Disney Institute Offers Perspectives all Inside Sales Managers Can Use

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Chris Jorgensen attended Disney's Approach to Leadership Excellence

Disney's Approach to Leadership Excellence offers incredible insights that can help an inside sales team

Many of these principles can be applied by management of an inside sales team. The best practices of leadership excellence, people management, and quality service are universal regardless of the industry.

I recently attended three sessions at the Disney Institute in Anaheim, CA. While the basic information concerning Leadership Excellence, People Management, and Quality Service was not new, the Disney perspective and implementation of best practices was impressive and inspiring.

I’ll share some insights I gained.

Leadership Excellence

The primary job of a leader is to influence change, but not all leaders are in leadership positions. For Disney, all Cast Members (the Disney term for all employees) are leaders and are empowered to suggest and implement change. This is challenging but Disney manages the riskby being very clear and direct in communicating its core values and quality standards.By pushing leadership expectations to all levels of the organization, Disney gathers the best information and innovations fromits Cast Members who work directly with guests. You can never guess the source of your next great idea.

People Management

In a recent HBR IdeaCast (a podcast that I recommend), it was suggested that rather than finding people for our jobs we should consider creating jobs for the people we want in our organizations. Disney has engineered its jobs to attract only those applicants with a propensity for success. In a pre-interview presentation (Disney-style video), potential interviewees are presented with details concerning working at Disney such as dress and appearance standards, attendance standards, and pay scales. After receiving a clear communication of what it is like to be a Cast Member, some percentage of applicants opt out.

There were also longer conversations regarding training, communication, and care, but the point that struck a significant chord was this:treat your employees the way you expect them to treat your customers. While walking around the park both onstage and backstage, I saw Disney leadership actually implementing that practice.

Quality Service

Leadership excellence leads to cast excellence which leads to guest satisfaction which leads to financial results. That’s how Disney articulates its chain of excellence. And although it sounds silly to say, it is important that financial success is a result, not a pursuit.

During the presentation and walking tours, we saw many of the details of Disney quality service in terms of Guestology (needs, wants, emotions, stereotypes of customers), Quality Standards (need to be clearly defined and communicated), Delivery Systems (the settings and processes for interacting with customers), and Integration (alignment of the components to ensure seamless customer experience). It was impressive to see substantial consistency between the statements and behaviors of cast members working together to create a magical experience.

Based on those highlights of the moment, I have some suggestions for myself as a leader:

  1. Formulate and articulate a high-resolution, measurable, compelling, complete vision of the future to my staff. Spend enough time to do this very well.
  2. Rationalize my appreciation, recognition, and encouragement processes. Everything I appreciate, recognize, and encourage should be directly in support of the vision I communicate and valued according to the magnitude of the contribution.
  3. Don’t underestimate the difficulties.
  4. Codify and communicate our culture in such a way that it becomes an intentional asset.
  5. Train from global to job specific. Spend enough resource to do this very well.
  6. Walk around. Find the next great idea among our employees.
  7. Articulate and communicate our quality standards. Spend enough time to do this very well.

Finally, a quote from Walt:

“People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working.”

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