What Do Mickey Mouse Stickers Have To Do With Managing People?

May 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Since my family and I are heading to Orlando, FL next week for a week’s worth of sun and relaxation with Mickey Mouse and friends, I thought I’d try to figure out some way to write a blog about that. The best I can come up with relates to the joy and exuberance our three year old has shown about this trip and Disney in general (along with my wife- she’s what I like to call a Disney Freak!).

From the time our son Austin has been born, he’s been bombarded with toys, tv shows, clothing and even his little dinner plates themed around Disney movies and characters. Not surprisingly, the result is that our son absolutely loves Disney. His attention bounces from Toy Story, to Jake and the Neverland Pirates, to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, to Monsters Inc/University, and to a number of other characters/movies/tv shows. What’s interesting is that even though his focus shifts on a weekly or even daily basis- he keeps moving between the same shows and characters.

My inquisitive side wonders why. Why is he so captivated by these cartoons and their funny shaped and sounding characters? How can he watch the same movie 20 times in a week and never get sick and tired of seeing it or hearing the same songs over and over? What is it about these shows that continue to draw him in and keep him silent and intently focused (sometimes to the point I swear he forgets we’re even around)?

As I ponder those questions, different ones begin to pop in my head. Why should I care that he loves those things? Does it really matter why he loves them? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding “no”. It doesn’t matter why he loves those things- he does and that is all that matters. Whatever I can do to help make my son happy is the only thing that matters.

Finding his love for Disney has also led to some interesting ideas and approaches on how to parent. With our upcoming trip to Orlando on the horizon, we told him that Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story for you non Disney fans) wouldn’t let him in the parks unless he was using the potty. It’s amazing how quickly his stance turned from steadfast defiance on using the potty to using it without a fight. The same goes for behavioral issues- once we found some Disney stickers and told him he would get a sticker for reaching certain milestones on a daily/weekly basis, the behavioral issues decreased almost immediately. The concept behind both rewards was the same…find something he loves and use it to reward positive behaviors. No way was he going to continue to wear diapers if it meant he couldn’t get into the park and meet Buzz Lightyear in person.

Now comes the part where I try to relate this to the business world. We all have people who work for us. They do a variety of things and lead a variety of lives outside of the office walls. What if we used the same logic I apply to my child, and apply it to our work lives? Now, I’m not saying we should give an employee a Mickey Mouse sticker when they do something positive. But, what if we spent the time to get to know our employees well enough to find out what they absolutely love. And then found a way to reward them for a job well done by supporting their passions?

Maybe an employee is an avid bicycle rider- why not reward them for a job well done on a project with a gift card to their favorite bike shop. Or if a different employee spends their weekends volunteering at the local animal shelter- why not reward them with a donation to the facility in their name.

I’m not suggesting these items should replace annual reviews and salary adjustments. I’m suggesting they be little “extras” to show an employee that you care- that you care enough about them to learn about them and their passions. Your ability to relate to your staff on a personal level will show them you care. While a gift card to a bike shop or a donation to an animal shelter may seem like small things in the grand scheme of a business, it’s amazing how much the little things mean to people. Even things as little as a sticker of Mickey Mouse.

Jeff Dick, CPA

Manager – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

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