In 1971, Mike Goadby’s western Australian rowing squad was chosen to represent his country at the Munich Olympics.
What does that achievement 37 years ago have to do with his athletic prowess today? Absolutely nothing.
As president of the North American division of Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd., Goadby uses that example to demonstrate how meaningless words are without action. You can claim to have done anything, he says, but unless you actually go out and perform today, you may as well keep your mouth shut.
It’s been decades since Goadby has rowed competitively as it turned out, only one member from his old squad actually moved on to the Summer Games, and it wasn’t him but that hasn’t stopped the leader from establishing himself as a successful team player. Since stepping into his role at Fisher & Paykel just over 10 years ago, he’s helped transform the appliance manufacturer’s humble, 10-person office into a thriving, 10-office network with more than 680 employees and fiscal 2007 revenue of $152 million.
Smart Business spoke with Goadby about how to foster teamwork with a good old-fashioned bake-off.
Don’t hesitate to take risks. Risk is all about being prepared to take it as you sit. If you’re not prepared to have a go on the sport field, don’t go out there. It’s the same in the business world.
If you make 10 decisions, and every one of them was wrong, you’ve made one good decision, which was to make some decisions. If you make no decisions, then that’s totally wrong because you didn’t have the balls to go out and make those 10 mistakes.
Create an open environment where people are not frightened to come to you with ideas. Be very clear that you’re not some godlike human being that can walk on water. Just because I’m the president doesn’t make me right; it just makes me the boss.
Communicate in the kitchen.When I’m in a room, there is no rank. It’s not, ‘What does the president want to hear? I’ll get into trouble if I say something else.’
I’m all about saying, ‘Look, I’m here as an employee as you are, and I need to know what is really happening, not what you think I need to know.’ Try to foster that culture on an ongoing basis.
We do that by having social events. We do cooking sessions here in our kitchens where we encourage our staff to do a monthly bake-off.
You get teams of people who are formed together as groups from the office. They go out into our kitchen and create some superb afternoon tea piece, which could be ice cream or could be a meat dish. The rest of the staff come in and sample it at 3 o’clock. Then we have a judging panel at the end of it to decide whose was the best delight.
(It makes them) feel as though they’re a part of the company. They participate in something during work hours that’s social, that I’m there, and that they laugh and joke about. They lighten up the environment so that the people become more familiar with me and are able to communicate with me very, very freely about their feelings.
That’s a great way of breaking down barriers, where people sort of enjoy the camaraderie of the moment and also the fact that you’re there and in an apron getting dirty.
Get out on the front lines. The internal people are just as important as the external people. If you don’t know them and work with them, alongside them, how can you ever know whether you’re failing them or not delivering what you promise?
Get out and work with the people. It’s not about telling them that this is what I could do. It’s about showing others that this is what I do, do. That’s a fundamental difference.
I’ve heard a lot people tell me how wonderful they were on the sport field. I used to be a rower. I was chosen for the Olympic games but back in 1971. Who gives a rat these days? It’s all about demonstrating to the people that you’re as good as what you say.
In corporate life, we’ve all got bottom lines to look at, but basically what I’m about is saying, ‘Look. I’m never going to ask you to do something that I wouldn’t or I haven’t already done, including cleaning out restrooms, including driving forklifts and unloading trucks.’ Sure, there are long hours to put in, but you’ve got to recognize them and be there with them. You can’t ask the people to do things if you don’t lead from the front.
Deliver on your promises. Over-promising and underdelivering seems to be a part of one’s culture these days. Staff [members] lose respect and desire to want to perform because you don’t deliver what you say you would.
Day one, I came out here and said, ‘Listen, this is a great company from Down Under, but look at this tin shed over here. This is what we’re working out of. When we get better, we’ll get a nicer office. When we’re able to afford better health conditions, I will give them to you.’ Fortunately, everything I’ve ever said to them, I’ve been able to deliver.
Constantly reviewing your own work practices is really what you’ve got to do. If you’ve made a statement to the staff of what you’re going to do, you’ve got to measure your own performance. It’s not about just measuring their performance.
HOW TO REACH: Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd., (888) 936-7872 or www.fisherpaykel.com