We All Make the Choice to Transact or Transform

As leaders, managers, and contributors, we make the choice every day to transact or transform in our encounters with colleagues and customers.  Many opt for the former, exhibiting the bare minimum amount of energy to reasonably fulfill their obligation to the other party. These people transact. In most cases their firms perpetuate a transactional culture that flows from the corporate offices out into the customer environment.

You see the transaction effect in the big, impersonal retail stores where cashiers seem to be trained to not make eye contact and almost never smile. You experience it at the airline counter and your doctor’s office and in so many other encounters in your daily life. These organizations and those in them who run the business simply don’t care.

That’s too bad, because the cost of striving to transform is negligible and the returns remarkable. It’s the best risk-reward ratio you will ever encounter. And if there is added cost to identifying and training people to give more than the bare minimum or, in spending more time in their encounters, it’s the best investment return available

As leaders, managers, and contributors, we make the choice every day to transact or transform Click To Tweet

Consider the small but transformational effect on someone’s mood and loyalty based on a smile, direct eye contact or a genuine offer to help. The clerk at the local ACE Hardware hooked me for life when she asked for my shopping list for my latest project and led me around the store for each item, offering guidance on the right and wrong choices. I would have spent hours mulling options and more time dealing with the wrong items and project slowdowns.

I drive to Rochester, MN for medical issues at the Mayo Clinic because their values and their hiring and training practices ensure that all their employees give more than the bare minimum for patients and families. When my son faced a serious challenge, the doctor and his team spent hours with us exploring options and answering questions. When we departed,the lights were off in the Clinic. It was two hours after closing time.

Consider the ripple effect of offering clear, timely positive and constructive feedback on a person’s growth and development. It’s a transformational discussion, not transactional content.

Consider the seismic impact of giving a good but inexperienced person a first-time chance to do something new. You are giving them an admission ticket to growth and learning that supports career development and transformation.

Consider the profoundly personal experience you are offering to someone who has made a mistake when you let them learn from the mistake versus punishing them.

The ripples from transformational behaviors spread far and wide.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

The good news is that each of us chooses whether to be transactional or transformational in our encounters. Even if your firm is transactional, strive to make the right choice and do your part to give more than the bare minimum for those you encounter on your daily journey. You never know how far out the ripples will reach. Perhaps they will touch you when you need them most.

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By |2017-05-17T18:43:25+00:00August 9th, 2016|Art of Managing, Career, Leadership|8 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Linda McCann August 10, 2016 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    This is a great article…I take pride in knowing more about our customers, what they do, how they operate and how our work impacts them and the participants that experience our content. It makes my job more interesting and I feel good about what I do. It’s definitely worth it to go above and transform not only your own experience, but the experience you create for others. Thanks for the reinforcement Art!!!!

    • Art Petty August 10, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Linda, great perspective on your work! It most definitely makes it fun and rewarding. Thanks for reading and sharing! -Art

  2. Jay Rombach August 11, 2016 at 8:06 am - Reply

    You hit it right on the head Art. To me, this is the critical difference in providing service and care, not just to external customers but to internal company partners as well. Very well written Art, and I will share this to my team as a valuable reminder.


    • Art Petty August 11, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

      Jay, you are so right on the need to treat our internal partners in the same vein as our external customers. I’m glad the content resonated and please share it in the spirit of great team and organizational health! Thanks for reading and commenting. -Art

  3. […] Art Petty describes our daily choice: to merely transact with other people, or to create an opportunity to transform. […]

  4. Harsha Perera September 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Offering constructive feedback is a great example here, Art. All too often it can turn into an administrative tick-the-box exercise without any genuine concern for the recipient’s growth. Thanks for sharing.

    • Art Petty September 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      You are welcome Harsha! Thanks for reading and commenting. -Art

  5. […] Here’s a short well-written piece from Art Petty on this same theme exhorting us to have transformational interaction instead of transactional. A personal experience included. So why settle for less when its potential benefits could be dramatic? […]

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