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It's About Service

Throughout much of this year, Dan Lewis and Tricia Durrough have been challenging staff members in the Division of Business and Finance to be the very best.

Throughout much of this year, Dan Lewis and Tricia Durrough have been challenging staff members in the Division of Business and Finance to be the very best. They also tossed fish crackers, played a few games, asked a lot of questions and did some talking.

The fish crackers were symbols of the FISH! philosophy developed by filmmaker John Christensen, who was looking for a way to teach people how to live with passion. He found the winning formula after a visit to the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. Christensen, the CEO of ChartHouse Learning, saw fishmongers tossing fish over their customers’ heads. They joked and teased each other. Customers at hand received their full attention. Christensen produced a movie about the fish market’s high-energy workers and developed training materials to help companies inspire their employees.

He didn’t imitate the fishmongers exactly – how long before fish get funky? Instead, Christensen got to the core of what they did, developing four practices: play; be there; make their day; and choose your attitude.

They are called practices because to be done well, they must be constantly honed, Durrough, the assistant director of the Center for Business Excellence, explained during a recent training session.
Lewis, the director of the Center for Business Excellence asked the staff what kept them from being fully involved in the moment. Some old foes – too much technology, impatience, not enough time – came to the fore.

But the training challenged their thinking. “It’s basically making that choice,” Lewis said. “It’s not just how are you going to come to work, it’s how are you going to be at work? What are you going to be? You can either be patient or impatient. You can be happy or angry.”

Afterward, Ely Elefante, the assistant director of Auxiliary Services, said he would recommend it for all employees. Customer service training usually focuses on the external — the paying customers. But such training often ignores the internal customers — co-workers and staff in other departments.

“The FISH training addresses how we can provide stellar customer service to both,” Elefante said. “The four interconnected principles of Be There, Play, Make their Day, Choose your Attitude help build stronger relationships with co-workers, customers, etc. My personal and professional life revolves around relationships. For me, these are great principles to consider during the workday and should influence actions and behavior.”

James Sutherland, the vice president for business and finance, suggested that Lewis take a look at the training materials during a two-day retreat at the Campus Center.

Lewis liked what he saw. So far more than 100 staff members have received the training.

“It was a refreshing film. It definitely changed me,” Lewis said. “I’m more cognizant of how I carry myself. I’m more cognizant of making sure that I am listening and not anticipating a question.”

University of Georgia, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University have also purchased copies of the FISH! Video, said Phil Strand, a spokesman for ChartHouse Learning.


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