FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“A Change of Seasons”||
|By: Ron Brounes||
Welcome to the doldrums of summer; that often dreary time when Houston temperatures rise from a comfortable spring like 90 degrees to an unbearable 105; that time when school kids roam the neighborhoods without a care in the world, much like we once did years (and years and years) ago; that time when you wish you hadn’t wasted all those vacation (and sick) days earlier in the year; that time when TV reruns are never quite as funny as when they originally aired. On that note, this summer may be particularly difficult for many of us who find ourselves facing the end of an era, a change of seasons that actually brings about a change in life as we know it. Yes, the television show “Seinfeld” has opted to leave the airwaves after nine seasons, sparking an outpouring of emotions and capturing the attention of the country in a manner not witnessed since the O.J. trials or the Lewinski “affair.” Somehow the sun actually rises the next day, life goes on, and “Frasier” moves over to fill that newfound void in our lives. (Trivia: What “Seinfeld” episode featured the woman who plays Frasier’s housekeeper, Daphnie?)
In many ways, “Seinfeld” serves as a microcosm for life itself. Some may compare it to a long standing personal relationship. At first, we meet and learn about each others interests and personality traits. Everything is so fresh and intriguing. We grow attached and look forward to spending that quality time together (Thursday at 8:00 P.M.). As time passes, we grow too comfortable and often begin to take each other for granted. Those “quirky” characteristics (Kramer) that were once cute and funny become highly annoying. We stay together because there’s nothing better to do (watch on TV). We make changes through the years in an attempt to keep things lively and entertaining; but in the end, we move on and are left with only lifelong memories (or reruns, whatever the case may be). Any wonder why I’m not married???
Similarly, “Seinfeld” can be compared to the life cycle of a business. At first, the new company has fresh ideas and innovative products and services so very appealing to prospects and customers. As the maturation process proceeds, the company often becomes set in its ways, relying on the same old employees (characters) offering the same old services to the same old customer base. As time passes and competitors enter the marketplace, complaints about quality and innovation (or lack thereof) begin to surface. In the end, company changes must be undertaken to adapt with the times or risk losing even the most loyal supporters (viewers). Not all changes are successful. I never cared much for that David Puddy character, just like I hated “New Coke.” Still, more often than not, some change is necessary for future successes.
CHANGES IN THE WORKPLACE
How often have we witnessed those seasoned veterans of certain companies slowly watch their businesses pass them by? That “Willy Loman” mentality strikes as they continuously recall the “good old days,” sharing successful war stories about when they were truly “masters of their domains.” Younger, more aggressive folks work harder and smarter and ultimately pass their “mentors” on the production charts.
Smart companies should initiate continuous professional education programs, teaching everyone, old and young alike, about new industry trends and developments, the next generation of products and services, and even useful sales techniques. Veterans and rookies can interact, share ideas, and learn from each other. While such a program may not be widely accepted at first (just ask those air traffic controllers), in the end, many will find themselves eager to try new strategies in attempting to expand their businesses.
The summer may offer a particularly opportune time to initiate some small changes around the office. After all, no one really works during the summers anyway. Most take on that George Costanza work ethic, pushing papers around the desk (the Pensky file) and even dozing off periodically during the day (NY Yankees). Sales and other employee oriented contests can be a highly motivational way to keep everyone interested in the day to day operations. Quotas and other goals could be established early on, with a grand prize awarded at the end of the summer. Results could be posted weekly so everyone can monitor their standings and progress.
Similarly, new policies can be implemented on a temporary basis during the summer months. Company sponsored lunches, casual days, and social gatherings create good office morale and often lead to a more productive work environment. The more successful of these techniques could be carried over into the fall season, when Houston temperatures drop down to that comfortable 90 degree mark. By then, everyone is once again motivated to work hard by day and relax at night over a new episode of “Frasier” and a “Seinfeld” rerun. (Trivia answer: Daphnie played Jerry’s girlfriend in the “Master of my Domain” episode.)
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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. As part of summer company changes, Brounes and Associates is proud to announce the hiring of summer interns and jr. associates, high school student Lori Fradkin and middle school student Leslie Fradkin. They will be responsible for envelope stuffing, stamp licking, and comprehensive financial analysis and asset/liability management for depository institutions. Anyone up on those child labor laws?