When you spend time with others it shows to them that they matter.
-Lee Cockerell

I’m so excited to have Lee Cockerell as our guest for our 200th episode of Passing the Baton. Lee is the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World and currently travels the world speaking to clients and companies about the power of Creating Disney Magic in their own organizations. Today he shares his thoughts on showing your team care and support.   -ZH

Appreciation, recognition, encouragement: A.R.E. Together they make up a cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly. 

Spend meaningful time with employees


You’d be surprised how much it means to people when their leader chooses to be with them – not looking over their shoulders but helping them, getting to know them, asking what they think and feel, and simply enjoying their company. Employees know how valuable your time is, so if you spend some of it with them, they figure they must be pretty valuable too. 

When I was at Disney World I spent about half my time out and about, visiting Cast Members. I asked them to walk me through their operations and show me all the good things they were doing for Guests. The message I was sending was simple but profound: ” You matter, and I know it. We couldn’t do it without you.”

When you’re a leader, you’re well served by being visible. I always found that seeing employees with the hair down and meeting their children and spouses added a personal touch to my relationship with them that made working together easier and more pleasant. You give out tremendous amounts of ARE just by showing up. 

Give extra ARE to frontline employees


Pay particular attention to your frontline employees. They often get overlooked when leaders dole out recognition and the are most likely to get heat from the customer. Employees that don’t feel cared for are not committed one. They may give only 50% effort instead of 100%, or worse, they get revenge by gossiping, quitting abruptly, suing the company, or even stealing. 

Make sure to treat frontline employees as respectfully as you treat higher positions, if not more so, even when you have to disciple or fire them. You can be tough, but your frontline employees should always know that you’re on their side and that you appreciate what they bring to your organization. 

Make ARE a natural part of your routine


Great leaders are environmentalists. If you want to attract and keep the best employees, you have to create a wonderful environment for them, and I assure you, ARE is as important to a healthy workplace as clean air and water are to a healthy planet.  

To build the routine in your habits, schedule it. Make it a habit today and don’t hold it off until tomorrow. If you aren’t comfortable expressing your emotions face-to-face yet use notes, pins, certificates, publications and other methods that don’t involve speaking to the person directly. The most important thing no matter how you give it is to give it regularly. People who say that it’s not a good time, are using that as an excuse not to get started. 

I used to write down in my Day-Timer the names of deserving people I wanted to acknowledge, not just employees who did something exceptional, but those that needed a little extra support too. Remember, for some, a workplace with a heart can be a place of refuge. 

Other ways to show ARE to others

  • Recognize them by name.
  • Catch them doing something right.
  • Make it public.
  • Include their families. 
  • Recognize and encourage great ideas. 
  • Watch our company language. 

Remember that ARE is contagious. Each person who receives ARE from you will have more of it to give to his or her co-workers, colleagues, and customers. It’s not only free fuel but the main ingredient for creating a culture of magic. 

Create Disney Magic where you are. 
-Lee

You can listen to Lee weekly at Creating Disney Magic Podcast. You can also learn more about his books and speaking engagement opportunities at LeeCockerell.com.  Today’s topic drew from Creating Magic, a book highly recommended by Zack and Passing the Baton Leadership Resources.