I have a question for you. If you had a meeting scheduled with one of your employees and your manager suddenly scheduled a meeting at exactly the same time, what would you do? Keep the meeting with your employee, or reschedule it and go to the meeting with your boss instead?

The reason I’m asking is that although most organizations I know of have some version of the following, “Our people are our most important asset”, in their mission, one of the complaints I hear most often from workers – and leadership – is that employees say they don’t feel appreciated and that the organization has an employee engagement problem.

So, back to my initial question. What would you do if you had time scheduled with an employee and your boss suddenly called you into a meeting? In many organizations, the automatic response would be to bump the employee meeting. And that’s a problem, because although our definition of ‘respecting people’ is often something like ‘I show people I trust and respect them when I leave them alone to do their work’, what actually makes employees feel most appreciated is when their manager spends time with them. That’s because employees know that their manager’s time is very valuable. So, whenever their manager chooses to spend that valuable time with them, they feel appreciated as workers and valued as human beings. And when employee meetings are ‘bumped’ for other meetings, no matter what’s written in an organization’s mission, vision or values, employees see and understand what’s really valued.

So here’s my challenge for you this week. Do a little experiment. Book time with each of your employees – and keep it. No matter what. Even if the CEO calls. Because your people really are your most important asset – they serve your valuable and valued customers. Show them that you really appreciate them by putting them first and spending your valuable time with them. As I often say, “What we spend our time on is what we value.”

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