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Keeping Employees Engaged

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Zombies vs. Pool Techs

Keeping Employees Engaged

The evaporation fog hovers thickly in an eerie mist above the swimming pool. The morning sun begins to destroy the night. The clouds become bludgeoned with broad blood-soaked brush strokes that feather into orange. Darkness reluctantly surrenders its hold of the sky. The gate to the customer’s yard emits a spine-tingling yowl. The Pool Tech lobs his hand forward, forcing it to swing open until hushed by a thunderous clap. The barrier folds upon itself permitting entry. Keeping Employees Engaged

Keeping Employees Engaged

He grasps his weapon of choice. His head hung down, somewhat resembling a defeated javelinist. He carries the telepole listlessly toward the pool deck. Each step labored; ponderous; as if his boots had become weighted by mud. His vision tunneled as he trudges forward, oblivious to his surroundings. He looks directly at the pool; his eyes dead; his stare a thousand yards.

“Poooools” he grumbles beneath his breath in a low and raspy tone.

Your company has just fallen victim to the Walking Tech!

Keeping Employees Engaged
Backyard Selling

It’s no secret that the best place for a service company to sell a customer a product is while you are standing in that customer’s back yard. If your tech is your eyes and ears, how many opportunities are you missing if your employee is in zombie mode? How many potential problems could have been avoided? How many dollars in potential sales are lost?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could clone yourself and have a dozen little yous out there servicing your customer’s pools? Of course, we want individuals to be individuals – That’s the beauty and strength of a Team, but how about a Team of individuals that were fully engaged and handled their route with a sense of pride and ownership?



We need to first make sure that we, ourselves, have not become infected. This may be a little tougher than you think. We need to also make sure that it doesn’t seem like we are infected (Even if we are confident that we are not.). An employee will never be more engaged than they perceive their immediate supervisor to be. What message are we sending?

A survey conducted by Dale Carnegie reports that 62 percent of engaged employees say their manager sets a good example.


Don’t just train your employees – preparing alone can give you Zombies. We need to make sure that we also educate our team. We don’t want mindless repetition. What we wish for are individuals that can problem solve, recognize opportunity, and contribute to a higher level. Explain the “Why” behind the task. Let them know the reason something is done a certain way. Discuss the benefit to both the individual and the organization. An individual who understands the value in action or method (especially to one’s self) is more likely to apply that method. Promoting self-thinking will empower your employees. This will, in turn, will foster an increased level of ownership. An investment in education will pay for itself.


Team meetings are an opportunity to encourage collaboration. An opportunity to create involvement and an increased employee sense of ownership within an organization. Use these meetings as a time to share information and company successes. Turn it into a think tank to elicit ideas and develop strategies regarding solutions and opportunities. Encourage an upward line of communication in meetings. Allows Team members to identify opportunities and permit them to assist in creating a plan to achieve these goals. Employees will give a higher level of support to the policies and goals that they helped create.


You can’t expect your team to excel and feel good about the job they are doing if they do not have the right tools for the job. Having to function with a lack of, or with subpar equipment will put your employees at risk of becoming infected.


As managers, we are taught that employee errors and/or shortcomings must be addressed immediately. This will bring the undesired action to an immediate halt. Counseling forms and corrective actions serve as the tools we have at our disposal. Sadly, many save praise and accolades for the employee performance appraisals. These we conduct quarterly? Semiannually? Annually?

Motivation 101: Employees work hard and feel value in what the work that they do when they know the work they do is appreciated. If we address the errors immediately, why wouldn’t we address the successes quickly? An Atta Boy, Atta Girl, or Thank You can go a long way. If we praise successes as they occur, there will be more successes to praise.


Employees who benefit from the success of a company will contribute to a higher level to the success of that company. You can’t expect a real sense of ownership if you are only looking to your team to contribute to your success. The employee should see any rewards associated with that increased level of prosperity as well. This doesn’t mean you have to divvy up the profits. However, you can throw them a pair of movie tickets when the company meets its goals, or take the Team out for a celebratory breakfast.

Give someone $18, and it will get spent before lunch; Give someone a pair of Movie Tickets (value $18), and you give them a Night Out: Fandango Gift Cards – E-mail Delivery


Don’t be afraid to make hard decisions. Sometimes an employee is just too far gone to save. If you fail to terminate this employee promptly, you risk infecting other members of your team. Do not put yourself in a position where you develope a zombie horde.

Similar Article: Hiring Gen Z

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Rudy Stankowitz is a 30-year veteran of the swimming pool industry and President/CEO of Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Mary Prettyman

    Add me. Super awesome read and extremely relevant.

  2. Angie Scott

    I had ZERO interest in pool cleaning until I got an email from your company containing this link. What a captivating way to draw in outside interest! I’m even considering taking the class! Great and informative story!

    1. Rudy Stankowitz

      Thank you for reading Angie! I’m glad that you enjoyed the article and that we peaked your curiosity in the pool biz.

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