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Dear David: Be the higher thinker

August 20/27, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 5

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I am getting fed up with my new batch of employees. When I give them an inch, they want a mile. Last week, two of my sales associates cornered me and told me the rest of the staff is upset because I stopped giving them pizza on Saturdays. They then complained for another 30 minutes on so many little things that I felt like firing them both. When is enough, enough?  

Dear Frustrated Owner,

There are two ways you can look at your situation. You can get frustrated because your staff doesn’t think like you or understand the demands of the workforce have changed and learn how to gain an advantage. What you are describing is the quintessential case of give and take and a bit of return on investment.

Jim Rohn, an author and motivational speaker who passed away in 2009, was groundbreaking in teaching the value of having a positive philosophy. He talks about how the secret to success is accepting external factors and getting the most you can from what you are given. This is the same with your situation as you cannot change the philosophy of an entire generational workforce—one that will represent 80% of all workers by 2025.

One of Rohn’s philosophies centers around his concept of “being a higher thinker.” He tells a story about getting his shoes shined and the amount he decided to tip. If he gave a $1 tip, he would feel a sense of guilt and frugality every time someone commented on how nice his shoes looked. If he left a $2 tip, every time someone commented on his nicely shined shoes he would feel a sense of euphoria that he “took care” of the shoe shiner for a job well done. That is what he calls a higher thinker—someone who when given the choice will give a little more to get much more in return. For him, the feeling of giving just one more buck paid him back much more in his positive attitude and philosophy.

This philosophy was life changing for me. I stopped looking at how tight I could be to generate profits, but how I could give just a little more to make a lot more. With employees, I paid them more, gave them more and cared more about them. In return they gave more, produced more and cared more.

Just like you, my staff came to me asking for things I thought were unimportant and miniscule. Beanbag chairs, pot-luck lunches, wine Fridays, outdoor benches, ping pong table, pets at work, disco music, etc. I almost always gave them what they wanted so I could get what I wanted—higher productivity and increased employee morale. The offset of my moderate additional expense and their substantial increase in output was staggering.

If you remove emotion and apply logic to your situation, you should see that providing pizza and the other small things are a no brainer. If you buy five pizzas every Saturday, your investment will be less than $100 per occasion or $434 a month (4.34 weeks per month). Now, let’s assume those pizzas provided some motivation and desire for the sales staff to care and do more. If those slices increased the close rates by 2% and the average ticket by 2%, you would experience a 4% increase in your sales. If your sales are $200,000 per month, that would be an increase of $4,000. With a profit margin of 40%, your bank would see an increased monthly deposit of $1,600. Subtracting the $434 provides a 268% return on investment.

To your last question: Enough is enough when what you give your team produces enough of what you want. Instead of stewing about their demands, focus on the advantages of providing them.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.