Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Month: July, 2008

Thanks Herb

30 July, 2008 (00:51) | Leadership, Management, Servant Leadersip, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

The following is an excerpt from Jack Hayhow’s book, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig.

“On boss’ day, 1994 the employees of Southwest Airlines bought and paid for this ad in USA Today…”

Thanks Herb

  • For remembering every one of our names.
  • For supporting the Ronald McDonald House.
  • For helping load baggage on Thanksgiving.
  • For giving everyone a kiss (and we mean everyone).
  • For listening.
  • For running the only profitable major airline.
  • For singing at our holiday party.
  • For singing only once a year.
  • For letting us wear shorts and sneakers to work.
  • For golfing at the LUV Classic with only one club.
  • For outtalking Sam Donaldson.
  • For riding your Harley Davidson into Southwest Headquarters.
  • For being a friend, not just a boss.

Happy Boss’ Day from Each One of Your 16,000 Employees.

I had never seen that before. It certainly speaks volumes about Herb Kelleher’s leadership of Southwest.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Sweet. On my birthday my admin got me a GPS. Not bad, huh? And that’s from a gal that make one tenth what I do.

Wanda B. Goode: It’s obvious that Herb cares about the employees of Southwest and that they in turn care about him, which, no doubt, has contributed to Southwest’s success over the years. Unfortunately, it’s an approach that few have embraced.

For a very interesting post on Southwest and its approach to customers and its employees, click here.

… and here is a post that focuses on HR, and is all about the importance of caring for the people. It references the following Herb Kelleher quote.

Customer Service Surprise

25 July, 2008 (01:48) | Customer Service, Management | By: Administrator

We all have our customer service horror stories. It seems like they’ve become more and more commonplace. To counter this disturbing trend, I believe it is important to share positive customer service experiences and tout their benefits.

To that end, here’s my story…

I bought a new home about 7 years ago. The builder used Delta faucets in all the sinks and bathtubs. The caps on the faucet handles were fading – normal wear and tear from my perspective. I called up Delta customer service and asked them if I could purchase some new caps. They took my home address and said they’d ship 8 of them out that day. I asked how much I owed. The answer – No charge. What kind of faucet do you think I’m going to get next time I need one? How many prospective customers are now aware of this story?

Joe and Wanda, can you share any positive customer service stories – things that your team members have done for either internal or external customer?

Joe Kerr: Our customers are pains in the @ss. Regardless, we bend over backwards for them! One time last year I had one of my guys pull an all-nighter to redo a customer report. I remember it well, because I was at party for game six of the World Series and got a call from Mary in bottom of the ninth with an update. I almost missed the game-winning hit! Yes, we routinely sacrifice for the customers. They don’t appreciate it though.

Wanda B. Goode: We mainly have internal customers. I find I really need to train new team members to understand that our job is to help them, not to throw up roadblocks or make things difficult. Sometimes we come up with processes that work great for us, but cause frustration for those that use our services. Not good.

Recently we got a nice email from a new employee outside our group. She was thankful for the way a team member thoroughly explained and then walked her through our processes. A week later we needed help from her group, and although she was very busy, guess who was thrilled to make the time to help us out? And guess who wrote a thank you note to her supervisor?

Good customer service, both internal and external, truly does pay. It seems to be a well kept secret. No reason for that. Let’s spread the word.

Here are a couple other posts on the value of customer service:

The Levity Effect

22 July, 2008 (22:54) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management, Team Building, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

I just listened to a podcast with Adrian Gostick over at the Cranky Middle Manager. It’s about his book, The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up, which stresses the importance of having fun in the work place.

According to Adrian’s research, those that have more fun at work are more successful. Companies with cultures that embrace fun achieve better results as well. Unfortunately, too many companies don’t buy into the fun thing. They believe that being serious is necessary to maintain credibility.

For more discussion on when fun is not fun, quick suggestions for snapping people out of a funk at work, and other interesting tidbits, tune in to the podcast. Those of you familiar with Wayne Turmel’s podcasts are aware that he is no stranger to humor.

Joe and Wanda, are you advocates of fun at work?

Joe Kerr: Absolutely! Everyone knows I like a good laugh. First time I meet with a new employee I end the meeting with a knock-knock joke. It’s really a mix of humor and a pep talk. It goes like this…

Who’s there?
Joe Who?
Joe Kerr will pound the living hell out of you if you screw up! Now get out there and start earning your salary.

Wanda B. Goode: I agree that we could all use a bit more levity in our lives. We spend a lot of time at work, so why not there?

Like anything else, though, it takes time and effort to come up with creative things to do. Adrian’s book can help with that. The benefits in the way of productivity improvements are worth the time spent. I also think humor and fun are a great way to enhance learning.

Here’s a post on a University of Florida study concluding that fun at work does lead to productivity improvements.

Would anyone like to volunteer any positive examples of fun or negative attempts at fun in the workplace?

Deming on Leadership

16 July, 2008 (11:36) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book, Out of the Crisis, W. Edwards Deming describes the aim of leadership as follows…

The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people. Put in a negative way, the aim of leadership is not merely to find a record of failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure: to help people do a better job with less effort.

Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: You’re preaching to the choir, bud. That’s what I’m all about. I take it a few steps further, though. Deming’s definition is just the beginning. It’s child’s play really – management 101. What I’m all about is inspiring my people to do bigger and better things…to realize, and even exceed their potential… operate at 150%!!!

Wanda B. Goode: Too often we as managers and leaders get caught up in the day-to-day, or just the opposite, in some lofty ideas of what we should be doing, and we forget our true purpose. It’s good to have a reminder to bring clarity to our role.


9 July, 2008 (23:02) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

A co-worker sent me the following from one of those quote-of-the-day sites. I just had to pass it along.

“People of character do the right thing, not because they think it will change the world but because they refuse to be changed by the world.”
— Michael Josephson

Joe Kerr: That’s just beautiful Pollyanna!

Wanda B. Goode: Great quote. There is constant temptation to take the short cut or to choose the self-serving path. It’s so very easy to lose one’s character and so difficult to get it back.

For more, check out ch 9 – Do the Right thing in Lead Well and Prosper and/or take a look at the posts below.

Leaders Resource
The Practice of Leadership
Leadership Character
Leadership Secrets

We Can Do Better

4 July, 2008 (11:46) | Customer Service, Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

I’m going to take a break from the string of Edward Deming posts in order to tell you about an experience I had recently.

I was riding home from my day job when I saw a sign on a neighbor’s lawn that read, “Want a painter that shows up? Call xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

That’s it. That’s all it said. It didn’t even have a company name. At first I thought, “How does that person expect to find work advertising with a tag line like that?” After further consideration, though, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably very effective.

We’ve all had our share of contractor and customer service horror stories. These experiences have trained us to set the bar for performance so low that simply showing up for the job makes service people stand-out. It separates them from the pack.

Unfortunately, this is not isolated to contractors and customer service personnel. It’s all over, including corporate America and more specifically – management. Although this may come across as somewhat depressing, there is a silver lining. The good news is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to distinguish oneself.

So, let’s make a commitment to start doing the little things better. Not sure what those little things are? Pick up a copy of Lead Well and Prosper to find out. Let’s break away from the pack. We can do better. We should do better. Let’s do better!

But how about the others that surround us? How do we get them to “show up and then some?” How about the Pygmalion Effect? Will that work? If we expect more will we get more? Any suggestions?

Joe Kerr: I’m not sure those little people have to do with any of this. I say you’re just screwed if you don’t have any leverage. With my people, for instance, I hold their livelihoods in the palm of my hand. There’s power in that. With contractors, you’ve got nothing. I suppose I could get my team members to paint my house, but I’ve heard about people getting in trouble for that sort of thing.

Wanda B. Goode: I’m a believer in the Pygmalion Effect. I do think we project our expectations, and that results frequently match them. I have seen people turn around and rise to the occasion when higher expectations have been set by a trusting manager who believes in them. Not sure how it would work with contractors, though. I would think some time would need to be spent building a relationship first. That’s not always an option when choosing a contractor. I’d like to hear others’ opinions though.

Check out the following for more on the Pygmalion effect. Post 1, Post 2

Check this one out for more on Pygmies!!!