I try to get my shoes shined in airports. The people there generally do a better job than I do and it’s fairly cost effective. I plan for the shines around trips to speaking engagements.
Lately, I’ve started to notice something. If the person or people working the shoe stand look a little indifferent or lazy, I’ll hold off for the next airport. Their apathy and slow movement doesn’t give me confidence in the job they might do (or the time it might take).
What says indifferent or lazy?
They’re slouched in a chair watching a video or playing a game on their phone. Sometimes they’re reading a newspaper. Sometimes it’s just the lack of a smile that keeps me away. If they’re napping … please.
Last week, I was walking through an airport in New England and noticed a stand all by itself with no one working it. I passed by and then realized that maybe that guy I saw sitting in the adjacent gate area looking into his phone with his earphones in … maybe it was his stand.
I thought I’d go back and see … and if it was his stand, maybe give a little advice (uh-oh). Then I hesitated … thinking about the likely interaction. (Not everyone enjoys being coached.)
Then I did my golden rule check and thought I’d like the advice if I were him. And even so, I needed to find out if it was, in fact, his stand (it’s what I do, I tell you … it’s what I do).
“Oh. I didn’t know. I passed by thinking there was no one here, so I didn’t stop,” I told him.
He started to get up slowly from his chair. I’m assuming he felt I wanted my shoes shined.
“That’s okay. I don’t have enough time, unfortunately. But I have an idea for you. I think more people would stop at your stand and you’d make more money if you sat closer to your stand or stood next to it. I thought you might be waiting for a plane rather than working here. I’m guessing other potential customers might be thinking the same thing.”
He looked at me from his chair and said slowly, “Thanks for the idea.”
I’m not sure where it went for him from there. (Did he dismiss the feedback and potentially short-circuit his own possibilities? Did he embrace the feedback and make better things happen for himself and the people going through the airport? Will he eventually become a Smover or two-twelver?)
Being approachable and engaged (enthusiastic and caring) are the onramps to so much good.
Is there anything you (or your team) are doing that might be telling people you’d prefer they didn’t give you their attention/ time/ ideas/ business/ relationship/ opportunities/ feedback/ money? Is there anything that might be shouting, “I’m slow and I really don’t care”?
How many improvements could you make this week if you asked everyone to find 3 things about your workplace that might be telling people you’re not engaged?
With awareness, comes responsibility.
*Smovish: (‘smü-vish) adjective: having qualities that illustrate a Smile & Move character or demeanor