Archive for CEO – Page 2

The CEO as Chief Communication Champion

[tweetmeme]The buck stops with the CEO when it comes to employee engagement.  This is especially true when it comes to trust and believability.  For internal communications to be meaningful, it is important for the CEO and his executive team to lead by example: “Don’t just do as I say, do as I behave.”  Most employees are craving leadership – they want champions they can trust to lead them in new directions.

The CEO must also be the CCC – Chief Communication Champion of the company.  As I’ve written before, she needs to ensure that other executives are truly leading the development of a Culture of Communication – meaning that all corporate communications are reliable, truthful, timely and contain the full story.  The CEO should establish a system of rewards and incentives to instill new behaviors.  A healthy two-way communication will lead to better performance.  For employees to be truly engaged with the company and each other, they need to know that:

CEO Leadership is Key to Employee Engagement

•    The CEO is the visible leader of corporate communication

•    Executive behavior in support of positive communication is rewarded

•    Employees are rewarded fairly

•    The company values employees and actively engages them as brand advocates for the company in customer interactions and on social media networks

During bad times – such as layoffs, a hostile takeover, a product recall – those CEOs who are truly CCCs will have earned the trust and commitment of employees to work through any crisis.

White Castle Boss Goes Undercover and Learns Employee Engagement Works

[tweetmeme]I was finally persuaded by a friend to watch the new hit show “Undercover Boss.”  This reality show confirmed that a CEO can learn a lot about how to make the company better by engaging with employees. For those who haven’t seen the new show on CBS, a CEO goes undercover as an employee in his own company to see for himself how things are working.  Dave Rife, owner of the White Castle hamburger chain, was this past Sunday’s undercover snoop.

Praise for a job well done

When he started his adventure, I don’t think he fully understood how stressful the job of a White Castle employee can be, with the fear of losing a job always in the background when you have a disabled child, as one employee did, or another’s fear of simply messing up.

How Do I Do This?

Mr. Big Shot discovered that he couldn’t do simple chores like sliding plastic wrap over a batch of buns in the packaging machine.  He ruined several barrels’ worth, prompting a supervisor to say the hogs (who get to enjoy the mangled buns) would be eating well that night.

What he learned best, though, was how important employees are to the success of the company.  At a White Castle drive-in a young co-worker explained to him about the importance of greeting each customer and going out of your way to help with little things, like sliding the customer’s credit card in a hard-to-reach slot.  In watching this scene, I was almost brought to tears by the young man’s sincerity and dedication.  So was Dan Rife.

Another employee showed him a shortcut, but told him not to tell management, because that’s not how they said it was supposed to be done.

After his eye-opening week on the road, working besides his employees, Rife returned to headquarters wiser and more appreciative of what it means to be on the front lines.

Magically, he brought several employees to headquarters to assist with developing training programs – hey, they should.  Aren’t they the ones who know what the problems are and how to fix them?  He gave a $5,000 scholarship to a budding chef, and another $5,000 to the employee with a disabled child.

The program ended with Rife speaking to a pep rally of employees, beaming with the joy of being acknowledged by the head of the company. Happy with the recognition that they were asked to work as a team to achieve the company’s success.

11 Tips to Improve Employee Motivation, Employee Satisfaction & Employee Retention

Praise promotes employee motivation

[tweetmeme]The idea for this article came from a conversation I just had with a friend who works for one of the largest companies and best-known brands in the world.  Yet the company sucks at employee motivation.  If they haven’t got it figured out, then heaven’s knows many other companies are still in the dark, too, about what kinds of things motivate employees and that lead to employee satisfaction and retention.

He gave me a couple of examples that were almost laughable.The company held an off-site to reward their biggest producers.  Yet, the budget didn’t include money for lunch, which had to come out of the pockets of the attendees. Come on. Not even a sandwich and a soda?  The advertised “atta-boy” program devolved into here are your numbers for next year, with the implied threat that you won’t be at next year’s pep rally or even the company if you don’t come up big.  Not much of a motivator.

I’m not naïve.  A salary increase or bonus are great motivators. Yet, most of the tips I’m about to suggest cost little or no money to implement.  It all comes down to employee communication: saying what you mean and meaning what you say in clear, concise language.   Here goes:

1. Clear job descriptions. This may seem like a surprising first tip.  It sure is motivating to know what your job is.  If people don’t know what they’re expected to do, how can they achieve exceptional performance?

2. Chain of command. One of the Big Four accounting firms did a survey a number of years ago and 75% of the employees didn’t know who they reported to.  Tough to give a pat on the back when you don’t whose backs you have.

3. Ask employees what they need. Duh.  Hey, do you have all the tools you need to do your job?  What do you need?  How can I help?

4. Give immediate feedback. This is one of my favorites.  People are desperate to know how they are doing.  Forget the annual performance review; it’s a dinosaur.  Discuss a specific instance where the employee did well or where he needs to improve.

5. Praise outstanding performance. This couldn’t be simpler and it costs nothing.  If an employee exceeds standards, let her know.  Send an email to everyone in her group.  Make it easy for others to find out without having to navigate the company’s over-stuffed intranet.

6. Enlist employees as brand advocates. If you haven’t already, take the muzzle off your employees and let them represent themselves and their company on social media.  (See my post 7 Steps to Making Your Employees Brand Ambassadors)

7. Make employees part of the solution. Somewhere, someone in the company knows how to fix something that’s wrong.  Remember, that decisions should be delegated to the people who have the facts – and that’s not always those at the top of the company.

8. Encourage collaboration. It’s a real bummer when divisions are pitted against each other to compete for business.  This was almost the downfall of one of the major money center banks. Assemble the best client service team, no matter where the players reside in the company.  They will be highly motivated to get the business as collaborators and not competitors.

9. Sponsor friendly competitions. No, this isn’t a contradiction.  People do love to compete.  So sponsor a competition for new ideas within a profit center and reward the winner with a prize, like dinner for two at a four-star restaurant.  Or, have each employee submit a video to compete for best-in-class product demonstration.

10. Hold town hall meetings. Gather individual communities of employees, give them an update on the company and their group, and encourage conversation about how you can all work together to achieve greatness.

11. Get the CEO talking. The CEO (see my post CEO as Chief Communications Officer) can do more for employee engagement than anyone in the company.  Communicate often with how the company is doing, your role in contributing to our success, and how you will be rewarded.  Golden.

Within companies of any size, there are communities that are defined by the organization chart but many more that form organically.  Be sure to communicate the things that will motivate that community like praise for a job well done.   It will pay big dividends in employee motivation, satisfaction and retention of your star players.

Annual Report Time: Don’t Forget Your Employees in Communication With Shareholders

Well, PR Departments in public companies are surely beginning work on their annual reports. They can smell spring in the air – when these symbols of capitalism come rolling off the presses once more.  In a reprise of my past admonitions, with a few additions, I implore writers and designers to keep a few things in mind.

  • Please make the report more exciting. Notice I did not say interesting.  Splash some color on the pages, use a large typeface so oldsters can read the copy, especially if you’re using reverse type.  Use bold, brash headlines.  Most readers will be viewing the report online so make it compelling and dispense with flash and any other doohickey that slows down loading or distracts the viewer.
  • Remember the company has employees. Yes, many fewer of them, but they still are the backbone of the company.  I was shocked last year when I perused the annual reports of several of the largest Fortune 500 companies and found they had not a single photo or story about an employees.   It is disappointing to think they merited so little recognition.
  • Make it sell.  The report should very strategically position the organization as the leader in its space, developing new paradigms of products and services.
  • Use Testimonials. Words out of the mouths of your customers and employees can bring the vision statement to life.  Let them tell the reader what a great company this is.

So, if you’re assigned to create this year’s annual report, how do you ensure it accurately represents the organization and has a long, active life after it’s been printed and distributed?  Here are my suggestions:

  • Get the CEO involved from the get-go.  Do not even think of hiring a writer or design firm until you have met with the CEO to understand how s/he wishes the organization to be positioned in the document. S/he cannot delegate this discussion to someone else.
  • Write a creative platform that describes the overall theme and tone of the annual report, its content and “look.”  Get the CEO to sign off on it.
  • Solicit in-put from the key people in your organization who would most likely use the annual report throughout the year such as the head of sales, director of development, director of public and community affairs, and so on.  What do they want emphasized in the report?  Find out what would make them use it during the year to help them achieve their goals.
  • Make a mock-up of the report, page by page.  It doesn’t need to be fancy. Take some legal paper and fold the sheets in half.  It’s essential to know the content of every page and ideas for photos, charts, etc.
  • Now you can meet with your design firm and writer, if that’s not you.  Everyone should be working from the approved creative platform and mock-up.  Believe me, they will love you for it.
  • Show two to three designs to the CEO with the mock-up.  If you’ve done your job right, s/he will have a tough time picking out the winner, because s/he will love them all.
  • Be true to the creative platform as you go through the process of developing the report.  Be excited as it begins to unfold as a living, breathing document that will take on a life of its own for a year.  Don’t be afraid to be a little gutsy with the copy and design.  You’re not creating the next Bible, after all.

So, with these humble bits of advice, good luck and go forth!