I have a toddler, and finding day care has been a problem. In desperation, I signed on with Bright Horizons, an expensive, multi-national chain. The nearest location was in an office complex downtown, and getting there was inconvenient and time consuming.
But I loved the place. They had stimulating activities, committed teachers, and great communication. After a few months, a spot opened up at another daycare that was walking distance from our house. I liked the director, and in spite of a few negative reviews, it seemed fine. Amazingly, the price was $845 less per month than Bright Horizons. I jumped at the opportunity.
But almost right away there were problems. Some were big issues: Teachers were often buried in their phones, and it was unclear what, if any, activities were going on. Some issues were small: Micah’s teacher never said hello, or even looked at him when we arrived. The only photo we ever received was the same daily pic of all the kids eating lunch.
I talked to the director, but nothing changed. After several weeks, my husband and I decided to return to Bright Horizons and save money some other way.
Without a team aligned around that common purpose, how can you deliver a great, or even good, product?
Lately, I’ve been spending time talking with Brian Gottlieb, founder of Tundraland Home Improvements, and a true expert on workplace culture. It was through my conversations with Brian that I was able to clearly articulate the issue with the second daycare.
When I told the director that we were leaving she asked why, and I borrowed a page from Brian’s book. I explained that every problem she had, big and small, was the result of one overriding issue. The issue was alignment.
No one who worked there was aligned around a mission. I would bet that a mission existed somewhere — after all, no one starts a company saying, “Our purpose is to obtain revenue by keeping young children in a room.” But any child-centered culture had broken down, and there were no discernible values that the business stood for.
Without a clear mission, vision, and values to steer you, how can you chart a course for anything other than mediocrity? And without a team aligned around that common purpose, how can you deliver a great, or even good, product?
I explained this to the director as kindly as possible, but she kept returning to the individual issues I brought up, saying things like, “I’ve reminded the teachers to stay off their cell phones.” But those are only symptoms.
For a remodeler, the importance of knowing your purpose and making sure your team knows it too cannot be overstated. A team is stronger when they have internalized the company’s values and are empowered to make decisions to support them. It’s also helpful to review staff using the values as a benchmark.
I don’t know the workplace culture of Bright Horizons, but I do know that they are getting top dollar from parents because their team members create a better product.
Remodelers are the same way. Many homeowners will pay a premium for a seamless experience, and then go on to refer your company again and again.