At work, we have some training programs, some of them quite long, that I oversee -- well, ultimately oversee. There are a few layers of supervision between me and those programs. In spite of those layers, I continue a practice that I began 20 years ago when I was a dean. At every graduation, I give flowers to the teaching team. I don't care whether the students did well in the course; I don't care if the students were happy with the course. These issues will come up later in program reviews and making changes is the responsibility of the immediate supervisors who are responsible for these programs. The flowers I give are for the effort, to let the teachers in these programs know that I notice and I care.
The teachers love these flowers and look forward to them. I usually send them with a handwritten "congratulations" note. If I can take them to the teaching team personally, I do, but far too often I am tied up and cannot. So, I send them via my admin assistant. No matter how the flowers are delivered, the teachers are also grateful. You would think that I had given each a significant award, but no, they are just a few fragrant flowers. Even the male teachers like them. They have become such an important part of the graduation process that I have my admin assistant purchase them for me if I am traveling and will be missing graduation.
Today was graduation. I was not traveling, so I was able to attend and give closing remarks. Closing remarks are always easy. The best closing remarks are brief. I know that. The graduation is essentially over, and I certainly don't want to stand between the graduates and their parties. So, today, as always, I kept my remarks brief. Then I had a chance to interact with the teachers and their graduates. Some of the families were present, as well.
So, it was a good day. (Not all days are quite so pleasant.) We celebrated the good efforts of teachers and their students. The teachers smiled with pleasure at their flowers. And then I went on walkabout.
Walkabout is one of my management practices (when I am in town). I take about an hour and talk to as many employees as I can. I usually concentrate on one section at a time and ultimately over a month or two I reach nearly everyone. I always take cookies with me. The sugarfree kind because so many of our employees are diabetic. Living in the Middle East taught me to take a gift when I call on people. It is not the cookies that matter; it is the attention. I was able to make it through two sections on walkabout this afternoon and yet have time not to hurry any one conversation. Oh, I enjoy the walkabouts as much as my employees do. I also learn a lot. People volunteer all kinds of information when they have a cookie in hand!
So, today was just one of those days, one of those good days! To make it even more perfect, I was even able to catch noon Mass at a small church near my office. I hope that you all had as happy a day today as I did, and if not, I will pray for a perfect tomorrow for all of you!