Karin’s Leadership Articles

How to Make Someone Feel Welcomed

by | Jun 10, 2015 | By Karin Hurt, Communication |

We had no intentions of actually going in. Sebastian and I were just trying to figure out the best way to walk to the new school he’ll be attending next year. But there we were, his nose pressed against the glass and me in my moving cut-offs and tee-shirt. “Mom, lets just sneak in like ninjas and look around.” Knowing there’s no way “sneak in” to schools these days and worried about the impression we’d make showing up scruffy with no appointment, I paused. But the eagerness in his eyes won. “Let’s just ring the doorbell.”

“Hi, This is Sebastian. He’d like to come to school here next year.”

Now, if the school secretary had been doing her job, she would have handed us a registration packet or asked us to make an appointment.

But she wasn’t DOING her job.

She lit up like she was welcoming a dignitary to Disneyland.

“Oh, Sebastian, YOU are going to LOVE this school. All the kids and teachers are so nice, we have so much fun and learn a lot.”

And then she asked questions.

For every question, she knew just what to send him over the moon.

“What do you like to do?”

“Well, I like to ask a lot of questions and I like art.”

“OH, We totally need kids who ask great questions. Questions are so important to learning. You are really going to make a difference here. And you know what? You’ve come not only to the right school, but to the right county. We have so many programs to help you become an even better artist. And guess what, every year you can even have your art displayed at the mall!”

“What school did you attend before?”

“St. Paul Lutheran.”

“Oh, a private school… I see. That’s nice. Did you have to wear a uniform?”

“Yes. I hated that part.”

“Guess what, no uniforms here! You can dress to fit your awesome personality.”

And then the clincher.

“What time did you start at that school.”


“Well, you’ll have to wait until 9:15 to start here.”

The dancing began.

She then proceeded to share all kinds of helpful information about lunches, traffic jams and getting involved.

As we left with our registration packet, Seb looked at me and grabbed my hand. “Mom, I’m going to work really, really hard at this school.”

Thank God she wasn’t doing her job.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    That story put a big smile on my face. Thanks for the serotonin hit.

    How to make new employees feel welcomed? Do what this woman did and shock them. Give them what they want before they know it themselves. Do the unexpected.

    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, Thanks! That’s a great way to put it. Shock em!

  2. Don Currie

    Great story about a person who obviously sees her job description as the floor and has taken it to new heights, i.e. the ceiling. This is what ownership is about, she’s an “owner” of that school and it shows in her performance. I’m sure yor son will have an outstanding experience at his new school if this person is an example of how everyone performs at the school.

    • Karin Hurt

      Don, Great to have you joining the conversation. I’m optimistic that she’s an indicator of the rest of the staff. Ownership is so powerful.

  3. Terri Klass

    Thanks for sharing that fantastic customer service story with us! That women is an angel and obviously belongs working with kids in a school. I wish all our schools could have such a welcoming committee and adults who put children first. Kids can always tell when someone really cares.

    You’re going to do great next year, Seb!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, thanks so much. I agree it would be amazing if all schools (and business) would welcome folks with such open arms and caring spirits.

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