Doing the Little Things
Last Sunday, I was inspired by a sermon in church about Simon-Peter. The sermon looked at some of the little things that Simon did to help Jesus out, early in His ministry, that set the tone and direction. Simon lent Jesus his boat, so he could preach from the water as the crowds pushed in. After a hard day of catching no fish, he dropped his nets back in the water, on the other side of the boat, one last time because Jesus asked him to (and reeled them in full of fish, by the way). He said “yes” when Jesus asked him to put down his nets and follow Him. Peter simply said yes to some little things, and those yes’s changed his life, changed Jesus’ ministry, and changed the course of history.
The little things matter. Doing those little things, getting incrementally better, improving a little bit every day, matters. At FocalPoint, we refer to this as The 1% Rule; a 1% improvement, consistently, over the course or time, will lead to significant change and growth.
I’m working with a retail client in Minneapolis. The business is commercially successful; revenue is strong, the business is profitable, and they are growing. What is missing is leadership, consistency. . . . culture. Employees don’t feel like part of a team, and have no buy-in. Managers manage but do not lead. There is a lack of consistent process. Fixing the issue is a BIG project; we cannot simply “blow it up” and expect massive change in a matter of weeks. Instead, we focus on changing one thing at a time, every week. Yesterday, we had a conversation on growing their “rewards program” customer base. Jen, the owner, said that the cashiers ask if customers are rewards members, but often stop short of asking them to sign up if the answer is no. Cashiers are trained on how to sign people up. . . . but that is where the process ends. The consistent coaching and reminders were not happening. The consistent coaching and reminders were not happening. We agreed on a new plan of retraining the cashiers on the sign-up process, followed by reminders to ask the questions in their daily team meetings. This is a small change, but it will get employees and leadership engaged, and will lead to more small changes that will over time shift the culture of the company.
Everyone likes big gestures and grand plans; we’re usually just not that good at doing them. But we can all do the little things, we can all take small steps toward big change and great improvement. If you have something big you want to do, don’t get caught up in trying to do it all at once. Find that first little thing that will get you started, and do it. The first step doesn’t have to be a big one; it may be as simple as dropping your nets on the other side of the boat.