When we think in terms of references we invariably think of what others can do for us. It’s something that only crosses our minds, for the most part, when we need them to speak well of us and on our behalf. Good references can and should be regarded as a powerful tool, an extra weapon in your arsenal to have at the ready when the time is appropriate. I recommend one should always be on the lookout to keep a file of references because they are so important.
No man is an island, entire of itself; we live in a society and whether we realize it or not, each of us has the power to influence the lives of others for the better with small gestures. I’ve recently written that asking for and providing a reference is not to be taken lightly, as we attach our reputations to those on whose behalf we speak. Assuming there are no strings attached and no quid pro quo (something in exchange for something); we do it and should, as a selfless act, in my opinion.
However, I’d like to suggest that you consider this from a different perspective. We are all busy as we rush about in our busy lives. Often when we recognize and take note of someone for a job well-done, or when we receive better than average service, we take notice of it but we rarely do anything about it - I suggest this should change.
We don’t have to wait until we’re asked to provide a positive reference or a good word on someone else’s behalf. In reality we have an opportunity, if we act upon it, to help make a positive difference for others who are deserving.
Look, we see it every day, a lot of people do just enough to get by, they do only what is expected of them and little more - these are not the people to whom I am referring. I’m referring to those who make an effort and do that little bit extra to see a job gets done right; to insure the customer is satisfied – they are increasingly rare.
When was the last time you received exceptional service from a waiter or waitress and, besides leaving a good tip, sought out the manager and told them about how good an employee they have working for them? Or, after a good business interaction you offered to provide someone with a letter of recommendation or a reference? Such expressions can be immeasurably helpful to those who do a better than average job at whatever they do.
It only takes a bit of effort to follow-through on a thought, to simply go one step further, is all I am suggesting. Endorsements on LinkedIn make it easy, but even better if you write a testimonial. Many businesses have a Facebook presence, which can be a quick resource to share a good customer / client experience. Additionally, now more than ever many people work for small companies or they work for themselves independently; for these people especially a reference, recommendation or testimonial can make a big difference in aiding their careers. It’s not charity or a handout, but deserved (and appreciated) recognition.
In too many places of business we are hurtling toward mediocrity as the general rule, these trends marginalize the doers. Furthermore, personal excellence is increasingly misunderstood, considered a threat by those who think being average (or less) is good enough and, in some places, good employees are actually mocked and ridiculed by their less than impressive counterparts. I despise group think, one-size-fits-all, generic generalization, which diminishes individual effort and personal excellence – increasingly we’re led and managed by anything but the best qualified and the most able. Yet, the trends demonstrate that better than average employees seem to be more under-valued and unappreciated than ever. That is, until they resign or find another place of work where they’re more appreciated, but that is a whole other topic.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as good, decent, fair, caring and helpful people, both professionally and personally. Small, acted upon gestures, such as what I am describing, can be of great help to both the attitudes and careers of those who daily put forth their best personal effort in the face of the creeping fungus of sameness and purposeless conformity and that which shrugs and suggests, “why bother”, as so many do.