What would be the difference in atmosphere, excitement and focus if today were the opening day of your business rather than day 15,428? Whether you are the manager of a small department or the CEO of a large company, can you envision what it would be like if it were founding day?
I had the joy of visiting a new entrepreneur’s venture yesterday on the day before grand opening, Jim and Louise Westcott’s Great Harvest Bread in Lake Orion, Michigan. (They are at 1015 South Baldwin Road, by the way…you should really check them out!). When I walked in, there was no question that I was in a bakery. The smell of fresh baked bread, the open kitchen where they were preparing dough, the fragrance of fresh coffee, the tables, the shelves of jams and spreads…I did not mistake it for an office supply place. Everything was sparkling, and people were working hard, very hard, and they were enjoying every minute of it.
I spoke with some of the folks who were going to be sandwich makers, bakers and servers and every single one of them were not only excited about opening day (today) but knew exactly why they were there and the experience they wanted to provide to their new customers. Janet Tatarka, Director of Franchise Services for Great Harvest Bread, was there with her crew to coach and instruct, but there was no question that this store belonged to the staff that was preparing to open it. They were exhausted, happy and excited.
How long has it been since the atmosphere with your team has been excited, happy and focused on the experience they want to provide to their customers? Whether they are in Sales or Human Resources, do they know exactly what experience they should be providing? Or is it possible that they have gotten bogged down in the day-to-day activities of their roles and have lost sight of the vision of what you are doing.
You could predict that eventually the folks working in this bakery will also begin to lose the excitement of opening day. Of course they will as they find that the fun stuff comes with struggles and challenges as well. There will be unreasonable customers, unexpected expenses, or projects that don’t work as planned. That’s life and some of the things that come along with being a leader are not predictable and are entirely out of your control.
As a leader, I would suggest that there are three conditions you need to create for your employees that will help create the day one excitement. These were all true in the staff yesterday and, if they stay true, it might be that the excitement can continue. Focus on creating an environment where your employees:
1. Know they are wanted.
2. Know they are appreciated.
3. Know what they are expected to deliver.
These are simple statements that are sometimes difficult to do, but if you can ensure that they are all true with your employees, you will find that the problem times are much easier to deal with. The excitement of Day One is an asset that you don’t want to lose, and if you’ve lost it, it would be worth your time to try to bring it back.