I was watching a short TED Talk this week entitled, “Why Lunch Ladies Are Heroes.” In this talk, the speaker describes the impact a cafeteria worker had in his life and tells stories of some pretty amazing things that school cafeteria workers are doing around the country. There is a link to the video at the end of the blog if you’d like to watch it. What really caught my attention was the cafeteria worker who, for the first time, felt appreciated for the work she did. Which leads me to the question of how much we value all of the people in our organizations.

It can be so easy to take people for granted, especially those who work in what we often consider supporting roles such as food service, maintenance, janitorial and housekeeping, etc. We often don’t recognize the vital role that these folks play in the work we do and in turn maybe don’t do enough to help them feel that they are a valuable part of our teams. When I hear stories of school janitorial staff, for example, who have to do their jobs after school without heating or air conditioning because it gets turned off at the end of the school day to save money, I wonder how valued those folks feel.

In The Mandt System, we emphasize the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect. The creation of safe and healthy places for the people we serve starts with our attitudes toward and the way we treat each other as staff. Valuing the roles of everyone on our team is essential to this process. So the next time you go through the cafeteria line take a moment to sincerely thank the person who prepared and served your meal or when you’re tempted to leave the mess thinking the janitor will clean it up take a minute to clean it up yourself. Even if we are limited in the types of large gestures of appreciation we can make, there are always things we can do in our day to day interactions to help people feel more appreciated.

To those of you reading this. Thank you for the work you do and for being part of the Mandt System! We appreciate you!

Doug ZehrVogt – Mandt System Faculty