Tim, one of my partners, compares marketing to a diamond – many facets that must each have polish, almost to perfection, to create the ulitmate value of the whole. A single flawed element (in marketing that could be pricing, product or promotion, for example) can wipe out the value of other elements done very well. I view “Management” similarly.
Certainly few business activities have more value than the finding of the right people. At XIKAR, we use interviews, resumes and a “work culture” survey to indicate work style and inherent traits, making sure they fit both the company culture and the job activity – “getting the right people in the right seats” to paraphrase Disney and others. Getting this right, getting high performers who emulate, even live the culture, prevents most problems and facilitates the other facets of management.
Once at XIKAR, our associates deserve to understand our goals, and should be able to guide themselves by them. We accomplish this by setting overall objectives and then by including them in defining the specifics. We then leave strive to provide the right amount of autonomy, with the authority, to achieve that responsibility.
Associates also deserve recognition and reward. We often hear that recognition is the more important of the two. In my experience, both are required, but of the two, recognition is the harder to give. That’s not because we don’t give it or don’t want to, but because it includes and means much more than congratulating them on a job well done. It also means recognizing their value to the organization and the value of their input by including them in the ideation and strategy process. As a result, many of our ideas, such as our best selling lighter, the Element, come from inside the team.
And perhaps in our most important facet of management, we strive every day to treat our associates as we expect to be treated. At XIKAR, we try to create a meritocracy of ideas. At the trade show this year in July, we will introduce a new era of humidification technology that results from brainstorming, deep study and the outcome of many people synthesizing each others ideas.
Finally, I view safety as the glue that binds the facets. As long as we each are focused on innovation and extraordinary customer experience, then team members don’t risk when they take a chance on ideas.
Hopefully, our diamond of Management creates XIKAR for Life among our team. And when you call, we hope you hear that in our voices and see that in our actions – and make XIKAR for Life your mantra too!
Kurt Van Keppel