They’re polite, kind, efficient, pleasant, not grumpy or snarky, helpful, professional, genuine – I’m talking about Disney employees. The cast members pictured on the previous page are face painters in Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland. The second I walked by their booth, these lovely ladies greeted me and answered questions about Animal Kingdom even though I didn’t volunteer myself for facepainting. In all the times I’ve visited the parks and interacted with scores of Disney employees, I’ve only run across 1 unpleasant cast member. The one exception was a young lady in a Disney store who was not very responsive when I greeted her – I’m guessing she was having a challenging day. Even so, she was more well-mannered than some of the people I cross paths with every week in my daily life. What’s Disney’s secret to customer service and kindness? I don’t have an inside source into the training Disney requires for each of their employees but I imagine it consists of a few of the following:
1. The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This concept has Biblical origins and whether or not you are a Christian, I imagine you’d agree that if we all lived this proverb, the world would be a better place. Treating others with kindness, generosity, patience and deference – I’ve witnessed this positive behavior time and again at Disney from Cast Members even when they’re faced with an irate guest.
2. Respect – First you need to start by respecting yourself, knowing who you are and why you are here. Every individual cast member has a part to play at Disney and when everyone does their bit and does it well, the result is a symphony of professionalism and fun. I imagine Disney treats treats their cast members with great respect and this, in-turn, enables them to treat guests with that same level of respect. A person who lacks self respect and doesn’t speak clearly, kindly and portray a positive attitude by their body language and facial expression cheats not only their self but others around them.
3. Efficiency – I’ve never seen a cast member goofing off with another employee while I wait in line to purchase something. It seems that they’re trained to always be alert and engaged in the task-at-hand. And what’s more, they seem to genuinely enjoy what they’re doing even when they’re working beneath the blistering sun and oppressive humidity in Florida.
I’ll close with this. Many times my dad, an ex-Marine, said that the military did more for his work ethic and self respect than anything else he experienced in his upbringing. While certain education is needed for particular jobs like nursing, engineering, the arts, etc., the one skill that all people need to truly excel in life regardless of career or relationships is to cultivate a positive attitude and respect for one’s self and others. I wonder sometimes what the world would look like if Disney prepared a class that we all had to take at various times in our k-12 education that utilized the job training they give their cast members. We would learn how to apply the golden rule, develop self-respect and respect for others and display efficiency in our work ethic. Just think how that might impact our culture and improve our daily lives. My dad often said that military service should be a requirement for all high school graduates. He said it hels to unwind the thinking so many people have that makes them think they’re entitled to have or get whatever they want despite the cost to themselves and others. I’m beginning to think he was right on that score but, I think adding a sprinkle of Disney attitude training would also make our world a better place – one individual at a time.