What can a fish market teach you about management?

Fish! Is a story about Mary Jane, who has just gotten the promotion of the nightmares. She is now in charge of the operations group on the third floor, a group of unpleasant, slow and negative employees, otherwise known as the ‘toxic waste dump’.

5 weeks go by, Mary Jane has a hard time. She understands now why the floor got its reputation. She refused to give up nonetheless. One day, she walked to a fish market. What she discovered next transformed her workplace.

Key Lessons from Fish Market

Lesson 1 – Attitude

The way you do the work is everything. There’s always choice about the way you do your work even if there’s no choice about the work itself.

MENU: Choose your attitude.

  1. Smiling face
  2. Frowning face

Lesson 2 – Play!

Business should be serious, but one shouldn’t forget playing with the approach they have to conduct it.

  • Posts saying “This is a playground. Watch out for adult children”
  • Start a joke-of-the-month contest with its own bulletin board.
  • Add more color and make the environment more interesting.
  • Add more life with plants and an aquarium.
  • Special events such as a lunchtime comedian.
  • Small lights to turn on when it is time to lighten up a bit when you have a good idea.
  • Instruction in creativity.
  • A designated creative area called the Sand Box.
  • Form an ongoing play committee to keep the ideas flowing.

Lesson 3 – Make Their Day

Customers should feel good about the environment, and the way to do that is to engage them.

  • Pull together focus groups to study ways you can be of service to your customers.
  • Have a monthly and annual ward for service based on recommendation of customers.
  • Implement a 360-degree feedback process which include your customers.
  • Appoint a special task force dedicated to surprise and delight your customers.
  • Ask your key customers to come out and play once a month.

Lesson 4 – Be Present

Be present, aware of the moment and fully engaged in the work you do.

It’s as simple as asking “Is this going to be a good day?” and answering “Yes! I choose to make this a great day!”.

As you enter the workplace, choose to make today a great day. Your colleagues, customers and yourself will be thankful. Find ways to play.

We can be serious about our work without being serious about ourselves. Stay focused in order to be present when your customers and team members need you.

And should you feel your energy lapsing, try this surefire remedy – Find someone who needs a helping hand, a word for support or a good ear and make their day.


Kyaw Wai Yan Tun

Hey, I’m Wai Yan. I help people make full use of digital in reaching their goals. Outside nine-to-five, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and designing visuals. I see it as my way of making the world a more beautiful and insightful place.