Reset and Reconnect With Employees Through Spring Cleaning and Reorganization
In my neighborhood, spring cleaning marks the renewal of another set of rituals. My neighbor, Mike, and I normally finish working on our yards at about the same time on Saturday afternoon. Whoever finishes first will walk over to the other’s yard. Not to help, but to talk – usually while the other person finishes sweeping up.
After a few minutes, either David, Rob, or Steve will walk over and join us. Then Howard will walk his dog up from the end of the street, and Bob will stop his car in the middle of the street as he’s heading home.
The conversation will range from family updates (who’s graduating, who’s heading to what college), critiques of any home improvement projects (I need to do a better job with the window trim), or just telling bad jokes. Nothing weighty, just a reason to slow down the pace of the cleanup and reconnect with the neighborhood.
It’s the slowdown of the cleanup I like best. Although the youngest of the group, my body certainly feels its age after a day of hard work. Perhaps next year, I’ll pay one of the neighborhood kids to do the heavy work. But maybe not, because then the bad jokes at the end of my driveway will probably include me.
I won’t try to convince anyone that spring cleaning can be fun (it isn’t). But you have to admit there’s a nice sense of accomplishment when you’re finished and can look out at a freshly raked lawn or spruced up the flowerbed. Plus, using that time to reconnect with those around us feels good too.
It’s also a great model to bring back to the workplace. While it’s important to set aside time to clean up, it doesn’t have to be all work. Include some time for banter at the end of the day. You can keep working while you’re talking, just at a slower pace.
If you already have a fairly clean shop or office, spring cleaning is perfect for tune-ups and reevaluations. Make the equipment shine and countertops glean. Take extra care to get behind and underneath machines and desks. Purge your file cabinet by sending unneeded paper to storage, or better yet, to the trash. Examine your current storage system to make sure it still meets your needs. If necessary, reallocate space or redesign the set-up.
If your office or shop’s a mess, or you feel very disorganized, spring’s a great time to start a turnaround. An excellent resource is Julie Morgenstern’s bestseller, "Organizing from the Inside Out". Ms. Morgenstern’s approach works because the solutions are unique to the individual and her system is process-based.
According to the book, the first step is to discover why you’re disorganized. By going through a three-level diagnostic, you can determine whether the causes are technical errors, external realities beyond your control, or psychological obstacles. You need to be honest with yourself to get to the real root of the problem.
After determining the cause, you’re ready to begin the process of getting organized. The book shows how to apply that process to almost any aspect of your life – home, office, even time. Ms. Morgenstern stresses that you must follow the process through completion in order to be successful. Like any project, going only 80% of the way is still 20% too short.
If you think you need help, and most of us do, I highly recommend this book.
So, plan some time for spring cleaning. You and your staff will feel better when the job’s completed and the space looks great. And don’t forget to set aside some time to slow down the pace and chat with the people around you. Get reconnected, and find out what’s going on in people’s lives.
Who knows, maybe Mike or I will show up at the end of the day and join you. We won’t be able to offer much help, but we’ll be sure to have a good story to share.
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross-functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation, and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at email@example.com.