Last Sunday I grabbed my camera and took my son and his friend to the neighborhood lake for a breather from Wii and PlayStation. I let them go barefoot and they ran on at least 100 feet ahead of me. I stayed back to let them do what boys do: explore, play and discover. I watched as they watched the ducks in complete silence and then I smiled when they suddenly got up and began throwing pebbles into the lake, startling the ducks and sending geese inflight. While the boys explored and played, I took shot after shot of them in action. They all but forget I was even there.
Thirty minutes later I was back home looking at some of the most amazing pictures I have ever taken. Here are 3 of my shots from Sunday afternoon.
What made these pictures so amazing to me is that I completely got out of the way and allowed the boys to do what came naturally to them. I didn’t make them stop to smile and pose for shots. I didn’t interrupt their natural curiosity and energy. I simply stayed back with a watchful eye and tried to capture the exuberance of two young boys at play.
Imagine the difference in my shots if I’d made the boys stop and pose and smile. The pictures would have been far less exciting and the boys would not have enjoyed their playtime nearly as much. Now imagine your culture and customer experience if you gave your employees more freedom, fewer rules, and if you stayed back just a little.
Isn’t this what we should be doing with our employees? What if we stayed out of their way, had fewer rules, and gave them freedom do what comes naturally? Is it possible that giving our employees room and freedom just might lead to a better customer experience? What if we were there to give our employees support and guidance, but we granted them freedom to be themselves and have fun with customers? (i.e. I kept the boys from danger by not allowing them to go into the deeper waters to get a soccer ball. That’s guidance. Yet, I still let them have fun.) I think it’s possible that staying out of the way, giving freedom and offering support might just make for a more innovative, fun, and profit-generating culture.
Stand back. Get out of the way. Let your employees explore, play and discover.