I appreciate every comment that people give.

  9. Great story! Whether it’s a bucket, or a certain style of keyboard, or even pen, it’s the little things that make us happy.

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