I’m going to use this blog post to brag, to encourage volunteerism, and to make a point about employee engagement. Last Saturday, I was awarded the annual prize for Citizen of the Year in my town. It’s kind of corny, but also one of the nicest thank you messages I’ve ever received.
Why did I get it? For six years of service on the Advisory and Finance Committee (aka Fincom), three of those as chairperson. What does a Fincom do exactly? Our town is governed by Town Meeting, the purest form of democracy there is. Annually, a quorum of citizens must assemble to approve the town budget, any changes to the town bylaws, and any other significant business before the town. OK, there’s your civics lesson for the day.
In order for those assembled citizens to be prepared to vote, the Fincom spends many months before Town Meeting reviewing all these proposals and making written recommendations back to our fellow citizens. It is work that is engaging, tough, frustrating, fulfilling – and completely performed by volunteers. Very few people outside of the Fincom understand what’s required to publish that book. Mostly, the reward is the satisfaction of doing something that helps your community vs. sitting on the sidelines and complaining about the things you don’t like.
In that regard, it’s much like the work that most of us do every day. There are high points, chasms of despair, and the full range of human experience in between. Much of our work is repetitive, difficult and invisible to others. Most employees have to find much of their motivation to do an effective job from within themselves. And the magic elixir that can keep us going – just when we think we’re invisible – is a heartfelt thank you.