Last weekend I found myself inspired by an interaction with an employee at a local garden center.
And believe me, the thought of spreading 50 bags of mulch in our flower beds hadn’t exactly placed a song in my heart on a Saturday morning.
I pulled my truck around to the loading area and handed one of the young men my receipt. He sighed and mumbled, “Man, that’s a load.” As I heard the words, “Sorry about that” leaving my mouth, I felt like I was imposing on the guy.
Just then, another young man jumped off of the truck in front of us and took a look at the receipt. He smiled, “Looks like we’re gonna be working in the yard today, huh?”
I sighed/chuckled, “And how!” He followed with, “Well, it’s a beautiful day for it! Man, it’s pretty out here today!”
In 15 seconds, that young man had affected my own attitude. I went from grumbling about the job ahead to saying, “This is as nice a day as you can ask for to work outside.”
Over the course of the next 10 minutes, the two young men loading my truck were contrasts in attitude. As I helped line up the bags in the truck bed, the sighing guy talked about how tired he was going to be later.
The other guy laughed and said, “Yeah, but you’re gonna be tired later with a paycheck in your hand. Hey, we get to breathe fresh air all day, get in a good workout, and get paid for it.”
Enjoying this guy’s attitude, I asked questions to keep him going. He told me about past jobs bussing tables at various restaurants.
He said, “When you scrape enough plates and clean enough restrooms, loading trucks is a blessing. My only problem now is I can’t keep any weight on me.”
I assured him that was a problem a lot of folks would enjoy having.
The mopey member of the duo said, “Man, he’s always like that. You’d swear he runs this place the way he goes around here smiling and singing and (expletive).”
The upbeat guy smiled, “Dude, I will one day. You better treat me nice.” I laughed and said, “You better listen to him.”
Two young men of similar age and jobs were operating in two entirely different working atmospheres… of their own making. I tried my best for the rest of that day to choose mine more wisely.
No, a positive attitude will not make every work irritant go away. But the wrong attitude will ensure you find more than enough to keep you miserable all day.
Which will you choose today?
The McDonalds near the front of our neighborhood has recently undergone extensive renovations. I was impressed that they were able to stay open during the process.
But I still avoided the area while it was a parking lot filled with dumpsters, scaffolding, heavy machinery, etc.
Then, in only a day or two, the place went from looking like a disaster area to beautiful. The new façade is fresh and clean, the new landscaping is striking, and the drive-up lanes now look like Disney designed them. There are two separate ordering stations with state-of-the-art digital screens.
I pulled up to the first new screen and prepared to order. And then I noticed a small handwritten note on the screen that said, “Use next station.”
A Post-it note on a very expensive monitor was kind of funny (to me anyway).
When I got to the second station, I was greeted and gave my normal order – “Large, hot, non-fat latte, no sweetener, no flavoring.” The young lady slowly repeated it to me. The screen was still blank, but she had it. Then, she said, “Hang on.”
Twenty seconds or so later, she came on and said, “Okay…uh…was that hot or iced?” “Hot” I chirped.
Next came, “Medium or large?” I repeated my full order (slowly) and it actually showed up on the screen.
She then followed with, “What flavor was that again?” I said (still pleasantly), “None, mam.”
She gave me my total and I paid it at the first window. The receipt was accurate. Things were looking up.
When I got to the second window, a nice lady handed me a large iced drink. I grimaced and said, “Uh…I ordered hot.”
She closed the window and returned with a hot one about a minute later. I gave it the quick sniff test and drove off.
When I took a sip minutes later, I found it was loaded with sweetener. I dumped it at home. I told my wife that I missed my old and worn down but competent McDonalds.
I also realized that I hadn’t recognized any of the employees I saw through the windows. They were as new and malfunctioning as the equipment they didn’t know how to operate. I haven’t been back for a couple of weeks.
Never forget that whether your facilities and technologies are state-of-the-art or long-in-the-tooth, it’s the moving parts (employees) that will ultimately define how your company is perceived in customers’ minds.
Invest your time and resources appropriately.