Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fire Your Way To Success

One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to orchestrate your team to perform at their optimal level.  In the daily changing dynamics of the numerous individual personalities, every team member experiences hills and valleys.  At some point, however, you may find an employee consistently falling short of their responsibilities.  When this happens, you are obligated to make some important decisions - and actions.

The cost of doing nothing is far too high (to your operation and to your customer experience), so what is the best way to deal with this?  Obviously, not hiring a wrong-fit employee is the best tactic, but if an employee chooses the wrong behaviors, the process world-class companies follow is this:

• Step 1: Ask if the standard for the expected behavior was understood. If not, inform the employee and fire them up for implementation. If they knew they were expected to perform the behavior, then...

• Step 2: Ask if they are able to perform the behavior. If not, train them and fire them up for best results. If they are able to perform the behavior, then...

• Step 3: Ask then if there is anything preventing them from performing as requested. If so, then work to remove the obstacle - if appropriate and fire them up to achieve their best potential. If there isn't anything preventing them from performing, then...

• They can perform, they just don't want to. If this is the case, they are lazy and/or defiant. Either way, the next step is to FIRE THEM.  (Yes, at Disney I would fire "deserving" cast members, although we termed it "encouraging them to find their happiness elsewhere" - which made me laugh and gag...all at the same time!)

The critical thing to realize is that THEY have made the choice, not you. You are simply responding to their choice by implementing the natural consequences.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about it...today!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Most Important Service Traits?

Recently, I was asked by a client if I've seen any trend of "must have" traits for hiring employees to give superior service that transcends industries/international cultures.  After working with dozens of best-in-class service organizations in 49 countries around the world, I believe I've identified the most important - all of which are non-negotiable in order to achieve an extraordinary service experience:
  1. Awareness of others.  Until someone has the ability to get beyond their own self-absorbed interests, they will never be able to effective engage customers - or their team.  Being able to truly understand another's perspective is mandatory to be successful in any service-related position - especially if you hope to exceed those expectations.  The field of Emotional Intelligence is founded on the awareness of & ability to connect with others.
  2. Consideration of others.  More than simply being aware of them, being considerate also involves caring about the well-being of others and desiring to help them in whatever way matters most to them.  Compassion, kindness, and valuing others are what set the stage for this trait.
  3. Bias for action.  Internal thoughts merely create academic concepts or theoretical strategy.  Unless there are behaviors that implement the service ideas, there will be no tangible results.  Legitimate service requires interaction...with ACTION being the key part of that word.
Coincidentally, they are also the key traits for leadership excellence, in my opinion, since great leaders - and their organizations - succeed by serving their "internal customers" (employees).

I've often shared with my teams at Disney and the FAA that the simplest guidance I could think of for great service was "Be aware & care" - the intent being to be aware of yourself, those around you, your environment, etc. and then care enough to take action and do something about improving the experience.   

So, whether you are considering hiring a new employee or promoting someone into a leadership position, ask yourself how they rate regarding these critical traits - or you (and your customers/business results) will suffer the natural consequences...which will likely be painful for your people, your organization, and you.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about it...today!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Cost Of The Wrong Employee

Too many times, I hear managers complain about how it is "impossible" to "get rid" of an employee that is not producing.  The truth is, ANYthing is possible - with sufficient motivation.  If the CEO said "Fire him today or you will be fired", there's little doubt about who would be walking out the door.

That said, a significant problem is that most managers don't consider the true cost of keeping the wrong employee. 

Internal costs:  Team finds it more difficult to complete tasks.  Internal strife lowers morale.  Other employees stop trying to achieve higher standards because there is no consequence (proven by your willingness to allow the "bad apple" to get away with the poor behaviors).  Attitudes/behaviors are "dumbed down" to lowest level you accept.  More mistakes.  Slower work due to lost efficiencies.  Higher costs to do business must be either absorbed into budget (less profit or less invested in internal benefits) or passed on to customers (less value for their investment).

External costs:  Customer experience suffers.  They visit/buy less.  They tell others about lukewarm or disappointing experience.  Brand/reputation suffers.  Others won't do business with you.  Sales decrease.

Then, senior executives WILL get upset at bottom line results and look for the root cause - and what (or who) allowed it to continue.

If you don't hold them accountable (YOUR responsibility), then there are costs...for which YOU will be held accountable.

Think about it.  But more importantly, do something about it...today!