I was telling some people the other day about a time, years ago, when things were not looking so bright for our agency.
We had just lost a major client. I was out on the road, knocking on doors, trying to bring in new accounts to replace the major revenue stream that we’d just lost. And I knew our morale as a company was down.
I found myself reading this awesome book, Gung Ho: Turn On the People In Any Organization, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. And as I made my way through that book, I realized that the biggest challenges our agency faced were not external. The challenges were not connected to any decision that any prospective client made about working with us or not working with us. Our biggest challenges were internal. We had to change the way we were interacting with each other at our agency. We had to get our sparkle back.
The Gung Ho book laid out three big ideas:
• Worthwhile work should be driven by goals and values.
• Workers, not management, should be in control of achieving the goal.
• We should cheer each other on.
These three ideas really can create a turned-on workforce. If all three of these things are happening, then there’s going to be a sparkle in each and every team member’s eyes. If any one of these things isn’t happening, there’s a problem … and if the problem isn’t fixed, the sparkle dies.
I can’t tell you how massive an impact this book had on our company. After reading Gung Ho, I appointed a guy to walk through the agency and pass out candy. His job was to have real conversations with people to see how they were doing, and to look in their eyes to see whether the “sparkle” was there … or gone. If the sparkle wasn’t so bright, I wanted to know about it, so I could figure out where the problem was and try to fix it.
We turned the corner. I didn’t realize it at the time, but losing that big account was a major positive event for our organization, because it inspired me to build the culture we needed to live by, every day, if we wanted to move our agency to the next level.
What kind of sparkle do you see in the eyes of the people you work with?