I’m a huge fan of W. Edwards Deming. His work has been a guiding light of mine for years. In 1984 I started down the road of installing a total quality program in my vending company. We continued working to make our program better until I sold the company in 1995.
During that eleven-year period we continued to work towards improvement in our processes and systems. By the time we sold the company we had moved from a company that provided very good service to one that provided world-class service.
We did this by staying true to our purpose and continually asking whether we were moving towards or away from making our service measurably better. Many of the things we used in our vending service I use today in my coaching process with private business owners. Some of them are:
Have a clear mission that is easily communicated in the company. This is where I think all companies need to start. It’s the basis for everything that follows. I believe a great mission statement is one that is easily communicated, integrated in everything the company does, and can be answered with a yes or a no.
When I had my vending company our purpose was to provide quality food service at a reasonable price. Today in our wealth management business our purpose is to help make our clients’ lives better. You will see our purpose in every internal and external communication we have. I find that when a mission is integrated it’s easy to use as a teaching instrument.
Have a process where you regularly check back to your mission. At the start of every meeting you have review your mission statement with those who are in attendance. Whether the meeting is with an outsider or someone who works in the company knowing how your mission fits in with what you’re talking about creates a constancy of purpose.
I know that people often roll their eyes when I start down this road. I also know that as I consistently use our company purpose, it starts to sound less corny and more real to those I work with. When I ask my clients to do the same they find that their people start to concentrate on what’s important in their companies.
Recognize your employees on their anniversaries and tie it into your company mission. On your employees anniversary with your company make sure you find a way to publically recognize the work that they’ve done. I believe that you should not only recognize their work, but also give them a certificate of recognition and have pins made for one, five, ten and twenty years of service. Those who have achieved these service awards will cherish the pins.
In my vending business our crusty mechanics would take their certificates and post them in their lockers. This was an activity done by people who had spent twenty or more years in the military and most of the world saw them as hard and unemotional people.
You will want to pay close attention when you have someone who has not done anything you can talk about that promote your mission. Those are people you will want to think about whether they belong in your company.
When you consistently use mission and purpose as a way to communicate what your company is about you will find that your stakeholders understand what makes your company special. Being consistent about excellence provides a good reason for customers to do business with you and employees to make a career with your company.
We’ve put together a special report on hiring for unique abilities. I believe that spending extra time in the hiring process helps you bring the right person into your organization. When we choose the right person staying consistent becomes much easier to do. To get this report click on the button below.