CELEBRATE ANY SUCCESS
To do the biz you need a culture of success
and celebration. You can start today by
celebrating yesterday’s success.
When he was executive director of Starbucks Singapore, Michael Lee
would say that his informal job title was director of celebrations. He saw
one of his key tasks as visiting the 30 or so stores in Singapore and
seizing every opportunity to discover successes that could be
celebrated. It could be that a customer had written a complimentary
letter, or a store had sold more muffins this week than last, or one of
their part-time partners (as employees are called in Starbucks) had
passed an important examination. They would celebrate all of these
occasions. And at the regular conferences for store managers, Michael
Lee would seek to identify successes in each store to be celebrated.
Contrast this with the experience of one salesperson in a major
department store chain, who told me that after a couple of years
working in the stationery department he was
moved to carpets and floorings. Four weeks after
joining his new department he succeeded in
selling carpeting to the value of £10,000. He said
to himself: “I’ve done it! I’ve managed at last to
make a big-ticket sale!” He was thrilled with
himself and went home and told his family. Sadly, at work not a single
person recognized his achievement, let alone celebrated it.
It is no wonder that many employees become dispirited because
they see themselves as working hard and achieving a great deal without
their magnificent results ever being celebrated. “My boss is on a
performance-related incentive,” one employee told me, “yet we front-
liners are on a flat salary. Why should we work so hard only for the boss
to benefit with a huge bonus as a result? He gets all the benefit and we
don’t benefit at all!”
Celebrating successes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more
you look for successes to celebrate the more successes you will find—
and thus the more success you will have. In doing so you focus people’s
minds on success and what it means to them. Conversely, the more you
“How dare you be
That’s my job!”
look for problems the more you will find them—and thus encounter
problems wherever you turn.
Ken Lockett, an area manager with a major bank, tells a story of
how he took over a team of branch managers. At their first team
meeting he allowed them to set the agenda. All they did was state
problems—for example, “We had a problem with our computers last
week,” “We had a problem with staff absenteeism,” etc. He listened
carefully and then at the end of the team meeting
asked, “What successes did you have last week?”
No one responded. “At our next team meeting I
want you to tell me about your successes,” Ken
suggested. At first they struggled, but as the
weeks passed they began to identify more
successes. As an overall result the area jumped up the
league of the bank’s performance ratings. One of the little things Ken
did was visit the branches in his area carrying a box of “celebration
chocolates.” He would approach managers and front-liners asking
them, “What successes have you had over the last few days?” If they
provided an answer (any success would do) he would offer them a
Success is in the eye of the beholder. The key is therefore to make
each success visible with a suitable declaration and celebration. It might
be a simple celebratory card, or a bottle of champagne, or a box of
chocolates, or a team lunch. The form of celebration does not matter—
as long as there is a celebration. When your team scores at soccer you
celebrate. You throw your arms up in the air and shout “Yes!” (or
something to that effect). That’s celebrating.
THE BIZ STEP 15
Go looking for at least one success a team member has
enjoyed over the last week. Then crack open a bottle of
champagne that you have personally purchased and celebrate with
When there is nothing to celebrate life is pretty
TOUCH YOUR TEAM
Motivating a team touches their hearts with
a little magic.
When it comes to touching team members, there are safe zones and
danger zones. One danger zone is the heart, but it needs to be
touched. The safe zones are the hand,
the elbow, the shoulder, and the eyes.
All other parts of the body are
To get to the danger zone of the
heart you need to go through a safe
zone first. That means reaching out to
another person with inoffensive little
behaviors that create an emotional
These touching connections are an essential key to motivation and
can be magical.
Here are some nice physical touches:
✔ Shake hands with team members whenever possible.
✔ Clasp the other person’s elbow when shaking hands.
✔ Tap a person’s shoulder when he or she has done something well.
✔ When walking and talking, guide the other person by the elbow.
✔ Pick a piece of fluff (or a hair) off a person’s jacket and flick it away.
✔ If there is some sudden bad news, give an employee a sympathetic hug.
✔ Connect with the eyes and touch a person with the way you look at him or her.
✔ When an employee informs you of a personal problem, take his or her hand and pat it.
One team I knew developed the habit of slapping each other’s hands
every time they met.
The touch can be physical but does not have to be. For example,
annotating a newspaper article that might interest a particular employee
and leaving her a copy can be nice little touch. Taking a genuine interest,
offering to help in some small way, sharing a confidence, or just opening
the door for someone are all good little touches.
Your intention in touching another person must always be positive,
with the aim of motivating them by presenting them with a token gift
(the little touch) from your heart. The overall objective is to strike a
connection that enhances the relationship, builds
the team, and sparks sufficient emotional energy
that people want to work for the boss
The best team leaders seem to be able to do
this naturally. They take delight in reaching out
to people and touching them in little ways that
genuinely make them feel good. They know
how to work a room and inject warm emotion
into the maximum number of personal
connections. These bosses create a great
rapport as a result.
Even if touching does not come naturally it can be developed by
practice, with the eventual result that it does in fact become natural.
People can change if they want to. A cold, impersonal team leader can
become a warm boss who personalizes relationships with such small
The key is to keep the touch fresh and spontaneous rather than
predictable and routine. As soon as touches appear artificial they lose
their impact. They must be meant and that means that they must come
from the heart.
THE BIZ STEP 16
Get in touch with what your people feel. Let them touch you
with their thoughts and feelings and then demonstrate that you
have been touched by what they say.
Learning about motivation involves discovering the
positive touch points in people’s lives.
CLEAN TOILETS, PUSH
TROLLEYS, AND SERVE
From time to time, do the biz the way your team does
There is a consistent pattern among companies that deliver incredible
results. From time to time the most senior executives like to be “hands
on,” to get out and about and do the biz themselves. They join in the
spirit of things. When their people are under pressure and resources are
short, they will clean toilets, push trolleys, sweep floors, load pallets,
and serve customers.
John Black, who founded the restaurant chain Puccino’s, will clean
toilets when visiting one of his restaurants, just to help his team.
Richard Killoran, when he was general manager of Austin Reed’s
flagship clothing store in Regent Street, London, would devote every
Saturday to serving customers. He would wander around and when he
observed a “hot spot” (his staff being busy with customers) he would
lend a helping hand and serve customers himself. He reckoned that he
could perform 90 percent of the operations on the
The same principle applies in Pret A Manger, a
renowned and rapidly expanding UK sandwich
company. Everyone including the managing
director has to undertake a regular stint in one
of the stores, perhaps making sandwiches,
serving customers, or stacking shelves.
To do the biz senior managers have to know
what they are talking about and that means getting their hands dirty
from time to time. Why expect your front-line people to deal effectively
with an abusive customer when you have never dealt with one yourself?
Too many managers spend too much time in high-rise ivory towers,
pontificating at meetings, pumping out emails, and processing paper. As
a result, they lose touch with reality. Reality is the operational interface
between front-line employees and customers. It cannot be understood
at second hand by reading reports. Reality has to be experienced if you
are to keep in touch with it.
Richard Branson used to be renowned for pushing trolleys up and
down the aisles when traveling on one of his Virgin flights.
He would even amuse customers with magic tricks, but
more importantly serving customers enabled him to
listen carefully to what they had to say. It is far better to
obtain feedback directly from customers than to study
customer satisfaction statistics and scan through
mystery shopping surveys.
When the boss gets involved and lends a
helping hand, the spirit in a team changes. Team
members become closer to those who manage
them. They know that their bosses understand
what is going on because they are there helping out.
Getting your hands dirty is motivational for everyone. For bosses it
means using different muscles, thinking different thoughts, and getting
away from the same old boring administrative routines. It gives them an
opportunity to achieve something tangible, like pleasing customers
directly, or improving the environment by tidying up, or enhancing a
display by stacking shelves. It is fun too—and if they demonstrate that it
is fun then in all probability their employees will find it fun in their turn.
THE BIZ STEP 17
Join in the spirit of things. Spend at least five minutes at the
front line today and get your hands dirty. Stop talking. Do
something revolutionary. If you haven’t served a customer in the
last ten years, serve one now. Experience how it feels. If you haven’t
cleaned a toilet in the last ten years, clean one now. Do it. Pick up litter,
tidy shelves, answer phones, respond to complaints—aim to do the lot, but
start with one activity today.
Managers have to know what they are talking
about and that means getting their hands dirty
from time to time.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested