Time and hard work had brought great success and they had moved consecutively into refurbished offices and now into a purpose built gin-palace in a prestigious industrial park.
The reception area was beautifully appointed with comfortable armchairs and plenty of reading matter. The receptionist was considerate and offered me a choice of drinks and sandwiches (vegetarian) to pass the time until I could be seen by a member of staff. All in all, a great experience.
That is, until I had to answer the call of nature and where I was shocked to see that the facilities were unkempt, untidy and unclean; a mile away from the image which the company was obviously keen to promote.
The significant word here is, of course, image.
The sad thing is that having had the experience of the scruffy toilets, this is what I tend to recall about the company (long since demised by the way) when in truth, there were so many plus points about their attitude and service.
The search for excellence must go right through everything that the business says and does. If the image is that of an excellent company then everything in the business must be angled towards that goal.
It is completely valueless to promote a constructed image (which will always be positive, naturally) if the underlying actuality runs contrary to the image.
Once again, it is the function of the leader to ensure that the image and hence the values of the business are driven down into every layer of activity and that it is made absolutely mandatory that the values are maintained without discussion.
It is a good idea, from time to time, to allow some respected outside observers to come into your premises, walk round, talk to your people and then report to you what they have found.
One of the great advantages of membership of a Vistage group is that this can be done easily when the group visits a member’s premises and it can be a very fruitful exercise for the member. It can also be a painful one if the group finds areas which need to be improved and say so.
The problem is that we cannot see the wood for the trees and things can deteriorate over a period of time without the change necessarily being noticed. (note: the teenager’s bedroom?) The dreaded Health and Safety regulations can easily be contravened and in some cases, dangerously.
However, that is doing it to correct a negative situation. The best action is constantly to insist on excellence throughout the business and many of the potential failings will, in fact, never ma nifest themselves.
Make it mandatory that you conduct an excellence audit on a regular basis and watch how the business changes.
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