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Disney’s Success Story: A Focus On Hiring

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on January 28, 2015

There’s one thing that’s hard to refute about Disney and that’s the success of their brand. Whether it’s one of the seemingly BenchesSkyendless companies owned by The Walt Disney Company or simply just their logo, the Disney brand is one that’s trusted by its customers. People know what to expect when they interact with Disney—which is something all business leaders should strive to accomplish for their brands.  

The question is though: how does a business leader dream big and actually get there?

Fast Company recently interviewed former Disney Executive Vice President Lee Cockerell. In the article, Cockerell explained some of “the secrets” behind Disney’s success and how he helped maintain and grow such achievements during his 16-year career there.

5 Tips for Disneyesque Success

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There are probably many different factors that attribute to Disney’s continuous success over the years. However, sometimes the unthinkable can be achieved with the most fundamental things or as Cockerell suggests, “with a focus on hiring well.”

Here are five things the former Disney EVP recommends for the success of any business:

1.) Details Matter

At Disney, we believe everything’s important. Every detail. We don’t want any paper on the ground. We’re fanatical about—you don’t have to be happy to work at Disney, but you do have to act happy for eight hours. Because we’re putting on a show."

2.) Importance of Hiring

We ended up developing questions for every single position at the company. We also learned what to listen for. Employers a lot of times will look at a resume, check if the person has their hair combed or the right tie on, but there’s a lot more to people than the image they put on for an hour when you’re interviewing them. We try to go deeper. A lot deeper.”

3.) Upholding Expectations

Our managers are not bashful about enforcing policies, procedures, and operating guidelines. I think the silver bullet for Disney is training. We don’t turn them loose on customers until they’ve been heavily trained. We don’t practice on our customers. Because at the end of the day, the people at Disney are the brand."

4.) Transparency

I can tell you, in most businesses, you’ll see people complain that they don’t know what’s going on.”

Cockerell goes on to mention a weekly newsletter he published that went out to all of his employees…

“I published this for six years. People thrive on being recognized, and a lot of times we’d get letters from guests saying so-and-so took care of us on this ride. We’d acknowledge that employee, and it got to be a big deal and a good way to teach other employees—here are the kinds of things you do that guests appreciate." 

5.) Great Leaders

"When you think about it, the customer doesn’t come first—great leaders come first. You can’t have a great company without great leadership. They create the right environment and the kind of culture where people are able to do more than they think they can."

Some of you may have heard of this advice before. Nevertheless, it reinforces how important hiring the right people is for the success of one’s business. A business has to have a solid foundation of good, hard working people; those who are qualified to not only get the job done, but also do it to his or her best capabilities as well. Without these type of workers, there are no good leaders and the rest just falls apart.

Take the advice from the former Disney EVP, something tells me he knows what he’s talking about—and it all starts with making the right hire!

Trying to hire a Disneyesque team? Download the free eBook below and start improving your hiring process today!

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Talent Management, Company Culture, Management, Hiring


James Patrick Kahler

About the Author

James Patrick Kahler is Hireology’s Copywriter & Content Specialist. He is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and has over four years of professional experience writing for various industries. Outside of the office (and sometimes inside), he has a passion for comedy, advertising and his Cleveland sports teams…all of them.