The Little Things Add Up: It Pays to Become Conscious of Your Reason for Being in Business

Little Things Add Up: It Pays to Become Conscious of Your Reason for Being in Business

by Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

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“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” –Maya Angelou

 

Standing in line at my local coffee shop this morning, I contemplated the fiasco unfolding before me – the same fiasco I have witnessed each day since they opened their doors several years ago.

Today, there were four people behind the counter preparing orders and taking payments, fifty percent more staff than usual. One would think that this increase in help during the morning rush would be a good thing. Well, only if the additional people know what they are doing. They did not. This is, of course, not their fault. The owner’s idea of training is to run through quickly with the new hire how to operate the machinery and heave them into the fray, bewildered and terrified by the throng of commuters clamoring for their liquid defibrillators, their quad-venti-caramel-macchiato-jolts-of-life to begin their commutes to work (for which they are already late).

Between the shortage of baked goods (the baker’s tantrum heard more clearly throughout the store as it persists), the constant turnover in staff, the slightly inconvenient hours, and the owner’s blatant lack of social skills, I am amazed at how long this business has survived. It is clear, listening to the others in line, that people want to see this owner succeed because there is the potential for something truly special here. The owner is a wonderful and fascinating person, the food is of the highest quality and inventive, the coffee is fantastic, and the space is cozy. With some reworking this place could be a center of local activity.

The core of the problem seems to be the owner’s attitude. She really doesn’t like the business. She is more comfortable in the large corporate environment from which she came, being told what to do by a supervisor. She hates being in charge. She prefers solitude in which to be left alone to work. She doesn’t do conflict. And coffee? She can take it or leave it.

In becoming a successful business owner, it is critical that you be able to articulate what it is about the work you do that sets your heart aflutter, as well as the aspects of the business that sends you running, screaming into the night. Unless you can explain your passion, you will never be able to relate it nor convey it to your staff and customers. How can you expect your employees and customers to care about your business if they think you don’t care.

I once worked with a client whose contentious employee relations were spilling over to his customers. His employees couldn’t stand him, he couldn’t stand his employees, and his customers were paying the price in constant turn-over, constant mistakes, and added stress due to poor treatment. Working with him, I asked, “If things are at the point where you hate coming to work every day, why do you stay in business?”

What followed was a passionate discourse on the effect his services had on his customers’ lives and how he felt privileged to be a part of changing lives for the better. He was angry all the time because his employees didn’t care, they took no initiative, and made no personal connections with customers.

   “Do your employees know this?” I proffered. “Do they have any understanding of how much a part of this mission they are? Can you see how they could misunderstand your frustration with the situation as your being angry with them even when they do what you tell them to do?” Once he saw all the little things that added up to the colossal mess he was dealing with simply because he had never put words to his passion, he was able to communicate this to his staff and instill in them the same passion, which in turn they passed on to their customers.

Articulating your passion helps keep you focused on the passion – which makes it easier to keep problems and the less savory aspects of the business in perspective. During this month dedicated to expressions of love, send yourself a Valentine. Take the time to write down what it is you love about what you do, why you are so passionate about it, and how you can declare your undying love to your staff and your clients.

If you don’t love the work you are doing, explore the things you do love to do. Start a relationship with them and see which one is your one true love. Like all true love stories, the rest will sort itself out.

 

2016 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

Power On

Teamwork in the office

Power On

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. ” ~Charles Darwin

 

Flash! Crack! Pop!

Darkness engulfs us. Silence, too, but for the pelting of rain and hail on the house and windows.

A neighbor’s tree has just split in two and taken out the power to the neighborhood as it fell on the power lines across the street, pulling the wires from her house in the process. A few of us neighbors gather in the storm to check on our neighbor and her ninety-nine year old mother. We assign ourselves various tasks of calling the town about the tree, the power company about the wires, and vacationing neighbors about windows left open and the severity of the storm. We also call our neighbor’s son a State Trooper, to make sure his Mum and grandmother have the help they need during this frightening time in the middle of the night. All the while, we take turns staying with our neighbor and bringing her updates as new developments occur.

Change is hard enough to deal with when one has time to see its approach and adjust. There is so much emotionally to come to terms with during times of change that often goes unnoticed under the best of circumstances. When change takes us by surprise and places us in a state of complete upheaval, we feel the lack of control and the effects of all our emotions on a highly magnified scale. Without someone to keep us grounded and to guide us through the change, we, like my neighbor in the storm, fall to pieces in some fashion, unable to think clearly and take the necessary steps to deal with the change.

Recently in New England, the news was full of accounts of a particular company in the throes of sudden upheaval after decades of rumblings from within the beast of an acrimonious family struggle for control of the business. In the early stages of this most recent installment of a public struggle, it was easy to see the ulterior motives of some of the participants in spite of the veils with which they covered these motives.

This brings me to the point of my comparing two seemingly dissimilar situations.  Change will happen. It’s inevitable. Whether it happens at its natural pace or thrusts itself upon us is irrelevant. How we handle the change matters. Whether our handling of it produces three-dimensional, positive results is determined by the motives involved in the change. Our motives may be pure or they may not be pure. The motives of the other parties involved in the change also may be pure or they may not be pure. Whatever goes into the change, will have an impact on the results. “Garbage in. Garbage out.” as the saying goes.

Conversely, if you put good stuff into the change, it will produce results that are good for everyone. Here are a few things to consider the next time you are facing change:

  • If you are the instrument of change, ask yourself what your motives are in instigating the change. Be honest or there is no point in reading any further. If your motives are self-centered, admit it. Then, decide what you are going to do next. You can continue on your original path, or you can decide to care about the people left in your wake by asking yourself if there is another way to get what you want while helping others in the process. In the corporate situation above, the motives behind the change were the best-kept secret everybody knew yet the offending parties would not acknowledge, thinking instead that they were hiding them. Mid-way through the ordeal, it reached the following point:

“Any reasonable person would begin to put into question whether or not this is going to happen, whether [the defendant] will be able to put this together,” said Richard Nicolazzo of the communications firm Nicolazzo & Associates, which has advised companies such as MetLife and Nortek in acquisition deals. “If past is prologue, I’m not optimistic. I think that this has been a situation where it’s no longer a rational or economic discussion. It’s about, ‘You’re not going to win at any cost,’ even if it means putting this company into some kind of reorganization.’”

  • Do not be shortsighted in your quest for big profits. My thirty-plus years in the corporate world have allowed me to witness well-planned change strategies that made the companies stronger on paper and at their core because the companies took into consideration all the aspects of what the changes would mean to everyone involved. I have also witnessed hastily made changes designed to boost the Bottom Line for the upcoming shareholders meeting that ultimately produced devastating results.

The advice that my grandfather gave me when buying my first car holds true for all of Life’s decisions:

“I you are pressured into buying the car without being allowed to step back and consider the deal from all angles, walk away because the deal’s no good. If it were good, it would stand on its own.”

  • If your goal is not simply to survive the change but to thrive throughout the change process, be certain to include solid change management practices into your strategy. By helping your employees to deal with the emotional aspects of change throughout each stage of the technical/physical change process, you will have a workforce fully able to support the change from beginning to end, becoming advocates as opposed to adversaries.

Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.

Feeble, Foolish, Wise, or Skillful

“Feeble, Foolish, Wise, or Skillful”

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

 

“The feeble tremble before opinion, the foolish defy it, the wise judge it, the skillful direct it.”

– Mme. Jeanne Roland –

 

Today’s issue of The Rossiter Report is simple and straightforward – a meditation for the week. Take this week and gauge your reactions to other’s opinions (clients’, coworkers’, everyone’s) in comparison to the quote above. Once you see where you stand, determine if there is some other place in the spectrum you would rather fit, then work towards that goal. If you seek, truly, to build a team that has a great, positive impact on your company,  your success in this endeavor will be directly related to where you fall, ultimately, in the line-up.

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Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.

The Rossiter Report – Volume 3; Number 2 – “Brown Grass – How I Came to See the Light”

The Rossiter Report – Volume 3; Number 2

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

“Brown Grass – How I Came to See the Light”

boy looking through binoculars

“There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.” – Old Proverb –

Gazing out upon the nearly-full tidal pool at the Plum Island Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts on this unseasonably warm, early April day, I see brown. The parking lot in which I sit, writing, is at a slightly higher elevation than the tidal pool and the adjoining fields of marsh grasses. This vantage point affords enough of an aerial view to see partially over the hillocks in the near distance, across the harbor to the towns of Essex and Ipswich on the horizon. This bird’s-eye view (albeit that of a bird perched on a very low tree branch or a parking sign) places my vision above the fields of newly mown marsh grasses to see dozens of acres of brown. Even the tidal pool is cast with brown in the harsh light of the noon sun.

Very few people stop here for more than thirty seconds. To them, it is just a brown and lifeless landscape; boring. The only people who stay for any length of time beyond the thirty second mark are those birdwatchers who stay only long enough to spot (then consequently check-off) a new bird on their list, with no intention of actually observing the bird and getting to know it. What astounds me is the wealth of beauty that this spot possesses and is missed by those who come in search of a pre-determined idea of what is worthy of notice.

A few years ago (wink, wink) when I was eight years old, I ventured into the kitchen after viewing my Saturday morning cartoons and stood next to my mother at the kitchen sink. “Mumma, I’m bored,” I announced. In her characteristic, gentle firmness, yet in an uncharacteristically direct tone, my mother looked down at me (without skipping a beat in the washing of the breakfast dishes) and said, “Cathleen. The only people who get bored are boring people,” returning her gaze to the garden while continuing with the dishes. Not only was I NEVER bored again, but also this experience taught me to seek out continually something new. A treasure or lesson could be waiting for me in the haphazard pattern of a first coat of paint on the front of a dresser; or the way a reed bends and sings in the midst of a storm yet never breaks; or the fact that the overriding expanse of brown before me is, in point of fact, made up of greens, reds, purples, yellows, and blues in myriad variations on a theme.

The same thing is true of the people we hire and the customers who purchase from us. Without the individual talents, viewpoints, and insights each one brings to the table (the painter’s palette, as it were), then the work of art we call our company or team would lack the depth, luster, and uniqueness that makes our work a masterpiece.

Consciousness is a choice. Simply wanting to be aware does not make it happen. One must choose to open one’s eyes and mind. One must choose to see everything, not only what is pleasant or comfortable.

The thing that changed for me on that Saturday morning so many years ago is that I decided to stop refusing to see the world in front of me. I became determined to remain blind no longer. This choice of consciousness has brought a depth, richness, and joy to my life and work that I have carried with me to every aspect of my life, particularly in relation to the people I encounter. I choose to uncover the layers of wealth and richness buried in each person in front of me at any given time so as to bring the very best to the relationship, project, team, or circumstance. In doing so I find no need for the all-too-standard jealousy, defensiveness, and subsequent subterfuge that plagues Cubicle Farms around the world. Allowing for the enrichment of the team with the free-flow of each other’s talents, insights, and experience (as opposed to the general practice of trying to control and suppress it all) creates an infectious dynamic among the team members that creates a pride in the work and an enthusiasm to produce the best; to be a part of the best. I, for one, would much rather spend the 10+ hours each day that I am at work in the quest to produce the best, to be part of the best in a lively, dynamic environment. When one ponders the alternative, which is what one has become all-too-used-to in the working environment, one wonders why one hasn’t seen the light sooner.

 

Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.