After being a widower and single father for 6years, I married my best friend Barbara a few weeks ago in an intimate ceremony in my home. We wrote our own vows and as I did, I realized that they apply not just to a newly married couple, but also to any relationship, including the relationships CEOs have with their employees.
In fact, I translated my wedding vows into a talk I gave at our annual Blinds.com holiday party, describing to my employees how each of the vows also is a social pact with them. Consider making these promises to your own staff:
Vow #1: "I promise to continue to appreciate all the little things you do, such as making me smile, or just making me a cup of coffee."
Now, for the record, I make my own coffee at my office. But my employees do all sorts of things for me--large and small. For example, Ann--one of my longtime employees--has one of the warmest smiles, which is especially welcome after a stressful day of meetings and phone calls. Or there's Sarah and Simone, our unofficial party planners who stepped up to the plate to give us a wonderful Blinds.com holiday party. And I couldn't be happier that many of my employees showed their commitment to the company in 2012 by applying for new positions within Blinds.com. I appreciate that they've chosen to advance their careers here rather than at another company. For these, and so many other reasons, I appreciate my staff.
Vow #2: "I promise to create a warm and inviting home for one another, our friends, and our combined families."
One of your most important jobs is to create an environment that allows your employees to flourish. This can mean providing collaborative work and play spaces or even hanging employee-created art on the wall. But don't forget the importance of keeping your office an inviting place for those all-important extensions of your company--friends, family, and community members. Who knows? Today's visitors often become tomorrow's top performing employees (it happens to us all the time!).
Vow #3: "I admire the love you have for your children and how you demonstrate that love by spending time with them. I will honor and support your relationships with them."
Whether it's a sick child, exciting hobby, or a business project that falls out of their normal job duties, honoring your employees by giving them the time they need to take care of their relationships and passions is key. We offer flexible working conditions, performance-based compensation, and open lines of communication to make sure our team never loses sight of what's really important (hint: it's not impressing the boss by missing a baseball game or school play to be the last one out the door at night).
Vow #4: "Whatever challenges we might have as a couple or individually, I promise, together with you, to meet those challenges head-on."
Can you afford to promise your employees anything less? Together, you can admit when things go wrong--and fix them, without blame. Part of being a real team is sticking together, in good times and in bad, and knowing you've always got a champion, a coach, and a partner when you need one.
Vow #5: "I will always love you."
And you know, I love my employees, too. What's more, I make sure they know it by listening to them, paying attention to who they are (beyond a name in an HR database), and celebrating our exciting lives together. Through thick and thin. 'Til lottery win (I kid) or retirement do us part.
I could, of course, go on and on. But you get the picture. These promises are the least of what I owe my staff.
What vows have you made to your employees?