While I was pumping my gas the other day, I noticed an advertisement sign sitting on the top of the gas pump. The sign said that if all Americans would keep their tires inflated to the proper pressure, as recommended by the manufacturer, we could collectively save 700 million gallons of gasoline per year. The sign was an advertisement for ExxonMobile tire liners that are intended to help reduce the amount of air lost through the tire. While I found the concept intriguing, it wasn’t the first thing that popped into my head as I read the sign.
There I was, standing outside of my car waiting for the gas to finish pumping. I read the sign and was suddenly motivated to make sure that my tires were properly inflated. I looked around and noticed one small problem; the very moment, at which I was motivated to act, I was not empowered to act. I looked around and spotted the air compressor, far away on the other side of the parking lot in an area that is not well lit. My heart sunk. See, I know myself well enough to know that my likelihood of acting on my impulse goes down considerably with time. I was stuck there waiting for the gas to finish pumping, with the time to inflate my tires, and couldn’t do it. So what happened? I got in my car, drove out of the parking lot and didn’t think about my tire pressure again that day.
You may think I am strange for not taking the time to go over to that air compressor and check my tire pressure, but am I really any different than everyone else? I’ve never seen a line at the air station. Actually, the only time I ever see anyone at the air station is when they have an obviously flat tire. Why is this? We all know that driving on under inflated tires is bad for fuel economy, tire life, and possibly a safety hazard and yet we rarely if ever check our tire pressure and make sure it is where it is supposed to be. I believe the problem is just as I described above; at the very moment in time which I was motivated to act and had the time to act, I was not empowered to act.
So what is the solution? My proposal is simple – make compressed air with a tire gauge available at each fuel pump. That way, I can check and adjust all of my tire pressures while I am waiting for my gas to finish pumping. Empower the people to make a change at the exact time and location where they are motivated to do it!
I don’t own a gas station so I can’t say why they don’t do this today but I’d bet if asked, most would point to the underutilization of the one air station they have today as justification for not buying 15 more of them. Why buy 15 of an item that only gets used 2% of the time? Maybe we are looking at it all wrong. Maybe the reason it is only utilized 2% of the time is because we put it in a place that is so inconvenient to use that people will only use it when they absolutely have to (about 2% of the time). I would be willing to bet if a gas station were to invest in the installation of compressed air at each gas pump, the utilization rate would be much higher.
This post is not just about gas stations and properly inflated tires, but rather about empowering your people to act at the right time and proper location.
If you own a factory, think of these questions,
How many brooms and dust pans are in your factory?
How far does the average worker have to walk to get a broom and dust pan?
How much cleaner could your factory be if every place where a worker ran into a mess on the floor, magically there was a broom and dust pan within arm’s reach?
How much cleaner would your factory be if you empowered your people to clean at the very moment when they felt motivated to do so?
Think of how many times we do this in our own lives. How many times do we walk over some mess because there isn’t a convenient vacuum around to clean it up? How many times do we drive on underinflated tires because there isn’t a convenient air station to use? How many times do you improvise and try to pry open a can of paint with a screw driver because there isn’t a convenient can opener within reach? How many times do we not do what we are motivated to do, because we are not empowered to do it at that very moment?
Too many times!
It’s time to start making a difference in our own lives. Empower ourselves and our people to act. Next time you are out buying a broom, buy two or three. Place them in strategic locations that are likely to have a mess. If you own a gas station, invest in more air compressors and see if they get used more (you would not only be helping the American people save fuel but would also be setting your gas station apart from all of the other gas stations around). If you are in the customer service industry, empower your employees to go above and beyond for your customers whenever they feel motivated to do so. This small investment in resources will create huge returns in customer satisfaction.
Let’s all start making a difference by empowering our people to act when they are motivated to do so.
Good luck and feel free to share your story if you have experienced a change in behavior due to empowerment.