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Edition 77 – Every Business Needs Plodders

When I talk to the owners and managers of family business, invariably the conversation comes around to the people in the business.

Sometimes, the conversations are full of praise. Some of their staff are fantastic. They show initiative. They work late if needed to make sure the job gets done. They have a sense of pride in their work.

At other times, I hear the opposite. Staff turn up late. They have a poor attitude to their work. They are slap dash in the way they approach their work. They’re clock watchers – in at 8.30am and out at 5.00pm on the dot and even then, by the time they’ve turned on their computer, gone to the bathroom and made themselves a coffee, it is 8.50am anyway.

However, I rarely hear about the plodders.

The owners and managers of family businesses that I work with know I have a saying – “Every business needs plodders”.

The plodder is the person that turns up to work on time, every day. They do their work well. Not spectacularly, but they are reliable.

The plodder doesn’t show much initiative. They’re into doing, not idea generation. However, they generally tend to embrace any new process or technology that is introduced provided you have invested time and resources into ensuring they get up to speed.

The plodder may not stay around much after closing time, or turn up much earlier than opening time. However, that’s because they’re generally focussed throughout their work day. They’ve not been gallivanting with their work colleagues throughout the day. They are your typical “heads down, tails up” types.

Plodders are the steady types that tick things over. They may never end up as managers – and they’re OK with that. And so should you be. No family business can have too many employees that all want to climb to the top of the tree. If you do, you create a glass ceiling that, in the end, can only mean that those that want to exceed eventually go elsewhere when they realise they can’t get any further inside of your family business.

So, when you open up the doors in your family business today, take a look around, survey the landscape and take note of the plodders. They’re the ones that are keeping the machines turning over, churning out the product, dealing with your customers and doing it all with a minimum of fuss.

Remember, every business needs plodders.

This Week’s Tip

Why not, on the spur of the moment, walk up to one of your plodders and let them know how much you appreciate everything they do for you. Often, a few words of encouragement are worth much than any pay rise can show.