I find that meeting with workers on a regular basis builds rapport and opens lines of communication, so I host quarterly InfoCision employee forums. I invite workers to participate voluntarily, and they’ve become an eager and receptive audience. After all, we share information pertinent to the business that supports our livelihoods. I gain valuable insights from them and have seen that my efforts inspire their enthusiastic ongoing contributions toward company goals.
I’m not alone in determining that employee engagement works wonders for businesses—including boosting morale and retention. Case in point, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, has been quoted as saying, “No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
Many companies now abide by the premise that successful leadership requires conversing with employees—vs. commanding and controlling them from high up on the corporate ladder. A primary benefit of this approach is how it enables large or growing organizations to function like much smaller ones. That is, they regain performance advantages such as tight strategic alignment, operational flexibility and high employee engagement.
Even if the distance between you and your employees makes personal appearances impossible, making a virtual connection should still be a priority to ensure that you foster a conversational culture. Staying close mentally and emotionally will lead all parties to trust each other, and engender more honest exchanges of ideas.
People matter—perhaps more than ever—in today’s companies. Their contributions are directly linked to company success. The effort they are willing to contribute toward that success has a lot to do with their level of engagement. Organizations that show they care, including making things happen based on employee input and encouraging good feelings about the work being done, often have more-productive workers. Employees who feel appreciated will make their customers feel appreciated as well.
Here are some ways that opening a dialogue between leaders and workers benefits organizations:
- Develops trust—leads to substantive and rewarding exchanges of views
- Signals respect—opens the door to issues that might not otherwise be raised or resolved
- Improves leadership performance—provides personal input (if solicited anonymously) for growth
- Closes gaps—promotes open and fluid dialog between leaders and employees, leading to social thinking and spontaneous give and take for more efficient communication
- Enhances inclusion—primes engaged employees to become brand content producers and ambassadors
- Confers order and meaning—directs conversations to converge on a particular company intent or aim
I like to start my forums with a fun icebreaker to make everyone feel at ease and encourage open communication. And I make sure that conversations aren’t restricted to work so that I can get to know my Communicators beyond what they do for the business. I welcome their honest insights and concerns and answer any questions they have for me. I’ve gotten to know many Communicators by name and have been privileged to share in their personal stories.
Typically, I meet with groups based on their length of service—under six months, six to 12 months, and over one year—because they present with such different interests and needs. To gather initial thoughts, I survey participants on their topics of interest; these surveys are also brought back to headquarters for our executives to review.
Within InfoCision, we also use companywide surveys to expand upon the insights we gain from the small group forums. Surveys are a highly valuable tool for helping to identify and resolve issues. Look for an upcoming blog from me on objectives and best practices for conducting internal surveys.
I’ve found getting to know my workers, both from forums and surveys, and attending to their concerns has added to my personal growth and business acumen. As a leader for your organization, consider engaging more personally with your employees; it’s a sure way to bring your business to the next level.
Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.