Economic Multipliers (67)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

‘Stoplights’ are an economic multiplier for businesses if they understand and apply the concepts.


Several years ago, I caught some episodes of the television series JAG (stands for: Judge Advocate General) … a (fiction) show about the legal arm of the U.S. Marine Corps. JAs in the Marine Corps are unique: They are first trained as officers and then as lawyers. That means that they might think differently than a person who has trained solely or predominantly as a lawyer.

Since I’ve never served in the military or gone through any of their ‘formal training,’ I don’t specifically know how they are trained to think. I do know, having chatted with many individuals who’ve served in the military over the years, that I don’t always think like they do: Sometimes (many times) I attribute this to the different experiences and training that they have had.

Organizations, whether they are civilian (public or private) or military, function best when people perform at their best. That’s probably why I remember a concept from JAG: the ‘stoplight.'

Stoplights (to my knowledge globally) are designed for three things:

    1. Green … to tell a person to go …

    2. Yellow … to give a person a warning that they should be slowing down and seriously considering stopping …

    3. Red … to tell a person to stop …

Just like an intersection, the work environment can be a ‘hazardous’ place to negotiate when you are trying to effectively communicate with other people. People have different communication styles, ‘appreciate’ different types of humor and have different tolerance levels for varying types of behavior.

If you ever are put in a position where you need to help employees learn how to effectively work with other people (because you know that YOUR organization will function at its best if they do it well), you may want to teach them about ‘stoplights.'

If any individual feels uncomfortable with the behavior of another person, they can just simply say: ‘yellow light’ and quickly explain why (if that’s necessary). If they are extremely uncomfortable, they can just simply say: ‘red light’ and quickly explain why (if that’s necessary … they shouldn’t ever assume that someone would immediately understand their discomfort … the other person might consider the behavior completely normal).

The ‘receiving’ individual should always look upon the ‘stoplights’ as simple statements that the person they are dealing with has a different comfort level and they need to simply ‘adjust’ their behavior. They should even be told that they can ask for recommendations regarding ‘more suitable’ behavior. (Keep in mind that a ‘stoplight’ policy is meant to help KEEP people OUT of trouble … NOT GET them INTO trouble: People who don’t ‘obey’ stoplights get into trouble.)

Employers are getting more ‘street savvy.’ They know that people don’t always behave in ‘politically correct’ ways or ‘say the right things at the right times.’ They don’t want to stifle the creativity that goes along with ‘light-hearted’ banter or lose good employees but they can’t really consider any employee ‘good’ (no matter how much they personally produce) if they reduce the productivity of their coworkers.

If your employer doesn’t have any ‘stoplight’ policy but you personally like to tell or play practical jokes, you might want to develop your own policy among the people you ‘include’ in your jokes while thinking about how your actions affect the productivity of the whole organization.

Likewise, if the work environment is one of the few places where you meet people and you develop an ‘interest’ in someone, you might want to ‘share’ the stoplight concept before you take any action which might get you into trouble (I myself would hate to think that two single people who were well suited for each other who worked together couldn’t pursue a personal relationship but that would be a two-person decision).

Very few people get into trouble when they simply do their job and do it well: ‘Stoplight’ policies in organizations could help better define (and even elevate) the standards of behavior when people start delving into the ‘gray areas’ of human and working relationships.

Employee productivity in every organization affects the bottom line: Economics (and even national security) is ALL about the bottom line.


P.S. You might think ‘stoplight’ policies are mainly about men and women: I wish that were so. Some ‘employees’ have all sorts of ‘unusual’ ideas about ‘hazing,’ training the ‘new guy,’ and ‘little’ workplace practical jokes. Always ask yourself (if you’re ever unsure of a behavior): ‘Is EVERYONE laughing … including the ‘employer’?’

If you really need to be funny, I believe comedy clubs are always looking for new talent.