The news is mostly riddled with disheartening stories of disaster and hardship. It’s rare to find uplifting stories such as the following: Restaurant owner treats 20 employees and their families to ‘priceless’ Disney World trip. This story is more than a feel-good narrative. There are also valuable lessons restaurateurs should take to heart. Good acts are not just good for the soul; they are good business. Here are three lessons you can learn from Gypsy Gilliam of State Farmers’ Market Restaurant extraordinary act of kindness.
Recognize Your Employee’s Humanity
Gypsy was inspired to make this grand gesture for her staff after her team underwent a particularly grueling period, which left the staff as a whole feeling spent. It would have been easy for Gypsy to say, “that’s life” and move on. No one ever said work is relaxing. In fact, it’s the nature of the thing: work is tiring. Gypsy could have rationalized that it wasn’t her responsibility to re-energize her staff. However, the course Gypsy decided to take was an excellent example of foresight and leadership.
If you look back on history, the great generals of the Roman Empire, such as Germanicus and Marcellus, were strikingly successful because they led their men by example and through personal sacrifice. For both of these generals, there was no issue or task too menial for their consideration or effort. They were one of their men. As a result, the men they led were ready to lay down their lives for them.
Gyspy’s generosity generated this type of loyalty. One of her employees was recorded as emotionally saying, “I am forever grateful for Gypsy, and I don’t have any idea how to pay her back. But, I do put forth 100 at work. I want to work hard for Gypsy after what she did for me.” Gypsy and her staff are not called to literally lay down their lives for the work; however, the whole staff is motivated to support each other, even at personal sacrifice. Any manager will tell you, the employee who has a personal investment in their work is more efficient than the one who simply clocks in and out.
No I in Team
Another ingenious consequence to Gypsy’s kindness is the team-building aspect of the trip. Gypsy’s entire staff underwent a unique and unforgettable experience together. They also had the opportunity to see each other in different lights, as fathers and mothers. No doubt, bonds were strengthened and others created where there were none before. This is the type of experience that people carry with them throughout their lives. And these 20 employees have it in common, to carry them through future difficulties and disagreements. This case study could argue that a team trip to Disney World is a more effective means of team-building than any consultant-led exercises or classes could be.
Not a One and Done Deal
Relationships are not built on grand gestures. Rather, strong relationships are built on trust and consistency. The efficacy of Gypsy’s grand gesture would be hallow if it was one blip in an otherwise unremarkable or hostile history of behavior towards her staff. We learn from an interview with one of her staff that the act was completely in line with her character: “she just enjoy just seeing us happy” one of her employees told the interviewer. Thus, the takeaway here is not that one grand gesture will solve all of your personnel problems. Rather, the lesson is that great leaders act in a way such that newsworthy grand gestures like Gypsy’s are in keeping with their everyday behavior.
Kindness bears immediate and long-term benefits. Gypsy chose to make an immediate personal sacrifice by splurging on her team; however, the value of the return is priceless. From a grounded perspective, her generosity has not only inspired people throughout the country, it has garnered attention and interest in her establishment. You can be certain that I, and many others who had never heard of State Farmers’ Market Restaurant in Raleigh, will be sure to patron this establishment the next time we’re in the North Carolina. Kindness unites. For many, this one act has created a whole community of supporters who are rooting for Gypsy and her crew. That alone is well-worth Gypsy’s investment.
Challenge: plan a simple surprise for your employees to express your gratitude for their efforts.
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