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Wednesday
Jan192011

There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

 

If you're a fan of Arrested Development, you'll know this line by heart. You may have even dropped this line once or twice in conversation, regardless if it was in context or not. However, the back story to this line could teach us a little something about the importance of communication. 

The background: George Bluth, owner of a real estate company,  is jailed by the SEC for defrauding investors and using company money for "personal use." While in prison, his son Michael visits him to give him updates on what's going on with their family company and how they are trying to crawl out of the mess George put them in. Whenever Michael talks about funding issues, George always replies under his breath "there's always money in the banana stand." The banana stand being a frozen banana stand the company still owns on a beach boardwalk. It was the first enterprise of their company. 

Over time, Michael becomes increasingly frustrated with his father George. Most of this frustration is due to George's always trying to undermine Michael's new authority. However, Michael really gets frustrated with the only advice he gets is that "there's always money in the banana stand." It's a frozen banana stand. Needless to say it's not an overly profitable venture like their once thriving real estate development business was. In an act of personal rebellion, Michael sets fire to the banana stand to prove to his father that there's more to the company than just the stupid banana stand. 

When Michael delivers the news to his father that he burned down the banana stand, George goes nuts. His first response was "but there was MONEY in that banana stand!" Michael tries passing him off saying "but you always say that and it doesn't do anything...." However, George clarifies the message he was trying to convey: "There was $250,000 lining the walls of the banana stand!!" 

Oops.

So what lesson can we learn here? George felt he was conveying the message to Michael effectively, that there was money physically in the banana stand. We now know that wasn't the case. Listening to feedback is a valuable tool for management. That feedback can tell us a lot whether or not a message has been accurately received. Communication is a crucial ingredient in employee engagement. A failure in communication often times can result in missing the mark on company objectives and ultimately affect overall performance. It's important to clearly state to your staff what is expected of them in order to meet and exceed those expectations.

Just because you tell someone there's money in the banana stand doesn't necessarily mean they understand that there's literally money in the banana stand.

How well are you communicating with your employees?

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