Say good morning at work – it works

This is beyond amazing: This fifth grade teacher in North Carolina has a personalized handshake and greeting for each of his students. What a great start to any class.

While this might be a little too much for the average workplace, one thing we teach many of our clients is the value of actually saying “good morning” to your coworkers/employees in the morning.

There are several approaches to saying good morning at work:
Level 0: You ignore people completely
Level 1: A somewhat unintelligible grunt
Level 2: Saying good morning without looking at people
Level 3: Make eye contact as you say good morning
Level 4: Also say something more than just good morning, e.g. “How are you?” or something more personal.
Level 5: Also touch the other person – e.g. a handshake or a pat on the shoulder. You can even hug, but only if you and the other person want to.

Specifically, we recommend the “Level 5 Good Morning.” What you see in the video above with the teacher is probably more of a level 6 or 7 :)

It’s a small thing. It takes no time and costs no money, but  it makes people happier at work - in our opinion because it reinforces good workplace relationships between coworkers and between managers and employees.

And it works. Here are two examples:

I once worked for a bank in Germany (well these are two locations in which you would not normally expect “personal affection” ;-)).

The team was large, about 40 people worked in one open space office. It surprised me a lot that every morning, whoever arrived, walked through the whole office and greeted everybody with a handshake and some personal words. It did not matter if the team members came, the bosses from higher up or anybody from another department. It was known everywhere that here you greet everybody personally.

For the first week, I found that very strange and a bit intimidating. Also, it cost a lot of time all in all. Yet afterwards, I really enjoyed it. It gave everybody the chance to get to know the colleagues a bit better, to hear what they are off to or to realize that somebody is not in or just returned from a trip or vacation. There was no need to e-mail weekly lists on who is out when. We just knew it.

Btw, when I moved on to another job, I sort of missed it.

And this one is great too:

Actually the level 5 good morning is working a treat – which is why I’ve kept it up!

I have a new team member that I supervise who sits next to me, and Mihaly also sits with us in the same section, which can be a bitdaunting for a new team member!! The three of us collaborate really well together, and I think the level 5 good morning has helped our new team member feel comfortable…

In fact, the three of us just worked on an urgent roll-out of our new website, and we had a great team dynamic – everyone knew their role, trusted one another, communicated perfectly. It was great.

I think the level 5 good morning was a big contributor to that… It’s hard to measure though isn’t it, you sort of just ’feel’ the effect. Anyway, thanks for the invaluable advice!

The opposite is also true: If someone comes into the workplace and says good morning and gets no real reaction, that can lead to people feeling isolated, ignored and lonely – which makes some people really unhappy at work.

So say “good morning” at work. It works!

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