The True Spirit of Generosity

My first consulting job was over 30 years ago with a group operator/franchisee of Arby’s/Taco Bell in New Mexico. When my client shared what he wanted from the assessment and group sessions, he instructed me to steer away from any money questions. I told him that the question was important to ask on the assessment, and that we’d steer away from the conversation – leaving it to him to address. To his shock, money came in sixth of 13 items on their list – this from people working at or near the minimum wage.

Much more important to them were things like better training, equipment that works, hiring people who care about their jobs, and managers being kinder to them.

So many managers and owners think that money is what motivates their employees and colleagues. All the research says money is important, but it is only at the top of the list of issues or motivators when people feel truly underpaid. What really matters most is working with people who care – about them, about the place they work, and about the business that they do. People want to work on something that has a purpose, with people and for managers whom they like.

True generosity starts by being aware of and caring about what others think and feel when they work with and/or for you and your company. Manage the environment and the communication to convey that you care. Make sure that is a big part of your culture. Watch how people relate and communicate, and do all that you can to make it better. That is truly generous.

Teaching people how to do their jobs and live their lives better – providing training in job and life skills – at every level of development, is truly generous. Those skills and trainings shift with age, education, and socio-economic realities, and they are part of a truly growthful and generous culture.

Lastly – but perhaps first – be generous of heart. Be kind. And so much of that is in the way we relate and communicate. Take the time to listen, and be sure you are truly focused on what is being conveyed. It is a learnable skill. Not just the words, but the eyes, the body language, even the breath conveys meaning. Be aware of your communication, and pay attention to “theirs.” Put down the smartphone, turn away from the screens, and truly be generous with who you are – and for whom they are. That is the key to true generosity in the workplace – and at home. ?

Steve Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or email him at

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