Perception Is Reality

Perception is reality.

Not sure there’s anything spoken truer than that!

I really don’t give a crap about your intentions…nor the effort…nor the time invested…nor if you really thought about how others would take it.

It’s all about results.

It’s all about how others perceive what you do & what you say.

The impression you make on others not only helps build your reputation (good or bad), but it really says so much about your beliefs.

Your principles (or lack thereof).

What you really value as well as what, or whom, you don’t.

And it need not be some major undertaking or a huge, important speech you gave or a new rule or process you just implemented.

It could be something very small.

Like parking.

Parking privileges.

I absolutely HATED it, with a deep passion, when someone was afforded “special parking privileges” for “who they were” or “what position they held”, instead of what they’ve accomplished!

Always felt that when certain people received these “special parking privileges” SOLELY because of their position in the organization, that is/was probably one of the haughtiest & most selfish acts that “you” (be that an individual or group) could ever do.

It’s like thumbing your nose at all the common folk.

I’ve always had a big issue with it…and always let my senior leadership know about it.

I had a major problem when the senior Directors at the USCC/U. S. Citibanking Center in San Antonio decided to assign themselves the closest parking spaces to the building…closer than most of the handicapped spaces!

Had the same exact problem in Nebraska when Lehman Brothers instituted a similar practice when they built their brand-new $40MM building.

Nationwide Financial (Retirement Plan Operations) had a similar process when we were in Dublin, OH before moving to downtown Columbus to a beautiful new site. But this one was much less obvious as they utilized an underground garage (instead of hogging up the closest spots to the building).


And I’m really not interested in hearing how “rank has its privileges”!

You already have enough privileges, not to mention paychecks.

I believe this parking privilege nonsense is so damned elitist. An “I’m more important than you!” slap in the face.

Hell, I even had a problem with it when I first joined Citibank & we moved into a new facility in Brooklyn. And I actually benefitted from the practice as I eventually got a spot in the inside garage instead of the outside parking lot.

And whenever I felt that the people…the real people.,.were being screwed, disrespected, nor appropriately recognized/rewarded, I made my feelings known.

And had -0- problem voicing that opinion to senior management.

I felt I owed it to my people…all of whom worked sooooooo much harder than any boss I’ve ever met in my entire 35-year career.

In every instance, I recommended that “those employees who we already formally recognized as ‘top performers’ & such” should receive all or most of the prized parking spots.

Citi was always big on (formal) employee recognition so we had a plethora of programs from which to choose to select “eligible winners” (for a month, quarter or year).

Same with Lehman Bros & Nationwide Financial.

I recommended that we could still have special/reserved parking spots for the big shots…but just don’t stick them right in front & closet than everyone else.

Put them off to the side (at the end of the first few rows) so they always knew that they had a spot waiting for them & didn’t have a long trudge to the building.

Eventually, I got EVERY organization to change their practices, except the Brooklyn/Staten Island Regional Service Center from ’79-’83 & later when it became the HQ for the National Operations Division (’88-’93).

And the new “parking programs” WERE a very big deal for the employees!

They had the parking spaces marked, signs installed &/or placards for their cars that would tell everyone about their accomplishments.

The impact of these programs cannot be overstated!

In addition to the obvious impact it had on those given the special spots, it demonstrated to ALL employees that they were valued for what they did!

They already respected their bosses, but never needed to have anything shoved in their faces!

It also demonstrated that management valued the people who made the place go, the ones who did all the heavy lifting for the place.

If you could do that, without terribly inconveniencing the “upper echelon” (as we all realize that their egos MUST be massaged), then you’ve killed the 2 proverbial birds with a single stone!

(Note: All leaders have egos & often times, the really-best ones (leaders) have the very biggest ones (egos).)

Egos are NOT bad things! You MUST have one to be an effective leader.

No doubt whatsoever.

But like almost everything in life, too much of anything is not healthful.

Too much power corrupts.

Too much ego blinds you as to why you do things & for whom.

Too much candy gives you a bellyache.

You hafta have a (big) ego if you’re gonna lead people.

Be confident enough in your decisions that’ll impact others.

Never be afraid of being out in front, getting your people to follow you.

Always thinking (and making sure) that you’re making the right decisions & changes for all the right reasons.

Leading by example.

Convincing people that you’ll ALWAYS do the absolute right thing for them, for your customers & for the company (shareholders).

And you hafta realize that while you must have an ego to succeed, you must control it.

And realize that your peers also have egos & that needs to be taken into consideration when dealing with them. (Man, that alone could take on a life of its own! Trust me…)

So, as a leader, think about the opportunities & “privileges” you may have & enjoy…quiet time to reflect & think during the day…some freedom in determining what you can do & when…the ability to participate in, and attend, self-Improvement & skills-enhancement courses & exercises…go to lunch whenever your schedule permits…make decisions instead of always following orders…that you can extend to your people.

It goes way further than parking privileges.

Do you actively solicit input & feedback from your team before making decisions or implementing changes?

Do you actively encourage your people to take better (full?) advantage of your company’s educational & training opportunities?

Do you provide a calm, peaceful environment away from the “busy floor” where your people can relax & decompose?

Are floating, flex, unique, uneven schedules possible? Have you ever really thought about them & how they could be used to assist some employees with juggling personal needs/commitments without any degradation in the ability of the business to meet its service or timeliness responsibilies?

Where can you s – t – r – e – t – c – h & bend the organization’s rules & policies, without actually breaking them, for the benefit of your people?

Think about this stuff…and about the impression they’ll make, and the impact they’ll have, on your people.

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Look around to see if others are employing some Best Practices that your team/group/area has yet to adopt & incorporate.

Mingle with your peers. Visit other departments. Read other people’s monthly summaries. Hold a free lunch where “1 or 2 ideas” will serve as people’s admission fee.

Never stop thinking about your people & what you can do to improve their work lives.

As always, thanks so much for listening!

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