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Raising Performance and Productivity is Childs Play
by Marlene Chism

They bicker, want your approval, fight for your attention, ignore your nagging, and defy you when you preach at them. No, I'm not talking about your kids; I'm talking about your employees. The two things employees want the most is for their boss to listen and respect them. However it's difficult to listen and respect them when they act like a bunch of spoiled kids.

"We're all adults" translates to "I wish you would quit acting like a child." Forget about it! You can threaten them, discipline them or even fire them but what's the point? The time spent disciplining could be utilized to solve problems and firing them is a temporary solution that increases turnover and hiring costs.

Managers who want to raise performance and productivity must learn how to make teamwork and customer service child's play: Make it fun, create story time, make it their idea, brag on them when they improve.


If you want to make it fun you have to engage them. The way you engage them is to start a ritual of weekly meetings where you discuss the current issues at hand. Your meeting must be structured and you must use tools such as open discussion. Adults learn by participating not by preaching. Another effective tool for discussing touchy subjects is what I call story time.


If you are familiar with the Bible, you already know that Jesus used parables to make his learning points. Parables are interesting, paint a picture, and have several rich morals or learning points. Sharing a story (case study) about poor customer service is more effective than pointing your finger and blaming them for their poor customer service habits. Everyone knows what it's like to get poor service at a restaurant, get ignored at a retail store or be treated badly at the grocery store. When you invite your staff to read a similar story and share their insights, now they are engaged. From their point of view, it's easier to point out customer service mistakes when the mistake belongs to someone else.


My grandmother used to say if you want to get your way with your spouse, "make it his idea." At first this sounds like manipulation but upon further investigation one realizes the suggestion is at the heart of human psychology: We invest in what we create and we resist what we are told to do.

The same psychology applies to the workplace. Once you engage your employees' minds by having them tell you what the moral of the story is and how the story applies to your current customer service problems, you have the perfect opportunity to ask for their advice and feedback. Perhaps for the first time, they put on the "managers hat" and see things from a problem-solving point of view rather than a boss-employee point of view.


Now you're on all on the same page and you didn't have to lecture. Once your employee's brains start making all the neuron-connectors about how their behavior translates into customer service, which translates into job security for them, their performance starts to improve because of their increased awareness. You'll be surprised to see how complainers turn into problem-solvers when you apply the right methods. Then all you have to do is brag on them for their improvement. This new attention creates a new norm where everyone tries to get the bosses approval and recognition.

All of these methods can be accomplished by facilitating a structured meeting 30 minutes a week. The two hours you invest (plus one hour of planning) will save you thousands in time spent on discipline, years of reduced stress. In addition you'll start having more fun, and if work isn't fun what's the purpose?

About the Author

Marlene Chism works with companies that want to stop your drama so that teamwork and productivity can thrive. For more information call 1. 888.434.9085 or e-mail at

Try the Attitude Builders Toolbox, a resource for productive meetings that raise people and performance to the next level.

Want to know what employees won't tell you but I will? Check it out at


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