Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

How can you use fireflies improve teamwork?

I was doing a transition workshop with a client, and the new leader’s administrative assistant asked how I wanted the room set up. Among other things, I asked if she would please make up some name tents for each participant. I arrived at the session expecting some simple name tents, perhaps some cardstock folded over. Everyone on the team was delighted to find she’d taken the time to make some exceptional name tents – each one personalized for its owner by reflecting something about their interests or personality. Take a look:

Name tents

What she’d done is add what I now call fireflies to the experience. Say what?

Years ago, just prior to the opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, Walt Disney and his top aids took what they hoped would be the final test ride before opening it to the public. If you have been on the attraction, you’ll recall that it begins with your boat entering an area that resembles a bayou. They had just started out, when Walt called out “Stop!”

“There’s something wrong here. Something doesn’t look right.”

No one could put their finger on the problem until someone suggested they “consult” with a busboy at the restaurant that overlooks this bayou. After all, he’d grown up near a real bayou. It took him about fifteen seconds to identify the problem. “No fireflies,” he said. “If this was a real bayou, you’d have thousands of fireflies, flickering on and off everywhere.”

Walt refused to have the attraction opened to the public until (legend has it) 10,000 artificial fireflies were installed. And so it came to be.

I’ve come to call fireflies those things we can add to an experience, that, were they not there, might not be noticed, but on some level, would be missed. We can all add fireflies to every day experiences — page numbers on handouts, a bowl of mints or candies on the conference table at a meeting, a personal thank you for a job well done. Personally, I think fireflies are a fine way to “sweat the small stuff.”

What fireflies have you created or witnessed? Let’s start a list…

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.