The public is hungry for the newest and greatest. Advertisers know this and are quite good at hyping the new and improved features of products. The public will shake loose money if they think there’s a new wrinkle in something they want that will somehow make their lives better or at least more interesting.
But what works well with consumers and keeps them coming back to the store does not always work so well with producers. People who work in systems – retail clerks, salespeople, managers, factory workers, associates, anyone who actually does the hands-on work that makes fulfillment of your vision possible – need two things.
First of all, they need clarity. They need to know where the company is headed and how their role in the big gear box of your company’s (or department’s) machinery enables the machine to actually go somewhere. Admittedly it is a challenge to educate and inspire each member that their participation is vital. Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers instituted a bonus program that pays quarterly bonuses based on a matrix scored by several components that demand participation throughout the store. Everyone from the department managers down to those who handle incoming freight are supposed to be inspired. It hasn’t worked all that well because those employees who virtually NEVER interact with customers (shipping clerks, inner office personnel) cannot SEE how what they do has anything to do with what everyone else does.
I have used the work clarity because it really is a visual experience. You as leader have to see how the pieces fit together and how the machine runs AND the people who work with you have to see where they are going, how they get there, and how what they do (or don’t do) either advances that cause or retards it.
Secondly, they need consistency. Jerking things around strips gears. It wears them down and makes them so they won’t mesh (interpersonal conflict, friction, and stress) and it degrades their efficiency (takes more fuel and effort to get the same amount of work done). If you keep coming out with a new vision of the week, you will confound and dismay those who are responsible to make the latest vision into reality. Changing course quickly and often puts stress on the entire structure. Stress cracks will begin to appear after time and far more maintenance will be required. This can only mean more work for you and since one of your objectives is to create less work, you are working against yourself.
So, you ask, what does this have to do with the task of renewing? I began this article as I did by showing you what renewing is NOT! Renewing could also be termed refreshing in the sense of keeping the vision of your company, department, or group fresh, vital, and appealing. It happens when you tie everyday activities to the intermediate and ultimate objectives. It continues when you do this on every available occasion. As often as you can, tie “then” with “now”…clearly and consistently.
Here are 3 things you can do:
1. Let people grow. People change, their abilities increase, their attitudes develop, and their reasoning matures. Let them know you know.
2. Tell people you appreciate them and their efforts. You may have told your significant other you love them ten years ago but they want to hear, and you need to say it more often. The job gets old when you associates begin to feel their efforts are underappreciated and that their contribution is taken for granted. And make it specific. Tell them exactly what and how. Saying “You’re doing a good job” is ok. Saying “You handled that Morgansen job especially well is much better.”
3. Use graphs, charts, and accurate visuals to demonstrate how the associate’s performance and that of their group has contributed to the overall effort. People see far better than they hear. It takes time on your part but pays really big dividends.
What ways have you seen that renew the energy and enthusiasm your associates have or once had for their job? How clearly and consistently are you handling your job?
Who do you know that could use the information in this article? Pass this on the them and do them the favor of helping them become even more effective.