Greasing the Skids

Have you heard the phrase “greasing the skids”?

The phrase may come from logging.  During the period of the “skid” method it was necessary for one man to follow the team to lubricate the “skid” with oil so that the logs would slide easily. –Oregonian (Portland), 3 Jan. 1890.
The “skid-greaser,”  halting at every two steps to grease the worn skid over which the logs were about to pass. –Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1893
The cream made enough butter to feed the camp and grease the skid roads, to boot. –Walter Blair, Tall Tale America, 1937

How are you at greasing the skids at work?  Our roles as manager/leader (many times) is the be the skid-greaser – insuring that things get done easier, smoothly, efficiently, etc. 

In our business, we introduced online account opening nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  Folks could now begin a brand new banking relationship with us without having to visit a branch.  That was a new way to do things!  But, once someone became a member (we’re a credit union), we would send them out a form letter, signed by our CEO, that would welcome them with all the flare and excitement of and IRS document.  [yawn!]  There had to be a better way to do this.

If a person chose to open an account online (something pretty cool to do), then we needed to welcome them in a non-traditional manner.  I started to noodle an idea of welcoming them via a video link embedded in an email.  I shared this idea with our Marketing team.  I wrote a rough draft of a script and suggested an employee who could “pull off” the acting part of this welcome video. 

Next, my eServices team began to talk about how this video could/should lead to “onboarding” new members. They began to meet with a rep from Marketing.  This collaborative group started to meet regularly to talk about how we could deepen the relationship with these newest members.  The work and results of the work have proven to be quick effective.  New members are acquiring more of our products/services and are very satisfied with us.  Note:  most of these new members have not physically spoken to us.  This has all been done in a virtual basis. 

Why share this?  I played basically no further role in this process after sharing my initial thoughts.  My team and Marketing took that first idea and, with no obstruction from me, ran with it.  I greased the skids. 

So here’s your question:  what process or initiative are you working on that you (as leader/manager) need to begin greasing the skids for? 

We can either be a log jam for our teams in their work or we can get ahead of the work and grease the skids.  This is a great opportunity to serve your team and watch them work collaboratively.  It’s ok to get out of the way, as long as you are there to help keep the process going and flowing.  Remove obstacles.  Encourage the team.  Give them resources.  And when they get great results, praise them.  Brag about them.  Show them the next opportunity. 

Just keep on greasing the skids. greasing the skids

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