by Richard, Exemplars, Favorite Folks, Leadership

Truett Cathy: A Life Well-Lived

No Comments 08 September 2014

truett-cathy A mighty tree fell in the forest of business leadership today, with the death of 93-year-old Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. Truett was a pioneer, an innovator, and a true gentleman of character and courage. He improved the lives of millions, way beyond “sellin’ chicken”, and leaves a legacy that makes him a real standout in the annals of American business.

I’ll quickly dispense with the elephant in the blogpost and acknowledge that not everyone likes Chick-fil-A, whether it be their food or their values. But I’ll allow to speak for itself the fact that their supporters overwhelmingly eclipse their detractors. Just drive by any Chick-fil-A restaurant any day of the week (except, of course, Sunday, on which they’re closed), and you’ll see what I mean.

It was my privilege to meet Truett on a couple of occasions, while we were conducting leadership training for Chick-fil-A, and he was gracious enough to let me interview him in 1997, while Bill and I were writing our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk.

 

Here are 3 things I know about Truett Cathy:

 

1 – He was authentic. Truett’s faith was his life, and he uttered no apologies for it. He went from millionaire to billionaire years ago, but continued to teach a boys’ Sunday School class at his church until his health failed. You could count on his word. Many, many people did, and have built very successful businesses and fulfilling careers.

2 – He was a giver. In addition to his personal philanthropy, Truett’s company has given more than $68 million to more than 700 educational and charitable organizations in the last three years alone. Since its inception, the company’s Team Member Scholarship Program has provided more than $30 million to help more than 30,000 employees attend more than 500 different colleges and universities. Through its WinShape Foundation, it has invested millions in programs directed toward helping young people. And the company regularly donates food to people who are hungry, and provides organized relief for victims of natural disasters.

3 – He was a forgiver. Here’s a story we relate in our 2007 book, Contented Cows MOOVE Faster: It was told to me by Truett’s son, Dan, Chick-fil-A’s Chief Operating Officer, when Dan invited me to travel across the country with him on a whirlwind grand opening tour to the Midwest and California.

Dan and his father were walking around the original Dwarf House restaurant (the forerunner of Chick-fil-A) one evening, inspecting the premises. It seems that a gaze upward revealed a fresh collection of empty beer cans on the roof of the Dwarf House. As alcohol never has been on the menu of the Dwarf House, or Chick-fil-A, it was determined that, unfortunately, the spent vessels most likely came from an employee engaging in off-label activities on the job. As much as Truett didn’t like to think of any of his beloved employees drinking at work, he suspected a middle-aged fellow named James.

When Truett confronted him, he gently extracted a genuine confession. What happened next owes to James’s greatly improved judgment in having told the truth about the incident and to Truett’s exceptional maturity. Name any employer. Drinking beer on the clock and then littering the premises with the evidence would pretty much be grounds for dismissal without intervention from even the most liberal of unfair labor treatment folks.

Instead, Truett forgave James. James didn’t get a lecture about how wrong it was to drink on the job. Truett figured James was an adult and therefore knew what he did was wrong. He didn’t get fired. He didn’t get written up. He barely got a reprimand. He got forgiven. Which is not to say his deed got overlooked. By forgiving rather than firing James, Truett took the bond of trust between the two men to a completely new level, something that was not lost on James over the balance of his long career with the company.

Many prayers, including ours, are being said today for the Cathy family, and in thanks for a life well-lived. Godspeed, Truett.

 

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Richard, Exemplars, Motivation

CSX: One of the Best Places to Work in I.T.

No Comments 18 July 2013

csx hqGrowing up in Jacksonville, Florida, virtually every one of my friends’ fathers worked for either “the phone comp’ny” (as we pronounced it), or “the railroad”. That “railroad” was what is today known as CSX, whose riverfront headquarters building occupies a prominent place in the Jacksonville skyline, and which occupies perhaps an even more prominent place in the life and economy of the city. And now, the company’s Information Technology function occupies the number 19 slot on Computerworld magazine’s List of 100 Best Places to Work in I.T. (See the full article here).

If you’re a regular reader of ours, you know our view: inclusion on an annual ranking of workplace quality (like Computerworld’s, Fortune’s, or any other respected publication’s) is a good first indication, but not the only determinant of how great an employer really is to work for. Companies that make the list ostensibly because they let people take naps, or bring their pet ferrets to work are less likely to get the Contented Cows seal of approval than those known for things like great leadership, innovative reward systems, or an emphasis on professional development.

It’s this quality – an emphasis on professional development – that caught our attention at CSX.

Training is a top priority at CSX, and that commitment is seen in full bloom by its technology professionals. Of the company’s 30,000 U.S.-based employees, nearly 500 are in I.T. Each of those workers received an average of 5 days of training in 2012, and the company budgeted $1,125 per I.T. employee for training that year.

It’s not all classroom training, and it certainly isn’t limited to technology training. These I.T. pro’s spend lots of time learning what those who work in the depths of the railroad’s operations do to get the cars down the tracks. Many techies spend time in the freight yards, and on simulators and real trains, to give them irreplaceable experiences vital to integrating the technology with the workings of the freight carrier.

And CSX maximizes the return on its investment in professional development by providing advancement opportunities for lots of talented CSXers. In 2012, 12% of I.T. employees were promoted to more advanced positions within the technology division of the company.

While the labor market for many industries and professions is still a little anemic, not so in I.T. The demand for talent generally outweighs the supply of people with the skills needed to power the work. And yet, in a field where skilled talent can exercise a lot more options than those in many other fields can, employee turnover in I.T. at CSX is low. Very low: 3%.

We think there’s a lot to be learned from the example of CSX: Invest in personal and professional development. Let people see how the whole business works, and how their contribution relates to the enterprise. Then provide advancement opportunities for those you’ve developed – a great way to maximize the return on your investment in people.

 

 

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Richard, Exemplars, Leadership

They’ve Done it Again! Plamex Named Mexico’s Best Place to Work

1 Comment 09 May 2012

Plantronics Mexico wins Best Place to WorkFelicidades are in order for our good friends at Plamex, the Mexican division of headset maker Plantronics. For the 2nd year in a row, the company, which employs more than 2,000 people at its manufacturing facility in Tijuana, has been named by the Great Place to Work Institute as the Best Place to Work in Mexico. It’s one thing to make a list like this once. Showing up consistently means a lot more, in our view. Plamex has been a perennial entry on the list for the last several years, but this year became the first company to make it a ‘two-fer” in the top spot on the Mexican list, and they’re already working toward a three-peat.

This past February, I spent a day touring the Plamex plant, meeting some of the people behind the magic there, and learning why the accolades are so well-deserved. We blogged, on February 17 of this year, about their practice of employee mass weddings. The company is featured prominently in our new book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, which is coming out in July. Here’s an excerpt from part of what we wrote about Plamex:

 

When Alejandro Bustamante assumed the role of President of Plamex, the Mexican division of headset maker Plantronics, in the mid-1990’s, he encountered a largely disaffected workforce in a factory struggling to meet the demands of a growing market fueled by rapidly changing technology. Quickly assessing the situation he’d walked into, Bustamante determined that he couldn’t fundamentally change anyone, but what he could do, was to institute a culture in which everyone – everyone – was treated with respect. He soon restored respect and a real sense of dignity in the plant, and as a result, he and his team have pulled off a business turnaround of gigantic proportion. The company’s output, quality, profitability, and reputation as the place to work in Mexico have all soared.

 

“The job of a leader,” he told me, while standing in the entrance to the Tijuana facility’s large main factory, “is to create the atmosphere to get the results we want. It’s as simple as that. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s not complicated.”

 

When I asked Bustamante to explain how Plamex had gone from its 1995 state to being named the number one Best Place to Work in all of Mexico, by the Great Place to Work Institute in 2011, the Tijuana native had a ready answer.

 

“There are three things we want for every one of our 2,286 associates here. First, we want to give everyone the respect they deserve. Second, we want to develop each one of them, to let them do as much as they want and go as far as they want. And third – and this is probably the most important – we want to improve the quality of their lives, and the lives of their families. When you do those things, you get their very best. And that’s what we need – their very best.”

This is the company that solved its recruiting problem by giving every associate their own business cards, as a show of respect. It’s the same company that brings the Baja California Division of Motor Vehicles to the plant once a month so that associates can renew their driver’s licenses. And it’s the same company that has a robust career development plan that’s available to every associate who wants to develop within the company.

If you read Spanish, click here for a full article on Plamex in the Mexican press.

So, we take our hats off to the leadership and associates at Plantronics in Tijuana, Mexico, and wish them another great and profitable year of proving what we’ve always said – that Contented Cows Give Better Milk.

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, is due to be released by John Wiley & Sons on July 3, but is available for pre-sale now. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Bill, Exemplars, Leadership

What an Indiana School Bus Driver Could Teach 535 Members of Congress (and us) about Leadership

No Comments 10 April 2012

Henryville School Bus

Recently, Indiana school bus driver Angel Perry was aboard her bus with 11 children when a slight (no, make that big) problem presented itself. The problem was an F4 tornado bearing down on them at close range. Resultant from Ms. Perry’s quick action, 11 school children avoided certain injury or death. Please take a moment to click the image below and watch the video before continuing.

Henryville Tornado Bus Driver

 

Like Ms. Perry’s school children, we (U.S. citizens) find ourselves aboard our national bus with not one, but several immediate and equally dangerous crises presenting themselves – a fiscal crisis, a trust crisis, a skills and education crisis, an energy crisis, a confidence crisis, a health care crisis (yes), and perhaps most importantly, a leadership crisis. Many of our educational, commercial, and other civic organizations face their own comparable dangers. We could certainly take a lesson from Ms. Perry’s example. Let’s deal here with the leadership aspect.

Ms. Perry knew that somebody had to lead, and although the word, “leader” is probably not reflected in either her job description or pay grade, it was required of her on that day. Such is true for many of the rest of us, whether our official job title is congressman, CEO, supervisor, or janitor.

With but a moment to summon the courage and wisdom to guide her, Ms. Perry called on her God for assistance. Then, having calmed herself, she calmed those around her, “Shh… quiet.” We’re neither qualified nor in the business of providing spiritual advice, so let’s leave it at, when in the heat of battle, you need to go wherever you need to go in order to act in a calm and rational manner.

Ms. Perry shared the big picture with her young charges. “Tornado on the ground, guys… Look, the funnel cloud” while preparing them to act. “Shh… quiet.” Since none of us operate day to day, or moment-to-moment in the “big picture”, she also shared the immediate game plan, “”We’re going back to the school.” People desperately need that type of information in order to function responsibly. Without it, they’re basically just along for the ride. Yet, in an age when we have a wealth of communications tools and techniques at our disposal, it seems safe to say that we probably do a poorer job than ever of truly making meaning, which, in our view, is one of a leader’s foremost responsibilities.

Evidencing a leadership trait that is in such short supply these days, Ms. Perry demonstrated clearly and convincingly that she cared, really cared about her young charges, first by having them count off and then “checking off” each one as they exited the bus, and then later asking if they were okay. Interested in their safety, she had previously instructed them to shield their heads with a textbook. Whoda thunk it? (That was probably the only time in history when a school textbook was truly worth its retail price. Since our own books (http://contentedcows.com/books/)are often used as college texts, we’re pointing the finger at ourselves as well.) And unlike the captain of the Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, we’re willing to bet she was the last one off her ship, ‘er bus.

Angel Perry was, if nothing else, decisive. Knowing that her decision timeframe consisted not of weeks or months, but seconds, she demonstrated real bias for action. She also knew something that seems to regularly escape the rest of us – the fact that to make no decision is indeed a decision itself, and it is usually the wrong one. Kicking the can down the road, as so often happens in Congress, boardrooms, school board, and town hall meetings alike would have proven deadly.

Through her leadership, Ms. Perry kept that twisted and bent school bus from becoming a tomb. As we proceed from here, let’s all keep an image of a big yellow school bus seared into memory, as a reminder to emulate some of Ms. Perry’s actions, and a yardstick by which we measure the performance of others.

by Richard, Exemplars, Leadership, Motivation

Enable People With Good Systems

No Comments 19 April 2011

For 15 years, I’ve been getting my cars’ oil changed at a little shop near my home. It’s not one of those 10-minute lube places; but while they do all kinds of car repair, they’ve always specialized in oil changes and related services. Without exception, every visit has been attended by the manager, a fellow named Tim. I had begun to think the guy never takes a day off, or a vacation.

The first time I went, in 1996, Tim took down all manner of information on me, my car, and my fluid preferences. Since then, he’s always greeted me, “Hello, Mr. Hadden,” and then without my needing to tell him or his staff anything at all, serviced my car, and handed me the keys a half-hour or so later.

Today, there was no Tim. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I’m going to have to tell them my name, and I hope they’ve got everything on file, so I don’t have to go through all that again.”

Instead, the counter attendant, who saw me drive up, said, “Thank you. Have a seat in the lobby, and we’ll have you out of here in a half-hour or so.” I kept thinking, “But aren’t you going to ask me my name, or what I want done, or what kind of oil I like?” I fired up my laptop, answered some emails, and 30 minutes later, he said, “Mr. Hadden, you’re ready.”

So I asked, “How did you know me? And how did you know my car? And where’s Tim?”

“Tim’s on vacation,” he said. “We plugged in your license plate number, and I saw that you’ve been coming here since 1996. You’ve had this car since ’08, and I see the kinds of fluids we’ve been using in it. And it looks like your wife’s car should be due for an oil change pretty soon.”

For years, Bill and I have been saying, in books, speeches, and seminars, “Forget about ‘empowering’ people; instead, ‘enable’ them to do their best work, and their job satisfaction will go through the roof.”

Pro-Lube, on Library Road in Jacksonville, has done just that. I expect (and receive) this from Kimpton Hotels, for example. But from my neighborhood lube joint? It really is like the theme from “Cheers” suggests, that people like to go “where everybody knows your name.”

Meanwhile, my cable company makes me punch in my phone number twice, and when I finally get a human being on the line (in about the same amount of time as it takes to get my oil changed), that person asks me, again, for my phone number.

The point is simple. Good leaders are constantly looking for ways, through their systems, policies, and procedures, to make their people look good in the eyes of customers.

Right now, stop and figure out a way to this for your business.

================================

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

We Need More Like Daniel Hernandez

by Bill, Exemplars, Extra Milers, Leadership

We Need More Like Daniel Hernandez

1 Comment 13 January 2011

Daniel Hernandez

Were I still a corporate recruiter, I would have been on the phone this morning with University of Arizona junior, Daniel Hernandez talking about his future. With both words and deeds, Mr. Hernandez has, since last Saturday’s Tucson massacre, demonstrated many of the essential requirements of being a leader, at any level. Here are four that quickly come to mind:

Courage – Leaders are those we can count on to do the right thing, even when it is difficult, dangerous, or unpopular. Wading unarmed into a free fire zone to administer aid and comfort to one’s teammates certainly qualifies. While thankfully leaders don’t often have to get shot at to prove their mettle, our people do expect to see us personally absorbing some of the risk and punishment that is headed their way.

Decisive – Leaders must have the willingness and ability to act in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and the absence of guidelines. Mr. Hernandez had no clue what lay ahead when he jumped in to assist U.S. Rep., Gabrielle Giffords. It is doubtful that in his young life he had taken courses or read anything that told him to act, but act he did. Especially in today’s risk averse corporate environment, recruiters should screen and probe diligently to ensure that all candidates destined for a management position can demonstrate this quality.

Able to Focus and Communicate – As one who makes a significant portion of his living speaking to large audiences, I can vouch for the fact that efficiently and persuasively articulating a cogent message before a sea of faces (let alone the President of the United States and a world-wide tv audience) can be daunting. Doing it the for the first time on short notice, with short rest, no teleprompter or notes (even on the palm of your hand) is remarkable.

Humility – One of the greatest challenges I find leaders struggling with is the realization that leading is not about “them”, but about others. Given a perfect opportunity to grandstand or take a victory lap, Mr. Hernandez chose instead to deflect hero status to others he deemed more deserving, and focus instead on a powerful message. His behavior stands in stark contrast to a population that at times seems entirely too self-absorbed.

In a nutshell, I don’t know what young Mr. Hernandez wants to do with his life, but I do know this… We could do worse than look for “Hernandez-like” qualities as we go about searching for tomorrow’s leaders.

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the new released book, Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Richard, Exemplars, Leadership, Motivation

Report from Alaska’s North Slope

1 Comment 12 January 2011

For some reason I don’t yet fully comprehend, we do a lot of work in Alaska. I’m not complaining. I love Alaska, its people, its terrain, and yes, even its weather.

Last week, I had one of the most unique and memorable experiences of my professional life, when I conducted a site visit to our client, Alaska Clean Seas, at their base in the settlement of Deadhorse, on Alaska’s North Slope, in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Bill and I will be speaking for their annual meeting in Anchorage in April. We’re serious when we say that we’ll go to any length to do our homework in preparation for a keynote presentation or training session. In this case, the “length” was about 5,000 miles. And did I mention that I made this trip in January?!

I learned far more than I could squeeze into a single blog post, so let me hit the high points. My chief curiosity before making the trip was, “What’s the attraction? What makes somebody want to work on the North Slope of Alaska, where the work is hard, potentially dangerous, isolated from family and friends, and where winter means double-digit subzero temperatures, 21-24 daily hours of total darkness, in a labor camp with no private homes, hotels, restaurants, schools, stores, or anything else we associate with ‘community’? Most Slope workers work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. That means 12-hours a day, for 14 days straight, then 14 days off, back at home. The company flies them to the Slope for their 2-week hitch, and then back home, wherever that might be. In Alaska, Seattle, San Diego, Montana, you name it.

Why would anyone do this?

Is it the big bucks? Partly, yes. There’s no denying it. These folks are paid well. And the work schedule – work HARD for 26 weeks a year, and do what you want the other half of the year – that’s VERY attractive to the people who work here. But it’s more. And in the case of Alaska Clean Seas, it’s much more. Here’s what I learned:

1. Mission is motivating. Alaska Clean Seas is a not-for-profit coop of North Slope oil and pipeline companies, whose mission is to provide response and cleanup for oil spills on the North Slope. These folks clean up this unique environment after routine operations in the production of North Slope oil, and after larger scale accidents and mishaps, like the pipeline leak that happened just this week. Do the people you lead have a clear motivating mission? Something that’s important to them?

2. Professionals want to work in the company of equally committed professionals. Everyone I spoke to said they genuinely like the people they work with, trust them with their safety, and respect them for their professionalism. Lessons: high standards beget high standards. Nobody wants to work with turkeys. We should keep that in mind as we recruit, hire, and promote during the economic recovery…and always.

3. People like doing cool things with cool stuff. Regardless of the temperature, this is cool work. ACS employees tout the variety in their jobs, and the “toys” they get to work with: snowmachines, 4-wheelers, oil skimmers, airboats. Serious work, but fun, too. Lesson: work a little fun into some of what your followers do.

4. Creature comforts matter. OK, Prudhoe Bay is no resort. Conditions are extreme, and virtually no one lives here permanently. They don’t call the town “Deadhorse” for nuthin’! But employers here do what they can to take the edge off. Workers live in attractive “camps” – think upscale college dorm – with wide screen plasma satellite HDTV’s in their rooms, really good food (and lots of it), well-appointed (and well-utilized) fitness facilities, wi-fi, social gathering areas with nice furnishings, religious opportunities, and much more. Lesson: every minute your employees have to worry about taking care of their own needs is a minute they can’t be focused on your customers’ needs.

5. Finally, you can’t pay anyone enough to be miserable. One worker aptly pointed out that almost all jobs on the North Slope pay well, and offer the 2-and-2 schedule. “If it weren’t for the schedule, none of us would be here. But,” he said, “I don’t care how much you pay me, and how much time I have off, if I didn’t love what I did, I wouldn’t work in these conditions.” Lesson: nevermind…you get it.

My timing for this trip was uncharacteristically fortuitous. Not only did I miss the pipeline leak (in which case my client would have been very busy), but the low temperature during my 2 days on the Slope hit about minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The week before, it had hit -47, and it’s headed back in that direction this week. Minus five was quite cold enough for this Florida boy.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milkand Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Bill, Exemplars, Extra Milers, Leadership

Leaders Don’t Duck or Whine

No Comments 16 December 2010

Encapsulated in two short minutes of video, many of us this week saw contemporary examples of the very best and worst of leadership behavior. In Washington, DC, we saw two pompous United States senators hiding behind Christmas of all things, in a lame effort to avoid debating and voting on important legislative matters, including a vital strategic arms reduction treaty. At approximately the same time, 900 miles away in Panama City, FL, two Bay District School Board members held off a deranged gunmen who was seemingly intent on killing them.

One can’t help but be struck by the example of School Board Superintendent, Bill Husfelt, who, despite having a 9mm pistol pointed at him, calmly but decisively told the gunman to let the other school board members leave, since he (not they) was responsible for any beef the man had with the board. Then, having been excused from the room, board member, Ginger Littleton sneaked back in and attempted to disarm the gunman, armed only with, get this… her purse. I can only imagine what the two beltway bozos would have said and done were the roles reversed.

The leadership lesson for the rest of us: Leaders don’t whine, and they certainly don’t hide behind other people or things when faced with the more difficult aspects of their responsibility. They stand and deliver, not because they are unafraid, but because they know it is the right thing to do. Those of us who have similarly accepted the mantle of leadership encounter our own moments of truth when we:

  • Are expected to announce and implement an unpopular policy
  • Are faced with telling someone the truth about their job performance
  • Must tell an old friend that they either need to change or leave
  • Need to stick up for someone who is being abused or mistreated, and, to be sure,
  • Own up to our own mistakes

When faced with such moments, we could do worse than follow the example set by the folks from the school board. That’s my $.02 worth. As always, your comments are welcome.

*****
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Exemplars, Think About It...

A Better Way to Handle a Mistake

No Comments 03 June 2010

In an age when the slightest whiff of a miscue brings incessant howls of vitriol from anyone with access to a phone, microphone or keyboard, the handling of the Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga fiasco in last night’s Indians v Tigers game stands as a refreshing reminder of how mistakes can be handled when adults are on their game.

For anyone not tuned in, MLB umpire, Jim Joyce mistakenly called a 1st base runner safe in the 9th inning of the game, costing Detroit pitcher, Galarraga a perfect game. For the benefit of non-fans of the game, a perfect game is a really big deal. There have been only twenty such games recorded in the entire history of major league baseball, and by all rights, Mr. Galarraga earned, but didn’t get credit for the 21st.

Granted, Galarraga’s coach and several teammates expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms, but from all appearances, Galarraga remained calm and professional. Apart from the error, Joyce demonstrated why he has long been considered one of baseball’s finest umpires. Immediately after the game he reviewed the video, publicly admitted his error, and sought out Galarraga to apologize.  My guess is that he didn’t wait to consult his lawyer, league officials, announcers, or game sponsors. Nor did he wait to be prodded. He didn’t have to be waterboarded to cough up the truth.

My hope is that this can serve as a lesson for the rest of us. We live and work in a world where everything and everyone is moving at a high rate of speed. Occasionally we drop balls that should have been caught, or like Joyce, make a bad call. One thing (no, the only thing) that will keep people from slowing down is the belief that, when an error is made, rather than immediately bayonetting the wounded, cooler heads will prevail, and some adult behavior will emerge.

*****
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Richard, Exemplars

SAS – Fortune’s Best Place to Work

No Comments 28 January 2010

Once again, SAS, the Cary, NC-based business analytics software and services provider, finds itself on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. This time, it’s #1, a slot that has been home to such venerable exemplars as Wegman’s Supermarkets, Google, The Container Store, and Genentech.

SAS is the real thing. It’s relatively easy to splash onto this list once or twice. But showing up for 13 years in a row takes more than luck.

Why They Keep Making It
Fortune’s annual article about the list always seems to focus on the perks and creature comforts of the best places to work. We think that misses the mark. Most of the companies that rise to the top echelons of the ranking deserve to be there – but more for their culture of leadership, trust, and excellence than for their gyms, childcare, and free food.

Thirteen years ago, the year SAS showed up on Fortune’s first “100 Best” list, I toured the SAS campus outside Raleigh, while researching Bill’s and my first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Here’s an excerpt from the passage we wrote about SAS:

“Every floor of each of the eighteen buildings on its sprawling Cary, North Carolina, campus has a well-stocked break room with a veritable cornucopia of stuff to eat and drink, everything from crackers to M&M’s, all paid for by the company. Everyone is trusted to consume only what they want. There’s nothing to stop someone from shoving three boxes of Cracker Jacks in their bag and schlepping them home for those nights when they’ve got the munchies. Well, maybe there is. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re trusted not to.”

Fortune’s online article about SAS and the list features a string of comments from readers, many of whom appear to be current and former employees. Almost all are in agreement with Fortune’s #1 assessment of the company. (One guy allowed, “dont like them [sic]“.

But another, styling himself Viktor Kunovski, put it best:

“The best companies in the 21 century will be the ones who understand that:

  • Fact 1: Employee fulfilment drives customer satisfaction.
  • Fact 2: Customer satisfaction drives shareholder value.
  • Fact 3: Leadership development drives employee fulfilment. [sic]

Congratulations SAS, just show the way.”

Did someone say Contented Cows Give Better Milk?

Again, SAS’s remarkable perks are but a manifestation of the trust between the company and the people who work there. The fact that employees have unlimited sick days is great, but even greater is the fact that the company trusts people not to abuse the trust indicated by the policy. Those who do – get to look for other jobs…so that those who don’t – get to keep the privilege.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and the followup Contented Cows MOOve Faster. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

ABOUT US

Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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