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Creating Disney Magic

Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, shares his wisdom and experience from his time with Disney, Marriott, and Hilton. Lee discusses how you can apply lessons in leadership, management, and customer service to create magic in your organization.
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Creating Disney Magic
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Now displaying: January, 2018
Jan 30, 2018

Focusing on numbers and neglecting the customer has become too common.

When times get tough, companies cut costs, often at the expense of customer service. Is that the right move? Does customer service really hurt the bottom line?

Absolutely not. Without the customer, you will not have a bottom line to worry about. Take care of the customer.

It takes discipline to offer excellent customer service while still meeting financial goals.

A constant focus on meeting financial numbers, you will wear down employees. Employees won't like it when they feel the focus move away from the customer.

Great organizations don't suffer as much during recessions. Great organizations take care of their customers no matter what is happening. Ordinary companies cut back and offer less to the customer when times are tough.

Jan 23, 2018

Anytime you get a promotion, especially when you are young, you may face an experience gap. Whether the experience gap is real or perceived, you have to address it. 

When I was in the hospitality industry, I spent time as a cook, a banquet waiter, restaurant waiter, and I cleaned rooms. I worked most jobs in the guest side of operations. 

Experience and exposure are the keys to overcoming the experience gap. Working your way through the operations with give you the experience you need and the exposure to what people in other roles in your organization are facing. 

Plus, people will notice. If you spend all of your time in the office, people will continue to think you don't have experience and are out of touch. But if they see you putting in the time, they will know you have the experience. 

The only way to get experience is to get out there. Reading about it and talking to people does not have the same impact as experience. 

Jan 16, 2018

Building trust with your supervisor is an art. All of us, well, most of us, want to build enough trust so we get more autonomy and responsibility in our job. 

If you want to build trust with your boss, you begin with results. 

Bring a project forward, get approval from your supervisor, and then get good results. 

When you have a track record of producing results, you will move from getting approval to being able to do the project on your own and keep your boss informed. 

Sometimes you have to test it. Pick a small project and do it. Then inform your boss of the results.

Don't wait for your boss to tell you what to do. And don't maintain exactly what is expected of you. You want to perform better than simply meeting expectation.

If you ever need clarity on where the line is, ask. Have the conversation with your supervisor so you know what issues you should bring forward and what you should handle on your own. 

Jan 9, 2018

At Disney World, we are always on the lookout for good people to become cast members. When we realized some of our best new cast members were referred by current cast members, we made a program out of it. 

We had cards cast members could carry. If they ran into someone who gave great service, they could hand them a card with details about applying for a job at Disney.

This worked well because people who have a job, and are performing well at their job, are not actively looking for a job. And many people didn't think they could get a job at Disney. These referral cards took care of both of problems. Plus, cast members who brought in a certain number of referrals got to attend an awards dinner and receive recognition. 

People who work at Disney help bring in the right kind of people. Your good employees want to bring in great people to keep the work environment enjoyable.  

Every business ought to be ahead of the game. Get out in the community looking for the right people to fill your next opening.

Jan 1, 2018

Often, people ask me about how to motivate employees. My answer...you shouldn't motivate employees. 

Of course, you should appreciate, recognize and appreciate employees. But your job is not to motivate employees. Your job is to hire the right employees and they will motivate themselves. 

Hire people who want to be great. What many think is motivation is really manipulation. Do you think a pizza party or casual Friday matters to great employees? 

If you want to motivate great employees, make sure you give them a safe place to work. Also provide plenty of appreciation, recognition, and encouragement. This is what helps great employees thrive. 

Personally, I have a fear of failure. It drives me. I want to be successful. I want my wife, son, and grand-kids to see me as successful. If you understand what drives people, you can help them achieve it. This will be more successful than trying to motivate people.

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