Monthly Archives: October 2010

The ‘Gone Fishing’ Mindset

Driven as I am by the desire to work hard to get to the next level, I am particularly struck by the fact that for some reason there are people, even in the present economic climate, who don’t share my passion.  It seems that many are still inclined to hang the sign on the door which reads ‘Gone Fishing’.  This Huckleberry Finn mindset costs organisations a fortune.
Why would someone choose not to go into work when they perhaps could?  How do people get to the point where they don’t care sufficiently strongly about their work, their colleagues, their customer, their organisation to turn in?  Perhaps they don’t feel that these people at work ‘care’ enough about them.  I presented to a National Conference of Manufacturers and talked about Customer Care.  To which quite a few took exception.  It wasn’t the content of the presentation, they liked that, and they liked the innovative style which got them all involved.  They simply objected to the word ‘care’.  It was not the sort of word that would be used in a manufacturing context. 
Of course you can define ‘care’ in many different ways.  The manufacturers were quite happy to define it as a number of processes.  If these were done in a particular way then this would achieve workplace wellbeing and a supportive environment.  What they were missing in their model was emotion.  This is not about policy, process and policing as much as what people perceive.  We often point to all the support mechanisms an employer is providing as evidence of this being a great place to work.  To which the response is ‘Yeah, but they don’t mean it’.  Great processes don’t automatically mean people feel valued.  I asked participants at a conference to raise their hands if they felt valued at work.  Of the 600 people I asked only two put their hands up.  One was the Chief Executive and the other was the person sitting next to the Chief Executive! 
To tackle a ‘Gone Fishing’ mindset, people have to form an emotional attachment to their workplace.  They have to perceive people care about them and value their contribution.  Only when a strong emotional connection exists will they, when the lure of the river bank is stirring, choose work over carp.
The ‘Gone Fishing’ mindset could however have a positive side.  For an organisation it might be like a rotational system in a football team where players are rested so they perform better when they are playing and are less prone to injury.  For a department it means your team members have had thinking time and will return with innovative ideas and renewed motivation.  For your customers refreshed happy people are a delight to do business with.  For the individual they are energised and now fully committed. 
That is unless they didn’t catch anything on their fishing trip.

An Angry Man

I know this is a bit perverse but don’t you think angry people are quite amusing?  Some people are able to get steamed up very easily; I saw one ranting away in the supermarket car park about a wonky trolley wheel.  The poor assistant was at first apologetic, then bemused and flustered, eventually calling for security. 
As one of the rubber-neckers who slowed to enjoy the entertainment, it felt like being in the crowd at a Roman gladiatorial contest; uncomfortable to view but at the same time exhilarating. I found myself gripping the handle of my trolley ever more tightly as things started to get completely out of hand. Eventually a man in uniform stood between Angry Shopper and Unwitting Assistant. The latter now feeling secure enough to respond with a few choice comments about the parentage of his assailant.  The event, by this stage, had managed to gather quite a crowd.  
Like rutting stags, the altercation finished with a few snorts and hoof scrapings.  Our Unwitting Assistant rounded up his trolleys and corralled them protectively back to the entrance of the store, including the slightly lame one that started the whole business. The crowd gave him admiring glances as they resumed shopping and all were, like me, secretly thankful it hadn’t been their responsibility.
To avoid this happening to you should you encounter an Angry Man here are a few tips:
  1. People get angry when they believe no one is trying to understand what they are saying.
  2. Visibly tune in to the customer.
  3. Listen actively with an open mind.  Not judgemental, it’s important to them.
  4. Listen for the highlights.   What is the problem? What is important to them? How do they feel about things?
  5. Feed back the highlights.  Acknowledge strong emotions straight away. Link feelings to causes. Don’t just parrot back what you hear it can sound phoney. If you’re uncertain – check it out
  6. Golden Rule – Every response you make should indicate in some way that you’ve been listening
  7. Work to get the full picture.
  8.  Summarise for complete clarity.  ‘Let me see if I’ve got this right’
  9.  Manage their expectations about what can and can’t be done for them, give timescales and as much certainty as possible.

Or fix the trolleys with wonky wheels.