I think everyone in my position has a “thing.” For some, it’s hands in the pockets or well-shined shoes. For me, it’s haircuts. Our standards are pretty specific, and as I walk around the ship, I could just start telling people to go get a haircut. Heck, even the barber needs a haircut, if you ask me. I’m not saying that everyone needs a shaved head like mine, but still, many people need a trim, and I could very easily, and almost accidentally, turn my morning rounds into an organizational inspection. Within a month, I’d tell just about every person onboard that he or she needs a haircut, and I’d be right. Darn it, being right is important and I’m good at it.
And the next month, I’d still walk around, and I wouldn’t tell as many people to get haircuts, but not for the good reason of them getting haircuts at regular intervals before I see them. Instead, I wouldn’t tell people to get haircuts, because they’d all run when they see me coming.
“But they need haircuts, and it’s my job to tell them!” I sometimes want to say, and it’s true. Luckily, that’s not my only job.
I’m not saying for a moment that I need to ignore the standards, because that’s impossible for me, but I can say that I have competing responsibilities. One, as I say here, is to make sure people get haircuts, but when we weigh out the different responsibilities, I do my best to remember that my first job is to connect. If that’s really what this whole day job is about, and I’m sure it is, then doing something that is technically correct may not be the right way to accomplish all the things I need to.
So, as usual, I walk around in the morning, every morning I can, talking to people, asking for good things, and sharing some of my own. I do my best to make everyone understand that this is supposed to be fun, that this routine is worth our time, and I’m lucky to be right here with them. The morning routine is about the positive, the connection, and hopefully a smile.
And yes, some need haircuts. As a matter of fact, some of them need to work on their boots, and some others need a shave. And while we’re at it, some might even be putting on a few pounds here during the holiday season. I see it because I’m trained to be hypercritical. I make a mental note of things and look for trends, but I keep that in. I don’t go looking too hard, because there are other people who can do that. In my position, only I can be me, and only I can walk around and be this positive.
Here’s the truth of it though: My morning routine isn’t about me, and it’s certainly not about whatever I’m naturally critical about. It’s about them.
If I focus on the negative and make that part of my routine, then the positive is quickly lost. Sadly, the two don’t mix in the same conversation, so I have to choose one or the other. If I choose the negative, it’s easy to get dragged into that and make my thing the focus of the morning walk. Instead of the positive chance to interact, I’ll have turned this great part of my day into a negative event for them, and they’ll passively avoid me and tune me out, which is bad. If the first part of my job is to connect, which again, it is, things go poorly once that connection is lost after I’ve browbeaten everyone away from me.
If you’ve been reading this series for a while or have the book, you’ll know the next part in all this, to communicate, is also lost once the connection goes. When that happens, when I’m not connected and can’t communicate, then I don’t see how I can be effective in making the organization and people in it successful. Once that happens, the boss has every right to show me the door, or in my case, the brow.
– When you walk down the hall, do people find somewhere else to be? How did you lose the connection?
– When your manager comes walking, do you make sure to not make eye contact and leave the room? If so, why?
– What’s your thing?
Have a great week out there.
Take a Walk
My good thing: Command Christmas party tomorrow night, and my chance to wear a tacky holiday tie! I just can’t be seen in an ugly sweater.