Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trickling down, around, forward, abound

My husband used to work at Home Depot. He impressed the store manager so much that 9 months after he got there, he was promoted to manager. You need to know that my husband has always been a leader, it's one of those natural born traits he has. A few of our kids have that gift as well. But before he could officially promote, this store manager required that every new promotee read Cmdr Michael Abrashoff's book It's Your Ship first. That was how they were to run their departments because that was how she wanted the store run. Apparently he was so good that every time she transferred him to a different department, she got minimum 15 requests from people around the store to transfer to that department. They wanted to work for him. Seriously, it was crazy and the managers who were there before him and operating on different mindsets couldn't handle it.

He took his Marine Corps training, his natural leadership skills, and his DILLIGAF of what anyone thought about him, blended with this approach, and it was golden. He rarely had to write up anyone after a single corrective conversation. He had people seeking him out for various things. Customers would drive an hour just to find out if he was there and turn around if he wasn't because they didn't want to talk to anyone else. Employees begged to work in his department. I've rarely seen anything like it, but if more people operated like that, the world would be a more productive and happier place to work.

He got moved to garden center during peak season, not having much knowledge of actual gardening. He mowed the grass too short every time and did things that made me crazy. Our yard left a lot to be desired, and that's all I'm going to say about it. But he's always been willing to learn and try, so he did. He had a part time associate working for him who was there to fill a job gap and make some extra money. They were working together one day, and the other guy was spotting for my husband on a forklift, making sure customers kept clear of the area and that my husband was warned of problems and safety issues. My husband asked the other guy if he wanted to learn how to operate it. The guy said "nah, I'm an admin kind of dude." My husband told him he couldn't screw up anything on it and that it was easy enough, almost like a video game joystick. He taught this associate how to operate the machine, and helped him gain the company's required certifications to operate the machines. That was around 2008 or 2009.

Fast forward to the past year, where my husband was able to secure a job that has been a bit of a dream for us. He was working on something, and recognized a guy in the vicinity and kept wondering where he knew him. Meanwhile this other guy was wondering the same about my husband. Finally someone said something. And they reconnected. My husband is easy to remember, hard to forget.

They got to talking and the other guy told my husband that he left working with a relative because things were not going well and now owns a forklift rental company. And it all started because my husband took the time to share knowledge, and he handled customer service differently, and led by example in a way that other managers didn't. My husband would explain the why and how behind a company decision and the results it would have when associates followed those instructions. He taught them how to read reports and understand the operational side of the store beyond just getting product in the customers' hands. The other guy even said that when he's talking to people about how to do things within his business, he uses my husband's name saying "He knows how to take care of customers AND coworkers."

It absolutely made my husband's day, and it made my day to hear about it. One simple action, one small gesture, one shift in behavior is all it takes to be different. And you do different well enough, you influence others to be different too. And when you empower your employees, they want to work for you. When you keep your employees happy, they can keep the customers happy. Small influences have big impact. If my husband had not been willing to share his knowledge, this young man would have never thought he could have the option to own forklifts and rent them out to people. He would have continued thinking "nah, I'm just an admin guy" and kept looking for desk jobs. Instead, he took his "admin guy" experiences, his customer service experiences at Home Depot, the business knowledge he probably learned from my husband, and he put it together in his own business.

Know that every choice you make not only impacts you, but it impacts others. Every action you take yields a result you'll never see or know. Occasionally, you get really blessed and someone shares how your influence impacted them. And it's ridonkulously cool when they tell you that because of your influence, they have had some amazing experiences. The trickle is there, all you have to do is listen for it and let it flow.