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Gone Fishing


Mary LincolnThrowing fish at each other for fun isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you’re dealing with underperformance and lack of motivation in teams that carry out routine functions.  They are more likely to do just enough to get the job done, (if at all), come to work and go home, not really help each other, have the “wrong attitude” and not really get to know each other. They have energy in the team but it feels toxic. It’s a tough job to turn this situation around, to make the mundane and routine interesting and exciting, and create an environment in which the team really feel energised.  

I’m not suggesting you start throwing fish at each other or dancing at the desk, but offer this advice from a little book called “Fish!”:

  1. “As you enter this place of work, choose to make it a great day.  Your colleagues, customers, team members, and you yourself will be thankful.” This is all about choosing your attitude. When your team are doing what they “do”, WHO are they being? Are they being routine, bored and mundane people, or are they being amazing, awesome and stars in the making? You are going to instinctively act differently if you are being amazing. Who do your team want to be when they are doing their work? The work can be boring but don’t let your team get bored.
  2. “Find ways to play.” We can be serious about our work without being serious about ourselves.  The guys working in a fish market in Seattle make sure they have fun while they work, and create a positive infectious energy in their team and perform, literally, it’s a performance that they get their customers involved in. With high energy comes high performance.
  3. “Stay focussed in order to be present when your customers and team members most need you.” Being 'present' is pretty crucial to any kind of relationship, whether it's with a client, co-worker, friend or family member. All of those people need to feel that you're genuinely interested in them and that they matter to you. Right now. It's primarily about listening well but also about setting your priorities carefully, making this person your priority and not letting anything else interfere. When you're fully present it draws people in; they want to talk to you. Switch your phone off and make eye contact.
  4. Should you feel your energy lapsing, try this sure fire remedy; Find someone who needs a helping hand, a word of support or a good ear – and make their day. Often just striking up a conversation and saying “hello” means that they feel less disengaged, and more likely to let you help them with their (your) problems.

So next time you realise that your team aren’t performing or are bored or lacking in energy, stick a little “Gone Fishing” sign on your desk and go and find your own Pike Place Fish Market.

Have you seen our white paper on how to avoid the top ten pifalls of project management failure?