“It’s a pretty good zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew, “And the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too.”
“But if I ran the zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew, “I’d make a few changes. That’s just what I’d do . . .”
Many of my “Unordinary Tales” come from discussions with my young daughters, and another thought occurred while driving Sydney to high school the other morning. Seems she doesn’t like waking up early with an alarm clock. Hmmm, how un-original, I thought.
“Everyone would do so much better in school if they weren’t so tired,” she insisted.
I explained to Sydney that it had less to do with caring how well-rested the students were and more to do with busses, traffic, and daycare issues.
After dropping her off, I recalled pondering the very same thing, twenty-some years ago, at my last job. There weren’t a lot of hard rules when I worked at the newspaper, but I had to be there by 8:00 am. Granted, that’s not un-godly early, but I did have to set the alarm clock. Everyone reading these words has experienced being SHOCKED out of a deep sleep and having to get out of bed in an almost comatose state, dizzy and disoriented. I remember thinking how much happier and more-productive everyone would be if they could just wake up naturally (no alarm) and get to work whenever that might be. Was that really so much to ask?
Come to think of it, all you have to do is stop for a minute and listen and you’ll hear people complaining about a hundred different things about “something at work.” I think it was Zig Ziglar who said that some people whine and complain like there’s a reward for it! Me, I’m not the complaining kind. I fancy myself a “solutions guy.”
So what if you could just walk into work next Monday with a magic wand? What if you could just wave it and change ALL the things you don’t like? What if YOU ran the zoo?
1. NO ALARM CLOCKS
Get to work whenever you’re ready. Some people are early risers by nature. Let them get there early. Me, I’ll come in a little later, and I’ll stay a little longer.
2. NO DRESS CODE
Let’s create an environment where people are comfortable. We ask that you look clean and presentable, and actually reward such behavior.
3. POSITIVE (FUN) ENVIRONMENT
Imagine a workplace where everybody liked and respected one another. Imagine being hugged by the boss when you walked in the front door. Imagine your co-workers standing up and clapping when you came into the room? Can you just imagine the sound of laughing where you work? I’ve had jobs where the employees acted this way, but the management had to maintain an authoritative posture. After all, you can’t be friends with the “little people,” right? Let’s change that. Can you imagine a workplace full of positive happy people, instead of the standard nasty miserable complainers (ie. school faculty lounge, or dare I say it, the DMV)?
4. MORE SOCIAL TIME
Given that there are “positive and fun” people at work (See #3) I’d like to see a workplace that encourages socializing. Things like; getting to know your co-workers on a more personal level (getting to know their dreams and goals in life), getting to know their families, hanging out, going for meals and drinks, even taking trips and enjoying fun workshops together.
5. COOPERATIVE LEARNING
What’s that? What would it be like if the people who had attained higher levels at the company were paid more to help others climb the ladder? What if they were happy and willing to help those who wanted to ascend? Can you imagine the experts sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and experience and actually spending time to help this happen? They wouldn’t be afraid of losing their status and position, because the more people they’d help the higher they would be promoted and the more they’d be compensated! There’s no competition. Everyone succeeds together.
6. MORE RECOGNITION
This almost goes hand in hand with the cooperative learning idea, but what if your office had a “Wall of Fame?” What if people were honored, celebrated, and recognized for every little step they took forward? Oh what fun! I believe that all people have a very basic human need to be appreciated. Let’s feed it!
7. MORE VACATION TIME
I’ve had friends who had to decline doing cool stuff with me because they’d taken too much vacation time at work. Well in my zoo the people would have unlimited vacation time! And if you need to get out early to pick up your kids from school or make the soccer game . . . no problem!
8. MO MONEY!
I’ve heard it said that most people work just hard enough so they don’t get fired, and get paid just enough so they won’t quit.
If people don’t normally go to work because they want to, what if we could have a “zoo” where your paycheck had no ceiling? It was commensurate with the action you were willing to take and the number of people that you could help do the same? What if the employees earned more as the company earned more? Like owning equity? Hmm. Maybe people would actually want to!
9. PROVIDE WORLD CLASS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
This is more about how you will operate, but it’s crucial to making it work in our “zoo.” Treat your customers like you’d treat your friends and family. Is this one so hard? When my daughter mouths off to me, uses fowl language, or speaks with disrespect, I ask her “would you talk to your friends’ parents that way?” Of course not. But her tone is lots different when she wants concert tickets. I call it, putting on your A-Game. Why can’t we make it a habit to always play our A-Game and always strive to be better? It’s a win / win!
So that’s what I’d do with my own magic wand. It’s so simple sitting here at the keyboard and changing the world. Yes, the ideas may seem Utopian on the surface but why not? If you don’t think this is realistic (or possible), try spending a day in Tommyville!
“WOW!” they’ll all cheer, “What this zoo must be worth! It’s the gol-darndest zoo on the face of the earth!”
“Yes . . . That’s what I’d do,” said young Gerald McGrew. “I’d make a few changes if I ran the zoo.”
I’m Glad I Drank the Kool-Aid!