We live in a digital world. Texting, IMing, Facebook pokes and tweets – it’s truly a whirlwind when it comes to communicating these days. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve found that a personal touch still goes a long way (yes, even in 2010 and going into 2011).

Everybody loves to receive a hand-written note thanking them for their service on your team. We’re coming up on one of the busiest times of the year with Christmas. Your volunteers are going to work countless hours (your staff, too). Take the time to write out Thank You notes to each and every one of them. If you have the budget, include a gift card in the note to them. Sometimes I did Chili’s gift cards for $25. Sometimes I could only do a $10 Starbucks card. Whatever your budget can do – make it happen.

Another thing that goes a long way in this digital world is phone calls. It seems we’ve lost the art of picking up the phone and checking on our team and seeing how they’re doing. I used to go through my team’s list of names and give them a call just to see how they were doing and if there was anything I could pray for them about. This went a long way!

One final thought I’ll mention on a personal touch is to give out hugs. You wouldn’t believe it, but a hug goes a long way. Now I know that some people don’t like to be touched and freak out if you try to hug them. You need to be aware of body language and know if you’re making someone uncomfortable, but by and large, most people like a good ‘ole hug. On Wednesday night rehearsals, I greeted my team members with hugs and asked how they were doing. This is in contrast to barking “Get to your station!” or “Did you hear of the changes we made?”

I used to say stuff like that in my early days and had a volunteer say back to me, “Good evening. How are you today would have been nice to hear.” Ever since then I’ve made it a point to not let something “business” come out of my mouth first. The person is always more important than the thing we’re trying to accomplish or produce. Check on them first and then update them on the changes.

How long has it been since you wrote a note? How long since you called a team member? Given any hugs lately? Let’s surprise our team and volunteers with kindness this Christmas season.

Greg Atkinson

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