Leadership Insights...With Joel Manby

Joel ManbyI recently had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Joel Manby as he was presenting at a GIANT Impact leadership workshop. Joel is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), which operates and manages family-oriented theme parks across the country such as Stone Mountain Park, Dollywood, and Silver Dollar City among others.  Joel was also recently featured on the TV show Undercover Boss. I learned quite a bit in the short period of time provided for his presentation / comments and 1-to1 discussion that followed, and I found the key insights applicable immediately in my business and personal environments.

Key Insights: > The vision for HFE is: To Create a Memory Worth Repeating  [What I like about this vision statement is that it is simple, memorable, portable, not too specific, encompasses their total business, and is a vision under which people, process and technology strategies can be applied] > Joel views part of his role as CEO to be cheerleader for employee programs > He would like HFE to be a great place for people to work > HFE utilizes eight behavior attributes that are used to assess employee performance: Patience (Always praise in public / admonish in private) Kindness (Encourage others) Respect Selfishness / Selflessness Commitment Humility Forgiveness Honesty > 50% of each employee's annual performance rating / review is based on performance against these values > 50% based on financial / business performance metrics > Performance reviews are more about the discussion...not the rating...it's important to create the environment for the conversation > Most companies do not do well with being honest about bad performance; managers are challenged to provide honest / structured / constructive improvement feedback and instead yield to the easier path of passing on the poor performer > On employee performance, Joel acknowledged that while HR processes are in place at many companies to handle mis-placed employees, it doesn't take metrics or performance feedback to know someone is not a fit..."you just know" > Joel believes you CAN have a GREAT people culture AND still be profitable > Joel spends time in the parks and experiencing the business to ensure he does not lose touch with day-to-day employees and business life > A bad people culture ignores the truth and does not move with urgency; suggests that leaders must create an environment where bad news is welcome > The best cultures use "we" frequently; "I" carefully or not at all > On visioncasting - must paint the vision, make it simple and portable, hire the best people, and cheer-lead them in executing actions on a plan > Best practice for leaders is reading...always reading > Leaders must hold themselves accountable; Joel leverages an accountability group that meets monthly (and has done so for many years) via conference call; topics include business, personal, faith, family, community and each of the members serves as a sounding board for the others > On work-life balance, Joel has placed a prioritized focus on making time for family and not working all day/night as he did in prior roles - suggested checking out Andy Stanley's "Choosing to Cheat" > Final thought on the business of people was to hire great people, provide them excellent training and development opportunities, and establish a culture of openness and communication