Consistency is not foolish to me. I make sure I follow the same routine daily. I think this consistency if good for my coworkers and my employees. It is not a foolish consistency it is substantial to my effectiveness as a front line manager.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
What is a foolish consistency? I think a foolish consistency prevents change. Change is a way of life. We must change to progress, to be more productive. Consistency is good if we are consistently looking for new ways to be more efficient; working smarter not harder.
I learned this lesson in Springfield, Mass. during the summer of 1968. I and a group of my fraternity brothers went there to sell dictionaries door to door. This was not my cup of tea; nor, my brothers. One day we came back to our hotel to find a Good Humor Ice Cream truck outside our motel room. Russell had become a Good Humor salesman. I joined him. Russell took me to Windsor Locks, Conn. the next day. I met the manager. He said he had just had a salesman quit his old route in Springfield, did I want it? Of course I did. The manager said the previous salesman could not make money on the route. I thought if this was the old route of the manager, something must have been wrong with what the pervious salesman was doing. The manager must have made money and done well; he was now the manager. The manager gave me the map of the route. I started the next day. I worked seven days a week. I got to the start point each day at exactly the same time. I began to realize I got to every spot on the route at about the same time daily. It was not too long before I had mothers and children waiting for me. I received an award for the most increase in sales for the month of July. Consistency paid off.
As a first line manager in the dispatch center I established my daily routine. I get up 4:38 am. I shave and do my exercises (exercises since 1996). Emily has my breakfast of oatmeal, raisons, and honey ready by then (same breakfast since 1985). I watch the television until 6:08 am, get my shower and leave for work. I get to the office at the almost the same time daily, 6:50 am. I greet every employee as I walk to my desk, “top of the morning to you” in a very enthusiastic manner. I read my emails. I answer any inquiries from my boss/ bosses. I work down the list and answer all emails. I read and handle any correspondence from other departments. I review the report of our operations from the previous day. If I see something out of the ordinary, I investigate, right then. This means I walk out of my office and ask what happened in this situation.
Once I have performed these actions, I am ready to handle anything that might come up, with the knowledge that I have taken care of the needs from yesterday. In other words, I am free to work, knowing that the most important items from yesterday or from another department are handled. During the day, when I get an email I respond quickly; hoping the person who sent it is still there. This routine is to me is what “walking the talk/ living the example “is all about. Employees know my routine and have gotten comfortable that I am all about our business. My daily routine shows respect for my bosses, other departments, and my fellow employees. Also, I have noticed that I have fewer surprises, if my boss asked what happen yesterday, I know. I have been following this daily routine since 1998.
I had an established routine for each of my past jobs which followed a similar pattern. Why… because, employees and my bosses came to know my routine. They came to trust in that routine. They knew I handled their requests in a timely and through manner. If the company changed my job requirements, I changed my routine.
My mother told me my father retired when the company wanted him to learn computer programs to do his job. My father’s daily routine did not allow for computers. I, on the other hand, have a daily routine where I welcome any change that makes me and my department more effective. To me, my daily routine is not foolish consistency; it is a consistency that allows me to work smarter not harder. My daily routine allows me to model the standard of performance for my department. It permits me to be effective and accomplish the tasks of a first line manager.