A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. – John Ruskin
This past weekend, we celebrated Easter. In the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday, much of the Western world participates in the traditions of Lent, which most commonly encourage us to give something up during that 6 week time – from Ash Wednesday to Easter – as a form of penance or sacrifice affiliated with our faith. But, giving something up for Lent has also become the pop cultural norm, even if it doesn’t have a faith-based implication for you. You’ll hear people talk about giving up soda or chocolate or TV, just because they probably should anyways and Lent is as good a time as any to start.
Likewise, many people have begun to add something to their lives for those 40 days, instead of giving something up. These additions might include beginning a new devotional, spending more time in prayer, trying to exercise daily, etc.
At Southwest Michigan First, we decided as a team to do the latter – take something on for the 40 days of Lent, so we began a ‘random acts of kindness’ challenge that turned out to be not so random. Each team member drew the name of another team member and was encouraged to commit at least 4 secret random acts of kindness for the person they drew over those next 40 days. The outcome was remarkable.
One team member bought lunch for everyone in the office one day. We had team members making dinner for each other that you could simply take home, pop in the oven and have a beautiful meal for your family 30 minutes later. Teammates shared each other’s favorite treats or a $5-10 gift card to Starbucks or a small gift that they knew their kids would like. Many secretly contacted their person’s spouse to learn ways they could really surprise them. The creativity was boundless.
What made this challenge so special is that each team member took the time to really consider the person whose name they had drawn. The random acts of kindness were personal and meaningful, they weren’t random at all. Our office buzzed for those six weeks and beyond the intentional acts of kindness, people were more kind to each other overall – in meetings, in the hallways, on the phone.
On the Thursday before Good Friday, we got together as a team for lunch and revealed who had who for the challenge. It was a great time of excitement and gratitude. We built on existing relationships and developed new ones. We grew closer together as a team.
I encourage you, as leaders, to look for ways to further engage with your teams. It doesn’t have to be a formal program or an expensive outing. Engagement happens best when it maintains a level of spontaneity. And you certainly don’t have to wait until Easter of 2016 to participate in something like this. How about the month of May or June or September for your kindness challenge? These impromptu engagement opportunities not only lift the spirits of individuals on your team, they foster great team engagement that will serve your organization for years to come.
Plus, everyone could use a little extra kindness these days.
Question: How are you fostering engagement in your organization?