W&D Undercover Boss: Herschend Family Entertainment


I hope all of my friends in the attractions “biz” got to see this week’s episode of Undercover Boss since it highlighted an amusement park company.  In the hot seat was Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, trying his luck with entry level jobs at various parks.

If you didn’t get to see it, click here.  We’ll wait.

Everyone back?  Good.

Like many episodes of UB, Joel finds people in his company that work hard, have great stories of survival and in some cases, want his job!  I particularly liked Albert, who pulled out his laptop to sport his latest Roller Coaster Tycoon creation!

What really struck me about this episode was Joel’s reference to values.  Herschend works on the foundation of Christian values, and I know many other companies have a set of guiding values that drive them as a company, and set an expectation of behavior for their employees. By what we got to see, the value system is alive and well at Herschend’s properties.

So the big question is not IF your company has a set of values or guiding principles, it’s whether or not those values are known by each employee and supported through all levels of management.

In a related story, yesterday Linda and I had a visit from a lawn care company.  The sales person would not enter the house until he put on his little protective shoe covers so he wouldn’t track dirt in the house.  He said, “I made the policy, I have to follow it.”

I think both these examples show that values can (and need) to be more than a poster on the wall, more than a wallet card, more than a power point slide in orientation.  That’s the easy stuff.  Instead, values have to live and breathe in each action of each employee.  They need to be tested, communicated, followed, understood, explained, and role modeled.  That’s the not-so-easy stuff.

We’ve all been in situations that test our commitment and understanding of our personal and professional values.  We’ve made tough, unpopular decisions that we KNEW were right, even though others may not understand them.  How many times does a wallet card really help in those situations?

The reality is that we often create these “learning aids” because we think people need to be reminded to do what’s right.  What REALLY influences that behavior is when employees see their leader and the people around them living up to the values that the company says it stands for.

A poster on the wall is just words, and what speaks louder than words?

What did you think?

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