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SEATTLE-Make work fun was the advice Jackie Freiberg, managing partner of Freibergs.com, had for attendees of NAFCU’s 35th Annual Conference. She asked the audience who likes to work with fun people and nearly everyone raised their hands; however, very few raised their hands when she asked if they hire employees for a positive attitude. “One bad attitude can corrupt an entire credit union,” Freiberg said. A key characteristic of the best work environments and most profitable companies is not satisfied-but happy-employees, she explained. Using Southwest Airlines (consistently a leader in profitability and best places to work) as a model, she demonstrated how `delighted’ employees lead to `delighted’ members. When employees enjoy their work, members look forward to seeing them, it stimulates creativity, it cuts down on absenteeism, and laughing is heart healthy. “It has to do with relationships. That’s what creates a great work environment,” according to Freiberg. Employees have to leave work feeling like they have accomplished something great, not that they have just done their job. Freiberg acknowledged that work is `work’ and the competition is nothing to mess around with. “You have to take the competition seriously,” she commented. “You just don’t have to take yourselves so seriously.” The best thing to do is to learn to have fun in the workplace and that starts at the top. She pointed to an example of the top management team at Southwest Airlines annually performing a few vocal melodies for the employees. “Leadership is less about power and more about service…serving the people who work for you,” Freiberg explained. Do not ask employees to do anything you would not first do yourself, she recommended. She told the audience how the CEO of Southwest stood in as an in-flight scheduler on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year. She also emphasized “Gutsy leaders are going to hire for attitude and teach you for skills.” She reminded the credit union attendees, “You’re hiring ambassadors of your credit union service philosophy.” Never compromise on hiring someone with a good attitude, Freiberg recommended. “Enthusiastic employees lead to loyal members,” she explained, and that can be profitable. This point leads to Freiberg’s final credo: go beyond the basics in service. The speaker stressed, “No advertisement is as trusted as the spontaneous testimony of a delighted customer.” She relayed a story given without prompting by a cameraman during one of her presentations when he was flying Southwest to get home to his wife who was in labor. When the plane landed, the man was escorted off first with a bottle of champagne – 20 minutes ahead of schedule. [email protected]

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