Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living The Vision #2

As I continue to work with and for organizations, similar areas for growth and development keep coming up. Awhile back I wrote a posting about the importance of a Universal Vision. In that posting I made the following statement:

"To have any meaning or value organization values must become universal within an organization. Everyone from the Chairperson to the custodian should be able to state the values of an organization. More importantly every member of an organization must consistently live the values of their organization."- Universal Vision posting

Living your vision is so important I felt compelled to share another example.

Nonprofit X

The organization I would like to discuss is a nonprofit organization owned by it's members. The purpose of this organization as stated by management is member service. The management believes that customers or members are their most important priority. But unlike many organizations, all levels of the management of this organization live the vision.

I am using this organization as an example because of its remarkable former CEO Jeff Burey. I sent a copy of this entry to Jeff before posting it here. Jeff introduced himself to every member and employee and would later greet them by name. If a member needed something he would personally take care of them. Despite his position I never saw Jeff pull rank. Jeff was adamant about being called by his first name. The organization has multiple departments including a restaurant. If Jeff walked through the kitchen and the dishwasher was behind Jeff would start rinsing dishes. When the man that literally signs your paycheck is knee deep in the muck with you, it helps to flatten the organizational chart.

Despite having multiple departments Jeff stressed that members and their guests not see the structure. It doesn't matter if a member or guest asks for something outside of your department. You are responsible for connecting them with the right person and ensuring they are taken care of. Answering the phone by the second ring is considered sacred. Anticipating a member's needs and remembering their preferences is not just encouraged but expected.

Before he left I asked Jeff why he insisted on being involved in daily operations. He said he was just part of the team. When he left the organization he sent hand written notes to those of us he worked with on a daily basis. I was a bus boy.

This method of management also helped to keep management informed. Members, visitors and employees would share their concerns openly as Jeff walked around greeting people and helping out each day. But management awareness is another posting. A good thought though. How long has it been since your CEO or even department heads have actually done what your organization does?