Pike Place fish market is a unique business that sets the modern standard for managerial style. The culture that exists within the company is open, friendly, enthusiastic, fun. This translates into a successful business, and creates a friendly atmosphere for its customers as well. The key to the success of Pike Place and creating this vibrant and productive workplace is in its management style. It is a “people-centric” management philosophy. The management does not try to keep the power centralized and manage downwards, but strives to empower its employees and work laterally. Management takes steps to coach employees, not to demean them or show them where they are wrong, but to empower them and become better at what they do. The employees are not seen as merely numbers, but as people. This approach creates a very positive atmosphere because it seeks individual growth, but through team effort. Each person feels that they are important and that they have the power and freedom to be creative. Creativity nullifies boredom which in turn increases productivity.
Personal responsibility is another aspect that takes on a powerful meaning at Pike Place. It means that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life; more specifically how you handle everything that happens in your life. This philosophy says that you have the power to react to a situation positively or negatively. You can be a victim of circumstance, or you can take control of the situation and make a positive impact on it. This reminds me of a quote from G. K Chesterton: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - Everlasting Man, 1925. What this means is that we don’t have to be a victim of circumstance, we can “make” the outcome that is positive by consciously thinking of what is happening and by making an act of the will. In the workplace this means that if you run into an employee who is having bad day and in a bad mood, you don’t need to go along with it or make a knee-jerk reaction to it. You can think about the situation and understand that he/she is possibly having a difficult time at this moment, and then see what you can do to help.
Complementary to personal responsibility is the notion of the unknown nature of the future. Many managers, owners, and people in general shun this thought because it can be disturbing. People naturally want security, and something that is unknown is very insecure. However, the unknown nature of the future means that you can “create” it, or influence it by your decisions. This means that it should not be something that is scary, but inspiring. This becomes an opportunity for employees because they can influence their own future. This opens the door to creativity, and creativity leads to production that is inspired. “The sky is the limit” is the best way to describe this atmosphere. Employees, or “team members,” now feel empowered to use their creativity in an unrestricting or less restricting manner and can tap into what they truly love to do, or what really makes them feel fulfilled.
All companies can learn from the basic human-centric management philosophies that Pike Place Fish Market uses to empower their employees. The key ingredient is the way they look at their employees as people, not as numbers. I also like that the management style is very philosophical. Managers think and strive to understand and empathize with their employees, they don’t just rule like a tyrant. Creating the kind of atmosphere as Pike Place leads to successful business because it touches upon the human heart and soul. Inspiring employees by letting them tap into their creativity is a recipe for success that all companies can take note of.