What's your response when a fellow driver gestures obscenely? Do you react in kind?
Whether it's on the road or in the workplace, people have the freedom every day to choose their own attitudes, best-selling business book author Harry Paul told more than 400 guests at an Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium luncheon Thursday at the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club.
Paul is co-author of “Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results,” which is based on the success of Seattle's Pike Place Fish market, whose mission is to make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. Market employees have become world-renowned for their playful yelling and throwing of fish, as a way to have fun and engage customers.
In the same outdoor Seattle market, there are three other fish markets that sell the same fish, but Pike Place is the most successful, Paul said.
That's because the market attracts workers — who follow three main principles: they play, they're present (including active listening) and they make their customers' day, he said.
But without choosing the right attitude, the other ingredients are a waste of time, Paul said.
“Ethics also is about choice,” he said. “There's no right way of doing the wrong thing.” He said managers must lead by example and create cultures in which employees instinctively make ethical decisions.
He also talked about being nice, genuinely interested in employees and appreciative of them as a way of building two-way trust.
“If you recognize and appreciate employees, they'll go the extra mile for you time and again,” he said.
“Employee of the Month awards don't work, they're too political,” Paul said. Instead, he recommends immediately recognizing “employees of the moment,” and creating gratitude trails by sending thank-you notes to workers, their bosses and their bosses' bosses.
Kirk Purnell, general manager of Ben E. Keith food distributors in Edmond, brought several of his customers to Thursday's event, which doubled as the 10th anniversary of OKEthics' founding. Purnell said he visited the Seattle market on a business trip 12 years ago.
“It was easy to see that having fun was good for business, and that happy employees take better care of customers,” he said.
Ideal Homes of Norman so believes in “Fish!” that the company uses its training video and handouts at all new hire orientations, human resources coordinator Linda Streun said.
“One of our core values is relationships — through respect, empathy, courtesy and responsiveness, so new hires are able to relate this core value when we begin our discussions on how they could make people's day, choose their attitudes and have fun at work,” she said.
Ideal Homes throughout the year plans several company functions, focused on employees having fun, Streun said. The builder just hosted chili cook-off and dessert contests earlier this month.