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Friday, June 11, 2010

What Motivates Us - A Follow Up

Ever notice that when you buy a new car you start seeing that car everywhere? Same make, same model, same colour... it just feels like every where you go you bump into someone else driving that exact same car. This week has been somewhat like that for me. No, I didn't buy a new car.

A week ago I wrote "What Motivates Us" and the reaction was instant. My little rant struck a chord with a number of readers and traffic to my blog increased significantly. I received comments, tweets, e-mails, and I  realized that what had been bottled up inside of me for a very long time was a common theme amongst many of you.

This week a couple of things happened. First, I started reading Jeff Jarvis' book "What Would Google Do?" and in it he discusses Dell's previously poor reputation for service and what the company did to turn things around. What it boils down to is that instead of dismissing the rumblings of it's customers, Dell began to embrace them, reading blog posts, forums, e-mails, etc. and quickly dispatching employees to address the issues which incredibly turned disgruntled purchasers into champions of the Dell brand. This got me thinking about an exercise a former employer went through by hiring a human resource consultant to interview management and a sampling of staff members. The consultant asked, what I presume was, similar questions to each group regarding their perspective of the HR policies / practices of the company. I was not chosen to participate but I understand that there may have been a huge gap between how the staff and management scored the company on several levels of employee satisfaction. The result was a report given to management (only to management) and a subsequent e-mail to employees, roughly some time in April, outlining measures that would be implemented. The e-mail contained a number of items that would benefit management and a number of items that would benefit staff, the plan was to implement these changes over a period of about 6 weeks and we were given hope that change was coming. I kept that e-mail. The items on the management side of the equation were swiftly implemented. From time to time, I'd return to my inbox and open that e-mail reading the list of items that where coming our way, and as summer drew to an end counted 5 long term employees with roughly 45 years combined experience (at our company) who had abandoned ship. Two years later the employee side of the equation was yet to be implemented.

The second thing that happened this week was iTunes downloading episode 154 of net@night with Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur. This week's guest was Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Tony has just released a book called Delivering Happiness A Path To Profits, Passion, And Purpose. Zappos.com is an amazing success story and the success has been driven by the company's number one priority, company culture. You must listen to the interview! There are a number of things that Tony says that will flick the light switch in your head. Perhaps the one that most resonated with me was "... a lot of companies have, they might call them core values or guiding principles, but the difference is for most  companies it reads kinda like a press release that the PR department put out and they are very lofty sounding and maybe you learn about it on day one of orientation, if you are a large corporation, but then it becomes this meaningless plaque on the wall that no one pays attention to, for us we wanted to come up with committable core values..." Tony goes on to explain how Zappos.com offers new hires a chance to quit after their first week of work with $2000 and their earned wages to that point! This is because they don't want people who are only there for a pay cheque (sound familiar), they want employees who are there for the company's long term vision... 

This post IS directed at those in a position of power, but not as a cheap shot. It is with hope that you will take this seriously. Look at the comments of the last post, not my comments, but those of others who felt compelled to respond. Listen to episode 154 of net@night. Read "What Would Google Do?". Read Tony's book and take a hard look around your organization, people are not nearly as motivated nor as happy as you might like to believe. As Tony says "I think 50 years ago people had to choose between maximizing profits and making employees or customers happy..."

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