What The Church Can Learn From Apple

I experienced this cultural ritual first hand while loitering in a local Apple store. What I saw and experienced got me thinking about how we honor those who have worked for us. Perhaps I should say, “if” we honor those who have worked for us. I have found that most churches do a wonderful job at honoring those folks who attend weekend to weekend but fall short when it comes to honoring staff either while they are present or when they leave.

To frequently there seems to be a neutral to even a slight negative “spin” given to explain why a staff member is or has departed. What I observed in the apple store would transfer nicely to the church. Here are my three observations.

1. They Show Up

My first impression when walking into this store which, by the way, I have walked in to a hundred times, was how extremely well staffed they were on this particular day. I decided to ask one of the staff at the apple store why there were so many people working today. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on a new Apple release. A new iPad maybe or iPhone? The staff member told me they were at the store because one of their team was leaving. What? Are you serious? I asked, “Are you getting paid to be here?” Answer, “No, we just came to clap them out?”

2. They Clap Them Out

Yes. they literally clap them out. They clap them right out of the store! I noticed most of the Apple staff had their eyes fixed on a door just behind the genius bar. I kept my eyes focused on the door as well. When the door opened an apple employee emerged with a backpack slung over his shoulder and a smile across his face.

The store stopped and the clapping began.

It wasn’t a loud explosion of hands slapping together but a gentle building of both pace and volume just like when popcorn starts to pop. Slowly at first, gently, one clap then another. With each step the employee took the energy continued to build. It went from a golf clap at Augusta to a New Years Eve party in Times Square. I was stunned, a deer in headlights would be the picture. I was encouraged, invigorated, smiling and yes, I started clapping too. I didn’t even know the guy. He must be someone important. Store manager? District Guru? Mac super Genius? Inventor of the iHeart or iLung? I don’t know. He was clearly important and certainly well liked.

3. They Value Everyone

After the team member had left the store I had to find out what just happened and who this guy was. Did I need to run after him for an autograph? Was I going to see him on the six o’clock news? I needed to hear the story so I asked the closest apple employee what this was all about. Their response was shocking. As it turns out, the Apple staff member wasn’t the inventor of the new iHeart, iLung, or iGadget. He wasn’t even a Mac Genius. He was a sales associate.

Why would they “clap out” a sales associate? I’ll tell you why. Because they valued his contribution, his loyalty, his commitment to the team. Was he the best employee? I don’t know. Maybe he was maybe he wasn’t but the Apple folks got it right. They showed honor, value and respect. He wasn’t Steve Jobs but they certainly treated him like he was. Apple understands that all people within the organization are just as important as the next. From the CEO to the sales associate who works part time. All of them doing the little things that make the little difference that make the big difference. What a moment!

How do you honor those who work for you?
How do you honor those who leave?