"Just keep on saying that."
It's a phrase that
parents sometimes use as a sarcastic warning to their children or workers tell
colleagues as a form of encouragement and agreement. It's the latter that
we'll discuss here.
Business has its share of verboten comments, which I've discussed in a
column. Now, it's time to address the other side of the ledger; those
things that you as a businessperson should, in fact, say every day. They can
be said out loud to others or just to yourself, but their import can be
genuine to your business's growth and the satisfaction you derive from it.
So, talk it up. Here are seven things you should say every business day
(with thanks to readers who generously submitted their suggestions):
- "I like what you're doing." This may seem simple and
straightforward, but it goes beyond that. Telling an employee she's doing a
good job is nice enough, but it's rather mundane and limited. But saying you
like what she's doing carries over into any number of other areas, such as
work ethic, attitude or her overall approach to her role in your
organization. It's broader and more uplifting in its praise.
- "You never know what the tide will bring in." This cryptic remark
— pinched from the film "Castaway"— offers a vivid reminder how essential it
is to remain open to business opportunity. What may seem silly or pointless
may morph into something of genuine value, given enough time. In fact, FedEx
(the business featured in "Castaway") is itself vindication of the idea. One
of the founders of the company got a lousy mark on a college paper that
described his idea for a speedy delivery service. Hope FedEx and its tens of
thousands of employees have since "FedExed" an ample supply of crow to one
rather shortsighted academic.
- "How would you do this if it was the most important decision you'll
ever make?" Hyperbole aside, this is a great strategy to inject both
focus and energy. No matter the task, there's always the risk that things
will become old and stale. But coming at something from a fresh perspective,
which implies far greater significance than just getting the job done and
moving on, is a terrific reminder of the implicit value of everything we do.
- "Do my customers get it?" There's a bagel shop near my home
that's always packed with customers. What's curious, though, is that the
bagels themselves are doughy and tasteless. Instead, it's the coffee that
pulls people in — equal proportions of rich flavor and potent kick. The tens
and twenties in the register don't have "here for the java" scribbled on
them, but it's clear that the customer base is, indeed, missing the point —
along with the shop's management. Watch what your business has become.
However successful it may be, it may not be what you think it is. And,
without a change in focus or strategy, inadvertent success often can be
- "What's standing in the way?" It's important to focus on what we
do and how to improve it, but it's equally essential to identify those
issues and elements that are roadblocks to achievement. They can be as
external as particularly creative competitors or as in-house as inefficient
work habits that burn both money and time. Look everywhere for the obstacles
to your business and then figure out how to overcome those issues.
- "Take some time to think." This is just as provocative said to
your employees as it is internal monologue. Most business days are akin to
an electrical shock — stimulus and reaction, over and over. Granted, we all
have to be ready to react, but urge your people and yourself to earmark a
mental minute to think about what you're doing and why. Not only is it
refreshing to shut down for a bit, but thoughtful analysis can reap any
number of benefits, whether it's new ideas, better focus or a way to improve
an existing process.
- "Where's the fun?" Business is pragmatic, not punishment. Take
the time to find enjoyment wherever possible. If you're the boss, that means
you need to help workers find the fun in their jobs or offer low-cost morale
events to inject the fun and reward them for their efforts.
Jeff Wuorio is an award-winning writer and columnist, and is the author
CNBC Guide to Money and Markets." For more information, check out his