Monday Morning Momentum™
Do you know the values of your organization? Can you articulate them? Are they memorable?
When I joined Yahoo! in 1998 as Yahoo!’s first director of Customer Care, I realized the importance of being able to answer “yes” to these three questions. Why? The values we hold drive the decisions we make.
Yahoo! had 50 million customers when I started. Thousands more were joining every day. We were launching new products, services, and features every week. Yet we had only a handful of employees dedicated to customer service and almost no customer support infrastructure. We had a lot to do in a short period of time. The question was where to begin.
For us it began with deciding what was most important to us: What were our values? If we could be clear on what we stood for, all the required staffing, training, technology, and service program decisions would be made easier. Our strategies and tactics would be grounded in the type of organization we were committed to building.
So we launched “The Five Fs” of Customer Care. As you can guess, the “Five Fs” were five words that all started with the letter “F.” We wanted them to be memorable. We wanted everyone to know them. Here they are:
"Friendly, Fast, Focused, Fired-Up, and Fun!"
Our Five F message was always the same:
(1) We were “friendly” to our customers, to
each other, and to everyone else at Yahoo!.
People wanted to work with us.
(2) We were “fast” at resolving customer problems and internal issues. Our team was quick, and so was our email and phone support technology.
(3) We were “focused” on our priorities. Our goals, plans, and reports kept us on track.
(4) We were “fired up.” We had plenty of energy to give our best every day. We’d work all night if we needed to meet a challenge.
(5) We were “fun!” People enjoyed working with us. We worked and played together. We had a recreation team to plan team events. We kept our work environment enjoyable.
And then we had our “Bonus F”: “Flexible.” We made sure everyone knew that we were capable of responding to whatever Yahoo! needed us to do. We welcomed the opportunity to support new products and services.
Huston Smith, author of The Religions of Man, discusses the challenge of developing a “deliberate tradition” of values in any society. “A people must first decide what values are important to their collective well-being,” wrote Smith. “Then every device of education, formal and informal, should be turned to seeing that these values are internalized as far as possible by everyone.”
Everyone we interviewed learned The Five Fs. Every time we gave a tour we explained The Five Fs. When we spoke during Yahoo!’s new-hire orientation program, we presented The Five Fs.
Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, talks about the importance of having clearly understood values in an organization. In his book, Authentic Leadership, George wrote: “Values have to be discussed at every opportunity, constantly reinforced, and consistently reflected in the actions of management at all levels.”
Our Five Fs were a guide for what we said and did. Of course there were plenty of days when we did not meet our own expectations, but our focus on our Five F values made sure our backsliding didn’t last long. Our Five Fs were our identity. We were committed to living them.
How about your organization? What values are driving your business?
Copyright 2009 David J. Pollay
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David J. Pollay is the creator of The Law of the Garbage Truck™. He is a syndicated columnist with the North Star Writers Group, creator and host of The Happiness Answer™ television program, and an internationally sought after speaker. David’s book, Beware of Garbage Trucks!™, is due out this summer.
David is the founder and president of the consulting and seminar organization, The Momentum Project. He is also a founding associate executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). If you want to reprint one of David’s columns, email email@example.com. Here’s David’s full bio.