Remembering Your Employees’ ROI: Francis Xavier Maguire on Management

[Editor’s Note: Normally, when I create an article out of an interview, I go through and stitch together quotes, paraphrases, and transitional verbiage. But Frank’s interview came out so clear and focused that I’m just going to step out of the way and let him tell it. This entire article is one very long quote, except for the parts in square brackets, which are mine-and that’s why he gets the bio blurb at the end, not me.
-Shel Horowitz, editor, Down to Business]

There was a very old man with short breath, on the phone with a customer service rep. The rep was alarmed and asked if he was OK, and he insisted yes he was; she called 911 and the cops got there just before his heart attack. That’s listening to the customer. [And you get that kind of employee response when you’ve created a culture that truly empowers and involves your employees.]

With all my relationships as a public speaker, with corporate leaders, I have been overwhelmed with the TQM, ISO, and all the processes. So many steps, in this sequence equals this result. I had lived through all of that and I knew it was nonsense. So I gave some serious thought to what caused a successful enterprise relationship with the customer, family, employees. It wasn’t any of this stuff.

There were three spiritual/cultural qualities. You cannot put them in a box. You can’t FedEx them:

1) Feelings: it was not the process that made FedEx successful; it was the passion.

2) Your attitude: passion comes from the heart; attitude comes from the head. I link the head and heart of the enterprise. Raising that level of the awareness leads to what makes the other two work:

3) Relationships: it is not uncommon for me to have an audience of 10,000 holding each other by the hand at the end of a presentation. I get them to understand that we must hold hands, we must look both ways, because we are crossing the street together.

[Taking those three into the employee culture]

You do not develop unsatisfactory employees you hire them. If you hired wrong, it was the other person’s fault? Do you think you never told him what you expected.

Whatever your level of management, tell them:

  • What do you expect of me?I have never had a job which was what I was told it would be.

    If there’s a new manager, what makes you think the expectations of the new manager match the expectations of the old manager? I’ve seen people with great track records fired because the new boss never took into consideration what his predecessor expected, and the fact that he might have different expectations.

    Take a look at what it costs to recruit, train, insure. You should give as much thought as on a capital expenditure, because you should view them as being around for the next 20 years.

  • What’s in it for me?Don’t you think employees have a right to their ROI? When you buy a new jet, you analyze the ROI. We’re asking the employees to invest their life, or at least a third of it. We want them to show up on time, be 100% efficient, don’t have the kids call-why should we be surprised when they have an ROI-and here’s the employees’ ROI:

    a) Recognition. If I call you by your name, and what do you do and where are you from? How much do you know about your employees? How many kids, did their son graduate OK, where are they going on vacation?

    b) Opportunity. If I succeed in meeting your expectations, where do I go from here?

    c) Information. How come so many of our employees with this expectation [instant knowledge online] put their head on the pillow at night not knowing what’s going on at the office? We must share information with our employees, because they know how to fix things a lot better than the leaders do.

    d) Inspiration: The manager is the message and the messenger. He sets the standards with his behavior. Schwartzkopf: what’s missing in corporate America is leadership, and leadership has everything to do with character, not competency (he said this to me four years ago).

    e) Involvement: One of the greatest challenges is to give your employees a chance to fail. Three Latin words: Ne sim obex: Get out of the way (literally, may I not be an obstacle). We recruit, we train, hire, place, and when the rubber hits the road, ‘hey, I’ll take care of it.’ A great leader like [FedEx founder] Fred Smith, while not deviating from his commitment to leave no bodies on the beach, saw many of his troops take injuries in their lessons that they can only learn from experience.

    Frank McGuire has been a senior executive at FedEx, KFC, American Airlines, and ABC. His new book, You’re the Greatest, was published in 2003 by Satillo Press.