I developed a taste for fine tea when I dated a woman from Manchester, England, while in college. She referred to most of the “Lipton” types of teas available during the 70’s and 80’s in the US as “floor sweepings.” She introduced me to Earl Grey and Darjeeling and Assam teas from Twinings.
Part of her ritual for preparing tea in a proper Brown Betty ceramic teapot was to warm the teapot first. She added a cup of hot water to the empty teapot, swirled for a few moments, then poured it out. THEN she put in the tea ball and the hot water to steep the tea. The warmed teapot would not reduce the temperature of the water during the steeping process. On colder days she would also warm the teacups the same way.
It’s an extra step that creates a much nicer cup of tea to enjoy. My friend never left out the step of warming the teapot. It was simply part of the ritual.
I encourage leaders to think about relationships, projects, and services: Are there ways you can warm the pot and create a better result? Where some look for shortcuts, can you add an improvement component to your service? How can you keep the “good stuff” at the right temperature?
Three specific examples:
- There are many situations where you can “pre-wire” a decision meeting by first going to the stakeholders individually and addressing their concerns. Surface issues and get corrections or adjustments in place early. Check out this Manager Tools podcast on how to pre-wire a meeting.
- It’s important to build your network of rich relationships before you need it. An easy way to “warm the pot” is to share articles and recommend contacts to people. Don’t be cynical about the process. There is every reason to find satisfaction in helping others.
- Reach out to your customers with information or incentives which are valuable to them. Keep the pot warmed and you’ll have more repeat business in the future. Don’t hit a “cold” customer or prospect list with a sales pitch until you’ve warmed up the list with some value first.
Find ways to warm the pot, and enjoy the improved results.