Call me a coaster nerd, I really don’t mind

It’s time.

Yes, it’s time for CNC17 (coaster nerd con), where two buddies and I descend on one particular area of the country and begin an epic roller coaster road trip.  This year’s trip will kick off June 24th in Minneapolis.

Our final stop on CNC16!

This year, it seems like every stop is EXTRA special:

Here is our route in case you want to follow along or if you are ON the route and want to say HI!  (We do allow tag-a-longs, as long as you are willing to ride the coasters over and over and over again!)

And you can bet your sweet bippy that we’ll not only be evaluating the airtime and lateral G’s on the coasters, but we’ll also be making notes about guest service, food, cleanliness, etc.  In other words, the whole enchilada (and maybe one of those, too)!

While I’m gone, I have an assignment for you.  Take a good look at you and your leadership team.  What do you need?  What will help take you or your team’s leadership to the next level (or just help you get through the season)?

If it’s something I offer (like the list of links below), give me a shout and we’ll chat! Even if it’s not, let me know and I will help you find the resource(s) you need.  That’s how I Help Leaders Lead!

See you on the midway – thanks for reading!!

DON’T LET YOUR EMPLOYEES BURNOUT THIS SEASON!!

You can prepare your supervisors to identify and eliminate burnout before it happens – but you have to start NOW! The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Development Program was designed with your busy schedule in mind!

“I am super excited about the Myth class. I have noticed a marked improvement in my supervisors who took the course. Their interactions with the employees they supervise have improved. They have a sense of purpose and belonging. The time spent in class definitely advanced their skills to the next level.”

  — Sam Gage, Director  of Operations, Silverwood Theme Park

Click here, or the picture below to learn more!!

 

Would you like to dance?

I’ve already written about the GREAT service we received while dining one day on our recent trip to California, and my overall impressions of the guest service at all of the parks we visited.  Today though, I want to explore an experience we had while waiting in lines that had nothing to do with how the employees treated us.

CNC Superman

Over the course of a week, we stood in lots of lines and waited for lots of rides.  What happened over and over again was the “dance” of large parties trying to get onto a ride at the same time.

Picture the “corral” set-up of most roller coaster loading stations.  There are chutes that guests get into that align them with the seat they are about to take.  This is where the dance happens, when people count the other guests in front of them and realize they may not be on the same ride as their friends.

So then this conversation ensues, “Would you like to go ahead of us so we can go with our friends?”

Let’s look at that.  So a guest is letting, in fact suggesting, that another group GO AHEAD of them in line.  At any other point in the line this would be considered “cutting” and not tolerated by the masses.  Yet, here it is encouraged.

And we saw this from guests of all ages and cultural backgrounds. It seemed that just about everyone was willing to wait a little longer for the chance to experience the ride their friends.

There is a special dynamic at an amusement park about sharing the experiences you have.  Even if you go on the exact same ride one cycle later, it’s not the same as going on on the ride WITH your friends.

Does this give us any insight into how people behave in the workplace?  I think it actually does.

The question about why people stay in a job, or what keeps them coming back, or what makes all the ups and downs worth it generally comes back to one thing: the people.

Of course we can’t overlook things like pay, benefits and working conditions, but so often people are driven by being around others that care about them, that support them and that THEY can have a positive influence on.  The more I am around people and get to study them, the more I truly believe that at their core, people want to GIVE as much as they GET.  That may not always be easy to do or articulate, but I do see it as a genuine human need.

As funny as it sounds, I think we sometimes marginalize what we allow our employees to GIVE us while they are working.  Yes, we get their time and usually their attention, but are we allowing them to give us their talents?

When people are unsatisfied in a job, is it because they haven’t worked enough hours, or is it because they haven’t been able to show what they are really capable of?

I’ve been a fan of Zappos for years.  Not necessarily as a retailer (although I have had good experiences) but as a company who has been able to sustain an amazing culture.  Look at their core values and tell me what you see.

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

I see that the majority of items are centered around how people work together.  They tap into the deep need we have to connect with others on a meaningful level and use that to propel their business forward. It doesn’t say so explicitly in their values, but they are also very good at placing people where their talents are best utilized, which makes upholding their values a bit easier.

If experiencing the “dance” while waiting in line has taught me anything, it’s that the need to connect and be human is so powerful for some that it trumps some of our shorter-sighted goals, such as being first in line on a roller coaster.  It sometimes causes us to sacrifice what we’ve worked (or waited) for, but in the end we know it will be worth it because of the deepened connections we’ve made.

Is it a stretch then to say that being part of a strong, cohesive team is more important than making a lot of money?

To some, it just might be.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: This is always the toughest part of the post to write – trying to tell you a little about who I am and what I do, all while not sounding pompous.  How about this? If you liked what you read and would like to talk about working together to improve leadership, customer service or team dynamics at your company, please contact me in the manner you see fit. The end.

Epic coaster trip (Coaster Nerd Con) 2014

It’s that time of year again, when a few friends and I embark on an epic tour of the U.S. to ride some great rides, eat some great food, and geek out on all things related to amusement parks.

This year, the trip will commence on July 20th in Buffalo, NY, with our first stop at Darien Lake.  It’ll “sort of” be my first time there – at least when it’s open. I once interviewed there for an Operations Supervisor position that I didn’t get.  Just as well… I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was!

CNC 14

Next we’ll get out our passports and head over the border to the Great White North and Canada’s Wonderland.  Another first!  I am also very excited because this takes me to Toronto… home of my favorite band, Rush.  If I ask really nicely, maybe I can get the guys to swing by the Parliament Building, which was the backdrop Rush’s Moving Pictures album cover.  How cool would THAT be!?!

exhibit A

Back in the U.S., the longest drive on the trip will occur between Toronto and Allentown, PA, as we visit Dorney Park. Talon and Steel Force (in the rain) were two unexpected hits of our trip a few years ago.

We then REALLY hit the East coast with Six Flags Great Adventure, Luna Park at Coney Island and Morey’s Piers.  I have not been to Great Adventure in many moons, and both Coney Island and Morey’s will be firsts for me.  Looking forward to the Cyclone and a great seaside boardwalk!

Our last stop will be Six Flags America near Baltimore.  Another first for me, but sadly our last stop on the tour.

As excited as I am about seeing all these new (to me) parks, I am even more excited about the friends and colleagues I will get to see along the way!  If you work or live in these areas – get ready!

Oh, and if you have any recommendations for fun places to eat or things to see along our route, don’t hesitate to let me know.  We have been known to take a detour to two!

If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting about our experiences here on the blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even YouTube. Connect if we are not connected, so we can connect!

See you on the midway!

Matt

 

Kordell is a rock star

I knew before venturing out on this years coaster extravaganza that I would be paying very close attention to the way we were treated by the employees at the various parks we visited.  With long drives between some of the parks, my friend Alan and I had ample opportunity to dissect our experiences, and continually came back to one conclusion.

Kordell at Six Flags Over Texas is a ROCK STAR. He was by far the standout employee at the six parks we visited.20130719-121701.jpg

We first met Kordell in the morning when purchasing our Flash Passes (Six Flags’ cut the line pass). Here is what he did:

  • Greeted us with a smile.
  • Processed our transaction quickly (it was almost like we had a Flash Pass for the Flash Pass process!)
  • We were going to get the Gold (mid tier) pass.  Kordell noticed that Alan had an annual pass, and said with that discount we could get the Platinum pass for just a little more.  In the same breath he rattled off the benefits of the Platinum, which were very appealing to us.
  • He then said, “If you have a Discover card, I can take another 5% off!”  We did, and he did.
  • When all was said and done, he wished us a great day.

Alan and I walked out of the office commenting about how fast, friendly and knowledgeable Kordell was, AND the fact that he upsold us (which we agreed doesn’t happen that often)!  But, the story doesn’t end there.

The Platinum pass allows you to reserve a time on the Texas Giant (this was the day before the very unfortunate incident at the park) to minimize waiting. To reserve this time, we had to go back to the Flash Pass office.  Each time we did, Kordell remembered us, greeted us with a big smile and took care of our request.  We left the park for lunch, and had to turn in the Flash Pass device – who was there?  Kordell, rocking the house.

At one point in the early evening, we went to see Kordell again for a reservation for the Texas Giant.  We didn’t know it, but it had closed temporarily and was not taking reservations.  Kordell knew that, and instead set our device for a reservation for Titan (another great coaster at SFoT). He could have simply handed the devise back to us and sent us on our way, but instead he took it upon himself to make up for the fact that we couldn’t do what we originally asked for.  We were surprised and excited, and of course immediately made a bee line for Titan!

The picture above was taken when we ran into Kordell just before getting on the Texas Giant for our last ride of the night.  He was out in the park sweeping, but he was still smiling. When we mentioned how much we appreciated his service that day, he immediately (and proudly) told a co-worker standing nearby.  You could tell that he was happy that someone noticed his efforts.

When we turned in the Flash Pass device at the end of the night, we met Eric, Kordell’s supervisor.  He said that he had met Kordell when he was 15 and that he was eager to work, but too young to hire.  Eric told him to call him as soon as he turned 16 and he would hire him.  Alan and I are sure glad they both followed through!

If this experience confirms anything, it is the importance of hiring the right people.  Kordell showed signs of excellence long before he was even hired, and that translates to his performance on the job.  It’s also obvious that Kordell enjoys what he is doing, and that speaks to the ability of his management team to make sure people are in the right places and doing jobs that line up with their skills and personality.

Employees like Kordell are not always easy to find, and they will rarely be molded from someone who doesn’t have the desire or personality to perform.  So how (and where) will you find your next Kordell? Are you currently looking?

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: Matt Heller cannot magically make all of your employees perform like Kordell.  He can, however, help you and your leaders figure out how to find the best talent and keep them motivated!

Coaster Tour 2013

The epic coaster adventure is back!!  This year we’ll be trekking through the middle of the United States – starting in just a few days in Texas, then working our way up to Ohio.  We’ll be visiting some old favorites as well as parks we’ve never been to before.  If you like maps, you’ll like this representation of the journey:

map

We’re looking forward to seeing (and making) a lot of friends along the way!  If you’d like to follow along, stay tuned to the blog or one of the social media channels below.

     

If you live or work along this route, let us know so we can say hi!

See you in the parks!

Matt