Getting Employees to Act on Your Brand Promise

Robin Williams (from Gallup, not the comdian) shares some great strategies and examples for empowering employees to do the right thing for your customers and brand.  Getting Employees to Act on Your Brand Promise.

Why we should think about dying more often.

The Cirrus team and I have spent quite a bit of time together these last few weeks talking about all client projects coming to a close, new client projects in the new year, and our own plans to continue to establish Cirrus as the single point of contact for consulting and out-sourcing needs of the SMB. (I know.  That was shameless.)

I decided to read back through a copy of Steve Job’s commencement address at Stanford University from 2005.  As I was reading, the third story Steve told really struck me.   Continue reading Why we should think about dying more often.

Think you aren’t getting enough respect?


Your personal brand is speaking loudly. Often so loud that nothing else matters.

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand is the image you present in any contact. In person, it is your appearance, mannerisms, and word choice.

Online, it is the sum of your personal and private profiles and posts.

We easily recognize how important brand management is for businesses, but we often overlook the importance for career advancement and client satisfaction.

In case you can’t read what is on the little black pickup, it says “Appearance Tech”. How much confidence is it inspiring in you?

Leaders: How to Fight for Clarity

Linked 2 Leadership


Much of success in life is about getting everyone on the same page—whether it’s personal or professional relationships.

And inevitably someone has to choose to lead the charge in getting clarity. 

Getting On the Same Page

As fighter pilots, we reviewed comm procedures during pre-flight briefing to ensure that everyone would be on the “same frequency”. In this case gaining clarity could mean the difference between life and death.

In team sports like football and baseball we see players and coaches using all sorts of signals and methods to achieve communications clarity—waving a hand, brushing an arm, touching a nose.

In these games it’s immediately obvious that clarity is the starting point for precise execution.

Without clarity things fall apart right in front of our eyes as the play unfolds; the feedback loop is immediate and obvious—from both the players and the fans.

The Challenge

Unfortunately it’s usually not so…

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The most important component of merger success.

Accretive. Synergistic. These are both words that get bantied about board room presentations on the business case justifying a strategic or opportunistic acquisition or merger. Many smart people pour over financials. Extensive preliminary due diligence is done. Financial models are built. So then, why do the overwhelming majority of M&A activity fail to produce the projected value? Continue reading The most important component of merger success.

Cirrus-ism for the Day

Naive Enlightenment – When you have just enough experience or data to be too dangerous for your own good.  This exists in a place between ignorance and wisdom.

Firing an Employee – It’s Always Personal

If you have been a business owner or manager for any extended period of time, you have likely had to fire someone who just wasn’t working out.  There has to be something seriously wrong with any individual who enjoys this experience.  I never get very good sleep the night before.  However, this is an opportunity to “fail forward” and grow as an organization.

Every time I had to have “the conversation”, I took it very personally.  What did I miss during the interview process?  How can we improve our chances of finding the right fit?  Did we fail as an organization to provide the right training, management, or clarity?

Before I lose you, let me say that I do understand that there are times when employees surprise you or just have personal stuff that comes up affecting their performance.  However, if this is more the rule than the exception, you should change where you are fishing for employees.  You’re likely fishing in a cesspool!  If you claim that it goes with the territory for the labor rate you can afford, make sure you are factoring in the costs of training, higher unemployment tax rates, lower moral, interviewing replacements, and low customer satisfaction.

That said, employee terminations often speak more about failures in the organization than the individual being let go.  So, here are some things I’ve learned from first hand experience and ideas I’ve learned from others.

  1. Have a written job description.  I know this is basic, but you would be surprised how many hires are made without one.  It also needs to be detailed enough that it actually describes the specific job and not just any job.  What are the must-haves?  What is negotiable?
  2. Hire for BOTH technical ability AND cultural fit.  This assumes you have defined what “cultural fit” means.  If not, take time to define how your organization and the individuals within the organization behave.  (Read that last sentence again. If you don’t have those definitions written down, STOP now and do it. It’s that important.)  Also, know what technical and cognitive abilities will make the candidate a good fit for the organization.  What core values should this person posses?   Here are some questions Google uses to insure they get the best and brightest:
  3. Put short-list candidates through a simulation.  Try to mimic the circumstances under which they will be working.  We suggested one client looking for support agents working in a stressful environment have candidates try to play a video game while answering phone calls and dealing with interruptions.
  4. Engage some of their potential team members in the final interview process.  With the new hire’s peers, technical ability will be suspect in the beginning, so they need to at least have some chemistry to see them through.  Invite the candidate to an office party or engage them in an activity or project with their potential team members.

In almost every case I’ve seen, the termination of a person who was not working out began with a broken hiring process.  As a business owner and manager, I dread the hiring process.  That’s all the more reason to get it right every time…or at least tip the odds strongly in my favor.

Top 10 Must-read Business Books

My list of 10 must-read business books in no particular order.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
    (Skill with People by Les Giblin is a good “Cliff Notes” version.)
  2. Developing the Leader Within You – John Maxwell
  3. Leadership and Self Deception – Arbinger Institute
  4. How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins
  5. Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky
  6. Switch – Chip and Dan Heath
  7. The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni
  8. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership – Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, & Marty Linsky
  9. NUTS! – Freiberg & Freiberg
  10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey


What would you add to this list?