The author’s subtitle to her book is "How to Create a Workplace You and Your Customers Love", and she addresses topics such as visioning, driving change, upping enthusiasm, and eliminating gossip. Emmerich’s premise is that there are actually places where people wake up after a weekend and say "Thank God it’s Monday", but that before these work places were great, most were quite awful.
The author contends that it all starts with people (doesn’t it always!?). For a workplace to become great, the people have to want it to be great. I love her thought that "Most people spend their entire lives in unquestioned routines, never hearing the calling of how great they could be if only they refocused on making a profound difference through their work." While you go about your day, observe businesses with which you come in contact. Can you sense the teamwork and enthusiasm, or lack thereof? Usually it’s noticeable…good or bad. What about your environment? What changes can you make that can have a positive impact? Imagine your workplace as one to which everyone is eager to come. List out three things that, if you were in charge, you would change. Then set about doing all you can to change those things. The author writes that "Leadership is not a position – it is a way of being. It’s about being determined to make big things happen regardless of your position."
Many businesses have a vision, however, "the turning point for a vision is when everyone sees it, gets it, and buys into participating to make it happen." Vision statements are meant to provide a compelling picture of future success. Does every employee "get" your company’s vision, live it, and strive toward it everyday? Your vision is your commitment to your employees, your customers, your investors, your community. Has every employee internalized the vision in this manner and do they know exactly how their efforts align with the vision and the key objectives of the business? The author challenges us to always ask ourselves, "Am I making the highest and best use of my time?" She suggests identifying the bottom 80% of your activities and replacing them with new activities. What a change that would be!
Emmerich offers that each employee should "lavish" praise on others at least five times a day, because gratitude and appreciation are the drivers of productivity. One way she recommends to promote these celebrations and to foster this type of culture is to create a Hoopla Team comprised of one executive and 6 to 9 high performers from around the organization. Their objective is to sustain and accelerate breakthroughs in performance and to get the culture change to generate from a grassroots level. Enthusiasm is a hard thing to fake, so get people on the Hoopla Team who really want to participate and make a difference. The ideas that a team like this can help identify are endless.
Companies thrive when employees appreciate one another’s contributions and treat each other with respect. To help achieve this, the author suggests this code for how to treat one another: "No gossip. No excuses. No stories. No blaming." Fully adhering to this requires a culture of positive attitudes, openness, and willingness to change. As an example of how to enact this, the author takes a hard stance on gossip (rightfully so) and recommends the following steps to stop it: 1) Tell the people around you that you have zero tolerance for gossip. 2) If anyone starts to gossip, politely interrupt them and say, "Sounds like you need to have a conversation with…" 3) If you begin to gossip you need to stop yourself, go to the other person and say, "I apologize for hurting you by sharing something that was inappropriate. It won’t happen again." Success is typically the culmination of thousands of acts such as this.
Although a fair amount of the author’s ideas have been addressed in other books, she writes in an easy-to-read manner and includes suggestions and tips that are practical and well-supported by her first-hand experience. A key takeaway is that regardless of your current work environment and situation, there is hope. You can help turn a lousy situation into one where employees are truly glad to be at work and produce at a high level. TGIM!