As 49-year-old Cara stepped out of her car, she noticed an employee was having trouble carrying a variety of bags from his car to the building. Cara approached the employee saying, "Good morning! I see that you've got your hands full; I've got a free hand, let me help." The employee was immediately grateful but declared that he would take care of it. Cara responded with, "At least let me take one of these bags to the front desk to save you some of the trouble." She picked up a bag and started walking with the employee to the front of the building. She casually noted, "Looks like a department party. Something special today?" The employee said, "Some new employees are starting today and the facilities staff wants to welcome them." "Great news," Cara said, "We're growing."

Cara left the bag at the front desk and while walking to her office she spoke to each person she met along the way. Her comments were usually something like: "Hey Joe, I hear we'll get to see your project report later," or "Hey Diane, I haven't seen you for awhile; I hope that everything is fine." As she made her way to her office, she interacted with every person, making each interaction brief and direct. Each time she addressed the person by name, asked a supportive question, and often invited the individual to let her know how things were going.

Total time investment in each interaction: eight seconds. Return on effort: employee loyalty, trust, and a flow of information that every manager desperately wants and needs to make intelligent personnel decisions.

Cara is the vice president of marketing in a $200 million dollar financial services company. She is known throughout the organization as an impeccably dressed, energetic leader.