Merge's Blog

What does it take to “connect” with your employees?

Last week I was working in Honolulu HI (yea I know, tough :)) and as I took a walk one evening, I came across this homeless man taking a quick nap on the sidewalk.

HawaiiHomeless

I realize the picture isn’t completely in focus, but if you can’t read it, his sign says “Why Lie, Need Beer.  Mahalo.  God bless.”  After I laughed out loud, I stopped for a few minutes to observe other people’s reactions.  In the five minutes that I stood there, unseen in the shadows, I saw 17 people stop and read his sign, and (this was the one that surprised me) 14 give him their spare change.  “Why?” I wondered.  Why did he do so much better than the average homeless guy?  I mean 82% is a pretty good “closing” percentage … in any environment.

As I walked away, I came to two possible conclusions.  One, apparently there is something to be said for truth in advertising.  He was honest, and people appreciated that.  Two, he had a sense of humour, and people appreciated that as well.

I think there’s a lesson here for leaders.  As leaders, we want to connect with our employees, clients and colleagues.  Perhaps honesty and humour are two ways to improve our “closing” percentages.  What do you think?

By the way, before I left, I dropped a few quarters and dimes in his cup as well.

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