Based on a recommendation from a fellow journalism teacher, I picked up and read the book Fish! - A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. It was a quick read with a simple parable about how the qualities of a successful fish market in Seattle can be applied to any business or organization to make it a more productive and enjoyable place to work.
As the advisor to my high school's newspaper, I am interested in ways to make the staff more productive and engaged in their task of creating a quality scholastic publication. Fish! gives its readers a glimpse of the inner-workings of Pike Place Fish, analyzing the business for the qualities that make it a world-renowned market.
The authors found that the market's employees demonstrate the following: 1) they live in the present moment, 2) they aim to truly make their customer's day, 3) they infuse elements of play with their work, and 4) they're aware that they have the power to choose their own attitude each day.
That last concept is the most important. While we can't always choose the work that we do, we can choose the way we do it. By bringing positive energy to what we do, and by doing it to the best of our ability, we can transform mundane tasks into meaningful ones.
I am currently on vacation at the beach. A couple of miles down the road from where I am staying is a small coffee shop. Its ice coffee is flavorful, its breakfast sandwiches are hearty, and its wraps are a delectable balance of meat and accoutrement. What makes it special, though, are the employees who work there. The last time I was in, the woman behind the counter engaged me from the moment I placed my order until the second the door closed behind me on my way out.
The server spoke to me with energy and passion, excited about her culinary offerings and invested in making sure I got everything I wanted, in as pleasant and joyful a manner as possible. She referred to me as "honey" and "sweetie," and asked her coworker if he could "be a doll" and get her an iced coffee. The fancy chicken wrap sandwich I ordered not only had the word "fancy" written on it, it also had a picture of a bow, as if it had been wrapped up all nice and special, just for me.
These actions are those of employees who are engaged, living in the moment, and bringing energy to what some might consider the basic, even menial task of working food service in a small coffee shop. The way these people approach their job makes for an enjoyable customer experience. It also leads me to believe that their attitude helps make Cape Ann Coffees a fun place to work.
If you're looking for insights on how to boost the productivity of your workers and cheer up your workplace, I'd recommend this book. Its effectiveness lies not in the depth or profundity of its message, but rather on the few simple truths it manages to capture clearly and convey earnestly.