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At Walt Disney World, we implemented a cross-utilization program at our busiest time to make sure we had enough people to serve our guests.

One time, I was assigned to work at Pecos Bills.

As I was working the front line taking orders, I noticed trays were beginning to come out hot. Which meant they were coming right out of the dishwasher and into the hands of the customers.

It wasn’t long before trays were coming out dirty, meaning they hadn’t even been washed. A few minutes later, we ran out of trays.

This is a big problem at an eatery as busy as Pecos Bills.

Without trays, there is no way a father could carry the food for his family back to the table. And he yelled at me, questioning what was going on. It was an embarrassing situation.

But it led to a meeting to figure out how to make sure this situation never happened again. The situation also reminded me of a valuable lesson:

Everybody is important.

You know who was the most important person that day at Pecos Bills? The guy who washes the trays.

Everybody is important.

Support people. Treat them right. Everyone is important (I can’t say this enough). Everyone has a role

We started this cross-utilization program to make sure shifts are covered. But through it, we learned how hard those front line jobs are. And people with an office job got a reminder that they are doing their job to serve a guest. Now they have a face, or many faces, to go with the idea of serving a customer.

Getting people out of the usual area, especially if they work behind a desk, is of the most powerful, quick, things you can do to improve your operation.

The post Why Every Organization Should Use Cross-Training appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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Keep track of your problems so you can fix them.

You have the same problems that show up every week. Pay attention, keep track, and you can fix nearly every problem.

At Disney World, we kept careful records of problems and mishaps. Then we would train cast members to take care of the problem right there on the spot.

There are trends in every business. There are likely 6 or 7 problems that will happen in your business every week or even every day. Pay attention and you will know what these problems are. Talk to employees and customers to find out where the problems and pain points are. Employees and customers know everything you need to know about your business.

Once you know what those common problems are, focus your training on those particular issues, then let your team take care of it.

Next, start looking at how you can eliminate the problems. You know what the problem is. The staff is trained to deal with it. The staff is empowered to respond on the spot. But why not eliminate the problem altogether.

If you do this, you will immediately see an improvement in your business. Your organization you may have gotten 10 complaints a day and now you only get 2. You will immediately see an improvement in your business.

The post Keep Track of Your Problems so You Can Fix Them appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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Does a CEO always need to be in the office?

There are situations where a CEO or a leader works from home, comes in late, leaves early.

Does the CEOs presence at work matter in getting the work done?

When I became EVP of Walt Disney World, I made it clear there may be times I would leave at 3 pm. But the job would get done. And I didn’t want jokes about leaving early.

If you own the company, you can do what you want. If you are a high-level leader, you may not need to be in the office all the time.

But there can be a side effect. If you don’t have the right team in place, work might not get done. Gossip could spread about why you are not there. Staff could makes jokes about how often they see you.

But you can get rid of some of the drama by addressing it up front. Explain why you aren’t always there, and point out you hired great people so they could take care of the work that needs to be done.

We need to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of business.

The focus should be on getting the job done, not the hours people are at work.

The post Does a CEO Always Need to Be in the Office? appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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Should you still aim high for a job you are not qualified for?

Not many people end up with a career in the field they went to college for. But how do you make the leap into a job you want, but may not be qualified for?

You will have an advantage if you know someone. Most companies are willing to hire someone who has the right attitude and personality, but someone on the inside has to know you.

Another approach is to write a letter that tells people why they should hire you. This is your shot to convince people who you are.

Every resume looks the same. What sets you apart is who you are.

Always ask for what you want. More often than you think, people will say yes. Having the tenacity to aim high will impress some people.

Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.

If you want to get into a specific company, get to know people. Work the channels until you meet the right people. Building relationships and meeting people is the key to getting into organizations today. If people don’t know you they can’t help you. The more people you meet, you are one connection closer to meeting the right person you need to get in front of.

The post You are Only One Connection Away appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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This episode was recorded live in London, England. The audience asked me questions and I answered.

Here are the questions found on the episode:

What was the most successful initiative I launched in my career?

Implementing the Disney Great Leader Strategies.

How do you create a company culture?

Culture is behavior. Sometimes to change a culture you have to change the people who don’t behave the way you want.

How do you encourage personality when you are strict when you hire?

At Disney, you may run into cast members with different personalities, but they will all be nice. We hire for the basics; honesty, integrity, and personality will still shine.

How do you create work-life balance?

I worked out, got sleep, and dealt with problems directly. Stress comes from feeling out of control. I dealt with things promptly so it would not feel out of control.

What is your view of financial bonuses?

Disney Cast Members do a great job because of how they are treated. The biggest benefit is the opportunity to have a bigger role, not a financial bonus.

How do you retain talent when there is a low opportunity for promotions?

You may not be able to.

How would I describe my legacy?

I want people to remember me as a teacher.

What advice do you have to create a training program in an organization?

To start, figure out why you want to do it. Helping people to become successful will be one of the best things you can accomplish. What you teach your employees they will teach your employees.

The post Culture is Behavior and You Can Change It appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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A title does not make you a leader.

Not even a fancy title that sounds important.

A title may make you a manager, but not a leader.

In fact, the bigger your title, the less you need to think of yourself and more about the people who count on you.

It’s not about me. It’s about them.

When I ran Disney World, it was my priority to create an environment where people wanted to come to work every morning. If I created a place where everyone mattered and they knew they mattered, people would look forward to coming to work, they would take care of the guest.

It was not about me, it was about the cast members. I was there to serve the cast member so they could serve the guest.

As leaders, we were there to serve the cast member. Not tell them what to do. Our actions made cast members feel respected and included and part of something magical.

One of the most important things a leader can do is clear the way so people can do their job without obstacles.

If you want to be a servant leader, here are two question to ask your employees every day;

What do you need?

What can I do for you?

If you act as a servant leader, you will be a role model for the people around you. What you teach your employees, they teach their employees.

The post Becoming a Servant Leader appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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Losing money in your business is not an easy thing to deal with.

When we opened Disneyland Paris, we were losing $1 million each day. Talk about pressure.

One reason many businesses lose money is debt. Be careful how much debt you take on for your business. You may have enough sales right now, but if something happens, the debt can keep you from meeting your obligations.

When your business is losing money, you have to walk carefully when it comes to customer service. Don’t cut away from what draws customers to you and you will find the problem gets worse when customers stop coming.

Here are the 3 steps I would take to turn around a business losing money.

Find out what is wrong. Is it debt? Is it the product?  Is poor service keeping people away? You have to look at everything.

Look at Productivity problems. Is the way you are doing business causing you to lose money? Where can you improve your processes? Where can you cut spending without taking away from the customer?

Do you have the right management? Often, problems are created or solved by management. If you don’t have the right people in place you, will never turn the problem around. Take a hard look and make sure you have the right people in the right places.

The post How to Handle Losing Money in Business appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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Should employers help employees with mental health issues? Yes, of course.

But it comes down to the individual supervisor to make something happen.

If someone has never been late to work late, and now they are coming to work late 3 days a week, something has happened. If someone now seems to have anger issues that weren’t there before, something has happened.

This will make the culture and environment of your organization special. People will notice. People will talk about it. You will attract better people. You will get less turnover.

Some companies don’t want to get involved. But you have no choice. Employees are people. People are going to have issues. You can ignore it, or you can embrace it and be there for people.

Pay attention. You can see it if you want to see it.

Get to know your people well. When someone changes, something has changed. Find out what it is. Give them access to resources and help they need. Let people know you care and you are committed to them.

Here is one thing I can promise, if you haven’t had a tragedy, you will. And when you do, you will want to feel people care.

Start caring more. Even if it creates more work, care for the people around you.

The post Taking Care of Mental Health in the Workplace appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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We had a question from a listener who wanted to know how to ask for a pay raise. Truth is, I had never asked for a pay raise.

I had some ideas, but perhaps my advice wasn’t as solid as it could be. So we found an expert and asked him to join us on this episode of Creating Disney Magic.

Scott Barlow, founder of Happen to Your Career, explains exactly how to ask for a pay raise.

If you perform your job well, you are doing what you have been asked to do. But doing what you have been asked to do is the minimum standard.

There are 3 times you can get raises; as you are changing roles, when your performance has justified a pay raise when you accept a job

Scott Barlow gives us the four steps to asking for a pay raise.

Often, supervisors and their direct reports are not on the same page on what top priorities are.

If you want your supervisor to know what value you are bringing to the organization, you have to let them know.

If you want to make more money, you have to be better than everyone else. Have a better performance. Have a better attitude. Have better results.

The post How to Ask For a Pay Raise appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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We had a question from a listener who wanted to know how to ask for a pay raise. Truth is, I had never asked for a pay raise.

I had some ideas, but perhaps my advice wasn’t as solid as it could be. So we found an expert and asked him to join us on this episode of Creating Disney Magic.

Scott Barlow, founder of Happen to Your Career, explains exactly how to ask for a pay raise.

If you perform your job well, you are doing what you have been asked to do. But doing what you have been asked to do is the minimum standard.

There are 3 times you can get raises; as you are changing roles, when your performance has justified a pay raise when you accept a job

Scott Barlow gives us the four steps to asking for a pay raise.

Often, supervisors and their direct reports are not on the same page on what top priorities are.

If you want your supervisor to know what value you are bringing to the organization, you have to let them know.

If you want to make more money, you have to be better than everyone else. Have a better performance. Have a better attitude. Have better results.

The post appeared first on Lee Cockerell.

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