Want to be highly valued? 9 Time-tested Tips


My mom and dad taught me most everything I know about being a valued employee. Today I am sharing their top tips!

My folks, Evelyn and Fletcher, built a successful florist and greenhouse business. They never were formally trained in business but because of self-leadership, resource management, determination, and relentless learning, their success lasted over 50 years.


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Here are some nuggets from the Evelyn & Fletcher Wonson School of Practical Management:


9 time tested tips


1.  Watch the pennies, and the dollars take care of themselves. God help you if you wasted anything. According to Mom, every piece of material, every flower and every leaf was usable. I can still see her looking in the trash barrel at my station saying, “That is a perfectly good daisy! Use it to fill that hole right there”, then poking it into the arrangement I was working on. Taking care of your tools and your product meant money in your pocket.

2.  Dirt is what you sweep off the floor. Soil is what we grow plants in.  For anything to grow, a career, an idea, or an opportunity, it has to be planted in soil, not dirt. To this day, there is little I love more then the sweet smell and color of rich, organic soil – brown gold my Dad called it. If we dared to call it dirt, my father was quick to remind us of the richness of soil and how long it took nature to create it through the decomposition process.

3.  Be ready when your shift starts. Nothing irritated Dad more than employees who got to work at 9:00 a.m. for their 9:00 a.m. shift, clocked in, then spent 15 minutes using the restroom, putting their lunch in the refrigerator, and filling their coffee cup. If you are supposed to start work at 9:00 a.m., get there at 8:45 a.m. and be at your workstation and ready to go when your shift starts. If a meeting starts at 10:00 a.m., get there at 9:55 a.m. and get settled. People notice. (I’m kind of glad my Dad isn’t around for the cell phone era. Oh, he would have been nuts with employees checking phones on company time!)

4.  Don’t fear competition. Just be better. When a new flower shop or nursery opened up, my Dad just said we had to up our customer service. In today’s business world, it is all about relationship and service. Trying to win based on price is a race to the bottom (another Dad saying). So do you want to be a valued employee? Be the best at internal and external customer service!

5.  Watch and learn from the big guys up town. My parents spent a lot of their non-working time visiting other florist shops – especially those more successful than theirs.  They even took lessons from businesses that were dramatically different. It is critical to know what you aspire to be and then watch and learn. Find role models, mentors and people you admire and observe to see what they do and don’t do. Adapt and adopt what works!

6.  Go to the library and get a book. Dad believed it was his responsibility to improve himself. He understood that the world was full of free educational opportunities. I coach so many people who complain that their company doesn’t give them professional development or growth opportunities. If you want to keep moving forward, take advantage of all the ways you can learn through YouTube, online courses and community education. And do it on your time at your own cost. Your pay off will be continued career growth and raises!

7.  Your worst customer can become your best customer if you do the right thing.  Back when I was a waitress (yes, we were waitresses not servers) slinging seafood in a tourist town, there was a little old woman (literally) who came in every night and sat at a prime table. She ate slowly and each night she left a dime tip. We would all argue about who had to take her, since she wasn’t a profitable customer. I decided to challenge myself and test out my Dad’s advice. I volunteered to be her waitress for the next 2 months. My goal was to get a dollar tip in 4 weeks. It started out rough. She was mean. But I kept trying new things to see what worked and slowly, the dime went to a quarter and then to .50 cents. Then to .75 cents and the last day before she left to go back to her winter home, I got $2!!! Of course, another party would have been leaving me $3 or $4 tips all along, but I got some far more valuable tips – loyalty, resilience, relationship and growth!  What business doesn’t want that?

8.  Don’t drop your snips between cuts! Later in life my Dad became blind and couldn’t “see” what was happening. But he could listen. He would count how many times he heard someone’s cut flower snips hit the bench. What this meant to him was that when you were arranging 12 roses and you dropped and picked up your snips between each rose instead of learning to hold and arrange, you were wasting time. And that decreased the profit margin on the arrangement. (See Tip #1) Where can you stop dropping your snips?

9.  Work along.  I started going out to big estates to do gardening with Dad at a pretty young age. I couldn’t see into the windows of the ocean front mansions but my Dad was always convinced that the owners, usually self-made millionaires, were watching us. “Work along. Be busy. If you run out of things to do, find something productive. People don’t pay us to be idle”.

I hear my Dad’s words as I listen to business owners complain about employees who have down time and don’t proactively ask where else they can lend a hand. Or don’t do assigned tasks with any sense of urgency. Where can you work along?

I know from working with business owners that the most valued employees  (the ones who get promoted, raises, or are retained in hard times) are the ones who, just like my parents, understand and consistently demonstrate self-leadership, resource management and are motivated learners! Here’s your chance! Implement one or two of these tips today!