$20 Fish Named Cotton Candy

Fish Story

“The ‘Big Al’s’ guy treated me like I had huge lifetime value to the store, when all I wanted was a $20 fish.”

I had already shopped, online, for the little aquarium and all the stuff that you have to have like gravel and plants and conditioner and ornaments, etc.

They were set to arrive just in time.

Now all I had to do was buy the fish.

But, to my great dismay, the pet retailer nearby told me that they didn’t do ‘curbside pick-up’ for fish.

Will the stress ever end?

In a town where it seems we go in and out of lockdown every few weeks, the stress level is high. Nobody really knows what they can and cannot do.

Add to that the fact that a 6 year old child who is near and dear to my heart desperately wants a fish.

She is celebrating her birthday during a Covid lockdown – for the second consecutive year – and cannot have her friends together for a birthday party.

She can’t even have a family gathering to celebrate her birthday.

Her little heart is set on a fish…a fish that she has already decided, will have the name of ‘Cotton Candy’.

Fortunately, I heard about ‘Big Al’s’. I called them and they worked it out for me.

With masks on and proper distancing, they would bring a couple of fish out of the store so that my niece could choose which one she would like.

Then, they would let me pay at the curb, with debit/credit card and off we would go with the fish.

That was the plan and it worked out just that way. All good.

But, getting back to the phone call that started it all…

The young guy who was working in the ‘fish room’ at Big Al’s knew, right up front, that I only wanted a fish.

My purchase would be about $20.

Even though I was a first time ‘fish’ buyer, I explained that I had purchased everything else I needed online.

After we had discussed the plan for getting a fish, he started asking me some questions.

He said that he wanted to make sure I had all of the information I would need to ensure the fish stayed healthy and lived a long life.

He told me all about the type of fish I was buying and what kind of fish I might be able to add later. Some fight…others don’t.

Some can take in air at the surface – others can’t so they might live in their own waste if there’s no filter, etc.

Lots of people know all of this, but I didn’t and he quickly figured that out. He spent time educating me.

That young man is an asset to Big Al’s, that’s for sure. When we need to buy anything else for ‘Cotton Candy’, we will be visiting Big Al’s.

Why do you suppose he was so good with his customer? Is he just a good hire? Is he well trained? Is he a super engaged employee?

Is it because his manager has helped him develop his skills…made expectations clear?

Possibly, all of the above. Something to think about. And, on that note…

Let’s talk about managing and developing people.

As older employees move on or up in the ranks or leave the workplace to retire or to pursue other interests, the younger generation of employees step in, and up, to fill the gap. Is that a correct statement?

Every single person should be judged on their own merit, of course.

We don’t claim that older employees are, or were, special or in any way better or worse than younger employees.

That’s something that you have to figure out and deal with.

Good or bad, your workforce is yours to manage.

You can make changes to your style…you can do whatever you think is required to get the very best out of every employee. All up to you.

You can expect and demand that employees bend to your management style.

Although, we don’t recommend it because that has never been a winning strategy and it’s definitely not the best strategy for the unforgiving 2020’s.

A better option is to adopt a management style that will get the very best out of every employee (well, almost) – regardless of age or experience level.

First, it’s probably best to examine the different styles and see how your natural management/leadership style compares.

If your employees have spent their formative years relaxing, with very little expected of them…they may have difficulty ramping up for work.

They may have difficulty meeting your expectations or even understanding why they should.

Through no fault of their own, their work ethic (generally speaking) is different than that of previous generations.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

The truth is that most older adults did NOT spend their early days in comfort.

They didn’t grow up believing they were owed something or that they were special just because they were born.

They had expectations to meet and standards to live up to. They were expected to muck in…to contribute.

And, they sure didn’t win a prize just for showing up!

They were working hard…maybe on the farm or around the house. They were doing chores – cooking and cleaning and mowing the lawn and repairing things, etc.

That was their expected contribution to the family.

Some had it a bit easier and only had to run errands, make their bed and keep their rooms tidy…respect their elders and get their homework done.

Others went out to work at an early age because the family needed money.

Some brave young people answered the call of their country and found themselves fighting battles far from home.

Some were looking after older relatives and sickly relatives and they had to contribute in a way that most younger people haven’t been required to do.

It’s no wonder that the lion’s share of the workforce of today is very different than that of past generations.

That’s not a critique of the younger generation…or praise for the older…it’s just the way it is.

So, what does it mean?

What does the new ‘type’ of upbringing translate into when it comes to your workforce and your business?

It may mean a tweak or two to your management or leadership style or, perhaps a complete overhaul.

It depends on what you’re doing now.

Whichever generation you grew up in or whichever generation you are managing, if you intend to get the best out of every employee…including employees who have never ‘practiced’ working for a living, you are going to have to become a good people manager.

Join us for the District Management Workshop coming up soon.