My “to-do” list was burning on my brain every morning as I drove into work at 5:30am. There were always a million things to do and not enough people to do it. It was retail, after all, and my team’s job was to make sure the merchandise got out on the floor and looked good. My method of management each morning was a little something I called “Walk and Talk”. We all walked and I talked – about placement, about priorities, etc. and they took notes…feverishly.
One morning, I said, “Walk and talk” and I started walking, but they weren’t behind me. I turned to see my entire team still standing where I left them with their arms crossed. Not my proudest moment, I said, “What?!”
One brave soul said, “Good morning to you too!”
You know how there are times throughout your life where something happens that literally feels like you got punched in the stomach? That happened to me. I had to walk back to them…it seemed to take forever. I knew I had messed up. I knew I had to apologize.
The thing is, had anyone asked me if I appreciated my team, I would have sung their praises. They were all incredible people who worked hard for me, for the team, for the company. And yet, until that moment, I hadn’t realized how little I was showing my appreciation for them. How little I was even acknowledging their presence. They weren’t just extensions of my productivity machine, but human beings with lives, with families, with stories. I wasn’t asking them anything about their world, just about results. I was so focused on managing productivity, I forgot to acknowledge the very people who were able to make or break my success, our success. I vowed right then to never begin their day in that way.
I kept my promise and you know what happened to productivity? It shot through the roof. 5 minutes each morning, checking in, talking about their night or weekend – connecting – and we produced incredible results. Go figure.