When Did You Last Re-Recruit Your Team?

I just read an interview with Linda Heasley, president and chief executive of The Limited. Here’s an excerpt that I really like:

I believe that my associates can work anywhere they want, and my job is to re-recruit them every day and give them a reason to choose to work for us and for me as opposed to anybody else.

Heasley even raises the bar on employee expectations:

I encourage people: “Go out and find out what the market bears. You should do that and then come back and help me figure out what you need in your development that you’re not getting, because we owe you that.”

My take: This is the right attitude. Every manager should take on the personal responsibility of making their team members continuously chose to be on their team. Often times, that means preparing them with skills to leave the team… or to leave the company. When you can no longer re-recruit someone, it’s probably time for him/her to leave.

Leaders in high-performing organizations don’t treat employees like indentured servants; they inspire them, lead them, grow them, support them, and engage them in the mission of the company. That’s why Employee Engagement is one of the four customer experience competencies.

This is captured quite well in a quote from Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

…the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

The bottom line: Would your employees re-chose to work for you?

Management Imperative #4: Provide A Clear And Compelling Purpose

Managamet Imperative #4- Provide a clear and compelling purpose

Just about every large organization has vision and mission statements floating around their hallways. But when it comes to making decisions on a day-to-day basis, these documents are nowhere to be found. They play NO ROLE in how the company is actually run.

Instead, firms make decisions based on individual goals and objectives, a handful of hard metrics, and by finding compromises across conflicting executive agendas. And that’s the best case. Often times decisions aren’t coordinated at all.

That’s why organizations need to (re)introduce a clear purpose for their organization that is more compelling than just more profits; a raison d’être that aligns the myriad of day-to-day decisions of all employees. According to Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

Here are some ways for executives to provide a clear and compelling purpose:

  • Rediscover your brand. At some point in time in a company’s history, its brand was likely synonymous with its core mission. Over time, though, brands are delegated to corporate marketing departments where they get translated into color palettes and advertising campaigns. Executive teams need to redefine the meaning of their company’s brands; reconnecting it with the overall mission of the company.
  • Look for alignment. While shareholders want growth and profits, these objectives aren’t compelling enough to align decisions. So executives must clearly define what makes their company special from the standpoint of customers and employees. Ask yourself: What criteria do we want employees using when they make decisions?
  • Market to employees. Firms shouldn’t just assume that employees understand what’s important to the company. They need to maintain internal marketing campaigns to get the message out. Execs should develop plans for touching all employees, from recruiting materials to new hire training to ongoing communications.
  • Make decisions purposefully. Employees can tell what’s really important by looking at what executives say and the decisions they make. So execs need to make sure that they act consistently with what they say is important. Remember, you can’t fake it.

The bottom line: Without a compelling purpose, employees make a myriad of unaligned decisions.

P.S. Here’s a link to all 6 New Management Imperatives

Inspiration Trumps Coercion And Motivation

Just read an excellent article on the Business Week site called The Era Of Inspiration which looked at the leaderships styles of Tom Coughlin (NY Giants Coach), Herb Kelleher (former chairman of Southwest Airlines), and Bill Marriott (CEO of Marriott). It discusses three different management styles: coercion, motivation, and inspiration.

Coughlin was considered an “autocratic tyrant,” but became more inclusive, creating a leadership council of 11 players. In effect, he shifted his style from coercion to inspiration. The changed paid off with a Superbowl championship

The article also quoted Kelleher who was Southwest Airlines’ beloved leader:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

The article also makes the following key point:

Unlike coercion and motivation, the source of inspired conduct is intrinsic and internal. Inspired employees act on something they believe in; they are in the grip of ideas; they are compelled by a deeper purpose and propelled by values they hold fundamental.

My take: Inspiration is a fundamental part of good leadership; and it’s important that leaders instill a strong sense of purpose with their people.

The bottom line: Get your people do things because they want to, not because you want them to do it.

The Tale Of Two Airlines: Southwest And American

Yesterday I was struck by the contrast between two pieces of news; an ad in the USA Today from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SAPA) and a new fee from American Airlines. 

First of all, I found a full page ad in the USA Today which was a letter from the SAPA to Herb Kelleher, the newly retired chairman of the airline. Here’s some of what the pilots had to say: 

As you step down from the SWA Board of Directors, the pilots of Southwest Airlines would like to thank you, Herb, for 38 years of positively outrageous service to our Company and our pilots. It has been an honor and a privilege.

I also read yesterday that American Airlines has decided to impose a $15 fee for the first bag that passengers check. This announcement comes two weeks after announcing a $25 fee for the second bag that customers check. Wow, that will be a customer experience nightmare in so many ways: slowing down the check-in process as customers find out the news and have to pay the fees, slowing down the boarding process as more people try and find space for their luggage in the overheads, and pushing more luggage off the plane when overheads get filled up (once again slowing the boarding process).

In addition to this news, I thought there was an interesting contrast with a full page ad in USA Today from the American Airlines Pilot Association that I found about a month ago. Here’s some of what American’s pilots had to say at that time: 

We’re embarrassed that so many passengers are inconvenienced and dissatisfied and hope you’ll accept our apologies for our airline’s unreliability… Due to mismanagement, our airline doesn’t have enough workers to run dependably…

The bottom line: Which airline do you think is best equipped to deliver a great customer experience?


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