“Two All-Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, On a Sesame Seed Bun”
Even if you weren’t around to enjoy the original airings of the commercials for the iconic Big Mac that aired in the mid ‘70’s, you’ve no doubt seen a retrospective at some point. Remember the speculation around the “special” or secret sauce?” It was really only a jazzed up thousand island salad dressing. But it set that burger apart from all others.
That’s my question to you today. What’s the secret sauce in your organization that makes it special? What sets it apart from of all of the other organizations that offer the same product or service? If you don’t have an immediate single answer, you may be in trouble. You’ll struggle to recruit and retain both employees and customers. Further, you may find yourself longing for a new opportunity.
I have recently had the pleasure of partnering with a couple of human services, non-profit organizations and I could quickly define their secret sauce as “passion for their mission.” Their employees were so mission-minded that all else paled. The employees aren’t paid competitively with their for-profit counterparts, but never did I hear any whining or complaining. Everyone in each of the organizations was focused on their purpose and how they could personally contribute (sometimes at their own expense) to the well-being of their clients.
Another organization with which I am familiar is on the complete opposite end of the financial spectrum. This organization has fared very well. They have experienced great revenue growth and each of the employees has participated in that success. You only have to drive into the employee parking lot and see the type of vehicles parked there to know that the employees are among the affluent. When I asked one of the employees of this organization recently what was their secret sauce, she responded, “Are you kidding? I work hard, but I’m generously rewarded.” Clearly, their wealth-sharing compensation plan is the secret sauce for the employees.
For other organizations, such as Zappos, their secret sauce is their amazing customer service. Talk to any of their customers. They will tell you. Almost as soon as you mention the company name, someone in the crowd will remark on their quality service experience.
So, figure it out. If you don’t know your secret sauce, decide what you want it to be. And then, act as if. Set out to make it so. Let your desired secret sauce guide your decisions and your actions. Get buy-in from other leaders. Within a short time, all stakeholders will recognize the element of excellence that distinguishes your organization. You’ll know the secret sauce that sets your organization apart from all others.