“When I worked for you, I thought I was Superman.”
I have occasionally reflected on why that was. Not sure I know all the answers, but the things I do know are that the environment were real, the energy was high, and the crap was low.” A friend shared that he had actually received this note from a former employee.
I begin to wonder how do companies demoralize the staff and others make them feel like Superman? Do you know that Zappos trains every employee for 80 hours before the start their “real” job? Do you know they offer every employee a check for $2000.00 at the end of the training to walk, to quit and say this is not for me?
Years ago I took over an older division of a global electronics company; it had four plants two in the US, one in Mexico and one in Canada. After a world wind tour and visit to each operation one night I sat with one of my mentors. Walt is a few years my senior and has been very successful in growing companies, highly involved in M&A and retro fitting some serious rust belt operations and moving them forward.
He’s a master at asking the ‘ice cream cone in the forehead questions’.
“So what is your desired outcome for this business,” he asked.
“Do you want to grow and improve the business or just keep people in jobs?”
One of the plants in this group was the “player to be named later in a series of mergers and acquisition deals. This plant located in a vacation, low industry region which already had very high unemployment had a demoralized work force. Lack of feedback, recognition was a serious; it’s a common symptom in deflated, discouraged teams.
Recently, during a webinar on innovation, recognition was a discussed as a powerful tool and a serious ROI. Lack of job recognition in the region’s workplaces is the biggest barrier to employee productivity, the results of a recent poll conducted by Bayt.com have found. 41% of the surveyed respondents cited that little/ or the lack of credit for their efforts causes their productivity levels to wane.
A suggested key to encouraging innovation included recognizing ideas that failed. “Environment was real, the energy was high, and the crap was low.”
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) repeats that customer service and innovation are not important goals at his firm. Zappos has been written up time after time about their customer service. Hsieh contention is Culture, the creation and maintenance of Zappos culture is the critical factor, and everything else follows and is possible. Innovative firms talk about culture, energy and tools to budget, measure and track.
Innovation can be product or process.
Culture, customer service and innovation require an engaged team. Besides recognition, a clear plan is required, with open reporting of metrics/progress and the willingness to share failures and abandon ideas when not generating desired results.