You Really Just Have to Give a Sh#$

People in Coffee Shop

Two small business owner working in coffee shop prepaing coffee


Recently Amazon has come under fire for installing AmaZen, a box that is human sized  where employees can go to reconnect with their mental health. And they ended pulling some tweets about it after Twitter mocked the effort.

You see the market and the community have already made up their mind about Amazon based on previous behavior. Allegedly not giving people enough bio breaks, unsafe working conditions, hiring people so they can fire them, (Yeah that’s a thing. Managers are measuring turnover).

Raising wages a buck or so and adding a zen box (a closet like room where employees can go for quiet), that is what grandma used to call lipstick on a pig.

If you want employees to be engaged, to quit complaining, if you want them to stop unionizing efforts… You just need to give a SH%#.

What does that mean?

I like the sentiment from Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last. When the leader lets people know that he or she has their back AND they demonstrate that, people will tolerate harder conditions. Barry was a sales manager and former Marine Captain. He never let the chance go by to tell people on his team that he appreciated them and asked, “how can I clear the way for your success”? The result was that Barry had one of the highest performing sales teams.

I was having lunch with my friend Bob recently and he shared a story about how many n the restaurant industry are struggling right now because when everyone went home during the pandemic, leadership did not bother to check in on their team. The team’s point of view now is, “Why should I care about your team, this other restaurant is willing to pay a few pennies more?”

And I can hear people now saying things like:

  • “I didn’t know what to tell them”.
  • “There was no news”.
  • “I was scared”. (Alright maybe not this one. Who wants to admit that right)?
  • “The future wasn’t clear”.

So what? If leaders had taken the time to check in with a simple voice mail or text people will remain engaged and in relationship with you and your organization. It could be as simple as, “we hope you are well. We are not sure what’s happening. We appreciate you”.

We are in new territory. People are going to be working remotely. And others are coming back. And now leaders are tasked with leading this hybrid organization. Here are a couple of ideas to help you keep your team engaged without the missteps of a “ZEN BOX”.

  1. Create a cadence to your team and individual communications. People need to be connected. This does not have to be complicated and the benefits are remarkable.
  2. Structure the communication or at least much of it. The accountability conversation should always look the same. The team accountability meeting should always look the same.
  3. After just saying be structured, I want to encourage you to spontaneously reach out to people and appreciate what they are doing. (There is a distinction between appreciation and recognition). Ask yourself, would you like to be recognized or appreciated? This can be as simple as a text message, a voice mail or, a 1:1 conversation in the moment.

When you let your team know that you care and that it is more than lip service watch what happens.

You can learn more about the Three Conversations for Managerial and Leadership Success here.

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