MDS 1994 Department Motivational Meeting

Ten Years ago, I delivered this talk to Department Heads and gave them a printed copy. It's about building a motivated team. I knew it was important because the ratings were starting to slip a little and we had to really motivate the team. This was March 15, 1994. A week later, I delivered the staff message that follows this. Here's the talk.

Building The Motivated Team (Dept. Head Meeting)
by M.D. Smith, IV - - - March 15, 1994

In a nutshell, we need to motivate the staff as a TEAM and get coordinated teamwork to reach goals. Our goals are to produce a better product for the viewer, primarily in news, and have them choose us over the competition. Our advertisers must get good value and response from their commercials so they will continue to give us the big share of their budgets.

We have to instill the value and drive that the small, free enterprise individuals have in competition today. Our staff has to understand our goals. They have to BELIEVE in our goals and see that getting to the goals, benefits THEM. If they don't understand "what's in it for me?" we can not motivate them to do anything. They have to feel and be involved in every aspect of getting better and of solving problems (opportunities for improvement; OFI's).

Businesses that are succeeding today are doing things in a very simple way, doing them regularly, and never neglecting to do them. (says William Hesketh Lever)

The owners of small businesses that are succeeding believe they are creating value for customers, employees and of course, themselves. The entreprenuer lives and dies on his answers to "what" and "how" - and they are always connected.

"Strategy" is a matter of survival. The purpose of creating a company "culture" is not more wall plaques; the ONLY purpose is to get everyone focused on those few values that will give us the competitive advantage to make the business strategy come true. When the values directly support the product/market strategy, watch out. It's the most powerful way known to energize a group of individuals to achieve a common purpose." (Quotes from article by Larry Farrell)

Walt Disney was obsessed with making products that customers will buy. (The organization still is). They are committed today to providing "exceptional" seervice and treatment of their "guests." They strive to ALWAYS deliver more than was promised and deliver more than is expected (which can be quite high) to each and every guest.

Mr. Toyoda of Toyota realized as long ago as 1947 that the secret to running a successful business was to revive the craftsman in all of us which means to run the business from left to right, not top to bottom. This is the Disney and the Toyoda way, the old-fashioned, entrepreneurial way.

Empowerment that we talk about is really having a sense of urgency to innovate so that innovation becomes a necessity and everyone has the freedom to act, and act quickly.

We can not wait for disaster to strike in the ratings. We have to start today. We all have to have that feeling of the NECESSITY to do it better. We have to instill that same feeling in each and every employee - the necessity to do it better - and granting the freedom to do it faster.

Sam Walton (of WalMart) said: "Our folks don't expect something for nothing . . . they want to win so badly, they just go out there and do it."

When you think about it, it's pretty darn tough to beat people who love what they do and are darn good at it. How do we create self-inspired employees? Walton knew many of the ways. From his whoop-it-up Wal-Mart cheers and profit sharing for cashiers to steely intolorance of slacking off and losing ground to a competitor, Walton created a company full of people who love to win and hate to lose. In doing so, he tapped the most powerful drive in human behavior: self-interest. People tend to do things that bring them positive consequences and stop doing things that either bring them NO consequences or negative consequences.

The successful entrepreneurs face consequences of their behavior and actions, positive or negative, every day. This almost never happens in a bureaucracy. With neither positives nor negatives, managers and workers float in perpetual limbo, oblivious to the fortunes or misfortunes of the company and their part in it.


Our people HAVE to hear when they do things right. In a friendly but inflinching way, they have to know when they do things wrong. We have to help them correct the problems. They must look at problems and mistakes as REAL OFI's (Opportunities For Improvement).

We managers MUST spend about three-fourths (3/4) of our work week doing two things. One, motivate each person that works for us to WANT to REALLY SUCCEED and enjoy the fruits of their success (both in compliments and acclaim as well as tangible rewards). The other is to help build them to be more successful, once we kindle the desire. But remember, it's like writing in the snow, you have to keep going over and over the same lines if you want your writing to remain legible. Leadership and motivation is just like that. It never stops. It is never the same. There is no rule book you can follow day in and day out. YOU have to innovate, just like you are expecting your people to do, in your ways to motivate them to peak achievement. The OTHER one-fourth of your time should be spent doing everything else your job requires. If you don't have enough time in that one-fourth, you need to quickly work on ABCDE...Always Be Combining, Delegating and Eliminating.

As Soichiro Honda once said, "I want to touch and hold a better piston, not watch another concept presentation."

If the bureaucracy is holding us back, eliminate it and start over. WE want high purpose, absolute focus on customer and product, a lot of action, and self-inspired people. It's called enterprise.

This is part of the continuation.

M.D. Smith, IV
March 15, 1994

© 2004 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update June 17-2004]