Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 43 To our clients and friends June 7, 2005
Don’t Treat Your Employees Like Mushrooms
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Stop before reacting to complaints. You will help create a new empowered culture.

Gene, vice president of operations for a major wholesale food distributor, told Session 7 of the Leadership Development Lab:

"When I checked my voice mail Monday afternoon I picked up a message from one of our sales associates that said, 'When are we going to be able to ship produce? Can't we do anything right? My customer has had a case of sliced mushrooms since Friday and they are already black. We must have done something wrong again!' I must admit he really pushes my buttons. I wanted to blast a voice mail right back at him and ask what his customer had done to ruin the mushrooms in the last three days. I reconsidered, knowing that I wouldn't accomplish anything this way, and whatever the problem was, a counter attack wouldn't solve anything. (Leadership Principle #13 – Avoid Arguments)

I decided to ask in our senior staff meeting how they thought I should respond to his voice mail. We came to the conclusion that the real problem was the persisting perception of the sales force that we have bad produce. We all decided to look at ways we could overcome this perception issue, this internal public relations credibility problem. By Tuesday afternoon, I had organized a brainstorming session that included associates from operations, sales, merchandising and administration. On Thursday afternoon we held our brainstorming session; 'In what ways can our produce department create the trust of all sales associates?' After generating a list of practical actions we could take, before we left the

meeting, everyone accepted assignments to investigate, or initiate action on all of the ideas we had generated.

The lesson I learned from this experience is that good, constructive outcomes can be generated out of all situations. I learned to take time, to pause, not to react when my 'buttons get pushed'. I learned the true value of Leadership Principle #5, looking at the situation from the other person's point of view. Before I take action, and instead of defensively reacting, look for real, lasting solutions to the problems we face. I learned that if I remain positive, positive will be returned to me.

The action I call you to take is to always respond in a positive way regardless of how unskilled the other person's behavior might be. Before you respond, buy some time and enlist the help of others to add perspective and to help solve your problem.

The benefit you will gain is you will build a positive, confident team. Positive attitudes will come back to you and your associates will buy into working together, you will have a high performance team that flies in formation".

If you or anyone you know is a motorcycle enthusiast, they will love the excerpts from Larry’s newest book, Motorcycle Meditations – A Vision Quest to Alaska, which can be found in the June, July and August issues of Twin Magazine. The June issue goes on sale at newsstands May 10th. Pick it up, read it and share it with your friends!