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What do you thank your people for?

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in Leaders & Managers

Leaders pick the actions or qualities they will reward. In a notably volatile business — software development — Russ Griffith rewarded longevity.

On each employee’s 20th anniversary with Datatel, Griffith would put on a tuxedo, climb into a rented limousine and pick up the employee for a fancy ride to work. More than 600 co-workers would wait outside to welcome the employee and family with a standing ovation.

But Griffith’s attention to people wasn’t only about long tenures. Datatel had won awards for being a good place to work.

Example: Griffith encouraged employees to complete community service on company time. His own focus: making sure that soldiers and veterans were supported, something he’d lacked as a working-class kid who was accepted at MIT but wound up in Vietnam.

During 35 years at Datatel — 14 as president and chief executive — Griffith grabbed plenty of chances to express this core belief: “If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of the customers.”

—Adapted from “An Executive Who Focused on People and Giving Back,” Joe Holley, The Washington Post.

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