Archive for Corporate Coaching
. . . continued from The Mr. Hatch Award – Part 1
Pilot Review and Implementation
These two conversations made me want to continue my plans with the Mr. Hatch Award. Even though the company knew nothing about the program, I believed they would support it. If I can give an employee a $5,000 on-the-spot award for customer excellence, $40 is not going to break the bank. The pilot even taught me a few lessons:
1. Run the program on my own and forget about formal corporate support.
2. Keep the anonymity of the program intact.
3. Ditch the corporate florist.
The next Monday I moved into full implementation. I chose two more workers, but I didn’t go to the swanky florist. I walked a few blocks north into the combat zone of downtown Brooklyn and found an all-purpose store. The proprietor sells a lot of things, including flowers. I said to him, “Here’s my offer. Every week I want you to deliver two floral arrangements to my headquarters. I also want a thank you balloon attached along with a note that I’ll give you. You put the note in an envelope and deliver it all. I’ll pay cash. You don’t contact me; I only contact you. I’ll show up every Monday with the names, notes, and money.”
“OK with me” he said. Unlike the corporate florist, he had no problem with this arrangement. Apparently, he does a lot of his business this way.
“One final question,” I said. “What kind of flowers do I get for my $40?”
“Give me a minute,” he said and then he disappeared. What he brought back was a massive array of floral specimens: birds of paradise, tulips, roses, and babies’ breath. I think I got half of his storefront display.
“Looks fine to me. Do a good job and I’ll keep coming back every week,” I promised.
It’s a year later, and I’m still sending flowers, anonymous notes, and ballons. My company still knows nothing about it. So, have I changed our corporate culture? No. Was I able to get everyone together, tell them the business plan, and demand that they believe and implement the Mr. Hatch Award? Hell, no. But here’s what has happened:
1. I actually look forward to coming to work on Monday mornings.
2. A small number of employees go home Monday night with a smile or quizzical look on their faces.
3. Co-workers are having a blast trying to figure out who’s sending flowers to their friends and why. I suspect a few even dream of receiving flowers and a balloon for themselves.
4. One aging executive is making retirement preparations by meeting individually with employees. Although this is the least verifiable part of the program, I trust that the SVP is making the effort. (Did I actually say that I trust someone in authority? Who knows, maybe Mr. Hatch is getting to me, too.)
5. I’ve got a proprietor in downtown Brooklyn who smiles when he sees me coming and warmly shakes my hand. I also have the feeling that the storefront area is a bit more revitalized than it was a year ago.
That’s the present state of progress with the Mr. Hatch Award. I’ll probably keep it up until I read another kid’s book that leaves me feeling hopeful and alive. Then I’ll experiment with another idea. Maybe something based on The Velveteen Rabbit or Ira Sleeps Over.
I’m sure some well-meaning executive will read this article and try to formulate a corporate Mr. Hatch Award. Fuggedaboudit! Not everything needs to be imitated and mandated into business policy. Some things work just fine when they’re small, personal, and unique. There’s organizational strength in fermenting a mixture of the institutional along with the idiosyncratic. Executives would be better served by encouraging staff to hatch their own ways of nurturing the corporate common good.
Oh…one more thing. While I was finishing this article, I passed the woman who received the first Mr. Hatch Award when it was a pilot. She had fresh flowers on her desk.
“Is it your birthday?” I asked, “No,” she said. “Somebody still sending you anonymous flowers?” I whispered.
“Nope, not this time. They’re from my boss,” she said. “I got promoted, and she sent them as a present.”
“Sounds like you have a long list of admirers,” I said, and I walked away feeling a little renewed.
Who knows? Maybe Mr. Hatch will start a trend in corporate America! I can hear Tom Peters talking about it now.
Reprinted with kind permission of the man himself – Kenny Moore – President of Kenny Moore Consulting, LLC. He’s a well-regarded Keynote speaker, executive coach and business consultant for Leadership Development, Change Management and Employee Engagement. He can be reached at kennythemonk at yahoo.com or (973) 956-8210.
The Mr. Hatch Award: Anonymous Employee Recognition
by Kenny Moore
I’m tired of listening to Tom Peters. I refuse to buy Jack Welch’s book. I’ve grown weary of reading the latest management guru’s list of habits and business principles. I become depressed when I get to the part of the book that states, ….Get everyone together, tell them the business plan, and demand that they believe and implement it fully.” Then the book quickly ends with very little said on how to make this happen. I’ve started looking elsewhere for answers to my business needs.
The Story of Mr. Hatch
Of more help to me is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. It’s a children’s book about an isolated workingman, who lives, works, and sleeps alone. Neighbors say, “Mr. Hatch likes to keep to himself” One Saturday, while cleaning his porch, the postman delivers a heart– shaped box of candy with an anonymous note signed, “Somebody loves you.” Mr. Hatch is confused because he interacts with no one. He finally concludes, “Why, I’ve got a secret admirer.” Mr. Hatch begins to change, dressing up and walking the streets of town, greeting and helping strangers -all with the hope of meeting the person who sent him the candy. Children are drawn to him. He bakes brownies, serves lemonade, and plays an old harmonica that he’s had from his boyhood. Everyone dances. Time passes. Mr. Hatch is having so much fun; he’s even forgotten about finding his secret admirer.
Then, the postman returns informing Mr. Hatch that he delivered the candy to the wrong address and takes back the now-empty box. The “Somebody loves you” note falls out in the transfer, reminding Mr. Hatch that he was correct at the outset; nobody really does love him. He withdraws back into his isolation, but the kids won’t allow that to happen. The neighborhood revolts. “We can’t let this happen to Mr. Hatch,” they say, and they don’t. Their response is truly prodigal. My seven-year-old son made me promise not to tell how it all ends, so go read the book. But the story left me thinking. What would happen if Mr. Hatch showed up in corporate America? What havoc might be wrought by small gifts, anonymously given to an ordinary worker– possibly even the wrong person? How might our corporate neighbors respond? I decided to find out.
Designing a Program
My plan was to anonymously send a $40 floral arrangement to two unsuspecting employees every Monday morning-a Mr. Hatch Award. They would be chosen subjectively-sometimes based on their commitment to the corporate common good or just because they happened to be at the right place at the right time. Attached to the flowers would be a note saying, “Don’t ever think your good efforts go unnoticed.” It would be signed, “From someone who cares.”
The business world has taught me always to do a pilot before jumping into full implementation. I’ve also learned that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, so I kept the idea to myself and received no formal approval. For my trial run, I picked one employee from the opposite side of my floor, as well as my senior vice president (SVP). Although I personally hate anyone in authority, I’ve noticed that no one ever says thank you to executives. Granted, they do make mistakes, but they also do some good things-for which they seldom get credit. Besides, my therapist would be proud to hear me even consider doing something positive for someone in authority. So the SVP was scheduled to get flowers too.
On Monday morning, I walked down to the florist who handles our corporate account and asked what I could get for $40. She showed me a small bowl with five petite flowers in it. (Their overhead must be high.) I told her I wanted to send two arrangements and to ensure anonymity, I would pay cash, and I would not sign my name or leave
my phone number. The florist was extremely uncomfortable with this. I wasn’t feeling too happy about the transaction either. Maybe this is how all pilot projects feel? By that afternoon, the flowers arrived. I said nothing to anybody.
On Tuesday I made it a point to pass by the desk of the woman who worked on my floor. I said, “Hey, nice flowers. Is it your birthday?”
“No,” she said. “Somebody sent them to me. Look. Here’s the note.”
By this time, all her co-workers were crowded around, telling me the layout of events. They also knew that an executive had gotten the same flowers delivered. One of them even called the florist to find out who sent it. Nobody seemed to know. They all continued to speak in utter giddiness about the strangeness of the delivery and what made this woman so special. They also spent considerable time trying to figure out what she had in common with the executive, as well as who might have sent them both the flowers. Even as I left, they continued on in frenzied conversation and merriment.
A few days later I had a project-update meeting with my SVP. I planned to tell him about my pilot as well as get his reaction as a recipient. Before I even got to my part of the conversation, he said, “You know, Kenny, last week some employee sent me a bunch of flowers, thanking me for something I did. I’m not even sure who it was or what I did. But it got me thinking. I only have a few more years before I retire, and I think I’d like to use that time focusing on individual employees, their needs, and their concerns. I know it’s impractical; we’ve got 13,000 employees, but I’d like to give it a try.”
Gulp! Now I felt both entrapped and embarrassed. How could I tell him that I sent the flowers or that he was only part of a program I was testing out? He had come up with a worthwhile executive goal that I wasn’t going to knock off track. I kept my mouth shut, gave my project update, and exited as fast as I could.