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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Focus on communication fuels Southwest Airlines

Focus on communication fuels Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly describes how his company’s communication strategy keeps employees smiling.
When Gary Kelly took over as CEO of Southwest Airlines in 2004, he had a very clear vision of what he wanted his senior leadership to do: communicate more effectively and work better as a team. To do this, the company had to create an overarching program that would inform all of its communication efforts.
It took more than 30 years for Southwest Airlines to articulate its values to employees, but the company’s mission statement and objectives are now firmly in place. Employees have a good idea of where the company is headed, and how they fit into those goals as individuals.
But how does a Fortune 500 company ensure that every employee—from the corner office to the runway—is living the “Southwest Way” as they call it? At recent a leadership summit, Kelly told a room of more than 300 corporate communicators that it starts with caring.
Southwest’s mission starts with customer service, and its approach is simple: They genuinely care about their employees, who, in turn, will hopefully be inspired to treat customers accordingly. “And what is it that makes for a strong relationship with people?” says Kelly. “It’s communication.” Of course, “communication” is just a word—the content of the message must be compelling, and it must come from the right source.
“I think (communication) is most effective if it includes top management,” he says. “If you have middle management that’s trying to carry a message, it’s going to be inconsistent from one group to the next.” Kelly says Southwest’s top-down communication is carried out through a collaborative effort between him and the company’s communications team.
During the past decade the entire airline industry has been faced with unprecedented challenges that stem mainly from 9/11 and rising oil prices. Therefore, says Kelly, “The challenges today, from a communications perspective, are as dramatic as they have ever been.”

Listening to the ideas and concerns of employees becomes paramount to effective communication. But listening is only half of the equation. Following the lead of the emerging forms of social media, communication is a participatory game. “It’s a constant conversation,” says Kelly, “and hopefully a very intimate relationship. That’s where our employees get engaged. If they know what’s going on, and they know why we’re doing things, typically they’ll get on board.”
And as long as Kelly can point to corporate mission statement and objectives as the reason why they take on certain initiatives, it’s easy to see why so many Southwest employees are on board.

Gary Kelly explains the Southwest Airlines’ mission:
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service.
“That is the highest aspiration that we have. First and foremost, we want to be a great customer service company.”
Delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, personal pride and company spirit.
“A lot of customers don’t need the personal interaction, and that’s why is one of the most popular travel sites in the world. But we have to be there for our customers in person when they need us there in person. This is a very straightforward, long-lasting set of words in our mission statement.”
To provide our employees with a stable work environment with an equal opportunity for learning and personal growth, encouraging creativity and innovation, and providing them the same concern, respect and caring attitude that they’re expected to share externally with every customer.
“It’s very clear: We put customers first, but then we really talk about our employees. There’s some tangible evidence as to how we’ve treated our employees over the years. We’ve never had a furlough at Southwest Airlines. We’ve never had a layoff. We’ve never had a pay cut—even after 9/11. We are highly regarded as a company in many different ways: great service, strong financials and 34 years of   profitability. But the thing we’re most proud of is that we’ve been able to take care of each other. Those are things I hope will be everlasting at this company because they go hand in hand.”

 To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal
P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping route saless brances, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, sales skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Three Ways a Culture of Trust Drives Productivity

Trust: It’s a word everyone understands but few can accurately define or measure. It seems at once essential but fluffy, complex yet simple. According to the Human Capital Institute, trust can be defined as “the willingness to put oneself at risk based on another individual’s actions.”

What does that mean in a business context? And how can trust be measured in economic terms like risk, speed, and cost? Research has shown that high-trust organizations have a total return to shareholders (stock price plus dividends) that is 286 percent higher than low-trust organizations. The top 25% of retail stores that rank high on trust achieve 7% above budget annual sales and 14% sales productivity gains. The impact of trust on productivity and efficiency is clear.

Surprisingly, the simplicity of trust lies in the economics: as trust increases, so does speed. Speed goes up in high-trust cultures because costs and risks go down. In organizations where trust is low, costs and risks go up, resulting in a trust tax that slows down work across the organization.

So it follows that as companies grow, trust often erodes because it becomes increasingly difficult to develop relationships, resulting in layers upon layers of bureaucracy that act as a poor substitute for trust. In fast-paced business environments where companies must evolve quickly to keep up with the speed of technology, building and maintaining trust at scale is more important than ever.

The complexity of trust is that it can be difficult to build, yet easy to break. While trust can take a long time to build, it is also delicate enough to be destroyed through a single action or misconception. Yet the benefits of investing time into building trust can lead to exponential results:

1) Trust empowers employees to stay engaged. If employee disengagement is an epidemic that is reducing productivity across organizations in America, trust is the antidote. Research has shown that employees that feel more connected will invest more of themselves in their work. High trust levels yields a greater sense of self responsibility, greater interpersonal insight, and a greater sense of alignment in striving toward common goals. Fear is often abused by management and has been shown to result in negative workplace culture that reduces productivity. When people don’t trust their leaders, they relationship becomes transactional because employees are forced to wonder, “If the organization does not do right by me, why should I do right by them?”

2) Trust reduces bureaucracy and increases speed. Because high-trust cultures remove fear, workers at every level can be honest about problems they are encountering without fear of backlash from middle management or distrust from upper management, allowing teams to do what’s right as quickly as necessary. High trust cultures remove five key relationship pitfalls: criticizing, complaining, comparing, contending, and cynicism. In a study analyzing Sarbanes-Oxley, results were staggering: the costs of implementing Section 404 were $35 billion-exceeding the original SEC estimate by 28 times. Compliance regulations are a prime example of the dangerous relationship between low trust, low speed and high cost.

3) Trust increases quality collaboration. Honesty and trust create a positive feedback loop that cultivate a culture of openness that improves collaboration within teams. In a study by Franklin-Covey, better execution and stronger collaboration were all byproducts of high-trust cultures. Achieving high-quality collaboration relies on having shared and common goals, which are built on an eagerness to share truthful information--a quality that stems from trust. The more easily and quickly a team can provide honest feedback to each other the greater the trust and efficiency of the collaboration.

Because trust is the foundation of a healthy and productive work culture, investing in creating trust within an organization will lead to big dividends--especially at scale for growth organizations. 
How Honest Leaders Undermine their Leadership
No Trust = No Leadership

You can coerce without trust but positive influence thrives on the foundation of trust.
Losing influence is easy because losing trust is incredibly easy.

Trust and respect: 
It takes more than honesty to preserve trust; you must show respect.
People stop trusting you when you disrespect them, even when you’re honest. 

Danger of disrespect: 
When you lose trust by making people feel disrespected, people give themselves permission to question your character and motives. Honesty is not the issue. 

You can be honest and lose trust.
Not only do they judge your character, they feel justified, even compelled, to “warn” others about you. You can’t be trusted. 

Protecting trust: 
People trust you when they feel respected by you.
When they feel disrespected, however, they are disrespected. Perception is reality.

10 Behaviors that help people feel disrespected 

1. Rushed exchanges. You don’t have time for them.
2. Unilateral decisions. Lack of participation in decisions that directly impact them.
3. Poor listening. They don’t feel understood.
4. Rudeness.
5. Unsolicited advice.
6. Emphasizing failure as a tool to motivate forward momentum.
7. Favoritism.
8. Cutting them off when they’re speaking.
9. Rescheduling appointments.
10. Watching your computer while talking.

10 ways to show respect: 
1. The opposites of the list above.
2. Invite feedback.
3. Gently, clearly and firmly tell it like it is, even when they disagree.
4. Appreciate their skills and talents.
5. Give opportunities.
6. Admire their contribution and accomplishments.
7. Public acknowledgement.
8. Use common courtesies like "please" and "thank you."
9. Acknowledge their challenges and struggles.
10. Hold phone calls and other communications while they’re speaking.
The challenging truth: 
They won’t keep trusting you if you don’t convince them they’re respected.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping companies create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

An A-Z Guide for Engaging Your Team to Create Great Customer Experiences

Building an engaged workforce is perhaps the biggest challenge today’s employers face. The benefits are many—increased customer loyalty, profitsproductivity and safety, to name a few—yet it can be tough to lead a workforce that maintains consistently high levels of passion and motivation.

This A to Z list about engagement from an employee’s perspective will help leaders determine where to focus their attention. Armed with these insights, you will be well on your way to developing the engaged workforce that create consistently great customer experiences.

Ask : Ask me questions, ask me for ideas, or ask me to participate. Ask me how we can improve the customer experience. You will grab my attention and begin the process of engaging my heart, mind and spirit.

Behave: How you behave towards me, my co-workers and those we interact with tells me a great deal. When you treat us like adults and contributors, we can move forward.

Treat me the way you'd want me to treat the customer!

Treat me as overhead, a resource, or human capital (whatever that is), and I will drift off to another place. Yelling, screaming or ignoring me—except when I mess up—won’t work either.  "Seagull" style managers don't earn my whole-hearted commitment.

Communicate and collaborate: If you want me to be engaged, help me understand what’s going on in the company. Tell me what led to or shaped our decisions. In other words, communicate with me. It’s from this foundation that you, me and others on our team can work together to clarify opportunities and determine how we will succeed. Let’s collaborate.

Deliver: When you make promises or say you’ll get back to me on something, please remember to deliver. You will build credibility and trust. If we can rely on you, rest assured you can rely on us.

Encourage and empower: This is actually a simple concept. When you tell me I did something well, I smile more. I learn, and carry that perspective forward. Let me know that you trust me to get the job done in the way that makes the most sense to me. Encouragement and empowerment are keys to keeping me engaged.

Feedback: Tell me how I’m doing. And not just once or twice a year—all the time. Tell me when you like what I’ve done; tell me what didn’t work and why. Providing both positive and constructive feedback regularly will help me improve. Share  formal and informal customer survey results. You’ll be surprised at what I will achieve.

Goals: Provide me with goals I can work toward. Better yet, let me in on developing goals that make sense to me, our team, the customer experience and the company.

Hello. How are you? Stop by now and then to say hello and ask how I’m doing. Ask about my family or just talk a little. Did you know I play golf? It couldn’t be simpler. It shows you care, and more important, helps build the bond we need to enjoy our time at work.

Integrity: Earn it, keep it, and reap the rewards. I’ll do the same and so will our teammates. Just imagine the possibilities.

Journey: Just like the company, I’m on a journey. Let’s find a way to connect the two. It will take some work, of course. You’ll need to get to know me a little. Find out what you can about my goals, ambitions, hopes, dreams, and where I hope my journey will lead me.

Find out who I am outside of work, too. I will return the favor by getting to know you. Remember to also share the company’s journey. Only then will engaging me become possible.

Knowledge: Share what you know with us employees, and allow us to share what we know with you. Make sure we share amongst ourselves as a team. Then, help us apply that knowledge in a way that leads to success.

Listen: Actively listen. Listen with your ears, eyes and mind. Let me know what you heard to make sure that is what I intended to say. When you do that, you will be surprised by what you learn.

Listen to me the way you'd want me to listen to the customer!

Meaning: My work has to have meaning, because I’m here for much more than a paycheck or social time. I want to contribute. Work with me to build that meaning and link it with our goals. Then you’ll really begin to capture my heart, mind and spirit.

Notice: Take notice of what I do and how I do it. Better yet, take notice of what our team does both individually and collectively, and give us credit for our efforts and achievements. Don’t forget that taking notice includes letting me know you did.

Opportunity: Use what you know about me to consider opportunities for me to get involved in other areas. From special assignments, leadership roles, and cross-organizational work to training and development, I appreciate the chance to deepen my capabilities and contributions.

Passion: Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

Questions: Ask, consider, answer, probe and challenge. Questions are the gateway to deeper levels of awareness, understanding, knowledge and potential. Ask, "How can I help?" and see me soar.

Recognition, rewards and relationships: Let’s redefine the three Rs. Recognize what I do and reward me appropriately. Build a relationship with me on a professional and personal level. Forget the three Rs at your own peril.

Smile: A smile really goes a long way. Try one on for size and you might be surprised by how far it goes.

Smile at me the way you'd want me to smile at the customer!

Trust: Showing that you trust me and giving me a reason to trust you is perhaps the most important of the ABCs. Without trust, the rest is meaningless. Remember that we earn trust over time. While it’s not hard to earn, it’s very hard to get back once we lose it.

Unify our team: Work with us as a team and let us work on our own as a team. There is a difference. Allow us to work together to build a shared vision and set our goals. Let us have ownership and participate in the way that makes the most sense to us. Let us share our hopes, dreams and fears with each other so we can work together.

Victory: It’s important to us that you celebrate our wins, whether they’re large, small or anywhere in between. It lets us know our efforts paid off, that you care, and that you notice.

We: As the saying goes, many hands lighten the load. Let us in on what’s happening and we can succeed together.

X-traordinary: The results we can achieve by working together will be extraordinary.

“Yes and,” not “yes but”: When you say, “Yes, but...” our conversations and my creativity shut down. Next time, try “Yes, and...” You’ll be surprised by where it may lead and how it will make me feel.

Zenith: If you follow the ABCs of employee engagement, my full potential and commitment will be yours and our customers will be wow'd.

All the success!

Peter Mclees, Principal

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping companies create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Great Mystery

Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest men and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, once told shareholders, "We've long felt that the only value stock of forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good. Even now, Charlie [Munger] and I continue to believe that short term market forecasts are poison and should be locked up in a safe place, away from children and also from grown-ups who behave in the market like children."

In his book One Up On Wall Street, Peter Lynch, one of the best mutual fund managers of all time, wrote, "Thousands of experts study overbought indicators, oversold indicators, head-and-shoulder patterns, put-call ratios, the Fed's policy on money supply, foreign investment, the movement of constellations in the heavens, and the moss on oak trees, can't predict the markets with any useful consistency, any more that gizzard squeezers could tell the Roman emperors when the Huns would attack."

These men understood that humility is essential to investment success--as it is to so much else in our lives.

In my humble opinion, humility doesn't mean selling yourself short or not exercising your talents to the fullest. It means making an honest appraisal, the limited knowledge, experience and understanding that we all bring to life.

It means having a realistic perspective, understanding that -- whatever our particular talents--we are not the center of the universe. "We are all worms," Winston Churchill remarked. "But I do believe I am a glow-worm."

Humility is becoming. It wears well. Truly confident people don't need to brag or boast. It's much more attractive for people to discover your many charms.

Secure individuals don't lord their status over others. evevn if you are truly one-in-a-million kind of guy or gal, in a world of 6 billion people that means there are thousands more just like you.

A companionable friend or dinner guest knows better topics of conversation than just himself. "There are two types of people in this world observed Frederick L. Collins, "Those who come into the room and say, "Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are!'"

Could anyone really prefer spending time with the former?

A modest attitude also demonstrates maturity. "Let us be humble," said Jawaharlal Nehru. "Let us think that the truth may not perhaps be entirely with us."

Live long enough and you're likely to learn that life is one long lesson in humility. Things don't always turn out like we planned over even imagined.

Our happiness is determined, in large part, by how we handle these inevitable surprises. Because uncertainty will always be with us. Perhaps that is why Pulitzer Prize--winning columnist George Will once described his idea of heaven as "infinite knowing."

Recognizing the limits of our knowledge in invaluable, whether we're analyzing problems, figuring out relationships--or even puzzling over the big existential questions. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What is it all about?

Scientists, philosophers, and theologians have struggled with these for thousands of years. And still wrestle with them today.

As Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist Leon Lederman wryly observed, the universe is the answer. What we still don't know is the question.

This humble attitude has been embraced by great minds throughout history, from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein to Gandhi.

As Sioux Indian Chief Ota Kte observed a century ago, "After all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in books and embellished in fine language with fine covers, man--all man--is still confronted with the Great Mystery

Stay hungry and humble,

Peter Mclees