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A Publication of WTVP

Recently, I heard a talk by D. Michael Abrashoff, the retired captain of the USS Benfold. His story was featured in the business magazine Fast Company. His achievement? He helped turn his ship from worst to first in the Navy.

The USS Benfold, once home to the most demoralized crew in the Pacific fleet, became a ship with an award-winning team of achievers in just two years. In doing that, Abrashoff also helped turn around a Navy management system that had been in place for 223 years.

He called forth motivation and pride from young enlisted men and women (the so-called "Gen Y" group, ages 18 to 24) who grew into highly productive workers, saving the taxpayers a lot of money. Many service businesses have employees from this generational group. One of the questions I am most frequently asked by those 40 to 55 years old when I lead supervision seminars is, "Why can’t these people work?"

Abrashoff said he stumbled on four main principles to motivate workers in this age group to become top performers. Yet, surprisingly, they are no different than what frontline workers of any generation want, and rarely receive from their managers.

Each of us has a "ship" to manage. Whose ship is it? It’s not yours or mine. The ship belongs to those who work to make it run.

Abrashoff’s four principles apply to every workplace, to every generation, and especially to those moving into frontline positions now.

It all boils down to one principle: Respect those who work and value their contribution. From there, it’s smooth sailing. IBI

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