Common Sense

Do you ever feel so frustrated you say, “This doesn’t make sense”? Have people questioned the way you do something? In their minds, you are doing something wrong. A good example is when you try to return something to a department store and the cashier says, “It is not our policy.” Those words can send me into a tailspin. I get so upset when people say, “It is not our policy” or “We have always done it this way.” Drives me nuts!

This just happened to me. I literally said to myself, “That makes no sense.” So I decided to write this post in the hope of offering some perspective. Questioning outdated ways of doing things is vitally important. The fact that you have been doing something for forty years does not mean it is still worth doing. I am working in a situation right now that has been very humbling. I have made it very clear that if the systems in place were updated, my client’s work would go so much more smoothly.

Common Sense Isn’t Very Common

I was brought in by this client for my expert opinions on sales and marketing. Whenever I give my opinion, I am told, “Well, we have always done it this way.” Why would you bring experts in and not trust that they have some very good ideas and could really help you regain your numbers? I have sold millions of dollars’ worth of life insurance. I was in the top 2 percent of sellers for a reason. I am not telling you this to impress you. I am telling you that when people have sold that much of anything, they might actually know what they are talking about.

I see so many problems in my client’s business, especially with scheduling and flexibility of hours. When you have happy people selling your product, they want to keep selling and keep shining. If they cannot have flexible hours and a life outside of work, they leave, and you lose very good people. End of story.

I might seem impulsive in my personal life at times, but in business, I look at the bigger picture and focus on what is important. In business, especially sales, you cannot dig your heels in and push to get your point across. Be open, be flexible, and spend more time listening. As a business owner, your job is to listen to the ideas of your employees. Why? They are on the front line, dealing with your customers, hearing the complaints, and seeing what works. If you are not open to their opinions, you have the wrong employees.

Steve Wynn was famous for always checking in with the valets at his hotels. He included them by asking them how the customers looked and what they said when they arrived. His valets were known for going above and beyond, as in the story I heard about a couple who, after arriving from Los Angeles, realized they had forgotten an important medicine. The valet offered to drive to Los Angeles to pick up this medication. Steve Wynn allowed for this, while most business owners would say, “We do not do that.” My question is, Why not? Why wouldn’t you go above and beyond to create raving fans for your business? I guarantee that couple never stopped telling that story!

Common Sense Approach

Are you a business owner or a business manager? Do you know the difference? If you are constantly on your employees, telling them what to do, how to do it, and what to say, then you are a manager. Your employees will become like robots, just following your lead.

When I was selling millions of dollars of life insurance, I was rarely in an office. I was out networking, taking people for coffee or lunch, and having fun making friends and building rapport with clients. In today’s world, more business owners are giving more freedom to their employees because they know if their employees are happy, they will do great work. We saw during COVID that our work could be done with a computer and phone. No one had to be in an office. Even though it was a difficult time, some very valuable lessons were learned.

Flexibility is key. If you have employees who are really good and they want two weeks off to go and have a life, give it to them—especially if they do not make much money. They will be happy and appreciate working for you even more.

Make It Make (Common) Sense

I once heard about an employee who, after being exposed to COVID, was asked by the owner to come in and work in a back room, isolated from everyone. Now I ask you, readers, what is the difference between being in a back room—one that is probably dark and might pose health risks—and working from home? This great employee gave notice, not because he was unhappy but because his employer had no common sense.

If you are a business owner, listen. Stop managing, stop talking all the time, and listen. You might be missing important feedback from your employees because you spend most of your time talking and managing.

Common sense is tied to our belief systems. My beliefs are going to be very different from yours. Most people working for all you business owners out there do not need to be managed. You will be surprised at what can happen when you loosen the reins. What beliefs are you holding on to? What are you having a hard time letting go of? What if you made a few small changes and allowed more freedom within your system? What if?

If you want to hold on to great people, you must make changes and listen to your employees. And, above all, use common sense!

Deborah Driggs

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