Socially Engaged Companies
I was just reading Soren Gordhamer’s Mashable post on ‘5 Paradigms for a Socially Engaged Company’. It highlights how social media continues to change our business and how employees can be empowered to make a positive impact through this medium.
Soren writes “When people in companies and teams feel engaged, the benefits are significant. Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin), the global professional services firm, interviewed 90,000 employees in 18 countries, and found “companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and almost a 28% growth in earnings per share. Conversely, companies with low levels of engagement saw operating income drop more than 32% and earnings per share decline over 11%.” It is a great article and can be found in full HERE but it got me to thinking about something I looked at in 2007 before the real BOOM of social media. Of course, I’ll be referencing one of my favourite companies for the delivery of customer service - The Walt Disney Company
At Disney, Everyone Picks Up Trash
The article in question was by Jeff Kober and included some great Walt Disney quotes. But the interesting thing is, I believe Walt’s statement’s ring true today and can be rehashed and reused for other purposes to make the companies that we work in much better places for employees AND MOST OF ALL the customer. But more on that in a second…
FIRST - We’ve all been to the meetings where some idiot from corporate is trying to justify his or her job by telling us all about ‘team work’ and ‘customer service’… They’ll no doubt have a slide show or video with cryptic pictures that have meanings pertaining to the reason we’re all in this meeting. TRUE STORY a genius from head office flashed up this picture to employees…
The person then asked everyone “What do YOU think this picture means?”… After a good few minutes of total silence, one employee said (very seriously too) “Does it mean we’re all on thin ice?”… Apparently, it actually was supposed to say ‘When times are tough, we stick together’… I liked the employees answer better. Sorry, just had to share that. Now! back to the post!!
At Disney, Everyone Picks Up Trash
So Jeff Kober had gathered some great quotes and in doing this had also managed to gather some very interesting philosophies from Disney. Jack Lindquist, a former Disney executive and legend, recalled a journalist telling Walt he believed that the park was beautiful that day—but would rapidly become dirty and scarred as the crowds continued to flow through. Walt disagreed vigorously. He said, “We’re going to make it so clean that people are going to be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground.” Lindquist learned that Walt was right. As he recalled, “I saw that happen continuously. I’d see people flick cigarette ashes into their hands or carry cigarette butts until they could find a trash container to put them in. Now, on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue or Regent Street, London, they’d never think twice about throwing a cigarette butt on the ground. At Disneyland they thought about it. Because there wasn’t any litter or dirt on the ground.”
You see, The Walt Disney Company, like most other large organisations has a set of company statements that are a little bit like that companies ‘Ten Commandment’… Most companies have mission statements that get preached but very few get put in to practice and this is often down to employees not feeling engaged or a part of the company.
Disney’s first statement is “We Create Happiness” but the second statement is a rather strange one to see as a company ‘mantra’, it’s “Everyone Picks up Trash”. Of course there are many cast members (cast member is Disney speak for employee) in Disney parks assigned to this job (as there will be if you work in retail or a customer service venue) But no cast member, whether a Jungle Cruise skipper, or an executive vice president, should walk by a leftover napkin, a park map, or an empty water bottle, and not pick it up. This way of thinking is not so different from The McDonald’s Company
McDonald’s has been known consistently for its logo, look, product, and efficient service. As Kroc tried to create a product that was in tune with the drive-ins of the 1950s, he also focused on maintaining the facilities. Attuned to the quality of the restaurant experience, Ray Kroc was known to tell his employees, “If you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean.”
Walt ‘Picking up the trash’
So The Moral Of The Story?
Well it’s not actually about cleaning or ‘picking up trash at all’… The important message is that when teams work together to make improvements that positively affect everyone, they become more cohesive. Their pride improves, productivity increases, and quality becomes apparent. Simply said, involvement creates ownership, which leads to employee engagement!
I believe that lesson can be taken away and applied to your companies approach to social media. Start from the top and work all the way through the company and give employees the tools that will help them understand what your company is actually trying to achieve. Make them proud and make them feel like they have ownership. But most of all make everyone feel that they are actually all in it together.
Thanks for stopping by! And have a great weekend!
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