Billiards, Recognition and Employee Communication

Once a month, I go to a friend’s house that turned his garage into a man-cave pool hall. We sit, chat, talk low IQ guy stuff and shoot pool. One of the regulars was complaining about work; a supply house, with about 20 employees. Usually in the office, he has his nose in the books or helping get new contracts. He doesn’t have time to babysit the shop, he says – that is what the manager is for.

One day this week, a fork driver called out sick, so my friend took off the tie and did what he used to do: pick up a customer order, drive around the back shop with a picker and put everything on a palate for the loaders to wrap and load and sign off the ticket.

My friend was shocked to see how different the warehouse was since his days working there. He expected to have a good time driving around, talking, teaching, and training one of the new guys, and it would be a relaxing couple of hours away from the computer and phone. What he didn’t realize is that all the employees treated each other terribly; it was as if they hated each other. The sales team despised the pickers and the loaders did nothing but complain about how lazy the sales folks were. He was shocked and, most of all, depressed, as he had fond memories of a team of guys (and now girls, too) working together to pound out the orders under tight deadlines, all while smiling (at least when the customer was around). He was depressed at the lack of employee communication and relations, and his billiard game showed it.

After I won the first game, my friend was even more depressed (I am not that good; after all). I felt cheapened by my less than honorable victory, so I made it up to him. I grabbed a ball and placed one front of each corner pocket. I grabbed another two and placed them next to each towards the center, then finally placed a single ball in front of those, with the cue ball at the head of the line. A simple shot for him, so I said “make that happen.” He effortlessly lined up the shot, cue hits a single, the single spreads the pair, the pair sink the corner pocket and the other two follow it. One shot, 4 balls in, and although I lined up everything perfectly for him, follow me here. I said that shot is what you (and the customers) thought you had, the customer’s line up the sale, Sales connects with the Pickers, they run the table, then connect with the loaders, who sink the shot and everyone is happy. When the teams don’t talk, or support each other, nothing works well, and the first to notice is the customers, the last to notice is you.

A recognition program is not always about attendance, it’s about the recognizing and rewarding desired behaviors. When someone, or some team, practices the desired behavior, your job is to shout it from a mountain top. What was missing from my friend’s company was effective employee communication. Trust me, from what you saw, if the Pickers get a big loud compliment and a pat on the back, the Sales folks are not going to take that sitting down. You just fired up the Loaders and Sales to work twice as hard to get recognized. And that is what will get them recognition – performing the desired behaviors – in your case, that behavior is teamwork. Furthermore – now the Pickers are going to re-double their effort to keep the streak alive.

My friend sipped his beverage, looked at the table, thought about the office and smiled. “Can you stop by Monday?” he asked.

I told him only if he plays like his old self and cleans the floor with me, you can even rack, I’ll break.

See how Awards Concepts can help your business with an internal communication strategy. Our recognition systems are not built for Wall Street, but for Main Street – feel free to contact us anytime, you can even shoot pool with us.

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