Have you been fishing recently?

I was recently reminded of a book and concept I first encountered approximately 20 years ago. Having worked for 2 large multi-national retailers in my early HR career, ‘team building’ and ‘personal development’ had a much higher profile and investment than many small companies I work with today can afford, but what follows is appropriate and affordable for businesses of all sizes.

pike-placeThe concept is Fish! Now unlike most training FISH is not an acronym for anything, it takes its name, story and educational value from the ‘world famous’ Pike Place Fish market in Seattle.

With the holidays looming, I decided I was going to reread Fish and also purchased a copy for each of my team.

I was quite shocked and pleasantly surprised to find many of my regular phrases and business beliefs are also to be found in this great little read – this is probably where I first came across them, but in the mystery of time, their original source had been lost to me.

The concept is about getting staff to engage and therefore perform, even when they appear to be doing menial tasks. There are four key elements within the book, but I am only going to outline them for you here as they really are a very well written, quick read which I urge you to undertake yourself.

The main element:

Choose your Attitude. Life happens, things go well, things go less well, what seems the biggest disaster one day appears as only a small hiccough the next day. It is how you respond to each and every situation, which determines whether you let the incident define you, influence your mood or impact on your behaviour. Choose to be happy or choose to be grumpy. Choose to be a victim or choose to be a survivor. Whatever you choose, it is a choice and it is your decision.

We are all children at heart:

Play is the second element of the fish story and here I find myself illustrating this point children-playwith one of my own mantras. You spend far too much time at work not to enjoy what you do. No matter what your job, keep it professional, but make it fun.

Live for the moment:

Being present is really important. During my recent travels in Thailand, I noticed that every piece of paper exchanged between you and a Thai is special. Whether it is a bill, a business card, a spa appointment card or a receipt it is passed to you with two hands, a polite bow and a greeting. You can’t help respond in the same way. Compare this to a receipt or a business card in the UK – eye contact is rarely made, never mind niceties exchanged.

In business and in life, being present is about engaging in whatever you are doing at that precise point in time. In a boring conversation, stay with it; if the kids want to go kick a ball around, go with them; if your mum is talking to you, focus on her and not the mobile phone in your pocket. Being present makes everything more real and provides opportunities and perceptions you otherwise have missed.

The last element:

Make their day – How does it feel when someone smiles in gratitude at you? Can’t remember, you should try it some time. Every customer has their own demands, their own ways and their own likes / dislikes. As the service / product provider, your role is to add value to that relationship by ‘making their day’. How you do this will vary between each and every customer , but getting to know them and what they value will help you to make their day. And remember….. you probably have internal customers as well, so remember to make their day as well!

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