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Ed Selkow: Little People
I have a confession to make.
There is a movie I have watched 50 times and I cry each time I see it. It is called 'You Can't Take It With You'. In the movie a quirky old man teaches a powerful, wealthy industrialist what is important in life. This film was produced in the 1930's so I don't really mind giving it away but what comes out is the value of a man's life can be measured through the relationships he has accumulated by the end.
I learned what is important early in my career and it is the people I meet. Some I sell to, some I buy from and some I manage and pay. Business owners value people who can and do buy from them. Smart business owners know their biggest asset never show up on balance sheets and are the people in their companies.
The janitorial business is about managing people who clean buildings for other people. I have experienced every single level of involvement from cleaning person (once I was even an ASSISTANT to a cleaning person) to company president and held every position in between, cleaning the smallest buildings to the very largest in the United States. From starting several companies up all by myself to senior executive in several national companies, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans, I have a whole pile of company shirts.
Here's the deal, you have to get other people to do really good work at the lowest level for not a lot of money. Who is that service person at that lowest level in your company?
Stand with a group of grizzled janitorial veterans and listen to their most memorable stories while the others roll their eyes and knowingly smile. I listen, I smile and nod and have my own contributions you can bet. However, what I can hear and never say anything about in that group is that I can tell who the service people in their organisations are to them.
I was most fortunate to have worked in an organisation for a man I would have walked through fire for. I learned from him and created organisations where my people would walk through fire for me. No, not all of them, but enough. Today I want you to begin creating an organisation filled with people who will walk through fire for you. You won't get all of them but all you need is enough of them.
Because IF they are willing to walk through fire for you, they will clean the bathrooms, clean the corners and edges, leave everything that is supposed to shine, shiny for your client. Your managers and supervisors will model your lead in dealing with those they oversee. If they don't, fire them.
There are no little people in your organisation. You may not know that but it is true. Tonight, go walk a building and catch someone doing something right. Stop them, look them in the eye and say: "Thank you, you are doing a really great job and I want you to know how much I appreciate it".
Watch the look on their face and start LEADING instead of only managing. I have more to tell you but tonight is a good time to start with this simple step. There is more to come so stay tuned.
1st September 2011