A View from Blue Grotto

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tie a bow on that milestone

Everyone is hunkering down. It’s obvious. The evening news, your colleagues’ sales reports, the Sunday sermon, all point in the direction of a holding pattern. How then, can you motivate – yourself, your direct reports, your customers, your shareholders?

Even though Christmas is strained on many levels this year, I am reminded of the ever optimistic Auntie Mame – “We need a little Christmas right this very minute.”

And almost every company has a “Christmas” they can pull out of their hat, or their stocking, every once in a while – a milestone.

Why a milestone?

Milestones are the chance to celebrate, and to reflect. With the pressure on managers to produce more, with less, celebration and reflection may be the last thing on your mind. How do you keep your team innovating, creating, and moving forward in a climate of anxiety and layoffs?

Give them something to celebrate. One of the greatest gifts a company can give to its employees is the celebration of their culture and history. Especially at a time when they need it most. Being reminded that you are a member of a company that has been a leader can go a long way in developing the resilience a corporate culture needs to sustain and grow itself.

Reflecting on what brought you success is one of the greatest opportunities to help you refocus and propel you forward again.

It's natural to focus on major milestones, for example, a centennial. But don’t wait for that major milestone. Even the smallest anniversaries - of programs, product launches, leadership and leadership changes, partnerships - offer unique opportunities to celebrate and to reinvigorate.

Macy’s is reminding us this Christmas of their department store’s magic in a one-minute television spot that underscores the company’s place in American history – “Only one store has been a part of your life for 150 years.” The message: During a holiday season that follows economic crisis, they are a reliable, known commodity. The chicken soup for the retail soul. They’ve seen, and weathered, crisis before. And many of their customers have, too.

OnStar has been running full-page ads in the WSJ highlighting their 100,000 crash activation system. Something to be said for good news in the auto industry.

Marriott introduced "250 ways to use your points" in honor of the 25th anniversary of their Rewards program. Good resource for folks hoping to economize on everything from dinner for two to a five-night stay in Latin America.

Blue Grotto just completed a project with nonprofit Wilderness Inquiry for their 30th anniversary. What started as an anniversary party transformed into an amazing evening that helped Wilderness Inquiry celebrate three decades of outdoor adventure, reflect on what has made them successful, and reaffirm the real nature of the organization’s mission. Thirty years of stewardship is a great marketing tool.

Email me with ways that you have leveraged your organization’s milestones. And remember - People want to celebrate your success.

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.