Tag archive for "leadership training"

Reputation Recruits, but Reality Retains

by Richard, Motivation, Think About It...

Reputation Recruits, but Reality Retains

No Comments 15 June 2015

Cheerful students throwing graduation caps in the AirIn the last few weeks, US universities have disgorged nearly 2 million new graduates into the job market, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. American companies have been working hard (and spending a fortune) to recruit these new graduates, as well as others. They may want to also consider putting more effort into managing their employer reputation.

On a recent trip to New York City, a junior from a prestigious university struck up a conversation with me during a seemingly interminable wait for a hotel elevator. He was on his way to a recruiting event for one of the big accounting firms. He was well dressed, and apprehensive. “I’m going to go and see what they have to say, but to be honest, I’ve heard this place grinds people up. I don’t know if I need to do that.”

“I’ve heard…” he said. Today, there’s no shortage of information (credible and otherwise) on what it’s like to work for your outfit, whether you’re big and famous, or small and local. There’s simply no hiding from your reputation, good or bad, deserved or not.

The generation that wouldn’t dream of signing up for a college class without first checking out the professor on ratemyprofessors.com, is unlikely to show up for an interview without having done due diligence on you. Frankly, if they haven’t done that kind of digging, that would be one strike against them in my book.

Their first stop will likely be glassdoor.com. Then indeed.com. Many will check things out on LinkedIn, and vault.com. If you’re a large(ish) employer, they’ll see if you’ve made the cut in Fortune’s annual ranking of 100 Best Places to Work.

While we’re on the subject of ratings, bear in mind that they don’t just apply at the organizational level. You’re being rated too, as a boss and leader, and those ratings are being published, in much the same fashion that Uber drivers rate your ‘rideability’. If your rep is suffering, it’s a little like having bad breath. In all likelihood, nobody will say anything to you about it. They’ll just keep their distance. One thing is for sure, the richness and availability of individual manager ratings will only grow over the foreseeable future.

And believe it or not, prospective applicants are also going to resort to an ancient, time-honored, and peculiarly un-sexy method of research: talking to friends. And as everyone knows, friends don’t let friends work for jerks, or in crappy places.

As has nearly always been the case, salary is often the most visible and quantifiable factor that piques applicants’ interest. But the fine print in these reviews often tells a more illuminating story. A few quotes from actual employer review sites:

  • “The money was great, but after a while, I said screw it. There’s not enough money in the world to keep me in a place where I’m miserable.”
  • “To be honest, the starting salary got my attention. Now that I’ve been there a year, you couldn’t pry me away from here for any amount. I love my boss and my team, and I feel like I’m going somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love the money, too, but even apart from that, the job has been a dream.”

What can you do?

  • Build a great workplace reputation by first paying lots of attention to what it’s really like to work on your team. Remember, while reputation recruits, reality retains.
  • Nothing, repeat, nothing beats having competent, caring leadership, when it comes to building Employee Engagement. It’s funny, but when we look at employers with outstanding leaders at every level, we don’t hear a lot of complaining about money. When compensation keeps rearing its ugly head, there’s almost always an underlying problem with how people are treated by their bosses.
  • Monitor – frequently – your company’s reviews on the aforementioned review sites, and others. What they say doesn’t even have to be true to do you irreparable damage. Survey your workers regularly for indicators of satisfaction and engagement, and DO something with the results. Make them part of the metrics by which you run the business.

You want to fill your applicant pipeline, and your organization, with the best of the best. You’re looking for people who have lots of options, not those who are looking at you as a last resort. The lots-of-options group will look carefully at workplace reputation to decide where they want to spend their time and grow their career.

Build, groom, manage, and protect that reputation by making sure you get people Committed to your organization; Enable them to do their best work; and show them that you Care about them. It’s not complicated. Get to it!



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.

Guest Post, Leadership

Three Reasons You Should Have a Leadership Program

No Comments 26 July 2012

Guest post by Kyle Lagunas.

Why is the process of finding a leader–whether to backfill someone or to fill a new role–often treated as an isolated event rather than an ongoing process? With the cost per hire only rising, why do so few organizations have a process for identifying and cultivating leaders within their existing talent pool?

Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of YMCA warned us in Finding Leaders for America’s Nonprofits: Commentaries that, “Until [we] become much more intentional about development of internal talent, we are doomed to an ever-growing leadership deficit.” That was three years ago.

Companies need to change the way they are sourcing leadership talent. Rather than look outward when a leader is needed, they should instead continuously look inward to identify candidates with leadership aptitude and invest in honing their skills with development programs.

Regardless of whether you ultimately hire leaders from within, simply having a leadership development program yields important benefits for any organization. Here are reasons to do it:

  • Leadership Programs Boost Employee Engagement

A study conducted by ACCOR found that although 90% of leaders say employee engagement impacts business success, 75% have no engagement plan or strategy. To that end, development programs give employees the opportunity to strive toward something more meaningful and valuable than their day-to-day work. And that makes them happy.

Leadership development is serious stuff. It takes time and dedication to make it work. If you’re going to adopt an official leadership development program, be sure to first identify your goals for the program.

  • Leadership Programs Increase Employee Performance

It’s hard to deny a linkage between development and performance. As John Robak, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Greeley and Hansen, attests, “Those individuals in our organization who are inspired tend to outperform. That’s because the more well-rounded you are, the better you’re able to perform.”

Makes sense, right? The companies outperforming you certainly think so. In fact, the highest performing organizations spend 36% more on development than their less successful counterparts. And the organizations that are doing this effectively understand what their future needs are going to be, and understand how to engage their potentials and give them the opportunity to develop the skills that they need to succeed in the operation.

  • Leadership Programs Improve Retention Rates

Many organizations see investments in employee development–leadership development, in particular–as a gamble. If the employee leaves, those investments walk out the door and potentially into the hands of a competitor. For those who cite turnover as a reason not to invest in developing employees, though, the truth is that leadership development and opportunities are actually a leading retention strategy.

“Gen Y tends to be more fluid and move more frequently, which can be intimidating for employers worried about turnover. We see the exact opposite,” says Robak.

Don’t get me wrong–turnover is a valid concern, but if you’re hemorrhaging top performers, it’s rarely because you’ve invested too much in developing them.

Transparency is King in Leadership Development

As Roback points out, “In the absence of feedback, people tend to create their own.” Whatever decision is made–whether it’s a promotion from within or an external hire, it’s critical to communicate the why. Robak goes on to say that, “We don’t just want our message to be heard–we want to ensure it’s received.” Otherwise, all of your best intentions are for naught.

What successes have you had in developing leaders internally? What challenges is your organization faced with when developing a pool of leadership candidates?

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is an HR Analyst at Software Advice. He reports on important news, interesting conversations, and what’s trending in the world of talent management, human resources, and recruiting.

by Richard, Leadership, Motivation

Good Leaders Don’t Make Others Pay for their Mistakes

No Comments 02 May 2012

SorryLast night a bunch of us attended the touring version of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts here in Jacksonville. We planned an early dinner before the show at an Irish pub near the theater. Nothing like a plateful of Irish fish and chips before watching a French story of love and revolution, produced by a British billionaire.

Because I chose to stay in the office a little longer than I should have, and also because I made a few wrong turns in downtown Jacksonville amid lots of road construction detours, we ended up at the pub a good bit later than my original plan had envisioned. It was pretty clear that, in order to eat, AND make it to the show before curtain time, we were going to have to, at the very least, violate a number of those rules about chewing slowly and savoring every bite.

Because it enjoys a good reputation, the joint was jumping. So I was particularly relieved that they were able to seat us as soon as we arrived. A moment after we’d all sat down, someone in our party said “We need to tell this waitress we’re in a hurry so she’ll get a move on. Otherwise we’ll be here all night.”

Someone else at the table piped up and said, “If it’s all right, why don’t you let me tell her that? I think I’ll be able to get her to move pretty quickly.”

A few minutes later, the waitress arrived, greeted us exuberantly, and then asked the usual, “Can I get everyone started with something to drink?”

My friend said to the server, in a kind and friendly manner, “We would like to have a long, slow, relaxed dinner tonight,” to which the waitress replied, “Okay…”

And then he continued, “However, we haven’t left enough time for that tonight; we’ll come back another night for a more relaxed dinner. But tonight, if you could help us out by getting rid of us by 7:15, we’d be very appreciative.”

“Gotcha,” she said, with a wink. “Let me go ahead and take your order for everything right now, and then I’ll bring the check as soon as you’ve got your food.” She then kicked it into high gear. We got good service, fast. More efficient than gracious, which is exactly what we needed. We were comfortably seated in the theater a good ten minutes before the orchestra conductor’s first downbeat.

By claiming responsibility for our tardiness, and its consequences, my friend had taken every hint of blame off the very person in whose hands rested the power to get us fed and on our way in time. The waitress was engaged in a challenge to “help us out”, not challenged to “get a move on”, as if she’d been shuffling along before that. As a result, she went above and beyond – out of her way – the extra mile – to give us what we needed. Or, consistent with the theme of Contented Cows MOOVE Faster, she gave us the benefit of her Discretionary Effort.

Most of our employees know we’re not perfect. We demonstrate that to them on a regular basis. And most are happy to help us out. What they’re not willing to do is to be held responsible when we’ve screwed up.

So, if that should happen, and it will:

  • Apologize, quickly, and without excuses and weasel words.
  • Clean up your own mess
  • If need be, ask for their help. Then recognize it as help. Not an obligation.
  • Thank them when they come through for you. In our case, last night, we enjoyed our fish and chips, and left a whopper of a tip.

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 Richard, Management, Think About It...

A Tale of Two Brands

No Comments 16 June 2011

It was the best of service, it was the worst of service. Well, not really the worst, but with the title of this post, I couldn’t resist.

I love my Amazon Kindle. And not just because Rebooting Leadership is available in that format. So I was positively disconsolate when it stopped working on the first day of a 3-week trip.

From the Delta Sky Club at JFK, I logged into my Amazon account, clicked support, typed in my mobile number, and immediately my phone rang. They called me! I didn’t have to look up a number, dial it, navigate through an infernal scheme of menus, listen to hold music, and plead for a real human. One called me!

By virtue of my having logged into my account before I requested the call, the Amazon rep knew everything I wanted her to know. She didn’t ask me for my account number once, let alone twice. She grieved in sympathy with me, for a moment, over the demise of the e-reader, and without further inquisition, said she’d overnight me a replacement! Can you believe this? Did you know they did this? I didn’t.

Luckily for me, my wife was joining me on the trip 2 days later, and brought the new Kindle, completely loaded with all my stuff, to me.

Bravo, Amazon, all around!

Not so Panasonic. Our new Lumix digital camera (great camera – takes terrific pictures) arrived without the software, described in the manual, that lets the camera commune with the computer. Sending CD’s, I thought, is so first decade, surely it’s a download these days, and they just haven’t updated the manual.

Wrong. Went to Panasonic’s site (such as it is). Got no help there. Got on the phone. Customer service sent me to tech support, which sent me back to customer service, where a snippy woman who didn’t believe my story gave me the number for the “parts department”. I’m not making this up.

Twenty minutes later, Parts answered. They wanted my name, phone number, email address, account number, and – get this – the serial number of the item I was calling about – before they’d entertain any questions.

I asked how I could download the software. You can’t. We have to send you a CD. Please do. It’ll cost you $15. An argument ensued, and to cut my time losses, I surrendered the credit card number.

Ten days later, I got a paper receipt in the mail from Panasonic. Someone actually cut down a tree, refined its pulp into paper, printed a receipt, stuck it in an envelope, put it in a truck, took it to the post office, transferred it to a jet, put it on yet another truck, then a van, and then a nice man walked it to my house.

Five days after that, the CD turned up on my front doorstep.

Point: Both Amazon and Panasonic have now burned into my psyche their respective “brands”. I associate Amazon with terms like “pathfinder, state-of-the-service-art, newfangled, impressive, and going above and beyond to help the customer.” Panasonic, to me, now means “obsolete, outdated, obstructionist, old-world, traditional, clueless”, and a host of other things, none of them impressive.

Product brand, and service brand, extend to workplace brand. If someone were to ask me where they should explore selling their talent, Amazon would be one of the first names off my lips. Panasonic wouldn’t even occur to me.

I wonder – no I don’t – which company’s getting the best candidates turning up on its front doorstep.

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.

by Richard, Think About It...

Royal Caribbean Misses the Boat on Internet Access

4 Comments 14 June 2011

First, this post is not about my vacation. How boring would that be? It’s about a fundamental change in the way people stay connected, or not. But the issue came to light on my vacation, so please indulge me a sentence or two.

Last month, my wife and I took what was, for us, the trip of a lifetime, in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. A Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. In short, the cruise was wonderful. We relaxed, unplugged, saw places I’d only heard of before. The food was good and plentiful. The service – no complaints. And our accommodations were very comfortable. May I never forget how blessed and privileged we were to be able to take such a trip.

If you think these sincere words (and they are sincere) are the wind-up for a complaint, you’re right. Well, not so much a complaint as an observation.

The problem: The Internet service on board the ship was wholly abominable. Indescribably inadequate. And shockingly expensive. It took about ten minutes (and 3 dollars!) to sign in to gmail. Any site that required any bandwidth at all was blocked. And Skype? Are you kidding? One day, I spent five hours of my vacation, and $90, to do about 10 minutes’ work, to send a promised proposal to a client.

Reminder – I’m not whining. I realize how fortunate I am to have taken the trip at all. Now, I’ll continue.

And don’t, as did the “guest services agent” on the ship, give me this lame line: “But you’re on vacation. You shouldn’t be working!”

Earth to Royal Caribbean. As we point out in Rebooting Leadership, the lines between work and play, work and home, home and play, are forever blurred. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of opinion. The fact that it is as it is – is not.

We work in our “off-hours” (whatever those are), and, likewise, play at work. Don’t try to tell me you don’t.

Today’s work, indeed much of today’s life, is facilitated online. If you doubt that, try unplugging your home Internet (or if yours is like mine, wait until it goes down naturally; it won’t be a long wait), and turn off your smartphone. Count the number of things you start to do, before remembering that you can’t.

On the cruise, we were traveling in a group of 19 friends. Many are small business owners, like myself. Others have responsible jobs working for someone else. All of us are used to traveling, at home and abroad, and, have gotten used to being able to connect from pretty much anywhere – hotel rooms, airports, coffee shops, you name it. Call us spoiled, if you like. Overindulged perhaps. But you may definitely call us frustrated with the ship’s inability to provide a usable Internet connection. And to charge us stupid money for the frustration.

Royal Caribbean’s excuses (offered as if highly practiced) involved pointing out that we were at sea, that satellite communications are iffy at best, and that there were more than 3,000 people on the ship, many of whom were competing for limited bandwidth. All invalid. The technology exists to let passengers connect as easily as if they were in the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

I’m pretty sure the problem persists for two reasons:

1) Royal Caribbean (and, to be fair, their competitors) don’t want to invest in making the technology work. They don’t believe Internet access on a cruise vacation is important enough to enough people to make the investment commercially advantageous. That’s shortsighted.

2) An old mindset curiously survives, and yet without nourishment from reality. A pipe, slippers, and brandy anachronism in which we commute into the office at the start of our “workday”, chain ourselves to a desk for a period of time, and then commute home. We’re generations past that. Many in the hospitality field are falling all over themselves to realize that, in order to compete. Not the cruise biz. Certainly not Royal Caribbean.

I relish my downtime. Had the Mariner of the Seas had Internet access that could be taken seriously, I would have had more of it on my vacation. For those 12 days, I could have connected, done my work, kept in touch, and taken care of business, in less than an hour a day. That would have been a small price to pay for 23 hours a day of vacation.

Here’s hoping that this summer, you have the chance to take a week or two, get away, and recharge. But I sure hope you’ve got better Internet access than I did!

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.

by Richard, Leadership

Unwritten Rules

No Comments 07 June 2011

Visiting a new country reminds me a lot of being in a new job. There are so many rules to learn. The written, well-documented ones are hard enough to keep up with. But watch out for the pages and pages of “unwritten rules” – things you need to know, but may never be told. Until it’s too late.

Last month, I had the privilege of visiting six foreign countries – seven if you include the Vatican – on a trip that was part vacation, part speaking engagement. No, the speaking engagement was not in the Vatican. They have that covered. I spoke at two conferences in Singapore.

While my passport is pretty well worn, most of the places I visited on this trip, specifically Greece, Turkey, Dubai, and Singapore, were new to me.

And in each case, I couldn’t help feeling, “Hmmm. How does this work here? How do you do this here?”, “this” being regular everyday things like ordering coffee from a walkup counter, being seated at a restaurant, hailing a taxi, paying the restaurant bill, crossing the street, keeping the lights on in the hotel room (store your keycard in the mystery slot near the door) what to wear, how to greet people, how to use public toilets and public transportation (which in a couple of these places seemed to be indistinguishable from each other), and tipping – tipping the taxi driver, the bellman, the waiter, and even the toilet attendant. The list goes on. There’s nothing right nor wrong with these customs, nothing better nor worse. It’s just the way it’s done wherever you happen to be.

And then there’s airport security! Which countries do and do not have hangups about shoes, liquids, and laptops? TSA – take a trip. Pay attention!

How do we learn these unwritten rules in organizations? Pretty much the same way we learn them when visiting far-off lands. If we’re lucky, there will be someone who cares enough to tell us. We supplement that with observation, research, and simply asking.

I noticed in Brussels, that without exception, in the absence of cross-walk signals, drivers yield, unanimously, to pedestrians crossing an intersection. Expecting the same behavior in Istanbul will result in blood and broken bones.

I ordered Pad Thai from a stand in a food court in Singapore, and, when I asked what they had to drink, the guy looked at me like I was American, and politely directed me to a separate vendor who carried beverages. This was a food stand. No beverages on the menu. What are you thinking? When I gave a Singaporean cabbie a couple extra dollars over the metered fare, he looked at me like I didn’t know my numbers.

At work, not knowing the unwritten rules can have embarrassing, to career limiting consequences. Good leaders help new people navigate these treacherous waters. Aside from the written dress code, how do we really dress for success around here? How do we address those who live north of us on the org chart? In meetings, do we speak out, or wait to be recognized? Does the organization place a premium on doing the right things, or doing things right? Which works better here – challenging things outright, or taking a more considered approach?

Here are some thoughts (I won’t call them rules) on, well, rules:

  • When it comes to rules, fewer is generally better. I didn’t say “none is better”. Fewer is better.
  • As we wrote in Chapter 21 of Contented Cows Moove Faster, you should have 2 types of rules. Type 1 – a very few inviolable cardinal rules. Failure to comply renders one ineligible for membership in the organization.

Good leaders are crystal clear about these, and consistent in their enforcement. No one should even step foot on the premises on day one without having received clear, written documentation about Type 1 rules.

The immigration landing card you receive when you arrive in Singapore has, in bright red, all capital letters, in an area all its own, “DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW“. Any questions? If you have more than a few of these Type 1 rules, you’re either in a really weird business, you’re hiring the wrong people, or you’re a bureaucracy run amok.

  • Type 2, covering just about everything else, is more what this article is about. Sometimes, they’re de facto policies. More often, they’re culture elements that have evolved, for better or worse, as the organization has learned what seems to work best. They’re often the little things that can trip us up, unnecessarily. Good leaders are unfailingly skilled both at recognizing that these rules exist, and in schooling their followers as to how to abide by them, and when, and how, to challenge them.
  • Although not the case with Type 1 rules, discretion is a must for Type 2. If you’re a leader interested in having the best performing team you can, you’ll mold, groom, and develop your followers with respect to these “unwritten” rules, rather than punishing them if they don’t always get them right.
  • Finally, leaders in healthy organizations regularly examine, and question, the usefulness of their rules, especially those not written down anywhere. Is the “rule” helping our people do their best work? Does it build value for our customers? If you’re not sure, listen to both of these constituencies. They’ll tell you.


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.

Seven Simple Questions for a Great Employee Conversation

by Richard, Leadership

Seven Simple Questions for a Great Employee Conversation

No Comments 03 May 2011

We’ve long advocated that managers move heaven and earth to get out and spend more time with the people they lead. Borrowing a phrase from one of our favorite legendary leaders, Vietnam era Major General Melvin Zais, we call it “sitting on the footlocker”. There’s simply no way to lead when the only contact we have is enabled by electronic means.

In addition to sitting on the footlocker, just observing, free from any specific agenda, being available, and visible, there are times when you want to sit down, face-to-face, one-on-one, and have a meaningful conversation with each person you lead. Doing this once a year, during the annual performance evaluation, is a little like going to church only on that one Sunday when all the women wear fancy hats, like some did just a few weeks ago.

No, we think more frequent is better. How often? As with so many things, it depends. But two or three times a year probably represents an improvement, and so we’d say that’s a good goal to shoot for.

Call it a coaching session, a midcourse checkup, or whatever you like. If you’re like most of us, you sometimes have trouble knowing where to start, and what to say. Here are seven questions that you – and your followers – will find helpful to move the conversation along:

1. How do you think you’re doing in your job?

2. What one thing do you think you could do better?

3. What help do you need to do that?

4. What one thing could others you work with do better?

5. What one thing do you like most about working here?

6. What one thing do you like least about working here?

7. If you were me, what one thing would you do differently?

The list starts with the sublimely simple, and progresses through questions that take a little more courage for others to answer. And perhaps for you to hear.

Before we sign off, some tips on making this conversation as productive as possible:

o Be prepared to be nowhere else but right there, with the person you’re talking with. Shut off the cell phone, don’t answer the landline, close your email client. Clear the decks. Clear your head.

o Learn the meaning of the number one. You’ll notice that five of the seven questions say “What one thing”. Stick to that limit. Otherwise, you’ll likely be there all day. If there are other issues that need attention, schedule a time to explore them. For this discussion, enforce the limit of one thing.

o Listen, listen, listen. You’re in input mode here, not output. Chapter 2 in Rebooting Leadership, and Chapter 7 in Contented Cows Moove Faster can help you here. If you don’t have these books, we can solve that problem for you. (Click here).

o Underpromise, and overdeliver. Make it clear that this conversation is to get your input, not to promise immediate changes. Question 7, in particular, could lead others to think that you’ll implement all of their specific recommendations. Be honest. Unless that’s your intention, sincerely thank them for their input, and then weigh it up with the other feedback you get. But – and this is a big but – if you’re seen to ignore everything you hear, you’ll shut down the flow, and quickly. When your followers see positive changes, based on their input, your credibility, and effectiveness as a real leader, will take off.

Finally, have fun with this. This conversation should be seen as a good one. Anything but a chewing out. They’ll be taking some risks if they’re completely honest with you. Play with that a little. Thank them for it. And then, act.


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.

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.

by Richard, Leadership, Think About It...

Don't Forsake Leader Development

No Comments 26 March 2009

Empty RoomIn a blog post earlier this week, Bill quoted Ronald Reagan, who said, ““I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.” Truer words were never spoken.

This extends also to how organizations train and develop their workers, including those workers who happen to be in leadership positions.

It’s no surprise that, in this economy, one of the first shoes to drop has landed squarely on the head of the training and organization development budget. We see companies canceling or cutting back on training, management meetings, conferences, and other such development opportunities. Some of this (maybe lots of it?) is an overreaction to the utterly boneheaded acts of companies like AIG and others, who, while taking mega-fortunes in public money, staged lavish boondoggles, aimed at pampering bad actors, with only a nominal nod to business or leader development.

Dumb move. Can you say “penguin”?

I was talking recently with someone who was interested in having Bill or me speak to their leadership group later in the year. “For the first time in 40 years, we’ve canceled our big management meeting,” she said. “But we can’t just not do anything.” Ronald Reagan redux.

So this company is currently working on the idea of a scaled back, though no less potent, gathering, that truly focuses on leader development. We hope we’re afforded the opportunity to help them in that endeavor.

To sum up: When we come out of this mess, there will be two types of organizations: 1) Those who have continued to develop their people (leadership and all others), despite tough times, using more pragmatic yet powerful means, and 2)Those who don’t come out of this mess.

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 new book Contented Cows MOOve Faster, as well as the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.


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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