Working on a Dream




Friday, October 11, 2013

Do you believe in Magic?

DO you believe in magic?
When I was a kid I did too. Then I grew up.
Thankfully the magic is back since I read Lee Cockerell's fantastic book titled, "Creating Magic." Cockerell was the Executive Vice President, Operations, for Walk Disney World for over ten years. He knows a thing or two about Creating Magic in the workplace.  Below is a summary of some of his best stuff.  Enjoy!

Strategy #1: Remember, everyone is important.
Cockerell, opens this section by teaching on the subject of "inclusion."  Inclusion at the workplace is described simply when everyone feels like they matter and everyone knows that they matter.  When this is the case, employees are happy to come to work and give you their energy, creativity and loyalty. The opposite of inclusion is when people feel isolated and unimportant. The key takeaway for leaders is to ensure everyone is valued -despite position, rank or title.  Cockerell initiated a simple tool at Disney that helped reinforce inclusion, "RAVE."  RAVE means: "respect, appreciate and value everyone."

Below I will outline the best strategy to incorporate inclusion into your organization:

1. Make sure everyone matters ... and everyone knows it.  A leader's job is a lot like parenting: you have a heart full of love for your employees, but sometimes forget to verbalize that love.  DO THIS: Physically sit across from your team and express how much you care about them, how much the corporation values them, etc. Do this regularly with your team -both corporately and individually- and watch moral improve.  You might be thinking that this is common sense and you are right; sadly common sense does not always equal common practice.

 2. Know your team.  Every worker has different motivations, priorities, preferences, and dreams.  "Workers hail from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods." This means you have to get to know your team individually. Question: Do you know your employees favorite sports team(s)? Do you know their birthdays?  Going forward, understand that this is not an easy task; it will not happen overnight either. However, the payoff is huge.  Start this process now.

3.  Let your team get to know you.  Everything starts with you, as the leader.  You must model the way, this means going first.  Do not expect an open workforce if you are closed off.  It's just that simple. Start this process yesterday.

4.  Great people sincerely.  I'll be the first to admit that this one is toughest for me.  I am always in a hurry, always on a mission and always ADHD.  It is important to not get so wrapped up in your work that you miss the reason why you are doing what you are doing.  A professor of mine once said, "When you start emphasizing projects over people you've lost your way."  Cockerell suggests taking "strolls" throughout your workplace stopping to say hello to team members and customers.  I couldn't agree more.

5.  Reach out to everyone on your team.  I aways tell key leaders that seem mystified on how to reach out to others this, "just remember that people want the same thing(s) that you want." If you walk into a room and do not know a single soul, what do you think that person wants? To feel comfortable & to make a connection ... and fast. Place yourself in the shoes of others, and then proceed.  People want what you want; they want valued, heard, respected, listened to, Etc. Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  This is the position you must take as a leader as you reach out to everyone on your team.

6. Make yourself available.  Leaders are available.  My door is always open, and on the rare occasions it is not, it is always open.  One thing that I pride myself on is how many people I can rub shoulders with by the end of the week.  I tell others that Jesus' ministry was powerful because He was constantly surrounding Himself with people.  Jesus knew what mattered most, this is why He formed a powerful crew that embraced His values.  He and His disciples understood the power of presence; you should too.

7.  Listen to understand. In the 7 Habits of Effective People, Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  Most people think that they are good communicators because they like to talk, however, I say that good communicators are good listeners.  This means active listening.  Look at people in the eye, nod indicating that you understand.  Say, "Let me summarize what I hear you saying" or "What I think you are saying is ... is this right?" This really is not an option either. If  you are like me, you have talked with a person on more than one occasion and you thought you were communicating crystal clear.  Then, you find out afterward that what you said and what was heard are as similar as a banana and an eggplant.

8.  Communicate clearly, directly, and honestly.  Please use ordinary language, language that conveys exactly what you mean.  It is difficult enough to grasp the central message with all the hoopla going on around you. Leaders must be clear; eliminate all fluff and get to the point.  Furthermore, I want to highlight the "direct" aspect, which I believe is absolutely essential.  Do you know how much junk you could eliminate in your life just by speaking directly to a person?  Get rid of the backdoor meeting, forget the whisperings behind the curtain; you are a leader, man up and be direct.  Your team will respect you for this in the long run.

9. Stand up for the excluded. In every group there is a small minority of individuals that may not have the social skills to connect.  I am not asking you to baby them, but you have to use a bit more energy helping them to connect.  Cockerell teaches, "Make no mistake, anyone who feels left out is left out."  Listen, I know that each person is responsible to make an individual effort to connect, and this can be a bit of an irritation because it seems that you are "babying" someone, but at least give it a try to give the excluded member a chance.  Personally, I encourage the group or a particular group member to make a personal connection with a member like this, hoping that a friendship is formed.

10.  Forget about the chain of command. Workplace hierarchies are disappearing before our very eyes. Top down command structure is being leveled to a more "flat" organization. This means no one particularly cares about your title.  This has caused a lot of change in the workplace, one in particular is that more natural leaders have the ability to flourish.  More people have a voice than just the guy at the top, more people can add creative infusion than just the gal running the place.  Stop playing the victim role, see yourself as the change agent.  Remember, losers find an excuse and winners find a way.

11. Design your culture.   Your workplace has a distinct culture just as Italy has a distinct culture. Your culture is the "why you do things around here the way you do things around here." And I am not talking about a S.O.P. or a book of rules, I am talking about feet on the ground, real, everyday practices.  This is the soft stuff that nobody can see, but everyone can feel.  A leader must (1) be aware of their workplace culture and (2) help define or redefine the workplace culture.

In the opening chapter, Lee Cockerell writes this very Tweet-able quote in the introduction, "Great leadership leads to employee excellence, which leads to customer satisfaction and strong business results. In other words, the customer doesn't come first; leadership comes first.

Starting to believe in magic?  
Me too. 

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