OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

A little chocolate milk goes a long way...

How a manager once made my day.

Photo of Hannah Lennett
1 0

Written by

I once worked at an after-school program at a charter school. I was part of a group of very young, inexperienced teachers who were doing our best to get antsy, exhausted elementary schoolers to finish up their homework and participate in games/crafts/activities until their parents finished at work. It wasn't an easy job and there were days when we felt like we needed to peel ourselves off the floor at the end of pick-up.

We had a few different managers over the course of the year I worked there and one really stuck in my mind as an exemplary supervisor (especially in such a high stress situation) because of his dedication to gratitude. 

I remember two particular things he did:

1. He made sure we understood that he knew that this job that can be really overwhelming and that it is normal to have days where you need to walk away for a few minutes. He always made sure he made himself available to "tap us out" if we just needed to get a breath of fresh air, a bite of a granola bar, or a quick cry. The empathy that came with that gesture was one of the most meaningful gestures I've ever experienced from a manager.

2. On his first day, he asked all of us if there was one thing we loved/found comfort in, that cost less than 5 dollars (a Starbucks gift card, a bag of salt and vinegar chips, etc). I, as a fully grown adult human, still drink chocolate milk when I'm feeling down and told him as much. About 3 months later, in the midst of a particularly rough day, he appeared with a carton of chocolate milk and an offer to take my class for five minutes while I drank it. I had completely forgotten about his first day ask and loved how timely, personalized, and effective this gesture was. It was so simple but I'll never forget it. 

Shout out to managers who think of meaningful, low-cost ways to care for and thank their employees. It's noticed and it makes a world of difference. 

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Hutchison

Love this story. What I like about it is the idea of getting a personalized token of thanks. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate milk, but a well-timed cup of coffee with a dark chocolate square would be bliss (only because I suppose a glass of prosecco isn't necessarily so workplace appropriate!).
1. I wish I knew what everyone in my office's $5 or less gift would be. How could this be enabled?
2. Would the chocolate milk meant as much coming from a co-worker?