Staff Motivation: Do you teach your employees how to point?

March 12, 2012, by , Posted in Blog,Team Building, 10 Comments

Disneyland is a place of magic, but more than anything it’s a place of staff motivation secrets. Behind the impressive facades are warehouses, costume rooms, and no doubt the stationary cupboards and canteens you’d find in any place of work. But employees – or cast members, as they are called – are part of the greatest show on earth, one that’s meticulously directed to achieve the best staff motivation I’ve ever seen.

But I have a secret to share. I’ve seen a cast member break the rules, and I didn’t care one bit!

Staff motivation starts with the little things

Staff motivation starts with the little thingsDid you know that Disneyland employees are taught how to point on their very first day? It’s a terrifying prospect for staff motivation, with management teams and training facilitators teaching a skill that is somewhat self-explanatory. But cast members don’t feel insulted, or talked down to – they are too busy being surprised by the sheer genius of the notion that pointing with two fingers and the front of your hand makes visitors feel more relaxed.

Every company has its own rules and guidelines that keep things running smoothly across every department. Maybe you have specific channels of communication, or ways of working with external customers. But are the things you teach your employees insightful, intelligent and inspirational?

For staff motivation to build, great team communication is essential. Your employees need clear and direct guidelines on how to do their jobs, but – more importantly – these need to be the right rules, respected and understood by every member of your team. And you need to understand when a team member decides to ignore them.

Staff motivation is about your organisational culture

At Disneyland, I saw a cast member point with one finger. He had broken the rules, ignored the micromanagement. But nobody was insulted, nobody was outraged – because at the end of the day, it’s not really about pointing. The important thing is that the team understands the friendly, welcoming organisational culture that the Disney brand represents.

Team leaders often talk of the balance between micromanagement and employee freedom, but in practice these things are not opposing ends of a scale. You see, training and instructing your team on every small detail is fine, as long as you don’t expect perfection all the time.

It doesn’t matter if your team aren’t pointing properly, because the fact that you taught them to point plays a vital role in conveying the values of your organisation. Every small message that you send to an employee helps the team to remember the bigger picture, the way that you should deal with people, how best to remain productive.

Teach your team to point and then let them break the rule. Blend instruction with freedom for unrivalled staff motivation. You can hear me talking more about my views on Team Building on our Youtube channel

About Richard Tyler

Richard is an extraordinary Business Speaker, Motivational Speaker and Facilitator. Richard has successfully combined two areas of expertise: The art of performance and behavioural psychology. He originally trained at Guildford School of Acting in Musical Theatre and has performed in many lead roles, such as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. Circle him on Google Plus!

10 Responses to “Staff Motivation: Do you teach your employees how to point?”

  1. John says:

    This was very interesting my family and I love Disney World and the people that are on the staff are always so nice and help you with anything they you need. Now I know that they are taught to be this way. It is very interesting that pointing with two fingers or just one would make a difference in the way people react. I will try and practice this.

  2. Sandra says:

    I knew that Disney did some pretty special things when it came to training their cast members because it isn’t natural for people anywhere to be as nice and courteous as these people are. I want to know how to get a job at Disney World as a character, I understand they get very special training themselves to learn to act like the characters would act if they were real.

    • Thanks you Sandra. Sadly I can’t get you a job at Disney! I am sure you could though if you want it enough? My challenge is, how do all organisations teach their people to point? They have a duty to encourage and nurture the right type of learning and skills – don’t you think?

  3. Alan says:

    This was very interesting most leaders in the business world don’t teach fundamentals like this to their employees and I think it would be nice if they would. Especially if you are talking about employees that are straight out of high school. This was great advice thank you so much for sharing, I am going to teach my staff how to point now so that the customers are more comfortable.

    • You are welcome Alan. Many organisations overlook the basics yet get seduced by the complex stuff. Do the basics. They are key. Encourage others to do the basics as well.

  4. James says:

    It is funny and interesting to me because I have seen those back alleys which are out of view from the public. I guess that is part of the magic of the Disney park. When you are there enjoying the park, you barely if never notice any of the employees such as the persons who clean the restrooms every 30 minutes or so. They seem to be part of the magic in how the appear without anyone noticing them and disappear just as quick.

    • Thanks James. Yes, that’s a part of the magic isn’t it? They work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it elegant and slick for the audience. Appreciate your comments.

  5. Carl says:

    I once met a girl who was about 19 years of age (disclaimer) who as an aspiring actress, worked as a Disney performer. She played Snow White. I could have dated Snow White! Are those bragging rights or what? Okay, maybe not so much. But I do remember how happy and proud she was to work as talent for the Disney empire. You could say I have seen first-hand the motivation described in this article.


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