As a business leader, I have always liked letting folks know what is going on with others out there doing good business. This article is about a few ambitious and optimistic clients and what they are doing. At first the work seemed unrelated and, after a while, I started to see a pattern. When coupled with the recent recession, it started to make sense and it feels BIG to me.
A little background while I make you wait for this BIG thing. Having started and run a small business for many years, it is common for me and for anyone who comes to work at Priority Learning to realize that they cannot stay long if they can't pay for their existence. In larger organizations a certain amount of support is vital and necessary for success. At Priority Learning we are a long way from having the resources and the luxury of a lot of support. We do our own work as much as possible and we team up on the rest. Existing clients and their work and new work (growing the business) are everyone's job and all day, everyday that is what we do. We always have one eye on potential work while making the work we do each day better and gaining a sense that we will have more work if we do our existing work better and better. That is how we grow, improve, and expand so we can do more of the good work. Inside of all that good work, we try to find more and more clients who embrace the same values we do and less and less with clients who don't. The formula works pretty well most of the time and, if it gets off track, it is usually because WE did something wrong.
Are you ready for the BIG new concept or have you already guessed? Coming out of this recession, clients are telling us that each employee has a responsibility to add to the business base. Sounds kind of simple, but remember it is a dramatic role change for people who think they were hired to weld or answer phones or wait tables. What is driving the change is the light we are all under as a product of this recent recession. Businesses are revamping how they do things and people are looking at their work very differently. Clients are not only adopting the philosophy that "we all have a role in expanding the business base", they are also doing something about it with their people.
Aren"t some people doing this already?
In the retail world this sounds kind of normal. From my experience, I"m not sure that some folks think of their retail jobs as more than just a means of income. When it comes to service work such as bank employees, there"s a great deal of pride in being a vital service provider and yet some still think of their jobs as a way to gain income for their daily bread (no pun intended). Many people who work for a living see their jobs as a way to gain the income to pay the rent or take that vacation or pay down the credit cards. In exceptional places of employment, however, people feel connected to the company and their colleagues, and they create a bond that can be stronger than the pull of employment elsewhere for more money.
Let"s talk about what people are doing...
Everyone is in the business of coaching people to buy. A service company that we are working with is paying its entire and sizeable workforce (over 400) to attend four hours of training in groups of 15-20 to overcome sales reluctance and to understand their products and their benefits as a company. This company has also selected a leader whose responsibilities are to grow the business, lead the company innovatively toward growth and minimize the barriers for their employees so they can bring in new work. The leaders in this company are realistic and they are asking people to bring in their neighbors and friends, family and general acquaintances. They are also making sure that each employee is:
Not surprisingly, the reception has been very positive for the employees. In fact at one meeting a person who normally drives a truck for the company let the rest of the group know that, "He didn't want to work with someone who was unwilling to promote the company that pays them." As a side note, when we were designing the training for all employees, we were kind of guessing where we thought we might experience the greatest resistance. For some reason we thought it would come from people who worked in traditional jobs like accounting, driving trucks, technicians, or even managers because we were asking them to do their traditional jobs and take on this new scary role. Instead, the acceptance, energy and willingness have been universal.
Bring on the new members...
You may or may not know that Credit Unions (in the past) were experiencing declining growth for years. Some say it was the blue-collar image and some think that it may be a product of big institutions offering easier loans pre-recession or even people feeling like Credit Unions aren't real banks. Well this recession has proven to most that the best place to put your money might be your local Credit Union or Community Bank. People like Suze Ormon and the Arianna Huffington have come out and endorsed Community Banks and Credit Unions as your best bet for the long run. Now the Credit Unions and Community Banks are mobilizing their workforce to capitalize on this new market of people disgruntled with big banks and big risk. We actually work with Credit Unions and Community Banks that grew last year in this economy.
So here is the theme for this month. ASK!! And when they say YES!!, teach them why and how, get them started, tear down every barrier that is in the way and reward their performance with praise and genuine appreciation. It is everyone's job to ensure the security of growth and prosperity of any organization. Somewhere long ago we got a customer service team together and gave people titles like sales manager or customer service rep, when in essence, each of us already had the job. I'm not sure when we lost sight of this issue or if we ever had it but today is the day and your people are those people.
In the 20 years since starting Priority Learning, Ralph has facilitated countless learning experiences and has conducted training for thousands of managers and leaders. With over 30 years of leadership development and organizational development background and work, Ralph continues to build relationships with client companies all over the U.S.