I dropped in at the spot this weekend to re-up on one of my favorite cancer stick blends. After I paid him for the goods, he dropped a lighter on top of the bucket, no extra charge, of course.
Back home, we call this Lagniappe.
I remember hearing it defined in school as “a little something extra” during Louisiana History classes.
Before I knew the term or how it was defined, I was familiar with the concept. I’d guess that most people are, even if they’ve never given notice or a name to it before.
It’s a simple idea that we’ve all experienced at one point or another– Someone on the other end of a business transaction tossing in a little something extra at the end, undeserved and free, just to sweeten the deal. It’ll make you a repeat customer instantly.
Lagniappe at the Heart of Employee-Employer Relationships
The relationship between an employer and employees is, at its core, a prolonged business transaction between the two parties for each other’s mutual benefit.
The employer provides a suitable place for the employee to earn a decent living. The employee renders services to the employer with appropriate dedication and confidentiality. This is the whole kit and caboodle of our agreement and obligation to one another. The letter of the law, as it were.
If we give due diligence to fulfilling just these things with integrity, I’m confident we’d enjoy a long and prosperous relationship together. That being so, there’s an even better way that doesn’t dismiss or twist the core agreement between us and the protections it provides, plus adds a little cherry on top of the whole arrangement.
Our careers share a large part of our focus in life, even competing for our attention with the most important things from time to time. I think this is part of what drives some companies to adopt mantras like “when you’re here you’re family.”
We spend so much time with our coworkers that they do begin to feel like family. In countless relationships, they have grown into the closeness typically reserved for blood—a true brotherhood formed around the mason’s trowel and the fisher’s net.
Lagniappe Creates Space for Hospitality and Boundaries
I started with the disassembly of the myth of the modern workplace family to establish suitable dividing lines as I worked towards a definition of a proper and valuable relationship between us.
In dismantling that myth, I don’t mean to say that our current business dwelling shouldn’t have a warmth that is friendly and inviting and a generosity that is neighborly and liberal.
I’m from Louisiana, where our hospitality is of such a species as could make an alligator feel at home, so I know something of the generosity of spirit that can make a person feel like family.
At NATIV3, we don’t want to create a false sense of security by blurring the lines between work and home, but we do want you to embrace the essence of what it would be like to be a cousin. We want you to come in and enjoy the full benefits of being a Digital NATIV3.
For all of the flexibility we’ve built into our way of doing things, we recognize that conflict and disagreements will arise as we extract capital from the marketplace together. It’s natural to the course of things in all human endeavors.
With the skeletal structure of our responsibilities towards each other defined in the previous two posts, this is the marrow that gives life to how we work with each other here at NATIV3.
The concept of Lagniappe captures the essence of it.
“The Free Generosity of Spirit”
If Lagniappe is the free and generous bonus given at the close of a business transaction, then we can mold that big idea to encapsulate NATIV3’s defining characteristic as such:
Lagniappe is the free generosity of spirit that enlivens all of our business dealings with each other.
I will be defining how this idea of Lagniappe is worked out more completely at another time, so I won’t repeat the material here. In a future version of this post, a link will be here to point to that one.
For now, it’s sufficient to say that Lagniappe is the secret sauce at NATIV3. We’ve found a way to work it into all of our business dealings, whether internally with staff or externally, as we work with clients.
Lagniappe is the
init daemon of NATIV3, and we’re working to apply it to every facet of this business.
It’s abundant in our communications as we work through challenges together with leniency and humility toward each other.
More formally, we add it to paystubs as bonuses and reimbursements.
We have a lively weekly Happy Hour (Maybe we should rename it Lagniappe Hour?) during which we engage in hearty conversation about everything under the sun with respect and courtesy. While it’s not a lighter or an extra pack of firecrackers, it’s still Lagniappe.
Lagniappe. It Could Be the Move.
Finally, an illustration of the effects that this personified version of Lagniappe has on people:
As I was discussing this concept with a very talented and observant teacher I know, she described to me the physical changes she noticed in students when she would show a bit of grace to them when they messed up. She articulated the “big feels” she gets as she watches their shoulders loosen up and their postures soften at a kind word.
These physical and emotional reactions between her and her students, and even me as I listened (it gave me goosebumps), that’s the unmistakable vibe of Lagniappe. And that vibe — the reverberating satisfaction of a mutually generous relationship — keeps people coming back for more.
Lagniappe vibes. NATIV3 vibes.
Each day we show up here united under the common cause of making bread to feed ourselves and our loved ones. In pursuing that, we extend friendliness to our colleagues with understanding and amicability.
We do our work with an open-handedness and generosity that contributes to the growth of individuals and the organization as a whole.
We do all of this so that when our time here is done, we can reflect on it with a sense of delight in knowing that we left the place better than we were when we got here and that we left the people and the place better than we found them.
Lagniappe. It could be the move.