23 April 2007

Kenny G and other Elevator Music

Well it's been awhile since I've last posted on my newsletter blog, and I'm afriad that so much has gone on down here in Provo, UT that I can't possibly catch you up in one blog post. But in my attempt to stay connected and, as always, entertain, I am going to share with you a story from my work.

I work at a leadership consulting firm here in Provo, Utah called DecisionWise. Our company has recently adopted to transition from a survey based company to more of a process consulting business, with a focus on the coaching and end result of the surveys rather than the surveys themselves. In this transition, the employees were asked to create an elevator speech as part of a company-wide contest. An elevator speech is a thirty second conversation that may occur in a setting similar to an elevator trip or grocery store line, where a random stranger would ask about my job.

The following is my contest entry:

It is an early autumn morning, and I am staring at the polished metal doors of the Marriot’s fourth-floor elevator entrance. The doors are sealed tight, and I look down at the crimson, swirl-pattern, plush carpet, listening to the consistent beep that indicates the elevator’s descent and imminent arrival.

As the elevator doors open, I notice an older gentleman, wearing a black pinstripe suit, standing in the corner of the mirrored box. “Good morning,” was his quiet greeting. I take a few steps into the elevator, notice that the lobby button is lit up, and then lean against the back left corner of the elevator. There are a few seconds of vocal silence, as we both listen to the quite melodies of a familiar Kenny G tune.

“Where are you off to this fine morning?” the man asked politely.

“The company I work for is actually conducting a leadership development workshop in the lobby downstairs for one of our clients.”

“Really? I noticed that the conference rooms were full this weekend,” the man continued. “What is your role in this workshop?”

“Well,” I begin, “for this particular workshop, we are implementing a development process involving 360° Feedback Surveys for the managers of this client organization. We are coaching the participants on how to interpret the feedback. I am the Process Manager for this client, so I have been instrumental in aligning the survey with the client company’s mission, administering the surveys, and setting up the coaching and workshops. Today I will be sitting in on the workshop to help the consultant answer questions on the survey or feedback and assist participants in the creation of action plans.”

“Interesting,” the older man responds as we reach the lobby level. “I’m actually in town because I am inspecting a local plant that has had poor performance. I have considered doing 360 surveys for this plant’s managers. Do you find that there is a significant return on investment with these surveys?”

We step out of the elevator onto the spacious, tiled lobby floor. “We have found,” I say, “that in the leadership development process, 94% of those that have received sufficient coaching, and also set goals, felt the 360 process was effective.”

I hand him a DecisionWise business card and tell him to call or email with any questions. He thanks me, and wishes me luck with the workshop and my job. As I walk away, looking down at the plush crimson carpet, I think about how I should really be getting commission for that sale.

*** P.S. I won the contest, as the most creative entry. ***