$5.00 Gasoline: The bright side?

First question that comes to your mind – “Is this Logan guy out of his mind?  I drive an Excursion an 8.1Liter V8 Yukon XL, a Hummer, a Suburban, a Land Rover…etc!”

Answer:  Quite possibly, yes.  It is a sad state of affairs when a guy who is 33 years old is remembering longingly back to his ‘youth’ when Daddy gave him a buck and sent him on a walk to fill up the gas tank for the lawn mower… and got to keep the change!  Frankly, I never expected that I would be talking like my grandfather at this age.

Truthfully, there are many ways that the reality of the $5.00 gallon of gas can be used as an advantage in leadership and management scenarios.  The question is, how do we turn this nightmare into a dream?  Well, if not a dream, at least put a little positive spin on it within your company.

The first thought that comes to mind is embracing the telecommuting model where appropriate.  There are two key concepts that have to be accepted in order for a manager to be able to manage remote employees:

  • There are many jobs that can be effectively accomplished remotely
  • There are many people who can handle the responsibility of self-management

These bullets are my opinion.  I am fairly certain that they fit the mold of reality.  I speak from experience, as I am sitting here in my home office in Oregon typing this while taking a break from my ‘day job’ in the mid-west.  I have also led a team of telecommuters in the past.  We were in Oregon, California, and Colorado working together to get the job done.

One of the things that I hear managers worry far too often over is the following, “I feel like I’ve lost control of my people.  How do I know that they are working?”

When we begin talking about the up’s and down’s of telecommuting, the first thing I tell folks is the following:  when I began telecommuting for the first time back in 2004, I was shocked at how fast I got my work done.  Without the office chatter, constant interruptions, bull-sessions, etc.

I was getting through my projects in 1/3 of the time.  At first, I did not know what to do with myself.  I felt like I was not contributing enough, when in fact, my productivity was on the rise.

So, a little solitaire?  So what!  An ‘in-cubical vacation’ one day a month?  So what!  We hire people to get a job done, right?  If the job is done, I am a happy camper — and a happy supervisor for that matter.  Do not think that the employee does not appreciate a little leeway in this scenario.  They quickly come to understand that they have a good thing going and their level of loyalty increases at the same time as their willingness to jump in and help wherever they can.

Now, what do managers screw up with telecommuters (me with my former employees as well)?

  • Setting new telecommuters up for failure by not vetting them well enough, or giving not them a ‘trial’ period during which they can opt-out of the option — telecommuting is not for everyone
  • Not keeping them in the loop
  • Forgetting that they need “atta-boy’s” just like the rest of the team
  • Not making sure that the telecommuter is taking breaks and lunches (yes, ensuring that they walk away from the desk)
  • Plenty more, I am sure

If Telecommuting doesn’t work for you company, why not look into some ideas that are a close 2nd?

  • What about the 4 10’s?
  • How about a night shift where people can drive against the traffic on the way to or from work?
  • How about ‘paperwork day’ working from home twice a month for employees that this makes sense for?
  • How about setting up a car pool bulletin board in the break room?
  • Sell raffle tickets for gas cards?  Well, there are limits…

Are these good ideas?  Are the awful?  Let’s start a discussion that lets us find opportunities to embrace the $150 barrel of oil that can be viewed as something close to a raise in pay for our employees.

-Logan Cashwell


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