by Jon Nelson
No matter their role — President, Development Assistant, Copy Room Manager — everyone at your organization represents your organization.
Scott Stratten emphasizes this truth in The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business Unawesome: How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive. In it, he discusses an encounter he had at a Hilton Garden Inn. He had a breakfast that was really bad, and says he wasn’t trying to make a big deal but, “If I owned this business, I would want someone to know” (p. 2). So he told the waitress, who told a manager who came out and apologized and took care of the check. But then, as he was leaving, out ran a sous-chef named Forbes who, with a look of great concern showed that he cared, and that he really wanted to make sure all who were impacted by his work were happy with it.
Stratten writes about being “awesome,” hence the book title. He states that everyone in every role can be awesome where they are every day, and that in turn can transform departments and entire organizations (pp. 7-10).
Being awesome is not about trying to avoid all mistakes, because no matter what you do they will happen. As Stratten says about Forbes, what’s important is showing how great you and your organization are when you get the opportunity (and it really is and opportunity) to make it better:
He truly cared that they screwed up. He owned it. He changed my view of the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hilton Overall. And he didn’t have to.
To me, Forbes is the Hilton. Not their mission statement or logo. Every employee is your brand ambassador, your marketer, and the face of your company. Employees make a difference. Forbes made a difference for a billion-dollar hotel brand to me. (p. 3, emphases added)
Everyone at an organization affects how the organization is viewed by those it serves. Think about Forbes. He wasn’t seen, he was back in the kitchen, but still he had an impact on a guest, and then when he got the chance he had a much more powerful, lasting impact by showing that he cared. Now, Stratten is a fan and he’s telling all the people who read his book, too.
What does this mean? It means that you, no matter your job title, impact how donors, campers, potential donors, people struggling with dependence, students, the homeless or victims of abuse are served. Even if you haven’t made a mistake, by going above and beyond, or simply showing you care, you can completely change how someone views you and views your organization. You might get that big gift, or you could radically change a life.
Being awesome doesn’t even have to be a huge deal, at least not at first.
Be nice to the UPS driver — who knows if she has money and just delivers packages because she likes interacting with people? She would be able to make a nice gift, but just needs someone to motivate her by showing her that your cause is awesome. Be kind to the person on the phone who reached your desk by mistake and has a problem. How you respond could completely change how he views your agency, and he’ll likely tell his friends about it. Word of mouth is gold, and good experiences are a great motivator for it. Heck, just smile!
So, “How are you going to be awesome today” (p. 10.)? How can you make a huge difference for your organization, and for your career, by simply showing you care? How can you help the rest of your team to be awesome, too? It can start by simply being awesome where you are, and modeling that for others.
Jon Nelson, of Beloit, Wis., is Associate Director for Communications with ALDE. He is also Principal of Nelson Business Communications, LLC.