What do you hear at work? Talking? Laughter? What do you see? Is your team bouncing from desk to desk, chatting in the hallway, smiling at their peers? Do you see your team leaning into deep discussions around a conference table?
In some company cultures, hearing laughter and seeing employees huddled in a discussion could leave one feeling as though the team is slacking off. When World Emblem, a manufacturer of apparel decorations, transformed the Miami office to an open working area, it created a new vibe. Hearing talking and belly laughter was music to the CEO, Randy Carr’s ears. There were no walls to separate teams from one another and the buzz of employee engagement was brewing.
The greatest perk of helping my clients grow and plan with purpose is the residual reward of inspiration from their stories (the opportunity to thaw my winter bones in Miami is a close second). Annual Planning with World Emblem did not disappoint. While rolling out new systems and launching new products, they keep their focus on the one thing that will earn them world class performance - an engaged workforce.
World Emblem is winning the battle of engagement because they are tackling it from several angles. Knowing engagement was top of mind, the executive team was open to revisiting their Core Values during Annual Planning. Over two days, I had a front row seat to the buzz and more stories on how they are creating a culture of engagement.
Are you still not hearing the buzz at work? Here are 7 ideas you can take from World Emblem to get your engagement buzz brewing:
1. Be Open to a Core Values makeover.
The first place to look when culture and engagement are on the agenda are Core Values. Already have them? Check! Not so fast. Do they read like those posters from every training room in the 90’s with a single word and a representative animal in the background? Short of dressing up as a lion to show your pride, does your team know what behaviors in the workplace exhibit these values?
Randy was open to revisiting their Core Values to validate and bring to life with examples still relevant today as well as adjust or add new ones. The executive team submitted stories to me prior to the session on how their employees demonstrate the best World Emblem has to offer. Themes bubbled to the top, which validated three and brought up a fourth, Keep Smart, that wasn’t yet considered. The updated 2017 phrases and examples of the Core Values were taken directly from their stories.
The executive team then hallway tested these Core Values and, in true engagement fashion, empowered each location to be creative in how to display them. One team has a Stay Positive wall to capture and display positivity examples. After all, a picture of a lion wouldn’t be as interactive or whimsical, now would it?
2. Focusing on people, not things.
When the executive team reflected about bright spots and lessons learned in 2016, Director General of World Emblem Mexico, Alberto Albarran, said, “We have to continue to focus on people, not things. We have to have the right people to be world class.” A key focus this year is on continuing to attract and retain A Players. Idith Moran, VP of HR, partners closely with Operations to define Job Scorecards and use TopGrading for all hires. Hiring and cultivating an engaged culture works best when HR and Operations partner at the hip to identify and reward these behaviors.
3. Get out of the way.
World Emblem focused on hiring second shift employees who embody World Emblem’s Core Values. Idith explains, “We have a cohesive, committed team who is ready to come to work with the right attitude. Performance and attendance have improved tremendously.” Pretty soon, the culture shift started “bleeding into first shift.”
Client services was restructured “in a way that parallels our Core Values. New team members have stepped up to take on more responsibility and are making a difference.” A culture emerged of empowered Core Values by peers “not willing to accept bad attitudes from others.” This new culture of A Players wants to ‘Get the Job Done’ while ‘Staying Positive’ and are ‘100% Committed to the (World Emblem) Team’ by pitching in to help any peer in other departments.
4. Build trust.
Atlanta recently created a new break room with state of the art vending machines on the manufacturing floor that allow employees to purchase food and beverages using the honor system. Feedback from the employees is that they love the new food choices. Jim Kozel, VP of Operations, shared, “More importantly, it sends the message that we trust them.” Any relationship with trust is healthier and more engaged. A full belly doesn’t hurt either.
5. Embrace technology.
Randy sends weekly email “letters” to all employees at World Emblem. During our planning, the team urged Randy to step up engagement even more by coupling his letters with a short, 20 second iPhone selfie video each Friday. They upload these videos to a Facebook page. Randy will record the video from wherever he’s visiting that day - “I’m here at our plant in Mexico…” or share what his latest book is “I just finished Shoe Dog...” or shout out a team member who is living the newly facelifted Core Values.
6. Take time to celebrate.
I loved seeing the pictures and hearing stories about their holiday celebrations. Bringing both shifts together with a DJ can certainly help teams ‘Stay Positive.’ Featured on their Facebook page as I'm writing this is Randy Carr congratulating Natalie Restrepo’s new promotion to Plant Manager in Canada. World Class Performers are recognized monthly while the letters and videos provide more just-in-time celebrations.
7. Walk the talk.
Most inspiring to me, however, is how the executive team leads engagement by example. While I was inside getting my dose of inspiration, my rental car tire was becoming flat as a pancake. I didn’t have a chance to call the rental company for assistance because Randy and Jim were already ‘Getting the Job Done’ by changing the tire and arranging to lead me to the rental car agency to swap out for a new one.
They walk the talk on ‘Keeping Smart.” Each week, Randy shares the book he’s reading and provides these books free to any World Emblem employee who is interested, with his signature “As always, books are on me.”
So, there you have it! Go hire a DJ, embrace selfie videos, facelift your Core Values and find a tire to change! Idith will tell you these are working because their parking lots are full.
Who wouldn’t want to come to work and join in on what all the engagement buzz is about? How are you getting your (engagement) buzz on?