Putting Magic in Training

(Click here to see the story as it appears in June's Modern Casting.)

During a recent family trip to Disney World, I was impressed by the level of customer service and attention to detail displayed by the employees, or cast members. Later, I was intrigued by the book “Disney U” by Doug Lipp, which claimed to show how Disney University developed engaged, loyal and customer-centric employees. Could it be applied to the metalcasting industry?

Most metalcasting facilities are small businesses, the physical work is tough, profits are slim, and a lovable character (usually) doesn’t greet you at the door. Your business doesn’t have the same resources as Disney, but, surprisingly, some of the points highlighted in “Disney U” can be applicable.

Walt Disney felt his employees’ dedication to his vision was paramount to differentiating his Disneyland theme park from others and invested considerable resources to ensure they were not only well trained but also productive and happy in their roles.

In “Disney U,” Doug Lipp illustrated various instances of how the Disney training center Disney University was utilized to boost employee morale, improve employee performance or bolster employee production during specific major milestones. Each chapter finishes up with workbook-type questions to help you apply Disney’s strategy to your own company. Perhaps you don’t have to worry about Snow White snapping at a 6-year-old, but do you have the equivalent in your foundry? A surly melt deck operator or condescending sales manager? The book asks you to examine the reasons behind why this employee attitude is tolerated, what needs to be done to change the environment, what are the barriers and who can lead the way.

According to the book, Disney University is based on four principles for success:

  •  Having a seat at the leadership table.
  •  Being a valued part of the organizational culture.
  •  Moving well beyond providing merely short-lived programs.
  •  Being incessantly creative and willing to try new approaches to keep the message relevant, fresh and engaging.

These can be applied just as well to the metalcasting industry—no characters required.     

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