5 Newsprint Ads

Description: This 2018 KFC print ad was created in response to a chicken shortage the company was experiencing at the time. It is a simple KFC chicken bucket without any chicken on it. However, the three-letter acronym is rearranged to spell out FCK, a humorous pun on the curse work f*ck.

Objectives: Use humor in order to announce and apologize for why some KFC locations have had to temporarily close.

Target Market: Anyone who is a fan of KFC, fried chicken, or fast food who may have been inconvenienced by the unexpected closures.

Desired Actions: To hopefully lighten the mood of potentially angry customers during a time of crisis for the brand so that they will forgive, forget and return when the problem gets resolved. I believe that the clever use of humor here was most likely successful in achieving the main goal of apologizing.

Value Proposition: The value proposition of this ad shows that KFC is working tirelessly to resolve the problem so that they can get back to satisfying their customers. It also shows that even in the toughest of situations, they are able to stay positive and portray a sense of confidence that issues will be resolved quickly where other companies may have panicked.

 

 Description: This is an ad from The Economist, an international weekly newspaper/magazine that focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, and technology for those interested in keeping up with and learning more about the business world. The ad simply reads “To err is human. To er, um, ah is unacceptable.”

Objectives: The humorous phrase is meant to catch the attention of the viewer and send the message that reading The Economist will help the reader improve his business skills. I especially liked it as I feel it really applies to entrepreneurs. The message I interpret from the phrase is that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them, but it is not acceptable to always be unprepared and not be learning. Don’t get caught um-ing and ah-ing when you need to be knowledgeable and confident in order to achieve success in the business world.

Target Market: Anyone interested in keeping up with or learning more about what is going on in the business world.

Desired Actions: Purchase and read The Economist. It could be a one-time purchase of a specific edition, or it could be a subscription. The ad doesn’t specify.

Value Proposition: The value proposition is that The Economist is an intellectual source of information for the business consumer. The simple, humorous and intellectual phrase illustrates this. If you are not reading The Economist, then you are falling behind.

 

Description: A simple yet effective ad from the Cancer Patients AID Association that reads “cancer cures smoking.”

Objectives: The objective of this ad is to scare smokers by explaining that smoking can lead to cancer. The pun here is that cancer cures smoking because smokers will more than likely either end up in a hospital where they can’t smoke or end up dead where they also can’t smoke.

Target Market: Anyone who actively smokes.

Desired Actions: Stop smoking and potentially avoid getting cancer as a result of smoking.

Value Proposition: This ad is direct and to the point. It brings attention to the fact that smoking is not a healthy habit and that in many cases it leads to some form of cancer.

 

Description: This ad is from ActionAid, a non-governmental organization whose primary mission is to work against poverty and injustice worldwide. It is a federation of 45 country offices with headquarters located in South Africa. It is part of a 2005 campaign in response to the 1999 cyclone that hit the state of Orissa, India leaving more than 1.6 million people homeless and without much food source.

Objectives: The objective of the ad is to shed light on the continued struggles faced in Orissa even years after the cyclone and to ask for financial support for these suffering people. People are still homeless, starving, and dying as a result of the natural disaster.

Target Market: Anyone willing to make contributions to the disaster relief led by ActionAid.

Desired Actions: Mail contributions to the specified address in the ad.

Value Proposition: The value proposition is that all contributions are exempt under the Income Tax Act.

 

Description: The ad is a part of a campaign celebrating 60 years of the VW Van. It shows a picture of a vintage VW van with a caption and description below. The caption reads “It belonged to a Trotskyist, a Maoist, a Democrat and a Republican without ever changing owners.” The description goes on to provide more examples of people and things that have changed over the past 60 years. 

Objectives: The objective of the ad is to show that while most things have changed over the last 60 years, including people and their beliefs, the van has not changed and is still it’s old reliable self.

Target Market: Any VW fan, specifically those who have or had a VW van.

Desired Actions: Entice the viewer to buy a VW as they have stayed true to who they are over the years.

Value Proposition: Other than a few many updates, the VW van has not changed or needed to change over the last 60 years. This is meant to show the reliability and durability of the vehicle. VW clearly has confidence in its product if it is promoting a vehicle that hasn’t needed changes in 60 years.

5 TV Ads

“Stop Big Tobacco #1” (California Department of Public Health)

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/stop-big-tobacco-1/

Description: This commercial is in Chinese with English subtitles which I believe is a strategy to catch the attention of the viewer. However, it could also immediately turn some peoples’ attention away. My eyes always get drawn to subtitles to the point where I don’t pay as much attention to the visuals on the screen. In this case, the visuals weren’t as important as the message in the text, so I believe it was effective. The main message was about how smoking tobacco kills more people than some of the most dangerous and feared animals out there.

Objectives: Make the viewers aware of the health risks associated with smoking tobacco.

Target Market: Anyone old enough to purchase and/or smoke tobacco, specifically cigarettes.

Desired Actions: Scare people away from purchasing cigarettes. Their ending tagline was “Stop Big Tobacco from preying on you.”

Value Proposition: The ad compares smoking cigarettes to being killed by predators such as Black Widow spiders and the African Black Mamba. In fact, it states that tobacco is more lethal than both by claiming it takes a life every 6.5 seconds. So the ultimate goal is to push customers away from the described product.

 

“Westworld: The Maze” (HBO)

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/westworld-the-maze/

Description: This ad is by HBO to promote a voice game, The Maze, around their show Westworld in order to keep fans talking about the show even when it wasn’t being aired. The ad also promotes Amazon’s Alexa as it is the device needed to play the voice game. For those that aren’t familiar, Westworld is a futuristic theme park where people can go to live out realistic-feeling fantasies. Participants in the show can live out a multiple of different scenarios involving all of the same characters based on their chosen actions. The ad shows clips from the show and explains how consumers can use Alexa to navigate Westworld using only their voice.

Objectives: The primary objective is to keep fans entertained and talking about the show even when it isn’t being aired.

Target Market: Fans of Westworld as well as fans of games, mazes/puzzles, and technology.

Desired Actions: Purchase an Alexa and the voice game, The Maze are the primary desired actions. Then play the game and experience all of the different paths you can take through The Maze.

Value Proposition: The ad states that the game consists of 36 voice actors, 11,000 lines of script, 60 player generated paths, 32 ways to die, 2 hours of unique gameplay and is the most immersive voice game to date. Over 10,000 fans played the game within the first week of being released.

 

“Share for Good” (Anheuser Busch/Estrella Jalisco)

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/share-for-good/

Description: This ad promotes Estrella Jalisco, a Mexican pilsner beer, by highlighting a social issue regarding misconceptions about the Mexican community. It shows how bitter our world can be with misconceptions about certain races and ethnicities. For example, the top Google suggested results when searching “Mexicans are” would consist of degrading terms such as rapists, lazy, drug dealers, etc. Estrella Jalisco teamed up with inspiring Mexican artists to change that narrative by sharing positive information about Mexicans throughout social media and the internet. The objective of the project was to “drown out the bitterness” in the world by sharing positive things.  

Objectives: To bring awareness to the negative misconceptions surrounding Mexicans and all various ethnic groups for that matter and to sell beer. “To change what we see, we have to change what we share.” That was the motto and objective of the project initiated by Estrella Jalisco and a group of Mexican artists.

Target Market: Beer drinkers and anyone who wants to support positivity and equality across all races and ethnicities.

Desired Actions: Be kind, share positivity, and make a difference in the world. Help “drown out the bitterness” so that we can have a less bitter world.  

Value Proposition: The commercial ends with the narrator stating, “If you want a less bitter world, share for good. If you want a less bitter beer, look for the star.” Estrella Jalisco’s logo is a six-pointed star. That pretty much sums up the value proposition of the beer by claiming it is less bitter than others. The ad also helps to associate drinking Estrella Jalisco with supporting a less bitter world.

 

“I Will What I Want” (Under Armor)

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/i-will-what-i-want/

Description: This ad aired in 2015 as Under Armor looked to increase brand awareness amongst females. The ad features professional ballerina, Misty Copeland, performing a routine wearing Under Armor branded active wear. There is a voice over saying negative things like “you have the wrong body for ballet” that would deter most people from even giving the sport a try. The ad ends with the phase “I Will What I Want” as it is clear Misty has proved her doubters wrong and achieved the success she desired.

Objectives: Inspire women to pursue their dreams and to create an emotional connection between their brand and the female population. Show viewers that “Will trumps Fate.”

Target Market: Women who are active and/or like to wear women’s active wear.

Desired Actions: Support the brand that supports you. Under Armor supports women in pursuit of their dreams by taking a stand and proclaiming that women can achieve anything they want if they will themselves to push past the naysayers. In return, they hope to increase sales amongst the female population.

Value Proposition: The is no specifically stated value proposition other than the insinuation that Under Armor is in full support of females willing themselves to desired outcomes. They developed an entire campaign dedicated to celebrating the female athlete.

 

“Reinvent Mindsets – Dads” (HP Inc.)

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/reinvent-mindsets-dads/

Description: The ad cycles through a handful of father-daughter pairs reading through generic interview tips for women that illustrate unconscious bias towards women in the workplace. It is a powerful ad as some of the tips really make you think about how some people view and treat women. HP Inc. clearly does not support these unconscious biased tips as the ad ends with the HP Chief Diversity Officer stating that they train all hiring managers to reduce unconscious bias.

Objectives: The first objective is to bring attention to unconscious bias that exists during the interview process specifically for women. The second is to announce that HP is hiring and that they hire for talent, nothing else.

Target Market: Anyone looking for a job at HP. This specific ad seems to be targeting women by making them feel safe and equal when it comes to interviewing with their company.

Desired Actions: The primary desired action is for talented individuals to apply for jobs at HP. I also believe that the strong, supportive message will attract consumers to buy HP products going forward.

Value Proposition: The value proposition of this ad is that HP is a progressive company that treats all interviewees and employees equally as they are in search of the most talented candidates. They don’t want to lose out on talented prospects due to unconscious bias, therefore they train hiring managers to reduce the chances of this happening. This message is sure to encourage talented individuals, especially females, to feel comfortable applying for jobs at HP.

Over the next few weeks, I will be making some posts regarding various marketing campaigns. This week we dive into some of the most popular and successful radio ads over the last decade and a half.

 

5 Radio Ads

Motel 6: “DVD”

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/dvd/

  1. This Motel 6 radio ad used humor to draw their listeners in. The actor/voice is essentially making fun of himself and critiquing a previously recorded ad. The overlap of audio definitely catches a listener’s attention.
  2. The objective of this ad is to get you curious about Motel 6 and to let listeners know that they will “leave the light on for you.” As a listener myself, I find comfort in that slogan as it insinuates that even if you are arriving late, you will feel safe and at home as you arrive.
  3. The target audience here would be any traveler needing a reliable and safe hotel to stay at while on the road. I think it really appeals to travelers who may be traveling alone and/or late at night as the message is friendly and the tag line is “we’ll leave the light on for you.”
  4. There is no direct action requested by the ad. However, it does state that it is the best place to go after a long day’s drive. So that would insinuate that the listener should find the closest Motel 6 as they get ready to call it a night on the road.
  5. The value proposition is you will get a clean comfortable room for the lowest price of any national chain.

 

Dos Equis – Heineken: “Coffee”

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/coffee/

  1. This Dos Equis ad ropes the listener in with a catchy melody and a very attention grabby radio voice. It proceeds to describe a man who is capable of doing things that most others would not be able to do. These ridiculous claims really get the listener involved as it adds a sense of humor to the ad.
  2. The objective of the ad is to relate drinking Dos Equis beer to being “the most interesting man in the world” and ultimately sell more beer.
  3. Of course, this targets the ego or competitive side of a listener by enticing them to follow the lead of the most interesting man in the world. The tag line “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” is also catchy and would most likely replay in someone’s head when seeing the XX while standing in front of the beer section contemplating on a drink of choice for the evening.
  4. The ad wants the listeners to drink Dos Equis if they are in the mood for a beer.
  5. The is no clearly stated value proposition other than the most interesting man in the world chooses to drink this beer.

 

Citibank: “Too Old”

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/too-old/

  1. This ad is promoting a service for paying off student loans while you’re still young. The ad uses humor to describe people who are too old to still be paying off student loans. I found it comical and attention-grabbing. It also uses the well-known graduation theme song in the background.
  2. The objective is to notify listeners that when using a Citi card, they will receive ThankYou points that they can redeem and use towards paying off bills such as student loans.
  3. The target audience is young professionals who may still be paying off student loans or other loans for that matter. The Citi ThankYou points are earned by using applicable Citi cards and can be redeemed to pay off bills or purchase items such as plane tickets or hotel rooms.
  4. The ad wants the listeners to sign up for a Citibank card and utilize the ThankYou points program to earn points that can be redeemed to help them pay bills. It states that you can learn more at thankyou.com
  5. The ad doesn’t necessarily state how it is better or different from its competition, but it does use the following phrase to entice listeners to use their service and become debt free. “Pay off your student loans while you’re still young. Redeem your Citi thank you points to make payments towards your loans and watch your debt disappear.”

 

Old Spice: “Momsong”

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/momsong/

  1. This ad is promoting the Old Spice deodorant spray for boys/men. It uses a song with comical lyrics of a mom singing about her son who is now using Old Spice body spray and being treated like a man by women.
  2. The objective is to sell Old Spice body spray to young men. The lyrics of the song talk about boys becoming men and getting more attention from girls because they used Old Spice body spray.
  3. The target audience is young men getting to the stage of needing/wanting to use body spray to improve their scent.
  4. The ad wants the listeners to buy and use Old Spice body spray. Users will benefit by smelling good, attracting potential mates, and becoming men.
  5. The value proposition is that boys will become men with the use of Old Spice body spray. Women will begin to take notice to those that use it.

 

This American Life: “Keep Stories Going”

https://aef.com/ad-campaigns/keep-stories-going/

  1. This ad has an attention-grabbing eerie tune with the voice of a podcast host telling a compelling clip from a murder story to draw the listener in.
  2. The objective of the ad is to raise money for This American Life to continue to produce high quality stories for people to listen to.
  3. The target audience is anyone who enjoys listening to stories, specifically podcasts. It uses a clip from a murder story to really rope in the target audience.
  4. The ad wants the listener to donate to This American Life so that they can continue to provide high quality story telling. The listener will benefit from good stories and podcasts going forward if they support the company.
  5. The value proposition is that with more donations, This American Life can continue to provide high quality stories for listeners to entertain themselves with. These will help listeners pass the time when driving, traveling, or looking for something fun to fill up some free time.

In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the final chapter and final thoughts I have of the book as a whole.

 

One of the main focuses of the final chapter revolves around the art of interviewing for talent. The authors break down this objective into a five-step process.

 

The first, make sure that the talent interview stands alone and is separate from other aspects of the interviewing process. Both the manager and the interviewee should understand that this interview is exclusively reserved for learning about the interviewee’s talents. The talent interview’s sole purpose is “to discover whether the candidate’s recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior match the job.

 

The second, ask a few open-ended questions and then try to keep quiet. Open-ended questions allow the candidate to take his answer in a number of different directions. It allows the manager or interviewer an opportunity to evaluate the response. Things such as how quickly a candidate comes up with an answer, how they relate it to previous experiences and how consistent their answers are with other information gathered about the candidate prove to be valuable when evaluating whether the candidate may be a good fit for the job. It is important for the manager to remain quiet and not guide the candidates answer in a “right” direction.

 

The third, listen to the specifics of the answer. This builds off of step number two. The authors state that “past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.” So asking open-ended questions regarding past experiences can help give managers a better idea of what type of employee the candidate has been in the past and will most likely be in the future. Listening for specific examples or experiences is important because in most cases if a candidate can clearly recall certain experiences then it is likely that the behavior associated with that experience is a recurring behavior for the candidate. Again, this allows a manager to formulate a better understanding of the type of employee the candidate will be.

 

The fourth, look for any clues that tell you about the candidate’s talents. The book describes rapid learning ability and personal satisfaction as two of the most important ones to fish for.

 

The fifth, know what to listen for. Only ask questions to which you know how top performers would respond.

 

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is in a managerial role or would like to be in the future. It provides a lot of insight into some best practices for the role of manager. I really enjoyed reflecting on past experiences, both as an employee and as a manger, while reading through this book. I was better able to understand the faults of some of the poor managers I have worked for as well as the strength of the excellent ones I had the pleasure of working with. It certainly has me self-evaluating my own managerial skills and learning that each employee will require different forms of leadership in order to turn their unique talents into performance.

“The Fourth Key: Find the Right Fit” (Chapter 6)

 

In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the importance of helping employees find the right role and continuing to incentivize them to excel in those roles over a long period of time.

 

The chapter begins by laying out the issues associated with employees “climbing the ladder” within an organization. Many employees are motivated to work hard for the next promotion, the higher salary or the more respected role within an organization. Unfortunately, in many cases, these sorts of incentives tend to pull employees out of a role they thrive in and put them in roles where their talents don’t align with the responsibilities.

 

“Some roles performed excellently are more valuable than roles higher up the ladder performed averagely.”

 

For example, you may have an outstanding sales representative who gets “promoted” into a managerial role. Just because that individual has mastered his craft at sales and has proven to be a very productive salesman, does not necessarily mean that he will enjoy or have the talents to master the art of managing a team of sales representatives.

 

Another example the book uses is the hierarchy of the education system. In theory, a principal is more valuable to a school than one individual teacher. It is natural for a teacher to have career aspirations of moving up in an administrative role that offers a higher salary and commands more responsibilities. However, promoting one of your brilliant teachers into a mediocre principal makes the system and everyone involved become less productive. Why not find a way to incentivize a brilliant teacher to continue to excel in their role and feel as though their hard work is being rewarded without feeling that need to jump to the next rung of the ladder which may not be the best fit for their talents?

 

The authors of the book offer a few solutions to help managers navigate the issues of “where do I go from here” that they hear from employees. The umbrella piece of advice is to create heroes in every role. You’ll always have some people who aim to climb the conventional ladder, but it is important for great managers to help employees see that the jump to a new position is not the only way to achieve respect, prestige, and personal career satisfaction especially if the jump moves you away from utilizing your talents.

 

The most intriguing philosophy discussed in this chapter is that of broadbanding. Broadbanding is described by the authors as “For each role, you define pay in broad bands, or ranges, with the top end of the lower-level role overlapping the bottom end of the role above.

 

“For example, at Merrill Lynch, the top end of the pay band for financial consultants is over $500,000 a year. In contrast, the bottom end of the branch manager role is $150,000 a year. This means that if you are a successful financial consultant and you want to move into a manager role, you might have to endure a 70% pay cut. The upside for the novice manager is that the top end of the manager pay band runs into the millions.”

 

I like this idea of broadbanding because it really makes an individual consider if a career shift is the right move for them. Sure, they may want the $1,000,000 paycheck, but will their talents fit the requirements of the role and allow them to reach that status? If not, they run the risk of making significantly less than they do in a role they currently excel at.

 

In summary, great managers, if possible, should find ways to help their employees achieve career satisfaction by creating heroes in every role. Encourage employees to take the next step up the ladder if their talents align with the role and incentivize employees to continue to excel and become masters of their current role if that role best suites their talents.

“The Third Key: Focus on Strengths” (Chapter 5)

 

In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the importance or focusing on strengths and spending time with your best employees.

 

Each person is different and possesses a unique set of talents. Great managers focus on each person’s strengths and manages around his weaknesses. Don’t try to perfect each person into who you want them to be. Instead, do everything you can to help each person cultivate his talents and become more of who he already is.

 

“You will have to manage around the weaknesses of each and every employee. But if, with one particular employee, you find yourself spending most of your time managing around weaknesses, then know that you have made a casting error. At this point, it is time to fix the casting error and to stop trying to fix the person.”

 

The authors bring up the point that a common false narrative exists around the belief that everyone has this unlimited potential to be the best at whatever we want to be. If you overcome fears and strengthen your weaknesses, then you are on your way to maximizing your potential. However, great managers don’t fall into this way of thinking. They believe that if everyone truly has the same potential, then we lose our individuality.

 

Great managers don’t agree with focusing on and defining an employee by his weaknesses. Let him be defined by his strengths. Provide your employees with self-confidence and they will be more likely to find ways to work around weaknesses. In this book, there are three possible routes defined for helping someone to navigate a weakness: “Devise a support system. Find a complementary partner. Or find an alternative role.”

 

Great managers also believe that you will become frustrated if you waste your time trying to turn non-talents into talents. Now that is not to say persistence is always a waste of time. It is beneficial when learning a new skill or acquiring new knowledge, just not when dealing with talents. The authors describe less effective managers as being “blind to the distinction between skills and knowledge – both of which can be acquired – and talents – which cannot.” These managers are setting employees up for failure and discouragement when they tell them that if they work hard enough, they can transform non-talents into talents.

 

“Spend time with your best people.” Another topic brought up in this chapter that really got me thinking in a different way than I had before.

 

I had never really thought much about this topic until reading this chapter. The authors point out that many managers revert to spending so much time focusing on their “strugglers” or less productive employees and not nearly enough time with their most productive employees. At first, you may think this makes sense. However, the argument made by the authors is that everyone responds well to attention. If you ignore your best because you don’t have to worry about them messing up, then over time you run the risk of them becoming complacent and potentially doing less. Give them the attention they deserve and help them to become even better at what they already excel at. Still make time to help the “strugglers,” but show them that the harder they work, the more attention and recognition they will receive. You can’t spend all of your time holding the hands of those who prove to be less productive. At the end of the day, if a struggler can’t find the self-motivation or discipline to want to become better, then are they really the right person to have on your team?

 

Another benefit to spending more time with your best employees is that you can learn what they are doing to be the most productive. If you can establish what the best internal practices are within your organization, then you can communicate those best practices with the less productive employees in order to help them improve.

 

Now, although the authors push the importance of spending more time with their best employees, they don’t discount the importance of helping and guiding their other employees. Great managers still have to find ways to bring the best out of everyone on their team. They just wanted to emphasize the point of spending more time with the best as this is often overlooked by many managers. It is easy to get caught up trying to lift up the under performers and unintentionally ignore the overachievers. Great managers are able to praise and learn from the best so that they can provide more valuable assistance to the “strugglers.”

“The Second Key: Define the Right Outcomes” (Chapter 4)

 

The focus of this week’s reflection is on the importance of defining the right outcomes for your employees. In “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, the authors state, “The hardest thing about being a manager is realizing that your people will not do things the way that you would. But get used to it. Because if you try to force them to, then two things happen. They become resentful – they don’t want to do it. And they become dependent – they can’t do it.”

 

It is important to find a balance between providing guidance and allowing your employees enough freedom to be comfortable in their environment and to work to their strengths. Buckingham and Coffman state, “Define the right outcomes and then let each person find his own route toward these outcomes.” They go on to say that the most efficient way to turn someone’s talent into performance is to help him find his own path of least resistance toward the desired outcome.

 

Don’t try to mold or perfect someone’s role for them. The majority of the time, employees will take responsibility of their performance when they are trusted with the work they are doing. Of course, there will always be instances when you face someone who breaks this trust, but if you go into every work relationship with a lack of trust, then it becomes difficult to achieve long term success. It should also make you question why you’ve decided to hire this individual in the first place if you aren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

Forcing someone to follow a script more than likely will result in them coming off as disingenuous to potential clients. If that’s the case, the customer will not be satisfied, and the desired outcome will not be achieved. A great example of this would be the different closing strategies of a salesman. Some salesmen work best by building relationships, some by showcasing their expertise and belief in the product or service they are selling, and others who are masters of being persuasive. All are different approaches one could take to achieving the same outcome, a sale. Don’t put your employees in a box where they feel uncomfortable. Let your employees work in a way that they can be genuine in their approach.

 

Now while it is important to avoid a completely scripted culture and to allow your employees some freedom in their approach to achieving a desired outcome, there still must be rules and regulations in place in order to maintain a company or industry standard. Buckingham and Coffman define four “Rules of Thumb” that managers should make sure their employees are abiding by:

  1. “Employees must follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role that deal with accuracy and safety.” Quality control and minimizing risks are essential to having a successful business.
  2. “Employees must follow certain required steps when those steps are part of a company or industry standard.” Standards enhance things such as communication, learning, creativity and development within an industry.
  3. “Required steps are useful only if they do not obscure the desired outcome.” If the ultimate desired outcome is customer satisfaction, you have to allow employees to read various situations and act in appropriate manners. If you force them to stick to specific scripts, then customers lose faith in whether you truly have their best interest at heart.
  4. “Required steps only prevent dissatisfaction. They cannot drive customer satisfaction.” Ultimately, desired outcomes boil down to customer satisfaction. If the customer is happy, they will return for more business and will likely refer other to your business as well. If they are not happy, you won’t hear from them again and your reputation gets tarnished. This is where the earlier point of allowing employees to be genuine in their approach to achieving a desired outcome becomes relevant. Allow them to find a way to connect with the customer. If you want to turn a customer into an advocate, you must meet these four expectations of the customer: accuracy, availability, partnership, and advice.

“What Great Managers Do” (Chapter 2), “The First Key: Select for Talent” (Chapter 3)

In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to dive into the role of a manager and discuss how the great ones are able to select for talent. Buckingham and Coffman believe, and I am in agreement, that great managers are ultimately the glue that holds a business together.

 

Managers are responsible for getting the most out of their employees. Buckingham and Coffman define managers as those who are responsible for looking inward in order to help a company and its employees find and release talents. They state, “the manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. A manager must be able to do four activities extremely well: select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person.”

 

Each person is motivated differently. Skills, knowledge and talents are distinct elements of a person’s performance. Skills and knowledge can be taught, talent cannot. Skills are capabilities that can be transferred from one individual to another, similar to the concept of the traditional instructor-pupil learning model. Knowledge is what you are aware of. Factual knowledge is what you know to be true, and experiential knowledge is what you have grown to understand through life experiences.

 

Great managers define talent as “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” You cannot teach talent. Experience, brainpower, and willpower are great qualities, but they are not necessarily talents. Talent is more about what drives a person, how he thinks, and how he builds relationships. There are three fundamental types of talents: striving, thinking, and relating. Striving talents explain the WHY of a person. Thinking talents explain the HOW of a person. Relating talents explain the WHO of a person.

 

The best way to help an employee cultivate his talents is to find him a role that plays to those talents. Don’t spend time trying to fix their weaknesses, spend time enhancing their strengths. Try to match one’s talent to a role. Don’t waste your time trying to mold someone to fit a specific role out of necessity. Buckingham and Coffman make a great point when they state, “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”

 

I believe that the most empowering feeling for an employee is knowing that he/she is utilizing his/her talents for the betterment of a business and its clients. For me, I have found that sense of empowerment working in the fitness industry. I have realized that I have a genuine passion and motivation for motivating and supporting people along their fitness journey because I understand the value that fitness can bring into one’s life. I feel as though I can empathize and connect with many different people to help them realize that they are capable of more than they think. It makes “work” not feel like work.

 

So with that, I ask you to reflect on your talents. Do you know what they are? Remember that talents are different from learned skills or knowledge. They are unique traits that you have that cannot be taught. Does the work or job that you are currently doing align with your talents? If not, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your situation and find a way to optimize the unique talents you possess.

“First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman.

Reflection on “The Measuring Stick” (Chapter 1)

 

I always knew that a company’s culture played an important role in its success, but I never took the time to dive in and try to understand why. At the beginning of chapter 1, the authors immediately stress the importance of finding and keeping top talent in order to maintain competitiveness within an industry. If you think about it, a company is built around providing a product or service. However, that product or service is essentially worthless if there aren’t people to help develop, improve, sell, and implement it. Therefore, it becomes vitally important for companies looking for long-term success to invest in their employees and the experiences those employees have in the workplace.

 

This book provides 12 items to simply and accurately measure the strength of a workplace. These 12 items are now commonly known as the Q12 and are as follows:

 

Q01. I know what is expected of me at work.

Q02. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

Q05. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

Q07. At work, my opinions seem to count.

Q08. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Q10. I have a best friend at work.

Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Q12. This last year, I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow.

 

I wanted to share all 12 items because I think it is important for everyone to reflect upon them no matter their current role (employee, manager, executive, owner, etc.). If the majority, in not all, of these items aren’t being addressed in your current workplace, then things need to change to assure everyone is being challenged, productive, and beyond satisfied with their current situation. When that happens, the potential for success will drastically increase.

 

I have experienced toxic work environments that drove me to hate what I was doing and ultimately led to career changes. I have also been fortunate to work in environments that made me happy, excited and motivated to show up every day. I had one job I was at for 9 months. Another for four years. I’ll let you all decide which one was the more positive experience. What I can tell you is that in both scenarios my superiors played huge roles in making the experiences what they were. I am looking forward to learning more about what makes a great manager in the chapters to come.