Last evening my wife and I were having a conversation about days gone by that covered a brought spectrum of supply chain topics. We spent a lot of time on how travel, business and personal has become a lot more expensive given the significant fare increases the airlines have taken. And as all frequent travelers have found, the amount of sitting and leg space has been reduced to make it uncomfortable for all those who are of average size and weight. It wasn’t long ago the airlines weren’t doing very well financially, with now being close to a 180 degree turnaround.
We drifted to my days on the road, which added up so almost 3 million miles on United alone, and how I did my best to limit the number of days in hotels so I could spend more time with my family. Then we bounced back to the changes made by the airlines that covered upgrades to first class.
I’m not traveled much of late, since leaving VICS in 2012, consequently my status has changed and it will be further downgraded in July 2015. My wife reminded me that when I was with Nabisco that my executive status allowed me to book first class flights. She went on to remind me that I didn’t take advantage of this perk, paying for economy seats rather than incurring the additional cost of first class.
With that we went on to discussing the importance of leadership setting an example for their team. I always felt it was critically important to demonstrate to our team what which constituted our priorities.
There were other visible working habits of leadership that the team could witness on a daily basis. This was all about establishing a culture. Here a just a few; I was always in the office early, at my desk and getting prepared for the day, week, etc. I was usually the last to leave at the end of the day. “Joe’s watch file” was infamous, i.e. a file of what was to be accomplished on a particular date that we would follow up with the individual responsible. There were times when a commitment couldn’t be completed on time, however, it was incumbent upon the responsible team member to provide a heads up, with plenty of leeway, when the target date would be met. Another way of looking at this is that surprises were not acceptable. So this was a reasonable method of working with the team, acknowledging that there would be times that a due date couldn’t be made, but that it was necessary for the team mate to give a heads up, far in advance, the reason for missing the target date and when it would be made in the future.
I think you get the drift here, i.e. that we were buttoned up in all areas, at all times. This also meant that we would show up for all meetings 10 minutes before the start time and be totally prepared to deliver on the commitment for the outcome of the meeting.
There is so much that can be attributed to organizational culture that you won’t find in operating instructions. What we’ve touched on in the above paragraphs, permeates throughout the organization, through word of mouth and first hand observation. Keep in mind that this works on the positive as well as the negative side of the equation.
It’s very important for the team leader to be consistent in explaining what is expected and then in demonstrating the behavior that was expected.
Consistency is critically important. A team that has a earned reputation for delivering on commitments earns the respect of their business partners, within the company, with service providers and most importantly with customers. Think about the value of an individual’s reputation, and that of a company and how it contributes to that of the company. The value of reputation moves in both directions, e.g. north to south, south to north, with the total being greater than the sum of the points.
More to come on the subject of culture and the importance it has on the success of the company on one hand, and the individual on the other. Uncle Joe