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Help Employees Bust Out of a Slump

man in a slump, depressed employee, Monday morningsFor 20 years, I taught, coached and observed some of the most talented swimmers in the country. Some were gifted athletes, and others were hard workers. The smartest ones knew how to “make the wall work out” by knowing where they were in pool, so they could properly prepare for the finish or a flip-turn and a push off the wall. A half-stroke at the end of a tight race could mean the difference between first place and last place.

Consider the backstroke: Triangular flags strung above the pool indicate to swimmers when they are approaching the wall. Similarly, color patterns in the lane lines change from striped to solid at the designated distance from the edge of the pool.

Smart swimmers will count and remember how many complete strokes from the flags it takes for them to hit the wall. A beginner, on the other hand, ends up taking half-strokes to “make the wall work out.”

If we relate a busy season to a swimming competition, getting to the end of the season is the end of the race — or, more specifically, the wall. How do you make your wall work out?

You may start a busy season with great intentions: hiring new staff, orienting them to their jobs, training them on specific skills and then turning them loose. Come midseason, though, when such employee problems as tardiness and apathy kick in, you wonder what happened. It’s possible you didn’t help those staff members “make the wall work out.” In other words, you didn’t provide enough motivation to help them see their jobs through to the end.

Once concessions manager I know rewards employee who upsell the most combo packages to customers with a home-cooked meal. What a deal for high school and college students who might be more accustomed to eating a Gordita than a casserole!

Cooking isn’t your thing? No problem. Sometimes simply a nice note from the boss makes a huge difference for an employee who has trouble keeping his attention focused on the wall.

Heck, when I received a personalized, handwritten note from the interim executive director of the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association for the hard work I’ve provided that organization over the years, even I couldn’t help but feel appreciated. Someone noticed — and took the time to tell me so in writing.

When your employees are in the middle of “peak season,” things can turn tough. Morale diminishes, employees arrive just in time to begin their shift (or maybe even a few minutes late), pressure builds, tempers are short and patience is tried.

Wherever you are in your busy season, plan something to help your employees bust out of their slump. Your efforts will help them “make the wall work out,” and the entire staff will finish the race stronger.

Until then, keep motivating! Your staff will love you for it.

(Photo by iStock)

About Ruby Newell-Legner

As a Fan Experience Expert, Ruby helps leaders in sports, leisure and entertainment build strong teams between front line staff and management, and make exceptional customer service a way of life. She has consulted with and designed customized training programs for more than 60 sports and entertainment venues, 80 leisure facilities and 29 professional sports teams. From the only 7 Star Hotel in the world to Convention Centers, from Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes customer loyalty and retention.

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