Fried green tomatoes

This past Tuesday, as we were traveling to Americus, GA, and the wonderful Windsor Hotel, we stopped at the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, GA. The Whistle Stop Café was featured in the 1991 award-winning movie Fried Green Tomatoes starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates.

This town of Juliette is little more than a whistle stop. This was our second time to eat there. We love the little restaurant and are willing to wait awhile for a seat to open up. As we were enjoying our catfish and wonderful southern style sides, the owner manager who runs the kitchen came out into the dining room and blew the “toot toot” train whistle to get everyone’s attention. “Today is Howard‘s birthday!” Howard was sitting up at the counter with his granddad having lunch. The manager went on, “He worked here with me over 10 years ago, helped me get this restaurant started. I love this man! Let’s all sing Happy Birthday!” Of course, everyone joined in with a hearty Happy Birthday to You.

I looked over at Howard. This man who’s 36 years old today, was wiping tears from his face. The recognition had clearly been very meaningful to him. As he and his granddad were leaving, I had the opportunity to talk with him for a second. He told me that he started working there when he was 17, worked there for several years before he moved on. I love this little snapshot in human dynamics and human nature.

We all need praise and recognition. Praise is oxygen to the soul. I was enjoying soul food; I don’t know if you can prepare soul food properly without soul. I thought how this moment of recognition added to the joy and pleasure of everyone in the restaurant. And, the recognition added to the pride and energy of the wait staff, who work so hard, trying to keep up with the demands of the line of customers who are always waiting on the porch.

Once again, we learn recognition, the public recognition you provide one team member for outstanding achievement emphasizes what’s important around here and builds espirit de corps.

The action I call you to take is find ways to public recognize members of your team, who have and are making meaningful progress in the key result areas you value. Do this and you will have high morale, continuously improving productivity, lower turnover, and a line will form outside your door of qualified candidates who want to work for you.

Public praise pays.

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