Most business leaders devote a portion of their day or week to trying to improve their business, their people or their bottom line. This usually is an extensive process that is derived from reading business books, attending seminars or maybe even peer counseling. The changes, processes or procedures that are developed may take months or even years to implement and there is no guarantee that you will get the results you desire. A few years ago I learned that something as simple as a single word could have a huge impact on our most important asset, our people.That word is “Victory”.
This one-word-wonder was brought to my attention by my company president. He came into my office, in full United States Marine Corps fashion, looking around to make sure no one was within hearing distance, and excitedly whispered, “Have I got a covert operation for you!” This wasn’t the first time that he cornered me with a “great idea”, but he was especially excited about this one and he had my full attention. He wanted to see if we could change the language of our business in just ninety days and, if we could, would this change actually affect our business, our culture and our people. He went on to explain that from that point forward, instead of saying “good job” or “congratulations”, I was to use the word “Victory”. My first response was “How did you come up with that word to use?” That’s when he started to tell me the life testimony of an employee, Bill Hunziker. Bill is a virtual billboard of positivity. Every time something good happens, he wholeheartedly exclaims, “Victory!” It can be anything from successfully installing a fence post or finishing a project ahead of schedule to a difficult spiritual battle won; positivity literally radiates from Bill. He went on to explain, “Every time I hear Bill replying with ‘Victory’, it makes me pause to appreciate the victory, large or small.”
A short time later, he pulled me and five other employees into a side office, closed the door behind him, drew the blinds and told us he was enlisting us in a covert team with a special operative. He explained his mission to all of us; we were to start using the word “Victory” when good things happened. As we departed, we were admittedly a bit skeptical, but willing to give it a try.
To my amazement, within the first hour after implementing the plan, I saw the first example. The title of an email that popped into my inbox simply said “Victory”. I opened the email to read about a large job that we had just been awarded and the email ended with the term “Victory”. A few hours later, the second “Victory” email popped up. One of our crew leaders just had a beautiful baby boy. For the first week or so, only members of the covert team sent the “Victory” emails but by the second week, others started responding with “Victory!” That one, simple word was starting to change the vocabulary of our business. By the end of the ninety-day trial, everyone was using “Victory” in most of his or her emails or daily dialogue. We enacted a “Victories” page on our company web site and we started receiving inquiries from clients and other businesses as to its meaning. When we received our first email from a client that said “Victory”, we knew we were well on our way to changing our company to a culture of “Victory”.
Basically, we took a simple word that has so many different meanings and built so much excitement around it that everyone wanted to be able to use it. People who had previously thought their jobs were mundane became excited in finding ways to be quicker and more efficient so they could claim a “Victory”. The company became more of a family because employees could not wait to share the “Victory” of a child graduating high school or becoming an Eagle Scout. You have to remember, “What’s rewarded is repeated.” This one, simple word changed the culture of a business from the inside out and from the corporate office to the living rooms of our people.
Today, if you search my email inbox for the word “Victory”, a couple hundred emails would pop up regarding families, jobs, customers and faith. What would happen if you searched for “Victory” in your email box? Would anything appear? What are the victories in your business and are you letting them slip by without acknowledgement? Would making a simple change like this effect your business in a positive way? Just remember, sometimes you may have to help manufacture the first one so that everyone can see what a “Victory” looks like, both personally and professionally.
"Our Readers may have noticed the VICTORY tag at the end of every article. We feature stories about people who embody the term victory and are an inspiration for us all."John Faulkner