Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
If you run a business, one of the benefits is that it’s run exactly the way you want it, right? If the “millennials” that you hire don’t do the job exactly the way you want, they’re wrong, right?
Well, maybe. It could just be that the people on the ground doing the day to day operations have their own ideas about what works best. Efficiency is a big deal when running a float center and if there’s something that takes 20 seconds longer per room, that could be the difference between a late float and an on time one.
Ashkahn and Graham share their perspective on how best to manage employees who have different ways of operating their shop and how the standards were formed at Float On.
Stay tuned for information on how to reach our two hour call in show, November 29th at 3pm PST. And as always, feel free to send questions in the form above or directly at floattanksolutions.com/podcast.
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: Cool. Hi.
Ashkahn: Hey, that’s just a perfectly normal podcast there. Welcome.
Graham: I’m just one of your perfectly normal hosts over here. Graham.
Ashkahn: Another perfectly normal Ashkahn standing here.
Graham: And we have an announcement.
Ashkahn: Oh yeah.
Graham: Which is things are winding down for the Daily Solutions podcast.
Ashkahn: Yeah, this month, November, will be the final month of our podcast.
Graham: Yep, it’s November no podcast month.
Ashkahn: No pod November.
Graham: We actually talk a lot about our decision to kind of wind things down. What we’re doing next in the world, big projects, big ideas, deep thoughts, in a different episode. We have a special announcement if you go back a few episodes in time, that you can listen to.
Ashkahn: But, fun news.
Graham: Super fun news.
Ashkahn: Super fun news, our final episode is going to be a two hour, live podcast where you can call in and talk to us and it won’t just be like us talking to each other.
Graham: Yeah. You’ll be here. In fact, you can even call in and host alongside us.
Ashkahn: Yeah, in fact, you can call in right now and just wait on hold until this episode happens and you’ll be first in line.
Graham: And when is it gonna happen, just for the people who are waiting around?
Ashkahn: Its November 29th. So, its gonna be a little bit of a wait, but-
Graham: November 29th. 3 to 5 PM, Pacific time.
Graham: Yeah. Be there.
Graham: Show up.
Graham: It’ll be cool.
Ashkahn: It will be.
Graham: Right, and in the meantime, we have another question to answer for you. Today’s question. Which is, “how picky are you?” Ashkahn? No, it doesn’t say Ashkahn. “How picky are you about how things are set up at Float On? Should the towels all be folded the same way? Should the room look the same every time? Am I being too picky about wanting everything to be perfect and the same each and every time someone comes into Float? These damn millennials have all sorts of misguided ways to fold laundry! Or how something looks neat. And it’s making me wonder if its them or me? So, pleeeeeease tell” Matt he’s smart business move. Wait, what? Oh, “please tell me the smart business move, is to be orderly and consistent, and millennials are just millennials. Thanks.”
Ashkahn: They can’t really tell us what we’re supposed to answer you with in your question, you know.
Graham: Its called a statement. Not a question. In fact, I’d say you might even define that as an imperative.
Graham: So go look up what a question is and maybe try to resubmitting that form. Huh, buddy?
Ashkahn: So, should you listen to the young ruffians you’ve hired to work in your company.
Graham: Well, I mean, ignoring the millennial part, right, is-
Ashkahn: These scibber scabbers are coming in and putting towels wherever they want.
Graham: How picky should you be? Should you be a micromanager? Should you define everything?
Ashkahn: You have like a set protocol, for like, towels go here.
Graham: Yeah. Should everything always be the same?
Ashkahn: Slippers go this way.
Graham: Or should it always be different. Like it actually required the towel is folded different every single time.
Ashkahn: Every time. Yeah, done from underneath the back of the float tank, there. Probably something in between those two.
Graham: Yeah, that’s all I was gonna say. So, thanks for the question and-
Ashkahn: So this is something that we have encountered.
Graham: And the interesting thing is our employees are more demanding of things being the same every time, than we have historically been.
Ashkahn: Which maybe says more about us. Cause we’ve always started at a place of very little protocol or control or-
Graham: Sanity. Control. General structure.
Ashkahn: So basically, the extent that what we said was the protocol for things, which is that it had to look nice. Look at that towel. Does that look like a nicely folded towel to you?
Graham: And they’d either be like, “Heck yeah.” Or be like, “You’re right.” Or they’d be like, “No. It doesn’t.” We’re like, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You know? That’s fine.”
Ashkahn: And after that, some consistency definitely came out of efficiency, I think. There was a certain point where we all decided to fold our towels a certain way. And we talked about it, cause it was just the way that fit best into our towel storage and allowed us to grab them out the easiest.
Graham: I allowed for five instead of four to be stacked vertically inside the cubby.
Ashkahn: Yeah, exactly. So we have gotten to the point where we’re all literally having conversations about unified towel folding technique. But it was not so much out the need for uniformity, as much as it was us trying to optimize our towel efficiency.
Graham: But it got so much crazier from there. Our staff members have had, even without us around for staff meeting. Because we’ll show up but we try to leave the shop a lot to run itself. Now when I go into the shop, on the back of our utility room door, there’s a diagram of all six of our Float Tank rooms. Along with where, exactly, everything should be placed. Including the direction of the fold of the towel. And we didn’t mandate any of that. That was all of our employees just being tired of they have a certain way to go in, and they go into someone else’s room, and they’re angry because the sandals are turned toe out instead of toe in, towards the wall.
Ashkahn: Let me tell you, that people are passionate about this stuff.
Graham: Some of the longest threads in our logbook, which is where we keep all of our communications, are people arguing about towel folds.
Ashkahn: So, we planned a day a couple of years ago, where we just got everyone together. So we had everyone’s schedules try to line up for a day, and we actually kind of blocked off floats. And we did a full kind of cleaning, knowledge exchange day. Cause one of the things was running a float center, is that there’s only a couple of people working together at any point in time.
So part of this could be just like, night shift does it a certain way, and day shift had learned to do it a different way, stuff like that, that can happen, just with the nature of our businesses. So we decided to do a day where we get everyone together, and just kind of go though the way we cleaned everything and basically just have it be a place where people could exchange good tips with each other. Be like, “Oh, no. I actually found like a way faster way to do that.” And to make sure that people weren’t missing things because they didn’t understand the reasoning behind them.
Like spraying something and making sure it sat for the amount of time it needs to sit to kill certain things. Right? So it was both of those things. It was a quality control-
Graham: But you’ll find a reference to the episodes where we talk about that hard surface disinfectant and show notes, by the way.
Ashkahn: So there was quality control and it was knowledge exchange, was the purpose of this. And so we did. We talked about a lot of stuff. And one of the single biggest conversations ended up being about this.
I was there talking about it. Some of the different logic behind the sanitation and it got into this whole, we’re looking in a room and determining where to put the slippers. Which direction to point them. Which shelf to put the towel on. And I couldn’t even keep up. I had to just step back and be like, “I don’t know, man. You guys sort this out.”
And even talked about it for like an hour. And I think people were like really, really into their ways of doing it, and exactly why the slippers had to be a certain direction.
Graham: Oh, yeah. This is a couple of years ago and I think there’s at least three of our staff members who are still in that meeting. So, it’s crazy. The amount that I think the people who are actually on the ground want some kind of uniformity, might even be more than you think is the case. Right?
And the fact that different people do things different ways, might not be because they’re just doing it however they want and they’re lazy. It might actually be because they personally feel passionate about doing it a certain way. Or they think they can set the room a little quicker of they put something here.
Opening up a dialogue and getting all of your staff members in the same place, and allowing them to contribute to the conversation, I think is a great thing to do here.
Ashkahn: I mean, that’s really the core of it. If you’re lacking a certain sense of people doing things a certain way out of apathy, or them just not doing a good job. Then yeah, you have a problem. And you should figure out a way to increase your protocol in some way. And if you’re not seeing uniformity because everyone has beliefs that they are setting up their room in the most ideal, perfect way for a customer, then you have a different thing to figure out. Right? Everyone there is really invested in caring.
And in those sorts of situations, I’ve always found if you kind of impose your will on people, it really kind of takes away people’s motivations to care as much. And its much better to get that feedback and have those conversations and have people feel invested in it. And like they have a voice and it just leads to a much better sense of autonomy and responsibility or satisfaction in your work.
Graham: And yeah, same thing. You were ending kind of exactly where I wanted to talk about this, too. Which is, I think one of the most important lessons that we were just going over is when we were having this giant discussion, hour long, about which direction the sandals face, and how the towel is folded. That’s our staff members having that conversation.
And as a result of people actually controlling what it is they’re doing day to day, they buy into it, and they do subscribe to it. And the know that if they don’t go along with this group decision, that they’re kind of letting their other co-workers down. They’re not just sticking it to the man, or something like that.
So, just for anything where you don’t feel like operations are going as smoothly as you want or things in your shop aren’t going quite the way you want. Or the staff members that you have don’t have the passion that you used to have or something. Talking to them. Opening up a discussion and letting them suggest solutions to the problem. Just saying, “Hey, I want more interaction with customers.” Or in this case, “Hey, I want more consistency in the rooms and I just want everything to look nice for people.”
Let’s talk about ideas. And have them suggest things. And find out what’s on their minds. And the result of that is often, A) very surprising, and B) way more meticulous and crazy than you would come up with, yourself. So yeah. Totally suggest that as a general method for honestly most staff problem solving.
Ashkahn: Also, the result of being able to share your opinion and feeling heard, is pretty powerful. Even if things don’t go the direction you think they should.
Graham: Yeah, I totally agree, man. Anyway, back to the story that I was telling.
Ashkahn: What I’m saying is when you’re listened to-
Graham: Yeah, no. I got you man. Anyways, I think that we have another question for you to answer coming up here.
Ashkahn: All right, we can go to that. When someone gives you the respect of listening to what you’re saying, its just a lot easier to go with something. All right. If you guys have more questions you can go to FloatTankSolutions.com/podcast and we’ll answer those there.
Graham: What? Anyway, if you guys have any more questions of your own, head on over to FloatTankSolutions.com/podcast. We’ll go ahead and answer them there.
Ashkahn: All right. I may not be here next time, but I’m sure Graham will take care of it.
Graham: Bye everyone.
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