The Carpet People

The other day I had the opportunity to hear four managers from large companies give 15 minute presentations about things their companies were doing to improve productivity, morale and communication. The first speaker got my attention instantly when he said his people were always complaining about the “CARPET PEOPLE.”  He had just been promoted as the new boss of one of the largest manufacturing facilities his company operated in the United States. A couple of days after his arrival he heard the term “CARPET PEOPLE.” He said that he didn’t want to look like an idiot not knowing what the term “Carpet People” stood for … so he kept his mouth shut for a while, hoping he would eventually figure it out; but to no avail. He finally pulled one of his employees aside and asked what the term meant.

 That employee said the term “CARPET PEOPLE” was directed at management. The only place in their enormous manufacturing facility that had carpet on the floor was in the offices where management worked. If a question had to be answered, they had to go talk to the “ CARPET PEOPLE.” No supervisors had offices on the main manufacturing floor … so production employees would always have to waste time and go find the “CARPET PEOPLE” to get an answer. It was not meant as an endearing term … I can assure you. It was an US vs. THEM mentality.

He said that once he understood the term and why it was being used, he immediately changed things. He didn’t want production stopping on the factory floor because his people had to go find a “CARPET PERSON” … so he had those offices moved … to front and center on the factory floor … where production managers could be quickly located; it should also be noted … they had NO CARPET in their offices on the factory floor.

The next three speakers played right off of this story and used other non-endearing terms for their management people … such as the “Shiny Shoes”, the “White Coats”, and the “Suits”. In a lot of companies, the moment employees see “THESE PEOPLE” heading their way… they want to run, hide, look busy, and they know whatever they do … don’t get in their way, don’t strike up a conversation, don’t make a suggestion and don’t ask them a question. Speak only when spoken to and refer anything they ask to your direct supervisor if at all possible.

There are some managers out there who love being the boss, being seen as the Carpet Person, wielding a mighty “whip” of authority … with a “my way or the highway” mentality. Some even believe the best way to deal with morale problems is just fire anyone who complains. I learned years ago that effective managers help people get better and should be looked on as a “knowledge base” for employees to call on anytime to help evaluate, correct, adjust, or address any tough situation they can’t handle. If employees fear their supervisors, managers, or bosses … productivity and morale is sure to suffer. It has also been proven through countless studies, that employee turn-over will also become a problem.

If management is asking for teamwork, collaboration, synergy, unity, cooperation, looking for camaraderie, wanting employee input, seeking suggestions and new ideas … then management needs to pay attention to how they are being perceived. A hierarchy, top down, status based, authority riddle, pecking order … doesn’t seem to be very conducive to creating any of the things I just mentioned. One of the managers who spoke, said they decided that if management was to walk on the factory floor, then they needed to wear the same thing all employees wear wearing … so they came up with a corporate polo style shirt (all the same color) that everyone wore. Take note of the things you are doing that separates management from everyone else and try to minimize it as much as possible. There is a big gap of dissension between the “Carpet People” and having true teamwork.

You Don’t Mandate Unity – You Cultivate It

Chalk up a “6”

Andrew Carnegie hired Charles M. Schwab to run US Steel in 1921 and paid him $1 million per year. That was $3,000 per day, when people who made $50 per week, were considered well off and there was no income tax. He was not hired because he knew more about steel than anyone else. Carnegie hired him because he was a genius at dealing with people.

There was a book written about Mr. Schwab back in 1912 entitled Succeeding with What You Have. (Century Publishing Company of New York) I would like to pull a short excerpt from the book that gives a great example of how Mr. Schwab was able to motivate his people to accomplish more without threats, condemnation, fear, criticism, intimidation, or pressure. I’ll be paraphrasing what was written.

When asked for the secret of his success in the steel industry, Charles M. Schwab always talked about making the most with what you have, using praise, not criticism, giving liberal bonuses for work well done, and as he stated; “Appealing to the American spirit of conquest in my men, the spirit of doing things better than anyone has ever done them before.” He liked to tell this story about how he handled an unproductive steel mill:

He said he had a mill manager who was finely educated, thoroughly capable and master of every detail of the business. But he seemed unable to inspire his men to do their best. “How is it that a man as able as you,” Mr. Schwab asked him one day, “cannot make this mill turn out what it should?” “I don’t know,” the manager replied. “I have coaxed the men; I have pushed them, I have sworn at them. I have done everything in my power. Yet they will not produce.”

The night production supervisor and his team could never produce as much steel as the day production team, EVER, and the day team wasn’t doing that well, either. It was a few minutes before the night production crew was to arrive, so Mr. Schwab asked the day supervisor how many batches of steel his team produced that day. The supervisor replied “6.” Mr. Schwab asked for some chalk and in the front entrance of the steel mill, where everyone had to walk past to enter the steel mill, he wrote a giant “6” and then walked away saying nothing.

When the night shift came in they all saw the giant “6” and asked about it. They were told that “The big boss was in here today and asked how many batches of steel had been produced on the day shift, and then “HE” chalked down the big “6.”

The next morning when they day shift showed up they saw that the “6 had been rubbed out and a big “7” written instead. The night shift had beaten them (something they had NEVER done before) … and also had thrown down a challenge at the same time. When the day shift saw the “7” boy did things start happening. By the end of their shift the “7” was rubbed out and a “10” written in its place (something they had never done before). Thus, a fine competition was started, and it went on until this mill, formerly the poorest producer, was turning out more than any other mill in the plant.

No one was coaxed, pushed, cursed, intimidated, yelled at, threatened, nor was fear used to get them to produce more. No threatening memos were issued or jobs on-the-line to get production up. A simple “6” was written where all could see … and things like competition, resourcefulness, teamwork, rivalry, ingenuity, maximum effort, determination, and pride kicked in. Mr. Schwab once said … “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Almost 100 years later, Jim Collins, in his best-selling book Good to Great, said the most frequent words used to describe the TOP 11 corporate leaders in America (by the people who worked for them) were … Shy, Quiet, Modest, Humble, Gracious, Reserved, Understated, and Mild-mannered.  Some leaders “get it” … most don’t. One of the most important things a leader can do is “INSPIRE” the people around them to “WANT TO” do better.  

Fear is a Short Term Remedy

Inspiration is a Long Term Solution

Create The Want To not the Have To

What Matters Most

I write a lot about leadership, management, efficiency, corporate culture, communication, personal growth, change, habits, choices, discipline and how you can refine or develop these things so you can be more successful. Sometimes I think we forget “WHY” we do what we do and more importantly, who we are doing it for. I have been doing a lot of research on what people think really matters in life and over and over again, people kept saying … “the little things matter most”.

Spending time with my family and friends, long walks, watching the sunset or the sunrise,

ice cream, the smell of fresh baked cookies, milkshakes, buying a pumpkin on Halloween to carve,

laughter, smiles, good food, freedom, good health, riding my Harley,

watching a great game on TV with my friends,

a couple of cold beers and conversation, and celebrating the holidays with family,

were just some of the many things people mentioned.

 I would like to note that no one mentioned

being able to spend a few more hours in the office.

Charles Francis Adams was the grandson of the second President of the United States, John Adams. He was also a successful attorney, Congressman and a former Ambassador to Great Britain. He was a very busy man who was consumed with success and had little time for his family. He did however keep a diary that he liked to write in as often as possible. One day he wrote in his diary – “Went fishing with my son today – a day wasted.” His son Brooks, also kept a diary, and the historians found on that same day, he too wrote in his diary. “Went fishing with my father today – the most wonderful day of my life.” Don’t let success in business take precedent over your family. Years ago I wrote, Success at the expense of your family is not true success.” I believe that more than ever today.

I think in business and in our personal lives we lose sight of the important people around us. We take those, who matter most, for granted. The more we take their love and support for granted … not reciprocating in any manner … the more we are pushing them away. Today, write down a list of those people around you who are important to you and start doing some “Simple – Special” things for them. Don’t expect anything back for what you do for them … just open up and give. Remember, giving to get something is not truly giving. 

Little gestures of support and kindness, listening while not judging, helping hands, remembering birthdays and anniversaries for family, friends and associates, hand written notes of support or thanks, simple gifts, baking cookies for the office, buying a birthday cake for an associate at the office, going fishing or to the fair with your kids … can be simple for you and mean SO MUCH to them.

My son Tyler, who is home for a month from college, just walked into my office and asked me if I could knock off work early today. I looked up and said, “Sure.” His face filled with a big smile and he said, “Great.”  There was a time when I would have said, “Not today, Buddy. Daddy is just too busy.” But now, thank goodness, I have come to realize there will come a day (way to soon) when he won’t be around to ask that question; he will be busy with his life and family. I am trying harder and harder to make the things in life that really matter … a PRIORITY … you should, too.

Start doing the simple things with those special to you.

Let them see they matter most, by what you do.

WHEN COMMITMENT MEETS DESIRE

So you fought and lost a battle, that happens to us all,

you thought you showed up ready, but instead you took a fall.

There were lots of folks watching, and it seemed most of them cheered,

to see your mighty team tumble, many laughed, applauded, and sneered.

But you kept your composure, and complimented the team that you played,

because true champions give no excuses, they get ready to play another day.

So remember the hurt, the disgust, the pain, and channel it to your cause,

because true champions give no excuses, they never, ever withdraw.

Learn from your errors, your mistakes, your loss to make it all worthwhile,

for soon you will play again, with a more focused, determined style.

Your commitment has been seasoned, as with champions it only should,

you have now learned a great lesson, to play for the greater good.

For no one player caused this stumble, you fell together  as one,

so put this loss behind you, because a new story has just begun.

It’s time to show your character, your desire, your will, your grit,

for you are all true champions, and champions never quit.

Words don’t make it happen, it matters not what you say,

your actions are all that count, to win on the field of play.

Now look each other in the eye, and commit to do even more,

for when commitment meets desire, the result is a winning score.

Don’t Be a Domino Pusher

You can line up DOMINOS in a beautiful pattern and spend hours doing it … but all you have to do to knock them all down is PUSH over the first one (the lead domino) and the rest will follow. The same is true about a business. You can spend years and years building up a great business with a super reputation and one employee can cause a customer to never do business with you again. One employee can PUSH a customer the wrong way and run them off … in other words … they knocked down one DOMINO. But, could that one upset customer cause other customers to follow them?

In today’s society of instant global communication, one upset customer can put the story out over the internet of your RIP-OFF … AWFUL SERVICE … UNFAIR TREATMENT … and seriously hurt your business. PUSHING the one DOMINO can sometimes cause a whole lot of DOMINOS to fall … maybe all of them.

We found out today the appliance repairman who works for the company that has done ALL of our warranty work, tried to pull a fast one on us; a $2,964.00 fast one. Before I spend that kind of money, I think a second opinion is in order. So, we got the name of a really talented repair man who had done work for our neighbor and had him diagnose the problem. He said it would only cost $74.96 to fix the problem. He had it fixed in less than one hour.

We had purchased ALL our appliances for our home from the first repairman’s company and they had done ALL the previous small repairs for warranty work … but out of warranty … BANG! … time to soak the stupid consumer who has no idea what is wrong. That repairman is right. I don’t know about appliances, but I do know how to dial a phone. I do know how to go on line and get other opinions. I do have neighbors who may have had similar problems.

Now, what damage has been done by the first repairman? TRUST has been destroyed. CONFIDENCE in what the first repairman (and his company) say is now a thing of the past. Will I ever do business with them again? No! There are a lot of other companies who sell and service appliances. Will I tell my friends about what happened? You bet I will. Will they believe me? They sure will. More customers will be lost because of what happened to just one customer.

Every single day companies PUSH over Dominos (customers) not realizing the potential damage that might be caused. I would suggest you start handling every customer like they are that Lead Domino who can possibly knock them all down. If you handle your customers with the care and honesty they deserve, then you won’t have to worry about other dominos falling (customers leaving).

Your customers aren’t obligated to do business with you. You need to assume your customers are always teetering, swaying, wavering … getting ready to fall over (go somewhere else) if you push them the wrong way … and on their way down they might just knock over some other dominos (customers) as well.

Are there any DOMINO PUSHERS in your company?

You better hope not.

Domino 2

 

BE IMPRESSIVE

An eager rookie sales rep wanted to really impress his boss on his first day. So, when the rookie saw his boss coming towards his office he sprang into action. The new sales rep grabbed his phone and, speaking loudly into the phone so his boss could hear him, the young rookie said Yes sir, I can take care of that. I’ll see to it personally myself. You can count on me.” His boss was standing in the doorway, waiting for the young man to finish his call. The young man put down the phone and nodded to his boss and smiled widely, believing that he had surely impressed him. His boss smiled back and replied, “I just wanted to let you know your phone is scheduled to be connected this afternoon.”

Mark Twain said, Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” Don’t impress me with your words, impress me with your deeds (your lightning). If you want to differentiate yourself, your company or organization from your competition then set out to impress people with the job you do … every time! I have a list of people I can call on, who are experts at what they do. But, the reason I call upon them is that they impress me with their finished product or service; they give me splendid, superb, and well-done … every time.

There are a lot of people and companies out there who talk a great story, but they never seem to deliver on what they promised.

“Now that was impressive.”

“They did an impressive job.”

“I must say, I was impressed.”

“I had my doubts, but the finished result is impressive.”

Statements like those are what lead you to success. To have people impressed with your work effort, or diligence, or thoroughness, or focus, or attention to the details, or creativity, or innovative ideas, or persistence, will keep people wanting to do business with you and/or keep you employed.

 There is an old proverb which states: “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” On October 26, 1967, six months before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, he spoke to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. His message was based on the premise that regardless of your position in life, you should always strive to be the best at what you do. He used the example of a street sweeper to make his point.  Dr. King stated;

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper,

he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted,

or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.

He should sweep streets so well that

all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,

 ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Impress me with your knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, professionalism, efficiency, upbeat attitude, along with your caring, accommodating, helpful manner and I will forever want to keep doing business with you.

 … In Every Job You Do …

Show It Your Full Respect by Always Giving Your Very Best

Seek to Impress – Every Time

Street Sweeper

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