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How Disney reinforces why best friends at work are important

Disney

HRNasty, first-time visit to Disneyland with work colleagues on a PTO day.

Disney, best friends, and engaged employees

A recent trip to Disney inspired the next two posts

Part 1: Do you have a best friend at work

Part 2: How Disney customers benefit when employees are engaged at work.

Last week, a few co-workers took me on my very first trip to Disney. I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting the amazing experience I had. Not only did Disneyland live up to all the hype, my colleagues were gracious hosts showing me a place that was sacred to them individually.

The co-workers:

The crew of veteran Disney ninjas consisted of myself and 3 colleagues. An HR Specialist that worked at Disney and two sr. technology leaders with MIS degrees who had been there many, many, many, times. There was a predetermined schedule of rides synced up with the app updating us on wait times. This schedule combined with the Fastpass/Maxpass kept us on track to hit a maximum number of premium rides, the least amount of walking, and walk on status to every ride. I didn’t realize it was going to be so organized. When I offered to buy lunch for the group and the response was, “Oh, there isn’t going to be any time to eat!”. HRNasty experienced the group’s look and voice of disbelief insinuating my rookie status. Yes, I was in over my head. 

Part 1: Friends at work

There is a misunderstood question which has a bad reputation in the world of HR. The question is:

Do you have a best friend at work?

This question is straight out of the 12-question Gallup poll used to measure the health of a workplace.

In the best workplaces, employers recognize that people want to forge quality relationships with their coworkers, and that company allegiance can be built from such relationships.

Misunderstood

The Gallup question, “Do you have a best friend at work?” question has been misunderstood and with good reason. The term “best friend” can mean a lot of things and isn’t usually associated with work. There was so much controversy over the term “best”, it was softened to “close” and “good”. Unfortunately, the softer terms made it difficult to differentiate between highly productive workgroups and mediocre workgroups. The wording is currently back to “best friend”.

This question is also important because this question is asked in many Best Place to Work surveys. If your company is in the running to make this list, explaining this concept to your workforce can eliminate confusion.  

Do you have friends at work?

Not just coworkers you eat lunch with, but friends that you will hang out with after work? Friends that you would take a PTO day to hang out with? Yes, I am sure some readers are just rolling their eyes.

I feel fortunate that I do have great friends at work. I hang out with these colleagues after hours and it culminated with us taking a PTO for a day trip to Disneyland. This was not a company event. This was a friend’s event and we don’t live in California so a commercial flight was involved.   

Why is this trip to meet Mickey relevant to this HR blog? For me, just about everything comes back to HR and I want to use the trip to Disneyland to reinforce a few HR/career lessons. Before we drop the HRNasty word, I should provide some background.

Why this trip is a milestone for me

I have never been to Disneyland or any theme park for that matter. A lot of people look at me cock-eyed when I say this. Disney fans look at me in disbelief. I like to fish. Since I was a little child, I don’t remember a non-fishing vacation. I have taken a year off from work to go fishing and a few years ago took a month off to fish. I didn’t land anything for 25 days straight. Eight hours a day, 25 days straight, all in a rainforest in February. (I never said I was any good) I live on a river so I can practice fly casting, am an officer of a Steelhead Club and raise birds so I have a supply of exotic feathers to tie flies with. Yeah, I like to fish. (But not as much as I like HR. I blog about HR) 

Disney

Typical PTO day for HRNasty

So for me to take a PTO day off with no fishing or cigars involved is an eff’in big deal.

The gracious gesture

A few months back, my work colleagues heard that I had never been to Disneyland. Shocked, they decided as a group they were going to introduce me to Mickey. I came back to my desk to 3 Cheshire grins. When I asked them what was up, they told me we were all going to Disneyland. Without missing a beat, I said yes. I thought it was super gracious of them to make this gesture.

To put this into perspective, when was the last time you thought about taking your HR guy out to lunch, let alone to Disneyland?

Frankly, I was more excited to be included than I was about Disneyland. After all, you don’t miss what you have never experienced.

But wait there’s more

Over the next few months, the crew realized that I hadn’t seen any Disney movies and didn’t know who the characters were. If the movie doesn’t have machine guns or half-naked women in fast cars, I am not going to lay down $15.00 and an afternoon in a movie theater. I am going to be on the water or tying flies.

So, the gang reserved a few Saturday mornings for me. They introduced me to 4 Disney movies so I would understand the significance of the rides. They don’t do anything halfway. Breakfast potlucks with Mickey Mouse pancakes.  Who knew?!

A member of the Mouseclub gave me this hat for Christmas and that is a club pin

They also realized I couldn’t go to Disney without the proper swag. They presented me a gift pack with two shirts, a custom MouseClub pin and flat brim hat. I had no idea it was bad form to show up without flying the Mickey colors. Yes, this is a great crew.    

Who benefits when we have friends at work?

Companies benefit when employees have friends at work. Employees benefit when they have friends at work. It is natural to have a more meaningful connection with our “best friends”. We will work harder and sacrifice more for them. Best friends encourage each other and help each other succeed. We will challenge our friends to accomplish more for their own success and are genuinely happy for them when they are promoted. And yes, this is also good for the company. 

Compare and contrast our best friends with the company asshole. We don’t want to do anything for, with, or related to this guy. I don’t want to break bread with the company asshole. We don’t want to work on a project with the company asshole and we don’t like it when they are promoted. Not good for the company. 

Disney

Breaking bread together. OK, it’s a Mickey Mouse Beignet, but you get the idea.

My interpretation of a best friend at work

As the term “best friend” relates to the Gallup poll, I do have friends at work who I can confide in, who I want to hang out with and who I trust. If we have a hard day at work, our significant-other isn’t REALLY going to understand what we are going through. A best friend at work can understand the personalities and the politics of the office. These friends can provide advice, counsel, and the occasional vent sesh. Sometimes, we don’t want advice, we just want someone to listen and not judge.

A best friend knows when to tell you when you look fat in a pair of jeans and when to let you know you look fly. When they sound brutally honest, you know it comes from a good place.  

I think that any company would want a group of employees from multiple disciplines forming a tight group. We have MouseClub pins, and MouseClub groups in social channels so we can keep connected. And yes, we know what is going on outside of our respective departments. I like to think we have a positive effect on the company because of our diverse backgrounds and friendships. 

Thank you MouseClub for looking out for me these past few months and sharing something that is special to you and now special to me. Looking forward to California Adventures!

Next week, HRNasty reviews the positive effects of employee engagement on the Disney customer/guests

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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