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The Stairway Crew

July 30, 2014

I used to work in a very tall building. The tallest building in Salt Lake City.

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(Photo Credit: wn.com)

It’s over 20 stories tall. A friend challenged me to “run the stairs” with him. I kept up with him although I lost count of how many stairs after about 220. However, the next day I couldn’t walk, my calfs were that cramped up.

The building I work in today is 4 stories. My desk is on the 4th floor. I don’t take the time to exercise like I should, so I decided I’d start taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

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My building has 75 stairs. In the beginning I’d have to stop between the 3rd and the 4th floor. I can now make it up three flights of stairs without stopping.

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Yes, I’m also pretty disgusted that I used to be about to over 200 and now 75 is a major accomplishment. I used to be young once too! I discovered something I never expected while taking the stairs.

I live 30 miles from my office in South Salt Lake. It takes me about 40 minutes to drive it. Utah highways are known for higher speed limits than many other parts of the country. (Several stretches of highway are 80 MPH.) We don’t let the higher speed limit keep us from speeding anyway. But, have you ever noticed that when you speed, you are the only car going that fast?

It’s a lie of course.

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When we drive, we notice the cars blowing past us, and we notice the slow pokes driving the speed limit in the left lane. But, we don’t ever notice the cars that are matching our speed. Well, if they are right next to us we do, but if they are a half mile ahead or behind? We never see them, and it’s easy to think they aren’t there.

Here’s where I see this relating to business.

In any organization there are those managers that are on the fast track. It seems they just started and they are already being promoted. They are new and they immediately get assigned the biggest, most important account. During my brief foray with the military (Business Lessons From the ROTC) we called them high speed, low drag officers.

We also notice those in an organization that are simply not pulling their weight. Typically, it’s because they are keeping us from accomplishing the things we need to. “What do you mean it takes 6 weeks to get a change ordered?”

And of course, we notice our coworkers who’s careers seem to pace ours. “You just got your PMP? I sit for mine next week.”

The ones we don’t notice are those people in the organization who are matching our speed, but are not physically close to us. These are some of the most important people in the organization and often the least understood or appreciated. Napoleon, and several dozen other military leaders noted that “an army travels on its stomach.” But, they don’t give Medals of Honor to the cook. But, you should.

I touched on this in They Switched To A Cash Prize And Totally Blew It. Make sure you recognize those who are doing their job, and doing it well. If we only reward the star achievers, we risk alienating our rank and file.

During a recent period of tight deadlines and high stress at work, I was on a conference call with our management team. I brought up the work our desktop engineer was doing.

Clark is totally swamped. . .

That doesn’t help me Rodney. I need to know what he needs. We’re all totally swamped, but unless I know what he needs help with, that does me no good.

Well, all I was going to say was that he’s putting in tons of extra hours. I think an email from one of you with some words of encouragement would go a long way.

The managers did, and it did.

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Heading into the stairwell yesterday I noticed one of my coworkers from the 4th floor coming down the stairs.

You’re a member of the stair crew too?

Yeah, I don’t walk up them as much as I should, but I try to walk down.

Like I said, you end up thinking you are the only one driving this speed.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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