My friend David Marklew has been in touch with a fantastic story of engagement at work. Engagement and recognition between two people who don’t even share a common language. It reinforces the fourth question from Marcus Buckingham’s First Break All the Rules. “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?” It’s simple and effective. I love it. Great work David. Thanks for sharing.

We were faced with the retail equivalent of a disaster – a warehouse full of stock and none ready to ship to the store. There were issues in the supply chain, but a recovery situation prevailed.

The task was simple – gather together sufficient resource to put price stickers onto cd’s & dvd’s. It won’t be any surprise to anyone with an eye for logistics that getting the right resource (people to you and I) proved difficult. We had bus loads of agency temps (people) coming into the warehouse from all directions. Mixed abilities would be an understatement and English was not the dominant language.

The skill required in placing a cd sticker on the right cd in the right place is not high but it does require some co-ordination and technique to achieve a reasonable speed of application. It also requires a small but significant level of engagement from the ‘stickerer’. My committed management and supervisory team in true style set about identifying what I will call weaknesses in the stickering team. Their language for this was rather less polite. The agency supervisors were informed of the weaknesses and they were excluded from the site.

I tried to encourage them to apply some balance to their approach and show their appreciation to the more engaged ‘stickerers’. I had noticed a young man applying himself to the task with such energy and skill that it was difficult to keep him supplied with enough cd’s or stickers. I went to thank him for his work – he didn’t speak a word of English so I mimed the cd stickering action and gave him a thumbs up sign and a smile. This went on for a few days. He worked exceptionally hard; I gave him a thumbs up. On about the fifth day he came to find me. It was lunch time; he mimed scoffing, pointed at the canteen and beckoned me in. When I arrived in the canteen there was a table of about 10 of his friends. He invited me to sit next to him which I did and he then produced from his bag a huge bowl of food to share – he placed the exotic mix of vegetables, spices, couscous and rice in the centre of the table and we all tucked in. It was delicious. I felt very humble and realised a lesson in life. It is often very easy to connect if you make the effort – all it takes is the right signal of appreciation.

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