We are currently in the middle of having our kitchen reconstructed and over the weekend it was my task to paint the ceiling and the walls (again!). As I went about this a few things occurred to me that made me smile as I reflected on business.
There is currently a large gap where the fridge freezer is going to be positioned. This gap previously had cupboards connected to it, so the walls are mostly without any paint. I know that this wall is not going to be visible as the fridge-freezer is going to be in place, but I just couldn’t leave it looking so messy. I know that I will know, every day, when I look at the fridge, just what is behind it and I will feel better when I know that the wall is nicely painted! For me it’s a matter of personal pride and satisfaction.
Later on in the day, when I was moving things around, I noticed some sawdust under one of the cupboards and I thought I would sweep it up. As my curiosity had been sparked I proceeded to look under all of the newly installed cupboards and was disappointed to find that the workmen had been using the space like a bin! There was sawdust, bits of wood, plastic bags and plastic ties all over the place. I guess for the workmen it wasn’t that important, right? No one is ever going to look under the cupboards and cleaning it out takes time and effort and what’s the point anyway? But for me, this is my home and my new room and I will know what’s there! I simply couldn’t leave it like that, so I swept and vacuumed the whole area.
So what has this to do with business?
There were two things that struck me through these incidents.
The first is that when we employ people we really want to have those who “do the right thing” for no other reason than they know themselves what they have or haven’t done. Too often in business people do the right thing, following some written procedure, rather than doing the right thing, thinking it through, understanding the end game and challenging the status quo. Surely our customers and people would be much happier and thus our business more successful if people stepped up and took personal responsibility.
The second thing that occurred to me was the intent of doing such things. My intent was for no other reason than personal pride and self-satisfaction. I’m not looking for praise nor acknowledgement for either act. It is simply for the satisfaction of a job completed properly and to my own standards. Others may argue it was a waste of time and indeed they may be right, but it was important to me.
When people take on tasks with the intent of personal professional pride and the desire to do the right thing, I believe the end result is usually one to be acknowledged and admired. Maybe when recruiting we should ask them what they would do with the wall behind the fridge? Do they have personal pride and high standards of application?
Have you ever considered what percent of activities you and your team approach with such an intent?