It’s there, just like a shadow. You can’t touch it, but you know it’s there. It’s a feeling. A feeling that all your efforts are finally paying off. Can you feel it?
A feeling that you’ve turned the corner. Now your team has started to believe in you. You’ve wondered, maybe even doubted yourself, if you can get this group of recruits to do better, be better, perform better. And, most importantly, to believe in themselves enough to deliver the service to your customers that you’ve always hoped for, maybe even dreamed for.
You can’t touch it, but the feeling is there.
You see more smiles and hear more “thanks”. There is more laughter and more willingness to help their fellow coworker. The feeling is contagious. Now work has become fun.
Can that be?
Work Should Be Fun
Well, sure. Work should be fun. Gone are the days of “cracking the whip” on your employees to make them work harder. There’s no reason to have to work harder. We should work in ways that are productive and beneficial to the company, the customer, and the employee.
But how do we do that?
By creating an environment where each employee believes their coworker has their best interests at heart. No AM shift versus PM shift nonsense. No one “forgets” to throw out the trash or to restock the product at the end of their day. Things get done – not because they HAVE TO, but they do it because they don’t want to disappoint their teammates.
It’s a Feeling
It’s a feeling that brings a smile to the manager’s face. It’s a feeling that spills over to each customer interaction. It’s a feeling that inevitably leads to profit, less waste, and a bright future for all.
How Do We Get There?
Well, first, don’t think change happens overnight. It’s like a plant that takes time to bloom. It needs:
- A foundation of great soil (that’s you and your leadership)
- Plenty of water (continued guidance, clear direction, and expectations)
- A daily dose of sunlight (that’s your praise and encouragement)
Explain why you want to do something differently and how this will help the employee or customer.
Show, don’t tell, them how to do it. Stand shoulder to shoulder with your recruits, get your hands dirty, do the work that you expect THEM to do.
Get out of the office. Be seen, not just heard. Support your supervisors, never undermine them or their decisions – especially in public.
Be firm but fair. Discipline as needed and maintain a core set of standards that are not negotiable. You must set the tone for all to follow.
Talk to them. Ask your team, “how was your weekend?”, “what’s your favorite food?”, “have you read any good books lately?”, “who is your favorite band or tell me how the concert was last night”. Sounds trivial? It shouldn’t. You must get to know your employees. Work is NOT all business. There must be moments of clarity where one can “be a person” and not just an employee.
Pay attention. Watch your team. Do they seem OK? How is Frank from Shipping and Receiving? He seems to be laboring today. Get him to sit for a spell. Get him something to drink. Let him sit in your office a while and enjoy the air conditioning. You already know the loading dock is a hot place to work. What can you do to help him or somebody else who may be having a difficult time?
Ask questions. You may be the boss but I’m confident you don’t have all the answers. Host a roundtable meeting with your team and ask THEM for suggestions on how to do things better – not differently, but better. Your employees do the work and I know they can identify improvements that you haven’t thought of yet. Give them a sounding board and act on their suggestions.
It’s happening, you can feel it. Can’t you? You can’t touch it, but the feeling is there. You know you’ve made an impact when your team talks “to you” and not “at you”. Even the small talk has changed. It’s more personal, more informative, and more genuine.
You’ll Sleep Better Too
For me, I can always tell when my team has reached this milestone. I sleep better at night. I worry less. I don’t rest a weary head on my pillow thinking about how to deal with tomorrow’s challenges. I know my team can handle anything thrown at them. They’ve proven it every day. They’ve handled stress with ease. They’ve worked the rush without complaints and supported each other through the difficult times.
Life is good. The sun shines more, and all our flowers are blooming.
You can’t touch it, but it’s there.
Can you feel it?
>>> Speaking about a favorite band, here’s a link to “Can You Feel It” by the Jacksons, on YouTube. Enjoy!