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Fish! This Book Changed My Work Life!

Updated on October 26, 2013

Fish! I'm super glad I was able to fish this book out, and improve my working life!

Managing staff can be a daunting prospect. Most commercial companies regard their number one priority to be, understandably, making money - achieving sales and squeezing margins. A key asset for a company is their staff force. The staff need to be behind the company - with everyone from the top down, vying for the same goals.

Businesses need to be creative when it comes to keeping their staff interested and working hard. This is especially crucial for companies that rely on sales people to generate income, even more so if they are being outsourced to - not only do they have their targets to hit, but they also have the client's targets too!

Priorities and motivation are different for everyone, so it's important for people managers to find the right balance of keeping everyone on track, but also keeping everyone interested in the task on hand. When I'm managing my sales team it can be a really difficult knowing what buttons to press, when, and how hard.

How I found FISH:

A couple of years ago, I was a Sales Manager of a sales team of up to 40, I had quite a task on my hands to make sure we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. Starting out, I didn’t have the years of experience to draw on. I was fortunate enough that my Manager took a chance on me to run things. He trusted me. I was up for the challenge, but as a rookie I had to take risks and pretty much wing it! A colleague of mine mentioned that at their last company, they used something called the FISH philosophy. She was very encouraging about the programme and let me borrow her book that outlined what it was. Admittedly, I had heard about it and other popular psychology titles (such as Who Moved My Cheese) from when I used to work at Waterstones, back in my uni days at university, but didn’t really give it any time. Upon reading it, I wondered why on earth I hadn’t read it earlier! I can say with absolute assurance, that it has pretty much changed my life.

What is the FISH philosophy?:

This book reads like a regular fiction. It tells the story of a lady who goes to the Seattle fish market. She relays tales of how things at her work aren’t going well. She’s feeling under pressure, staff are unmotivated and overall it’s not a very nice place to be. She befriends one of the workers at the fish market, and begins to unravel his methodologies of how to make working at the fish market a great place to work. Our lady is impressed and begins to dissect exactly how they can make what seems quite a boring and mundane job, a positive place of work, full of happy and satisfied staff.

Although the story is a bit cheesy and can come across as quite cliché, underneath it all is a real tangible process to help you transform your life and your approach to work.

So, in a nutshell, what is the FISH philosophy based on?

Quite simple, there are four steps: Choose your attitude, Be there, Make their day and Have fun! Sounds simple right? Well, in practice, it isn’t that straight forward. It took me about a month to get a programme (that I created, using FISH as a starting point) introduced at work, with everyone on board. Admittedly, not everyone was on board to start with, but we managed to have the right number of staff engaged with the philosophy, to outnumber the neigh sayers and make everyone work more harmoniously.

Choose you attitude:

In business, for us, this was all about making sure we are in right mood and frame of mind, to do the best job we can. This is probably the most important part of the process, and is fundamentally about getting everyone on board with the key objectives of the company. We would talk about making sure that when everyone steps through the doors to work, that they are leaving all their stresses and problems from home at the door, and when in work, they are there to the absolute best job they can, and not letting outside influence impede or influence what their doing.

We had a lot of cynics who refused to accept that it is possible to choose your attitude, because of the belief that we can’t help how other people and other contributing factors make us feel. But if you believe that, then you’ll never get anywhere. We used the simple example that if you are driving your car and someone cuts you up, you might choose to shout a few expletives – however, if you have children in the car with you, and the same thing happens, I guarantee you would not react in the same way, and you would choose to control what you say and how you react! Well, that you choosing your attitude! I’ve seen some companies give each employee a mood board, where every day, at their desk, they can write how they’re feeling, and then find the right attitude to adopt that day. If you purposefully choose an attitude for the day, it can really make a difference. The Fish book describes this extremely well, and takes you through how the workers at the fish market take control of their approach to work, and make the conscious decision to have a good day.

Being There and Make Their Day:

The book explains these two principles very well also. It’s simple to say “I’m here, I’m at work”, but the book points our the main question is, where is your mind? Where is your focus? Quite often, a lot of people are thinking of other things, and not forward planning, or being proactive in their work schedule. Sure, they’re at their desk or their counter, but their motivation might be elsewhere. Once you’ve chosen your attitude and you’re committing yourself to doing the best you can, then it’s probably quite difficult to not “be there”. By doing following these simple steps, it’s more than likely that you will be making your bosses day! Everyone knows, a happy boss, is better than an unhappy boss! If you’re in a customer facing role, do you do what you can to please your customers? Do you go the extra mile? Are you making their day? Do you notice another colleague with a big workload, and perhaps you don’t have so much to do? Do you offer to help them? Are you making their day? Put simply, the book describes how helping yourself, and helping those around you, you are making the work place a better environment to be a part of. Already, doesn't it sound like an obvious practice?

Have Fun:

Now, this isn’t about have a jolly at work, or messing around and having a laugh. It’s about enjoying what you’re doing, and maybe finding a different approach to daily routine, to turn your work into a game. This is super easy in sales, there are all sorts of fun target based games that can be set. But how on earth do you make working at the Fish market fun? Well, I don’t want to give any spoilers – but it is quite remarkable. By brainstorming and sharing ideas, the workers at the market were able to make their work fun, but they also made the market a fun place to go, where customers wanted to return day after day, and week on week. The customers and staff were having fun, they were having their day made for them, because of the commitment of the staff who were their for their customers, because they had chosen their attitude! Sounds simple when you put it like that, right?

You need this book!

There are so many ideas and practical guides to help you introduce the Fish philosophy to your work, or even just to your life in general. I can’t rave about this book enough. Whenever I get talking about managing staff with friends or colleagues, I always, always, always recommend this book to them. I’ve lost count of the number of times I sent a copy of the book to clients who express an interest in it, after I've told them about it. I do this, because I know it works, and it also gives me a few brownie points when they tell me how great the book is and how they plan to start using it in their companies – you see, I’ve made their day! In doing so, it also makes my day! All of this, from one simple, easy to read, highly effective book!

Do you think your place of work could use something like FISH!

See results

More FISHy Books!

More FISHy Books!

Fish Tales : Real Stories to Help Transform Your Workplace and Your Life
Fish Tales : Real Stories to Help Transform Your Workplace and Your Life

If you've read Fish, and you became as hooked as I was. Then this book takes it one step further. Full of easy and practical ways to use it in your life, by way of stories from other people and how they use it.

It's all very well loving the Fish theory, but actually using it, can be tricky. If you're not sure, then this is perfect for additional reading to help ignite they flame or creativity in your mind.


Some FISH Related Videos to Whet Your Fishy Appetite!


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