Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dream, Believe, Dare, Do

Dream, Believe, Dare, Do - the four basic standards that drive Disney. Think about it. How can this work for you?

You're probably much smaller than the U.S. Government, but they also hold these standards. Take the space program for instance. Dream-going to the moon, Believe-President Kennedy believed in this program, Dare-we sent rockets into outer space, Do-astronauts stepped foot on the moon.

You can't rest on the past - "it's always worked for us" takes you on the road to nowhere. Open up and allow staff to participate in these standards. It will make them feel more a part of the organization. Who has the most first-hand information? Frontline staff. A lot of their motivation comes from knowing that they're valued.

In the book "The Disney Way", by Bill Capodiagli and Lynn Jackson, they list the 10 concepts that are at the heart of the Disney standards:
  • Give every member of your organization a chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody.
  • Stand firm on your beliefs and principles.
  • Treat your customers like guests.
  • Support, empower, and reward employees.
  • Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners.
  • Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition.
  • Train extensively and constantly reinforce the company's culture.
  • Align long-term vision with short-term execution.
  • Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems.
  • Pay close attention to detail.
Now these are the standards that Disney follows. But you can't BE Disney. Every organization needs to have their own unique brand and identity. Gain an understanding of these standards as they apply to your business, gather your supervisors and managers, and put them to work.

Develop an organizational culture and mission that's open to change, with Dreams (ideas) coming from all levels of the organization. Talk about motivating! If you take a look at the most successful organizations today, you'll find that staff participation is a major reason for their success. Look at Disney today and remember, "it all started with a mouse".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Developmental Training

Walt Disney once said, "The growth and development of the Walt Disney Company is directly related to the growth and development of its human resources - our cast". This is true in ANY organization. Think about it. Where would you be without your employees?

Just to put someone through orientation (one of my sore spots) and train them on their job is not enough. In order for them to perform at their best, training must be functional, complete, and on-going. Developmental training needs to be given top billing. It's an essential investment in your employee's future. Without it, how do you expect them to get better? How do they become leaders, or better leaders?

You can't sit on the bubble for years saying, 'we should be doing developmental training'. By the time you finally get around to it, it's usually to late - at least for the employee's you currently have. Habits have set in. When I first joined the Navy, it was near the beginning of the "kindler, gentler Navy". The "in your face" days were on the downswing and being replaced by 'would you do this' and 'please' - and even providing explanations (gasp). ALOT of the old-timers resisted and I even know some that ended up retiring just because they couldn't stand it anymore.

To many organizations developmental training means sculpting for leadership. If you subscribe to this type of belief then you're wasting a valuable resource - your front-line. Everyone must be included. There is a plethora of training out there. Google "soft skill training" and you'll find numerous places that will give corporate discounts for groups of online courses. Everything from customer service to computer skills to communication and time-management. But remember, just providing this type of training isn't quite enough. You need to set up some type of recognition for completing courses. This provides motivation to go even farther.

With development training investment, you'll see improved retention because it shows employees that you're taking an interest in their future, cost savings (caused by retention), higher quality output and even strengthened customer service. Learning causes positive habits which benefits both the individual and the organization.

Now don't you think it's time for you to recognize this win-win program? You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Busywork, as opposed to busy AT work, is a habit that all supervisors, and all employees, should watch out for. Yes, I've fallen victim to it just as much as the next guy. And I tell you what - at the end of the day I feel like I've just wasted 8 hours of my life or someone elses.

Merriam-Webster defines busywork as: "work that usually appears productive or of intrinsic value but actually only keeps one occupied". Busywork is when you feel as if the work you're doing is useless or unproductive. It's usually done just to occupy time.

In a lot of jobs there's often a higher focus on activity rather than results. Giving people menial tasks to perform only bores people and actually causes them discomfort in their job. If you're giving people things to do just so they have "things to do", chances are they see that and probably feel less than essential. Supervisors will give employees things to do in order to keep them occupied so they themselves can concentrate on other things and not be bothered. I've seen this type of busywork backfire many times. The employee sees exactly what the supervisor is doing so he/she gets the work done as quickly as possible so the supervisor has to keep coming up with more "things to do". Talk about a time waster.

If you're in a position where employees are often needing additional tasks, do them - and yourself - a big favor. Make up a list ahead of time and constantly keep it updated. Put some some thought into it and come up with some "busywork" that actually adds value to the day/business/organization. Not only will the employee feel better about their job and their worth, but you'll feel that much more successful yourself.