Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Workin' for the man

You run your own business: you sweep the floors, dust the countertops, organize the merchandise, greet customers, up-sell features, design new services, market your wares, and so much more to basically do what ever you have to do to make your company successful.

What tasks go away if you say, simply work for a business?

I dare propose this: “none”

In every business, every employee is a salesman.

In every business, every employee coddles its customers. Selling and coddling are supported by the tasks (assigned to you defined by your given role), supporting your colleagues to do the same, and yes, even housekeeping.

We’re all in business to stay in business.

What motivates you to do the extra steps and to step outside of your role to ensure an amazing customer experience?






Mutual support

Leadership by example


I imagine your employees are motivated similarly.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's not my job

A month ago Thanksgiving, I talked about being thankful to your colleagues. As the week of Christmas has arrived, I am thinking about what and how you give in your organization.

What are you giving back to your organization?

Ideally, your teams are made up of diverse skills and viewpoints complimenting each other on how they interact and what they bring to the table. Your teams are confident enough to counter view points for creative discussion leading to creative solutions.

We all have our role. We all have our job.

Having our role also means that there are roles that don’t belong to us; tasks and responsibilities that don’t fall under our umbrella – tasks left to others.. jobs that aren't ours.

Do you ever do things that aren’t directly assigned to you? Of course we all have to mindful of our immediate and long-term responsibilities to ensure our work is getting done without being overworked ourselves, but I’d like to explore what happens when we give of ourselves fully at work.

Let’s starting with making a list of things that we could give:

  • Pick up any trash you come across that’s the size of a dime or larger on the floor

  • Help a colleague pick up something that accidentally spilled

  • Walk a strong pace to get to your destination quicker – to finish quicker

  • Smile and greet every person you encounter in your office

  • Listen respectfully to every person you interact with in your office
  • Help someone do their job if you have idle time

  • Research and brainstorm on products, services, or just plain ideas that will help your company to do more.

  • Contribute in discussion at meetings

  • Prepare for meetings you’ll attend

  • Finish your work when you’ve committed to finishing it

  • Continuously think of ways you can do your job better

  • Continuously think of ways your company can service its clients better

  • Choose to share the positive verses complaining or dwelling on the past

  • Support the team decision and make it successful even if you disagree with the method (within moral limits obviously)

  • Go the extra step, put on the finishing touches, and do a little more proudly to delight your clients (or the colleague you’re delivering to)

  • Be proud of what you deliver

  • Understand the ‘why’ of decisions so you can support them fully

Wouldn’t you like someone who did all these things to work for you?

What more would you add to this list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Sometimes it’s easier to just do something yourself than to worry if the thing got done at all or was done right.

These are two advantages to doing something yourself.

What about the advantages of delegating to those who report to you?

  • Empowerment of the person you delegated to

  • Input from another person on (doing this thing) that may offer a different perspective

  • Respect and improved relationship of the person you delegated to

  • Stronger and more diverse skilled team members

  • Future peace of mind for when you really need to rely on someone else

  • More time for you to do all your other things

When was the last time you delegated?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To be or not to be transparent?

I vol- unteered with a great nonprofit for over three years. They help people get into safe affordable decent housing where they can have the confidence of knowing it’s as permanent as they need it to be. It’s amazing how providing stability in someone’s life can turn their whole world upside down yet right side up.

Like many nonprofits (and commercial ventures), they have been struggling to raise funds.

As a volunteer, I was always surprised to learn that they struggled for donations because I knew their programming was so strong.

As a volunteer, I was always surprised to run into people who had grave misconceptions about the program and its benefits.

As a volunteer however, I could never find out exactly how the program was funded. No one could or would answer me directly about where the money went and how much was actually needed.

The goals were not clear.

I found it difficult to help them, often guessing at what they might need. My fellow volunteers shared the same concern with me. We’d guess as best we knew and do the best we could. I would find in conversation with potential donors that they also had the same questions as I did but with many misconceptions about the program as well.

What if this was a commercial venture?

What would you do if this was your commercial venture?

The same rules apply don’t they? Frankly, I can hear the gears over-heating in your head:

  • Communicate a clear message to the team on what needs to be accomplished!

  • Get everyone unified around a real and tangible long term goal.

What else would you add to this list?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Minus One

I threw a big party recently and had a sizable committee to help me execute the event as well as a few new and good friends to help me during the night of. I am very grateful for all their support as without each of them, the event would have been different.

Different bad? Different good?

Each friend brought their own unique ideas, bubbling personalities, and quirky humor. I tentatively assigned tasks to each based on their requests or for what I thought they might enjoy and be good at.

Of course like anything, things change, and new challenges arise requiring fast flexibility and initiation by each of us.

One of the women approached me after the party and started to almost apologize as she thought her presence wasn’t really needed that night. “I feel like I didn’t do very much, you really didn’t need me,” she said.

Au contraire!

Without her, I would have been nervous that I was one person short. Without her, I wouldn’t have had anyone to help the others when it became obvious that more hands were needed for the auction support.

While a party is a very different animal than a production line, producing a product and executing a seamless evening is quite similar mechanically.


Work flow and balance are equally important in both circumstances. Persons should be assigned tasks that keep each similarly and equally busy but along with flexibility to increase output –or temporarily lend a hand to someone else, without the process being interrupted.

In this design, there are many positive outcomes:

  • 1) each person is not working at their maximum, thus energy is conserved,
  • 2) should a customer request extra pieces, a slight speeding of the line is possible, and
  • 3) should someone be absent, each person can absorb a little bit extra work to maintain balance and output.


My humble friend from the party forgot one thing about the importance of her presence.

By ‘showing up’, she was demonstrating her support to me that couldn’t be illustrated in any other way.

At work, we also demonstrate our commitment to the company and our colleagues by ‘showing up’. Sure, they could sustain themselves here and there without us, but by consistently showing up and doing what we commit to do; we honor our fellow workers and bring about better morale.