Beating Baby Bunnies

I’d like to share with you an experience I had while visiting one of my clients some time back.  I’ve used this example in motivation training ever since.

I walked into the client’s customer service department and saw stuffed Easter Bunnies sitting on every single person’s desk. Asked what that was about, the client services manager explained that they were going through a hard patch.  Their phone service had been cut off for failure to pay their bill.  The customer service reps were getting yelled at, cussed at, hung up on, and even threatened.  The manager was worried that her fourteen employees were on the verge of burning out.  She tried many things to alleviate their frustration.

One day, shortly after Easter, when she was out shopping in a dollar store, she saw some odd-looking stuffed toys that looked like a comical, pink colored stretched out version of Bugs Bunny. (Their odd appearance accounted for why so many of them were on the after-holiday clearance sale.)  This creative manager bought fourteen of them and gave one to each of her reps.  “I know the customers can be frustrating.  Every time a caller screams at you, beat this bunny on your desk.  The caller won’t hear you, but you’ll feel so much better.”  From that moment on, they were beating their bunnies and even tossing them about — pink fur flying everywhere. More importantly, they were once again starting to relax, smile, and enjoy the job.

So throw away your sand and rake. A creative out-of-the-box gesture may be what’s needed to relieve stress, raise morale and build teamwork.  There are times when a $15 investment will accomplish what a fat pay raise may not.  I’d love to hear about a similar experience you may have had.