Making Magic the Disney Way

by Danielle Kane | Oct 23, 2019 10:31:18 AM

When most of
us get up for work in the morning, the first thing we’re thinking is typically
not, “Time to make magic.”

Seems like a
pretty high standard, am I right?

Well, at Walt
Disney World, that is the mantra. Each employee is selected based on their fit
in the Disney culture, which is founded on the idea of making dreams come true.
Nothing less. Each employee is encouraged to bring that passion to work every
day, and they’re taught the ways in which their individual jobs provide a
little bit of much needed pixie dust to that magic-making.

This is just
a peek into the leadership development and employee engagement practices employed
at Disney World and Disney University.

I learned
this at a fantastic Business Leaders’ Summit put on by the Gresham Area Chamber
of Commerce in October, for which Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific
was a proud sponsor. The speaker was Pete Flank, a 13-year Disney veteran, who
asked the audience why, we too, couldn’t make our own workplaces enchanted.

It all starts
with the right leaders.

Studies show
that only 32% of employees are engaged, meaning they have “bought-in” to the
organization and are willing to help. The rest are either disengaged (51%), they
will do the work, but it’s like pulling teeth or actively disengaged (17%), they
are your resident office complainers.

How do business owners change this to ensure their employees are motivated? They set a good example and put standards in place that encourage everyone to be a little more Mufasa, and a little less Scar. 

Flank offered
six leadership lessons from the “mouse house” that anyone can follow:

  1. Pick Up: Leaders remove their blinders. Just
    because something is not your job, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help. If there’s
    a mess, clean it. If there’s a customer with a question not pertaining to you,
    offer assistance.
  2. Plus Up: Leaders do more than is expected. If
    you want your employees to feel bought-in, recognize them and their
    accomplishments. Plus-up can also mean investing in the physical workspace for
    it to be comfortable, clean and up to date.
  3. Word Up: Leaders own their message and the
    brand. If you see something negative posted on Facebook about your organization
    or see a flyer that has misinformation, correct it. Understand that
    communication and public relations are key, but everyone needs to be on the
    same page.
  4. Own Up: Leaders take responsibility for their
    actions. This is an easy one – if you know a decision was made that negatively
    impacted your group or employees, own that.
  5. Live Up: Leaders do what they say they will.
    Are your employees flakey and unreliable? If so, it’s time to set standards
    about what’s acceptable and the importance of keeping your word. Don’t forget
    to also look in the mirror.
  6. Ham Up: Leaders drive culture. Company
    culture is increasingly important in today’s business landscape and there are
    multiple sub-categories you can work on that include volunteer culture,
    training culture and fun culture.

Now…I
know what you’re thinking: “It’s easy to ‘ham it up’ when you work with Goofy
and Pluto.” But, Disney’s success with its organizational ethos is not just
because of the fun characters that populate the grounds. It’s successful
because of the investment Disney makes in its people and its workspaces. You,
too, can be a better boss, mentor or leader and set the stage for your
employees to do the same.

It
might seem like slow-going at first but in the words of Dory, everyone’s
favorite fish, “just keep swimming.”  

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