Fueling the fire: Motivating your staff over the next week


Share on LinkedIn

One of my favorite analogies at this time of year is comparing the task of motivating and inspiring our teams to a fireman’s job on the old steam engine locomotives.

In the early days of railroading, a person called the fireman was responsible for maintaining constant steam pressure by continuously throwing wood or shoveling coal into the locomotive’s firebox.

If the fireman didn’t maintain the correct level of steam, pressure would fall and the engine would slow. When the train was going up a mountain the fireman would have to add wood or coal at an even faster rate so the train could maintain its speed.

Your role for the next week is to maintain your team’s positive attitude, customer focus, and emphasis on maximizing every customer opportunity.

As store fireman – excuse me, leader – you need to continue fueling your team’s fire. Instead of wood or coal, your fuel includes the following:

1. Praise the right behaviors and actions, and of course great results. As leaders we sometimes think it but forget to say it. That doesn’t fuel the fire.

2. Thanking people for their effort and contribution. People appreciate it when you express your thanks and gratitude. I knew one manager who thanked her employees for coming in at the start of their holiday shift. She rightfully believed it was a choice for people to work retail during the holidays or not, and she always wanted to share her gratitude.

3. Giving people a much needed moment off the floor. Sometimes people just need a break from the craziness, but they don’t take it because the store is so busy. Unless the store is extremely slammed, insist that each person take five or ten minutes to refuel and recharge off the floor. You’ll be amazed at the impact that can have on sales.

4. Let go of the little stuff. So what if the backroom or break area is a bit messy. Does it really matter if someone is three minutes late coming back from lunch?  Making a big deal over those things is only burning fuel that takes away from what really matters.

Some owners/managers/executives wait until the end of the holiday to do many of these things. They tell themselves that things are too busy to bother with it now. They figure they’ll show their appreciation afterwards.

If a locomotive fireman did that, the train would run out of steam reaching the top of the mountain.

If we wait too long to fuel our teams they will run out of steam. Opportunities will be missed.

It’s up to you to maintain the fire. You have the fuel.

Keep fueling the fire!

– Doug

Best of luck, and a Very Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate!    

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here