To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…
Part 2: While discussing their meeting that reviewed recent NLRB business challenges, James asked Keith for a specific example of how prioritizing employee engagement in his workforce had positively influenced his revenue.
“Okay, here’s one that surprised me. A couple summers ago, our biggest local competitor took a business loan and hired a marketing firm that really put their name and service out in front of the community. As soon as I heard about their plan, I pulled our employees together. I think our strategy will give you an idea of how we sparked their engagement to our benefit.
“First we created this Secret Service Day where supervisors shared the rumor, told them we were working on a strategy, and asked everyone to keep the lid on our knowledge like it was national security. We then held a celebration day: employees came together, had some fun, helped us celebrate why our customers love us, and brainstormed what makes them choose us over our competitors. Using their input, I worked with my resources to create ideas for marketing those service advantages with our limited budget. Lots of the ideas involved our staff making extra efforts with our customers, so before we executed any of the ideas, we ran them by the workforce: sharing our goals and asking them for the ‘pros and cons’ in our proposed strategy. We made some tweaks from their suggestions and also aligned our employee recognition programs to the new practices.
“It took us only two weeks to turn that rumor about our competition into new customer-focused actions, and our employees were using them before our competitor’s first campaign hit the internet. I think this was an example of our success because we couldn’t have gotten people to share solutions and participate so effectively and quickly if they had not already cared. The employees still call that our ‘turtle summer’ because our numbers only dropped a little below our average two weeks that season – even with all our competitor’s expensive hoopla. Apparently somebody thought our steady success reflected the tortoise and the hare.”
“Sounds like it paid off for you. I’m thinking we could never get everybody on the same page and cooperating that fast. And the big regulatory change you mentioned could really make customers and employees angry when they are faced with the policy changes and extra work.”
Trying to be encouraging, Keith reminded James, “You know your CEO is pretty psyched about employee respect and is always talking up the latest technology changes; maybe it won’t be that big a surprise for people. I’ll bet your leaders have more influence on employee engagement than you think.”
James’ mind was still full of the frustrating information from the morning’s National Labor Relations Board seminar, and he knew those could compound the challenges of the coming months. “Keith, it seems like your overall employee-management alignment is so important through these kinds of situations. Are there specific red flags you look for that might warn you there could be holes in that critical relationship?”
“That’s a tough question,” Keith said, “You know my company is only about half the size of yours; I’m not sure we’d look for the same things. But I’m willing to try and identify some places you might see weak spots. But if you find gaps or these market changes will impact operations like you’ve indicated, you’ll want to partner with a professional to create a strategy to help everyone get through the next year or so. Give me the weekend; I’ll email you some ideas.”
REALITY: Establishing and monitoring consistent and respectful two-way communication between management and employees can decrease risk and increase organizational strength. Aligning the entire organization makes it stronger and more flexible; such qualities are critical to successfully navigating through the choppy waters of commercial uncertainty.
FOLLOW US & don’t miss the next PEPPERBOX blog: Can Keith help James overcome his concerns about his employees and the discord the new regulations might cause?