How do you feel when someone tells you you’ve done a good job? Or that they appreciate you in some small way? It feels pretty good and can make the difference, sometimes, between a good day and a bad day.
I think it’s important to communicate to people, of all walks of life, people we know and complete strangers, that they’ve done a good job and that we appreciate their efforts. And this can be communicated in so many ways; saying “thank you”, a smile, a monetary tip, or actually completing the feedback or evaluation questionnaire when asked to.
My compensation depends, in part, on evaluation or feedback scores, provided by the participants in the training sessions I provide. I work very, very hard, and at the end of the session, I acquaint the participants with the evaluation form and process. For whatever reason, and probably more true of accounting professionals, people just mark the bubbles right down the middle, a three on a scale of one to five. I’ve even heard people say they never give the highest rating to anyone, that everyone is average, unless they do a really poor job. They’ll say they enjoyed the training session, they may even leave a favorable comment on the evaluation form, which I appreciate, but then they bubble in an average score. In my company, a prolonged, average score of anything less than 4.5 is grounds for termination. What is so wrong about telling people they’ve done a good job?
I travel a great deal. When I park at the airport I take the shuttle bus to the terminal. I always, always, always give the driver a couple of bucks if he, or she, helps me with my suitcases or something. I remember one particular trip, when the driver stopped to pick a group of us up to take us to our cars, I returned his greeting with a smile and a hello, I lugged my own suitcase onto the bus. The bus driver was arranging the suitcases on the rack, not assisting us directly, but just making sure the bags were loaded in a manner that was efficient and would allow more bags to be accommodated. I said thank you to him as he arranged my bag, even though it didn’t benefit me directly. When we arrived at my stop and the driver announced it, I indicated that I needed the bus to stop by saying “Yes, please.” Another passenger was getting off at the same stop, a very surly woman. The bus driver jumped up from his seat and got my bag down off the rack and set it down on the pavement after I exited the bus. Before he could turn to assist the surly woman, she made a loud, snide comment about him only helping me because I was prettier. No, I think it was because I was more pleasant, closer in proximity, and because she really didn’t give him a chance to assist her before becoming indignant. Anyway, I tipped the driver and extra dollar for having to put up with that kind of treatment.
I also tip housekeeping staff at the hotel, again, just a couple of bucks per day, along with a “thank you” on the notepad. This rarely goes without some kind of thank you in reply. I know it isn’t much monetarily, and the note itself is completely worthless, but I also know that those small gestures help make a long day of work a little bit more pleasant. I always say hello to the housekeeping staff if I encounter them in the hallway or elevator. I tip the bell staff for handling my bags if I need to store them before or after checking in or checking out.
I tip restaurant wait staff at the highest end of the “customary” tip range, and a little more if the service is extraordinary. I tip hair stylists, manicurists and estheticians, again, at the high end of the “customary” tip range. I treat everyone with respect and a friendly tone. I rarely, if ever, receive poor service. It is my belief that first, you get what you pay for and second, the golden rule applies to everyone all the time.
If I am ever unsure whether it is customary to tip for a service I haven’t used before, or if I don’t know the customary rate for a tip, I research it online, or use a smart phone app. I remember well a trip to Boston; I hired a shared ride van from the airport to my hotel where I was meeting up with a coworker who had arrived earlier. It had been a very long day, I was very tired, and was a little out of sorts. It was terribly rainy, and as the norm in Boston, evening traffic was horrendous and my hotel was located in an outlying suburb. It was a long drive. In my travel induced exhaustion, I grossly underestimated the tip for the driver. He was visibly disappointed, and almost rude as he unloaded my bag. It really didn’t occur to me what I’d done until after he departed, but I felt terrible and still cringe a little inside when I think about it.
The point is, a small tip and a friendly gesture, a kind word, a moment of recognition for a job well done, is really the least we can do for people who serve us in the course of their jobs, whether seen, or unseen. Taking a moment to thoughtfully complete feedback forms and evaluations, keeping in mind, more often than not, the results are being used for appraisal and likely even compensation. We may feel secure in our positions in life, but one small turn may find any one of us in a new realm where we will rely on feedback, or tips to help keep food on the table and a roof overhead. Be thoughtful, be generous, be compassionate. Here’s your tip.