Engagement Program Pit Fall #2

Having been involved in the development and on-going management of over 1,000 employee, sales, business to business and consumer loyalty engagement programs for 30+ years another common pit fall to watch out for:

Small Things Matter – In any work environment there are things that, well, drive people nuts. While doing an engagement program if these issues come forward it is key to address them. In Tom Chapple’s book, The Soul of a Business, he shares that in the first time the management ever surveyed the employees someone wrote in that “the lighting the employee parking area was not sufficient.” When the VP’s and he sat down to review the responses right away one of the VP’s started bashing the “we need better lights” in the parking lot response.

Chapple shutdown the growing wave of people laughing at this, saying “hey, we asked them what we could do to make their jobs better and someone took the time to write this up. If we don’t respond why would they believe us when we ask for bigger ideas and help?” They took care of the lighting issue and other ones. In time the employees trusted that management was listening and engaged on bigger questions and thinking.

Challenge: Senior leaders are focused on the bigger challenges of a company, at the same time they want to engage with the employees and tap into their experiences, knowledge and skills. Cutting through the background noise of work and the latest emergency can be a big challenge. Trying to take on too much at once can overload the bandwidth of the leadership and create confusion in the team on “what is the priority” to focus on? Having patience to build trust over time in the team and the leadership can be a challenge – life and business demands wait for no one.

Solution: Engagement programs are a super way to do this. The double edge is, don’t reach out and asking for input and do nothing. Instead, look at finding a technology platform that allows the company to manage information and communications both ways, input and out to the team. Next it takes a culture that cares about the team as much as the financial results, the customers and the team. If the leaders make light of what is important to the team, in time the team loses interest in doing the best for the business. The goal is a common bond, the idea that all in a business drive the difference and build a growing customer base. Culture, leadership and open communications. No matter how hard, no matter how challenging if you ask share the results, the outcomes – even if painful. Build trust with each interaction – no matter how small.

One insight came from a client, I was brought in by the board of a loyalty company to assess what was going on in the business. While the start up had grown and was nearing $100 million there seemed to be high turnover in the management team. While everything that was written or shared with the board was aligned with what they wanted to see there was a breakdown to the larger employee base. The CEO stated that he had an open-door policy (even going to the extreme of taking his door off the hinges and placing on the wall outside his office). The fact was no one want to cross that threshold and tell him the truth – he would blow up at the bearer of the message putting their job in jeopardy. In time, no news of what was really going on flowed upwards. Lots of smiles but no truth. The culture was one of little open communications.

Don’t leave culture to chance. Shape it, demonstrate it, defend it at all levels! 

David and his bride of 33 years in Central Park NYC!

About David Carrithers: With over 30 years of business and personal development experience he has built a list of clients, skills and positive outcomes for the top brands in the world. His expert support has been applied to business in the government contracting, loyalty, rewards, incentive, technology and payment technologies industries. As the inventor of our modern payment technologies he has learned that all development starts with the people on a team and aligning their skills for the desired results.

David is available to help business leaders, teams and boards evolve to new levels of success through collaboration, alignment and transformational strategies. Reach out today 707-484-3620 https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidcarrithers/

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