Elevator Karma

As you may or may not know, I work for a personal lines insurance company.  I like to refer to it as the Mighty P.  Now to some, I am sure this sounds incredibly BORING!  I mean come on, how exciting can insurance be?  Buncha stuffed shirts walking around talking about money, premiums and contracts.  YAWWWWN….

Yeah not so much!  Don’t get me wrong, each of the 3 subjects I have listed above are discussed, probably pretty regularly.  And, when we have to, we can clean up pretty damn well!

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However, I will also tell you there’s no way I’d be working there if I couldn’t have fun!  And I have the knack of doing just that for myself and those around me.

I won’t say it’s always been appreciated though.  Back in the dark ages (yes even before the interwebs) I became a supervisor for the first time.  One day, my boss called me into the office, sat me down and said, “We have a problem…”  “Crap!” thought I, “What did I do?”

Turns out there had been complaints that my unit was too loud, chatted too much and was heard to be laughing way too often.  There was NO way settling claims could be fun.  I needed to get a handle on things.

I pointed out that my unit took more new claims and closed more than any of the other in our department.  My new employees were leaps and bounds above the others in their new hit class, and in fact were handling as many files as half the experienced people.  I was firmly convinced this was due to having fun at work.

I was overruled.  (Yep, so we had to go to stealth fun!  Which, as I remember was almost better, as it was VERY cool to hide it from the rest of the group!)

I have carried this with me ever since.  Happy employees like going to work!  They call in sick less, get more done, stay with the job longer and take more pride in what they do!  Throughout my career in leadership I have tried to bring fun to my teams as often as possible.  Have I gone too far at times?  Well, maybe.  How was I supposed to know razor scooter time trials around six floor was considered a BAD idea… Maybe if we woulda worn helmets….

This now comes into play with every class I teach.  Sitting in a boring class for 8 hours a day, for days on end sometimes is NOT the way to introduce people to a new job.  I put everything I have into my training, and because of it my classes are noisy.  But they learn, and learn well.  I have already gotten compliments from those near the room about the interaction and energy going on!  (I need good things said to contract things like the scooters….)

So you might be asking why the title of todays post and why I felt inspired to write it…

Well and the Mighty P, it is college intern season, they are all over the place.  It’s always fun seeing the kidlets show up, ready to work and learn the ropes.  We’ve had some pretty damn good ones.

Well today, I was talking to one of them as I was leaving the lunch room, and I took the stairs to climb the two flights to my desk.  As she followed, she asked me “Do you always take the stairs?” To which I replied, “Not if it breaks elevator karma.”  She just looked at me with a bit of a perplexed look.

“You see,” said I, “I NEVER turn down an elevator that shows up just as I get close.  I don’t care if I’m only going one floor, it the elevator opens and it going my way, I take it.  If you turn one down, someday, you will find yourself in NEED of an elevator (on crutches, heavy loads, biked 200+ miles the day before) and it will know, you turned one down in the past and it will never come!”

See looked at me and said, “You are very wise!” and went off on her way.

Hopefully, this little interaction shows her its OK to bring the person you are (in my case a smartass) to the office.  If you can be you, it will make work much more fun AND both you and the company will benefit!  Otherwise, she will go back to college and tell people, “You will NOT believe what this very weird old guy there believes about elevators…”

I figure the odds are 50/50 on which one actually happens!  But I truly NEVER turn that serendipitous elevator down, not ever!

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