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Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Volume 21 | # 488
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Too many people are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when they ought to just water the grass they are standing on. » Amar Dave

Bending Mickey's Ear

I was reminded last week of the incredible impact the “moving parts” – the employees - of organizations have. Our better employees’ personal interactions with customers can turn maddening situations into positive ones.

Our unengaged ones can turn what should be upbeat experiences into relationship-challenging episodes.

We were on vacation at the Disney World parks for my sons’ birthdays. We’re longtime fans of Disney, and my wife is an uber-fan.

On this particular trip, however, I began making the observation to my wife that the rest of the world may have caught up to Disney. Or, in some ways, Disney may have come back to the pack.

Sure, the parks are still clean, and the attractions are impressive. But, the hotels, which I grant you are a different challenge, weren’t very “magical”, and it has little to do with the facilities.

I’ve long believed that the most difficult challenge of Disney’s massive expansion over the past 20 years has little to do with land or facilities or technology. Instead, it’s finding, training, and keeping great employees for such an expanding operation that’s the biggest challenge of all.

Sure, we experienced many outstanding employees. Chris from Darien, CT was incredibly nice. But the fact that we actually noticed when someone was “old school Disney” nice was instructive.

At one time, impressively great service was the norm. Disney still calls its employees “cast members.” I imagine the two ladies working the concierge club during the mornings of our stay were cast as Grumpy and Dopey without the costumes.

Fairly or not, the employees who display noticeably poor attitudes or deliver bad service tend to disproportionally impact customers’ overall impressions of a company.

You can get 95% of everything else right. But the 5% that unmotivated and disengaged employees are producing for you is what tends to stick in most folks’ minds.

The business world is a competitive place. And going forward, more than ever, we cannot differentiate ourselves through facilities or technologies or even pricing.

Competitors will have and offer everything we have and vice versa.

What the competition does not have are our employees. They will be the reason we stand out – for good or bad.

How will you stand out today?

The Beauty in a Faked Smile

One of my favorite slides in presentations is one that typically gets more than a few knowing chuckles. It reads, “Attention leaders and folks aspiring to be leaders: Don’t underestimate the importance of thespian skills.”

I’ve long kidded that the business degrees we received in the prior century were definitely lacking.  If universities really wanted to prepare you for roles in leadership, a good portion of the classes they require would be acting classes.

The ability to project an attitude or mood that may not be highly correlated to way you actually feel at that moment is an important business skill. Some days, it may be the most productive skill you employ.

A manager may be having a less-than-great day for any number of reasons – personal or professional. We’re humans, not robots. But a manager’s observable demeanor almost always becomes his or her team’s demeanors, as well.

The ability to project good cheer and/or confidence even when you aren’t actually “feeling it” may be the most impressive management skill employed that day.  It enables others to be in more productive moods.

And that particular “thespian skill” is one that serves us well in just about any sales and service position you can think of.

I’m consistently amazed at how so many folks in customer-facing jobs seem not to understand that their projected demeanor sets the tone for most of the interactions they have each day.

Customers greeted with smiles and polite gestures tend to reciprocate. And a frontline banker’s day goes by faster and more pleasantly when he gets to deal with more generally genial customers.

Folks in pleasant moods tend to be far more open to considering other offerings, as well.

I like to kid with groups that I truly appreciate authentic smiles. But I just might respect fake ones even more.

Hey, anyone can smile when they’re feeling good. I respect the heck out of a person who isn’t feeling cheerful at the moment but respects other people enough not to spread a negative mood.

I often remind branch teams that the person in front of them may be the 50th customer they’ve seen that day. But they are the only banker that customer will be face-to-face with this week…or this month…or this year (?).

Our interactions actually have more impact today than at any time in history.

Make sure yours puts smiles on their faces.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. » Walt Disney

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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