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Make Every Employee Part of “The Why”

BY KENNETH C. BATOR, MBA

There is a lot of talk about how consumers aren’t just looking for products and services these days. They’re looking for and expecting an experience. I continually have a number of conversations about this during pre-team building sessions with my clients. The first thing I explain to CEOs is it’s nearly impossible to consistently provide a positive member experience when the employee experience is poor.

For all of you “numbers people” out there, it’s a fairly simple equation. C’mon, you know who you are. You’re the ones that immediately ask “What’s the ROI?” when the VP of Marketing wants to begin a social media campaign or the VP of Human Resources wants to implement a new training program. The equation is simply Happy Employees = Happy Members.

I heard this first in the early 90s during a Baxter Credit Union (BCU) event. A video of BCU’s first CEO, Rex Johnson, was on the screen and he talked about his philosophy of creating happy members through happy employees. When BCU was started in the 80’s they had $0 assets. Today the credit union is just under $3 billion. Seems like a substantial ROI fromthe implementation of that equation to me.

Surprisingly even today with such a strong and proper movement towards improved employee engagement, there remains a lack of leadership at that level. Unfortunately, I see it and hear it on a regular basis. “We already do enough for employees.” “They should just be happy they have jobs.” Both statements I have heard within weeks of writing this article. This tends to lead to apathy at best and discontent at worst among employees.

Logically how does the equation of “employees that don’t want to be here = a positive member experience?” That can’t possibly compute…at least not in that form. You can add some variables to the equation to make it work such as this:

Unhappy/apathetic employees + pressure/micromanagement + turnover + throw money at the problem = a positive member experience

That’s a lot of variables on one side of the equation. Sadly, on very limited occasion I have seen that equation work but it’s extremey expensive. Instead of throwing money at the symptoms why not allocate resources to solving the core problem with training, employee engagement, mentoring, and involvement?
Let’s hit on the last point, involvement, for minute. I had a conversation with a CEO late last year who asked me why his people seemed disconnected despite a high-level of communication on management’s part. I explained it’s not just about sharing the why. Communication and transparency are great starts. They lay a strong foundation for a positive employee experience. The answer to this CEO’s issue, and the next step to building something special within the culture, is involvement.

1 2Let me put it another way. You can grab a bunch of Legos, build something yourself, and explain all day why you made the structure you did. And people will probably understand but that won’t mean they’ll care. However, if you throw a bunch of Legos on a table and say let’s build something together, you’re likely to get a lot more interest and build something much better than you had initially intended yourself.

The point is it’s not just about informing people about the why. It’s about making everyone a part of the why. Here are a few implementable tips to make everyone a part of the why and the story:

1.Have them create the process – There is a lot pushed down upon employees. New regulations. New software. New programs. Is there a wonder why employees can get disillusioned by constantly being told what is going to happen to them whether they like it or not? So when the business needs a new sales process, onboarding process, loan process, etc., wouldn’t there be value in starting the creation of those processes with the people responsible for their implementation and execution? Of course there would. Yes, you may get some crazy ideas. But you will also get many valuable ones as they already know what works and what doesn’t in their jobs, whether they tell management about it or not. And, besides, you are still the leader. You can mold their ideas into what the business needs but there is instant buy-in by making the employees part of the process from step one.

2.Have them lead the experience – If they were part of creating the process let the staff lead the process. That doesn’t mean allowing an individual to deviate from the system that the team created. It does mean allowing each individual to innovate. If the ubiquitous greeting of “How may I help you?” isn’t leading to business development discussions then allow staff to innovate. If someone suggests another conversation starter such as, “How are you enjoying our new premium checking?” let them try it and track the results. Always allow for suggestions and alterations to the process.

3.Incentives for everyone – Incentive programs don’t have to be just for sales. And not all incentives have to be cash. Sales is one important function of the business, not the only one. When we only implement commissions for the business development process and those involved in it there is a risk of alienating those that populate the other areas of the organization chart. Consider implementing an incentive program for differentactivities that contribute to the growth of the business and culture such as sales, executing new ideas, going above and beyond for the team, filling in for a coworker, etc. Also consider multiple incentives such as PTO or gift cards to local restaurants and other businesses. And don’t forget the incentive of recognition in front of the team. Not everyone is motivated by cash.

The objective is to encourage active employees at every level. When they are a part of creating and enhancing the experience, it becomes much easier to work together to create a unique member experience as well. And, by the way, the experience for leadership usually becomes that much more enjoyable as well.

kenneth-batorKen Bator is the author of The Formula for Business Success = B+C+S and the founder of Bator Training & Consulting, Inc. (BTC)  Credit unions hire Ken to create environments where employees actually want to come to work and members want to keep coming back. BTC accomplishes this through a combination of Branding, Culture building, and Strategic planning. This is the unique B+C+S Formula created by Bator and featured in his latest book. To have BTC assist your credit union in creating a differentiating and engaging experience, contact Ken directly at 714-681-2821 or kbator@btcinc.net. Learn more about BTC’s training and strategic planning sessions at www.btcinc.net or www.speakermatch.com/profile/kenbator/.

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