Tag Archive: employee engagement

Do You Have Empowered Teams?

May 4th, 2017
empowered teams

Making sure customers have the best service sometimes means loosening the reins and giving employees more freedom to make on-the-spot decisions.

Lately, there has been a common theme at seemingly unrelated events — the importance of employee engagement and empowerment. Just in the last several weeks, it has come up at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum, the Harvey Mudd executive panel event, and at the CEO Summit.

Do you have empowered teams? Or do you just think you do? In thinking about empowered teams, we can ask a few pointed questions:

1. Do you communicate the importance of employees acting in the best interest of the customer? Do your teams understand what they are able to do to satisfy a customer?

2. If an employee makes a decision within reason of the guidelines you set and with the “right” end goal (whether or not it is the way you would have made the decision), do you pat them on the back?

3. Would your team members ever cite policies and procedures to internal or external customers as a reason something cannot happen if pressed for an answer? How do you think it makes your customers feel?

4. Can your teams spend money to satisfy a customer? How much is too much?


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Do You Really Support Empowerment?  

Empower Your People to Grow


Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

April 25th, 2017
employee engagement

A disengaged workforce can cost you in productivity, profitability and lost customers. Engaging employees can be as simple as listening, giving feedback and removing obstacles to success

Employee engagement was a hot topic during the “Company Culture as a Competitive Advantage” panel at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum. Did you know that one of the most recent Gallup studies found that 67% of people are not engaged in the workplace? How horrifying is that?

Worse yet, what makes up the 67%? 51% are not engaged but 16% are actively disengaged. What? Can you imagine the obstacles to overcome to be successful in an environment where 16% of your team is working against you?

What can we do about employee engagement?

  1. Involvement– Involve your people in their work. It sounds obvious but rarely occurs. Can your employees have an impact on their work? Are they asked to participate in brainstorming sessions or kaizen events? Please, if you ask your team to participate, do not dictate the solution. You’ll create active non-involvement!
  2. Leadership– Ok, leadership can sound like motherhood and apple pie; however, have you thought about just one fact — employees do not leave companies; they leave leaders. Who is leaving your company?
  3. Performance management– Talk about a topic few leaders excel at doing, it is performance management. I was fortunate to have an OD/HR mentor who taught me almost everything I know about this topic. It is actually quite simple. Be upfront with your people. Provide immediate positive and constructive feedback. Address poor performers. This single action will achieve wonders with your stars. Don’t wait for once a year. Make time to meet one-on-one at least once a quarter.


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How to Effectively Engage Employees and Achieve Results

Do you Have Engaged Employees?


Why Planning is at the Crux of Success

May 25th, 2016


I just had a brainstorming session with one of my key clients about the integrated planning process — in essence, how demand and supply match up to ensure customer service (which is #1 for every client in today’s environment), growth, and improved margins and cash flow. It almost doesn’t matter the reason I come into a client — and the reasons can be wide ranging — there is always opportunity to improve the integrated planning process, get everyone on one page with clarity and sync up demand with supply. It sounds much easier to do than it is in reality. Yet it is vital!

Some of the results I’ve seen with this focus include the following: 1) Improved service levels from the low 60%’s to the high 90%’s. 2) Reduced lead times by 30-70%. 3) Reduced inventory levels by 30-60% while maintaining service levels. 4) Improved margins and reduced costs substantially — by millions of dollars, 5-20% and so on. 5) Improved employee engagement — probably the most important of all as happy employees not only ensure happy customers but they also are much more likely to be innovative in growing the business with new products, increasing margins, etc.

One tip to implement this week:

The good news is that there is a LOT you can do this week to improve your integrated planning process. If you are a leader, simply ask questions about this process of the people involved in these areas, customers, suppliers, etc. Listen for common threads. Undoubtedly, you’ll uncover an opportunity or two, low hanging fruit and the like.

If you are “in” the process, take a step back and think about the inputs and outputs of your process. Of all the items on your to-do lists and priorities of customers (both internal and external), which inputs really matter — and are NEEDED to gain the right outputs (results)? Answering this question can be the 80/20 to success.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Empower Your People to Grow

October 27th, 2015
employee empowerment

When you empower your people with the right tools and decision-making, they take share in the ownership and business success.

Businesses must capture opportunities rapidly to outpace their competition. Thus, it is even more important to be the best at identifying, prioritizing, and implementing opportunities which will deliver bottom line business results. The time to leapfrog your competition is now.

Why is empowerment the key to success?  Empowered employees achieve substantial results which also tie directly to what’s required to succeed in the new normal: 1) Reduce costs & delays. 2) Deliver exceptional service. 3) Innovate in alignment with vision.

Or, just think about the Ritz Carlton. Their employees are empowered and will make sure their customers are happy. If you’ve experienced the service at the Ritz, you won’t want to go back! Why not have your customers experience this same success? Thus, consider the following steps: 1) Clear vision & boundaries. 2) Develop the skills and attitudes. 3) Control over their work. 4) Leadership. 5) Communications. 6) Tools & support.

  1. Clear vision & boundaries – If there is a key to empowerment, it lies in creating the playing field. Employees need to understand where the company is headed and why. They need to know how they fit into the big picture, why it’s of value, and what is “in bounds” and “out of bounds”. The boundaries could be legal, ethical, financial, etc. Last but not least, it is vital that the employee knows that on the field, he/she calls the plays.
  2. Develop the skills & attitudes – It is not enough to declare, “You’re empowered”, and then disappear. Have you and the employee brainstormed as to what types of skills and tools he/she will need to perform the role? How about customer service skills? Communication skills? Attitude is vital – does the employee accept accountability? Develop a plan together of what’s needed to ensure success. Provide support and feedback. Address issues upfront. Celebrate successes.
  3. Control over their work – Having control over your work is vital to empowerment. If you don’t believe you can control your destiny within a set of guidelines, you will not feel or act empowered. This is probably the hardest part of empowerment which is why I’ve seen so few cases of true empowerment. The most successful lean environments typically support empowerment as it is core to success; however, it is surprising the number of touted lean environments which do not hold up muster when push comes to shove.
  4. Leadership – The key to empowering and engaging employees begins with leadership. I’ve yet to work with a client that had empowered and engaged employees with a weak leader on top. Yet I’ve seen the least likely suspects turn into empowered and engaged employees with an exceptional leader on top! For example, one employee would rarely if ever make a decision as he was interested in being “under the radar” and keeping his job. With enough encouragement that we wanted his input and wouldn’t hold him responsible for a bad decision (so long as it didn’t occur repetitively), he eventually spoke up and was an invaluable team member.
  5. Communications – A simple word for a vast topic – nothing is more critical. This must start at the beginning with the vision and encompass the entire process through metrics and feedback.  Begin by clearly articulating the vision and goals – why does it matter? Why is the employee important to the vision? How does he/she tie in? Most importantly, do not say you’ll support empowerment and not live up to your promise. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. You might agree in concept but when your employee doesn’t handle a situation as you’d prefer, you might be tempted to intervene. Don’t do it! Those who empower even when it’s inconvenient or difficult will be those who succeed.
  6. Tools & support – Empowered workers will expect the appropriate tools and support to expertly perform their work. No need to jump on the latest bandwagon and think these cool tools will be desired by your high performers. They’ll be unappreciated – or worse, a distraction in supporting your high performers. They will know the right tools for the job and will request them. Listen, ask questions, push back when needed (as would be expected from a top performer) and make the tools needed for success a top priority.
  7. Appreciation – A simple thank you can go a long way! It is amazing how much of an impact being appreciated has on an employee’s level of engagement. Unfortunately, I’ve seen countless examples of exceptional employees who don’t receive appreciation; worse yet, they gain unwanted negative attention at times for bringing up potential problems or roadblocks that must be tackled in order to achieve the corporate goals. There is nothing more disheartening to an exceptional employee than a complete lack of appreciation for the results achieved. The best leaders who drive bottom line business results speak with their employees. They review goals on a frequent basis and discuss roadblocks. They show interest in the employee’s ideas and provide immediate positive and corrective feedback.    

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Do You Recognize Your Employees?

August 25th, 2015
employee recognition

There are countless ways to thank an employee for their hard work, ideas and motivation. Be sure to make the recognition meaningful to the employee to really make them feel appreciated.

One of the most successful yet NO cost ways to create employee engagement is to recognize them. It can be as simple as saying thank you. Have you said thank you to any of your employees or peers lately? Find a way to say thank you at least once a day. Look for opportunities. Have they gone over and beyond? Have they finished an assignment early? Did they make a suggestion? Were they helpful to another employee?  There are countless opportunities to say thank you.

Another way to recognize employees is to give them meaningful work. Make sure you communicate the value of the work your employees are performing. Look for opportunities to give them a meaningful project – either something important to the company’s success or something the employee is interested in. Tell them you are recognizing their hard work and ideas with a special project. Ask if there is something they are interested in?

Recognize your employees in public. Write about their successful ideas in a company newsletter. Give them a gift card for dinner at a company lunch. Recognize the best with awards once a year. Typically these small gestures go a long way as the employee knows you were thinking of them and are able to share it with their colleagues.

Last but not least, recognize your employees with what is meaningful to them. Find out about your employees. Some might prefer to take off time in the middle of the day to go to their child’s school assembly. Others might prefer the opportunity to take a day off from time to time. Another might prefer to work on a priority project. Another might like to go to an Angels game. If it is meaningful to the person, it will go a long way! 

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