By Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute
Abiding by the Golden Rule—“Treat others as you would want to be treated”—might spare hurt feelings, but it is not necessarily the most effective approach for leaders in the workplace. Instead, to foster and sustain true employee engagement, leaders should treat others as they would want to be treated.
At Disney Institute, we believe the extent to which you genuinely care for your employees is the same extent to which they will care for your customers and one another.
We have seen at Disney that one of the strongest signals of genuine care is personalized recognition of our Cast Members. Our leaders show their care in ways that are meaningful to each individual, not by defaulting to past practice, the leaders’ own preference, or a one-size-fits-all approach.
- How an Eye for Detail Can Reinvent the Customer Experience
- Great Customer Service Starts with a Clear Purpose
- How a Jungle Cruise Provides a Lesson in Exceptional Customer Service
- Why Your Employees and Colleagues Might Be Your Most Important Customers
- How Positive Reinforcement Keeps Employees Engaged
Leaders who get to know their employees are better able to tailor recognition efforts and personalize the experience to the individual. For example, when you know which of your employees are extroverts and which are introverts, you can provide recognition appropriate for their personality types, given that extroverts often like to be rewarded publicly and introverts likely prefer to be recognized in a small group or privately.
Employees who feel personally and consistently cared for are more likely to pay individual attention to not only their customers and colleagues but also the work these people do. The key word is here is “consistently”: Great leaders make employee engagement a regular, year-round priority, never limiting their show of appreciation to a single day or season. At Disney Institute, we believe the key to sustaining genuine care is to create a care strategy and then operationalize it all year long.
Here are four methods Disney leaders use to operationalize care strategies in our organization year-round:
- Find as many ways as practically possible to regularly demonstrate genuine care for your people. This does not require anyone to spend lots of money. Employees don’t expect elaborate gestures, but they want to know you care about them as individuals.
- Practice intentional listening as a critical communication tool and a sign of engagement. When employees know leadership is listening to them, they feel a tremendous sense of value and worth, which, in turn, makes them feel genuinely cared for. Ask your employees questions (beyond employee surveys), actively listen to their answers, and take action based on what you hear.
- Make the day-to-day work experience as hassle-free as possible. Find out what bugs your employees or makes their jobs more difficult. Although it seems like a small effort, resolving even minor annoyances can have a major impact on your employees’ morale. When you make their jobs easier, your people feel cared for and listened to, which goes a long way toward creating a culture of commitment rather than one of compliance.
- Encourage (and demonstrate) peer-to-peer care among employees. The three methods above are actions leaders can take to operationalize care strategies, but employees themselves can support leadership by showing care to one another. This is critical because peer-to-peer care is the purest and most genuine form of care; there is no company agenda. Employees who show their genuine care to one another create a strong sense of community and enhance the emotional connection between themselves and the organization.
Employee engagement isn’t achieved overnight; great leaders make genuine care a regular, daily priority. Although the Golden Rule has its merits, it does not focus on what others want and how they feel. Leaders who get to know their employees personally can tailor the ways in which they demonstrate their care for their people. Ultimately, “showing the love” is one of the best investments we can make as leaders, and it pays dividends now and well into the future.
About Disney Institute
As the trusted, authoritative voice on the Disney approach to customer experience, Disney Institute uses business insights and time-tested examples from Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide to help organizations develop the customer experience culture they are capable of delivering. For nearly three decades, Disney Institute has helped professionals discover ways to positively impact their organizations and the customers they serve through immersion in leadership, service, and employee engagement. Unique to Disney Institute is the opportunity to go behind the scenes in a “living laboratory” to observe firsthand how Disney methodologies are operationalized and how they can be adapted and applied to any work environment.
Let our experience change yours. To learn more about courses that explore the Disney approach, visit DisneyInstitute.com.