It’s All in The Dings

“Any job, big or small, do it right, or not at all.” – Char Schwan, (1942 – 2013), treasured wife, mother, daughter, aunt, friend, confidant…and many other roles to so many people

What an amazing role model I had in my Aunt Char. She led an incredible life full of love and wonder. As I think of her home where many of us created lifelong memories, I recall her beautiful grandfather clock that delivered a lovely chime every 15 minutes. The way she lived her life was almost as if every ding of that clock was a trigger for her to ponder, “Whose life can I impact right now?”

She didn’t wait for twelve o’clock, when she heard the majestic chimes that sound twice a day; she brought joy, wisdom, love, support and faith to others with every little ‘ding.’ Aunt Char taught me that life is made in the smallest of moments, not the grandest of gestures.

We can all learn a lot from the wisdom of my Aunt Char. As I translate her wisdom to navigating change in the workplace, I think about how leaders can inspire engagement and performance in their teams by looking at ordinary interactions in a new way.


Action: How to Be A Leader That Inspires Performance and Engagement

  1. Show your gratitude. Daily work can be stressful enough. Add a change, and the (short-term) extra work can be daunting. Simple phrases – like “Great job!” – will propel your staff during those long hours spent poring over data, or thinking about the next step in a big change. I’m fortunate to be working with a COO who takes the time to share feedback on the work we are doing. (Thank you, Jen!)

  1. Make time for people. Give people time. Your employee speeches are important to ensure a consistent message is being shared. A smile and a hello in the hallway are also important – ask how a colleague’s family is doing, or take a 15-minute meeting to listen to someone who needs your ear. You never know what you may learn.

  1. Have and show heart. The message and meaning is in the stories. Yes, facts and data matter and are important to helping people understand where and how point A and point B differ (or don’t differ). What people remember is the story and the “why” behind the data shared.

It’s the moments that matter. It’s in the small dings. How have you successfully created a culture that inspires performance?

Dedicated to Charlann Schwan, who would have turned 71 today (August 19). Thank you for all the small dings you shared with me.

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Sandra Schwan

Sandra Schwan

Managing Partner at Evolving Strategies LLC
Sandra is the Managing Partner of Evolving Strategies LLC, a consulting firm helping companies and people learn, adapt and perform. Sandra holds a Master of Science degree in Adult Learning and Strategic Organizational Change from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas. Previous employers include the Corporate Executive Board, Lante Corporation, Kensington International, and Accenture where Sandra was awarded mentor of the year.

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