May 11

Story of $20 Fish Called Cotton Candy

“The ‘Big Al’s’ attendant viewed me as a long-term customer, despite my modest $20 fish purchase.”

I’d done my due diligence, exploring online for a mini aquarium along with its necessary accessories: gravel, plants, conditioner, ornaments, etc.

These items were already en route and set to arrive just in time. The only missing piece of the puzzle was the fish itself.

Much to my dismay, the local pet store explained they didn’t offer ‘curbside pick-up’ for fish.

Would the challenges ever cease?

In a locale where lockdown measures seem to fluctuate every few weeks, stress levels are understandably high.

It’s a difficult period to navigate, with most people uncertain about what they can and cannot do.

Complicating matters was the earnest wish of my darling 6-year-old niece who had her heart set on a fish for her birthday.

Celebrating during Covid lockdown for the second consecutive year, she couldn’t even have a traditional birthday gathering with friends or family.

Her one desire was a fish she’d already affectionately named ‘Cotton Candy’.

Luckily, I stumbled upon ‘Big Al’s’. After a brief phone call, they arranged a safe, socially-distanced process for my niece to choose her fish.

Payment would be made curbside, and we could be on our way with her new pet.

Now, back to the initial phone call…

The young man working in Big Al’s ‘fish room’ was aware from the outset that my sole intention was to purchase a fish – a mere $20 transaction.

I made it clear I’d already secured all necessary supplies online.

However, after laying out the plan for acquiring the fish, he proceeded to ask me a series of questions.

His aim was to ensure I was armed with all the knowledge necessary to guarantee a healthy and long life for the fish.

He educated me on the specific type of fish I was buying and its compatibility with potential future additions.

He enlightened me about their varying characteristics, some being combative, others peaceful.

Some needing a filter to avoid living in their waste, others able to take in air at the surface.

This was all new to me, but he quickly grasped that and invested his time in educating me.

His service was exemplary, securing our future loyalty to Big Al’s for any additional needs ‘Cotton Candy’ might have.

Was his exceptional customer service a result of him being a great hire? Is it due to comprehensive training or high levels of employee engagement?

Could it be a reflection of effective management and skill development?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all these factors. It’s certainly food for thought.

Now, let’s shift gears to managing and developing people.

As older employees retire, climb the ranks, or leave to pursue other interests, a younger workforce invariably steps in to fill the void. Is this accurate?

Everyone should indeed be assessed on their individual merit.

We don’t imply that older employees are superior or inferior to younger ones. That’s a judgement call you have to make.

Managing your workforce is entirely in your hands. You can adjust your style or take any action you deem necessary to extract the best from each employee.

The choice is yours.

You could insist that employees adapt to your management style, but this isn’t typically a winning strategy, especially not for the uncompromising 2020s.

A more viable approach is to develop a management style that maximizes the potential of each employee, regardless of age or experience.

Examine different styles and compare them to your own natural management approach.

If your employees have lived a relaxed life with minimal expectations, they may find it challenging to meet your work expectations or even comprehend why they should.

Their work ethic, through no fault of their own, might differ from that of preceding generations.

Most older adults didn’t spend their early days in leisure. They weren’t raised with a sense of entitlement or a belief in their inherent specialness.

They were held to certain standards and expectations. They were expected to contribute, and they certainly didn’t receive a trophy merely for showing up!

They spent their youth working hard, perhaps on a farm or doing household chores, cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, fixing things, and so forth.

Their contribution to the family was expected.

Others may have had it slightly easier with tasks such as running errands, tidying their rooms, respecting their elders, and completing their homework.

Some worked at an early age due to financial needs, while others bravely answered their country’s call and found themselves fighting wars far from home.

Some cared for elderly or sick relatives, contributing in ways that most young people aren’t required to today.

It’s no surprise that today’s workforce is markedly different from past generations.

This isn’t a critique of the younger generation, nor is it praise for the older one; it’s simply the reality.

So, what does this mean for your workforce and your business?

It might mean making minor adjustments to your management or leadership style, or perhaps it calls for a complete overhaul. It all depends on your current approach.

No matter what generation you belong to or are managing, if you aim to get the best out of every employee – including those who haven’t experienced work before – you will need to be an effective people manager.



Excellent Service Story

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