By Gerry Murray. 10-11-2019
(Scroll down for a laugh)

A skilled worker, regardless of the job description, remains a treasure. ~ Madeleine M. Kunin

Last week I highlighted Ken Allen’s excellent book Radical Simplicity and recommended that you read it, especially if you have a management role. I hope you’ve taken up my advice. 

In his book, Ken quotes his father: “There is nothing common about common sense. Just as there is nothing basic about the basics.”

In one of my other favourite Leadership books People leave managers… Not organisations, written by my two good friends Dr Julie White and Rick Tate, they highlight that successful businesses are “Brilliant at the basics”

What does this mean? 

Well, a simple example can illustrate…

When you check into a hotel your first experience is often the check-in clerk. Now, usually they’re quite well trained to make you feel valued. However, your true judgement of that hotel will be conditioned most by your first experience of the room. If it’s dirty or the bed is not made properly or (as has happened to me) someone else is living in that room when you open the door your perception is now formed. 

The sad thing is that the household employees, who prepare the room, are often the least valued members of staff! The attitude is that someone has to do the “grunt” work! If it’s framed as “grunt” work, it’s hard to be brilliant at the basics! 

Attention to the basics

What made DHL Express great again was its attention to the basics of delivering door-to-door international express. And, this is also the result of outstanding leadership. As Ken Allen states in his book, "you can’t run a business like DHL from behind a desk". I would argue that most entrepreneurs know that you can’t run any business from behind a desk. You’ve got to spend time with the front line and your customers. 

Ken is known for often entering a DHL office through the back door. This way he meets the front line staff (couriers, sorters, customer service) and he’s able to get a true sense of how the business is doing in that location. In turn, these people feel seen and heard. He shows that he values the basics. 

How are your basics?

Do you enjoy the basics of your job? If not, you might be in the wrong one. If this is the case then I can help you with that. 

If you’re a manager reading this, perhaps it’s time to reflect - how good is my team at the basics? Do they need help? 

If you’re being managed and the basics are being neglected, perhaps it’s time for a frank discussion with your manager. 

May you be brilliant at the basics this week! 



I found these apparently true stories for your amusement this week: 

A woman called our airline customer-service desk asking if she could take her dog on board.
“Sure,” I said, “as long as you provide your own kennel.” I further explained that the kennel needed to be large enough for the dog to stand up, sit down, turn around, and roll over.
The customer was flummoxed: “I’ll never be able to teach him all of that by tomorrow!”

Scene: A radio newsroom.
Caller: I just wanted to let you know you’re off the air.
Host: Yes, we know. The engineers are working on it.
Caller: It would be nice if you put something on the air that says that.

While I was working as a store Santa, a boy asked me for an electric train set. “If you get your train,” I told him, “your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that all right?”
The boy became very quiet. So, moving the conversation along, I asked, “What else would you like Santa to bring you?”
He promptly replied, “Another train.”


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