Funny the moments that make me think about how to instill work ethic in my small business and family. Having dropped my kids at school, my taste buds become alive. I am preparing for the rich, creamy cappuccino I have grown to love. I park my car and approach the door. Rise Up! is the name of my favorite little coffee shop. Two professionally planted, palatial flower boxes greet me at the entry. To my dismay, the hydrangeas are withering and the pansies are wilting almost right in front of my eyes! My gardener instinct kicks in. These flowers need water.
I notice a sign posted on top of the refrigerator next to me as I wait in line to order my cappuccino. When I get to the front of the line to place my order, the first thing out of my mouth is that the plants out front need water. I explain to the barista taking my order that the flowers are stunningly beautiful, but they are dying. The doe-eyed, twenty-something across the counter looks at me, as does the fellow employee. They say, “It’s a closing job.” Stunned, I plead “Yes but they are dying.”
Exasperated, my order is taken, the conversation is over, I leave. As I pass the dying flower boxes on the way to my car, I consume myself with the interaction. I immediately reflect back on how I improve work ethic in those around me. How can I do the same to ensure my own children do not fall into pointing the finger the other direction? As a small business owner for nearly twenty years I have developed three ways to instill work ethic in my employees and family.
- All of the good intentions and effort an owner puts into an organization mean nothing if employees do not embrace the values of the organization. According to Amanda Ginzburg, “Company culture isn’t the values on the wall. Rather, it’s the set of actions that you put into practice and live everyday within your community.” In short, instilling work ethic in employees is essential. Walking the talk not just lip service is the path to success.
- Successful managers continuously work on team building and manage group dynamics. According to The Center for Personal & Professional Development at Kent State University, “People who no longer identify as part of the team or instead as a member of a faction within the team, no longer care about the shared responsibilities of the team and go into survival mode.” Consequences of this behavior include turnover, decreased profitability, and decreased customer and employee satisfaction.
- Your forward-facing employees can make or break your company. While this is a coffee shop and my business is in healthcare, a customer is a customer. Whether they seek coffee or treatment. If they can’t get past the cashier, or in my case, the front desk, they cannot get to the doctor. The relationship is damaged, trust is broken and the case is lost before it begins. I have learned that assuming the face of your practice is on point is a recipe for disaster. Consistently, appropriately, and on-brand is essential to a business’ reputation and referrals. Employees who are “off-brand” are contrary to running a profitable practice where customers seek your services and leave you as fans.
So what do we do? As parents, we need to instill work ethic but also the importance of being a team player. We can start when they are small. Praising our kids when they do something that benefits the family or team reinforces the behavior. I have daily chores and Work For Hire in my home. My children are responsible for dividing up the daily chores. Work For Hire are tasks that fall outside of their daily chores. I review the task upon completion and a reward is provided. Chores as well as Work For Hire are accompanied by positive reinforcement.
Similarly, I recognize the need to give a shout-out to those we manage in business, recognizing contributions they make that go above and beyond. But be careful. According to the Harvard Business Review rewards typically undermine the very processes they intend to enhance.
Instead of offering monetary rewards, giving consistent praise and reinforcement is more likely to garner buy-in and behavior adaptation. In my case, I hold Friday huddles. At the end of the day, I hold a short meeting recognize positive contributions for the week. The team gathers and we publicly recognize team work. Sometimes we give certificates, sometimes we have ice cream. Always have an opportunity for dialogue and reflect on what went right.
So friends, what are you doing to encourage teamwork and going above and beyond in your life? Let’s discuss over a cappuccino.