Once it was built, great progress became inevitable as tomorrow.
Once all the pieces were in their right place, it became a leadership juggernaut destined for success.
And it was a wonderful ride.
I was lucky to have been part of something pretty special – a team that blossomed into one of the highest performing groups in our industry.
But it wasn’t all luck. There was some work, some “assembly” involved.
It wasn’t one of those kind of things you could just “plug and play”.
I’m often asked after I tell the story of how it all happened, this journey to more human leadership, for the assembly instructions:
“Tell me how you did this. Tell me the steps. Give me the framework.”
Yes, there is certainly a framework, and I’m going to lay it out for you today. But as is the case with most assembly instructions, there are some warnings, disclaimers and pre-conditions attached.
The pre-condition: You must like and care about people.
The disclaimer: Skipping any step invalidates any chance at effectiveness.
The warning: You may face virulent resistance at any point, so be prepared.
Ready? Let’s build.
Step 1: Carefully remove “I” from vocabulary, and replace it with “we”.
Step 2: Get out of office, get on a plane, train, bus, or automobile, and look in the eyes and talk with as many employees as you can, preferably in the AM before the work day begins, with plenty of coffee and donuts nearby (or some other breakfast substitute). Listen to their dreams and their fears. Discern what they value, and how they feel about work. Connect with them.
Step 3: DO some of their work, and demonstrate a respect for it, and the importance of their role in the success of the business.
Step 4: Once connections are made, ask for trust. If answer is no, repeat Steps 2 and 3. If yes, move on to Step 5
Step 5: Open and deploy “value umbrella”; “serve our customers and support each other“. Repeat often. Have employees repeat often. (Note: “Value umbrellas” are simple mantras of the core company values that enable Step 6.)
Step 6: Collaborate on and implement a set of operating standards, policies, procedures and expectations that all can fit under the value umbrella, and can also be labeled “fair” and “common sensical”. Warning: Such standards, policies, procedures and expectations that fall outside of these guidelines are extremely dangerous.
Step 7: Get back out of the office, get back on the plane, train, bus and/or automobile, and talk to as many employees as you can about the new culture of accountability that has arisen from the trust, values, standards, policies, procedures and expectations that have now been set.
Step 8: Once culture is set, ask for greatness. If answer is no, repeat steps 5, 6 & 7. If yes, move on to Step 9.
Step 9: Create a set of 3 key metrics, based on three key areas: 1) Happy customers 2) Customers in pain and 3) Total customers. Measure weekly. Repeat often. Have employees repeat often.
Step 10: Connect “value umbrella”, the culture of accountability, and the 3 key metrics to a higher purpose than profit: employee happiness and fulfillment.
Step 11: Get back out of the office, once again get on the plane, train, bus and or/ automobile, and talk to as many employees as you can about the the connection in Step 10. Illustrate by drawing happy face on whiteboard whenever possible, or doing impromptu karaoke rendition of “We are the Champions”. Warning: Could cause uncontrollable smiles and laughter.
Step 12: Stay out of the way as the juggernaut becomes unstoppable, and greatness ensues.
There you have it, the step-by-step instruction. (The core principles behind it can be found here).
And I’m happy to tell you, they work, from first-hand experience. Especially that karaoke part.