“What a great honor and responsibility, to be a fundamental reason why people accomplish more, enjoy more, and are more fulfilled in the one life they have to live.”
Think for a minute about how much you talk about your time at work — with fellow employees and clients, at home, on the golf course, out socially, even with strangers. It happens far more than the odd occasion. For most people, work represents 25%-50% of their total conversations. A 2017 study by the American Psychological Association found that adults reported spending an average of 34% of their waking hours on work-related activities and thinking about work during 50% of their waking hours when they weren’t working. As leaders, we need to make an extra effort to give our employees something positive to talk about, on a regular basis. So, how do we get employees to brag about their job?
Former CEO and current chairman of Gallup, Jim Clifton shares the number one way you can change your culture immediately: “Have one meaningful conversation per week with each individual team member. It can be in person, email or over the phone. It can be for thirty minutes; it can be for five. Talk to them about their goals and obstacles/barriers, at the end of the day everyone is trying to win. Have it be about business.”
Giving New Employees a Soundbite About Their New Career
Now consider when a person gets a new job. The percentage of employees talking about their job will dramatically increase during this time of employee training and assimilation in the company culture. New employees are excited about their new opportunities and during their first three months that is all they are talking about to their families, friends, and anyone they encounter. That is why, during orientation, it is critical that you give them a short sound bite to better articulate the specifics of their new job and the company they work for. For example:
“I just started working at The DiJulius Group as a customer experience consultant. The DiJulius Group is one of the top customer experience consulting companies, working with companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, KeyBank, Nestle, Chick-fil-A, and many more. We help organizations become the brand customers can’t live without and make price irrelevant.”
This sound bite is a bonus to employees. It gets them even more excited about their new career and is a great advertisement for potential employees and customers. It also sparks questions from the people they are talking to. We want their family and friends to say, “Wow, I want a job like that.”
As leaders, it is important that we get to know our employees as individuals. Only then can we most effectively guide them to positions in our companies that will best suit them and allow for their greatest growth. This not only helps employees start out on the ideal career path, but it aids established team members in transitioning to roles for which they are better suited and can find fresh inspiration for more challenging projects leading to greater employee satisfaction. It can also phase out workers who are having a difficult time and may need to leave your organization and possibly even your industry. The healthiest company cultures have employees who find joy and purpose in their work, knowing their leaders have their personal, not just professional, interests at heart.
Share the Stories of Team Members You Helped Successfully Move On
It is important to constantly be sharing your organization’s “rags to riches” stories, such as a team member who started out in an entry-level position thinking it was going to be a temporary transitional job, then they rose through the ranks. Their efforts and loyalty have been rewarded and today, they are one of your success stories. It is also beneficial is the story of the team members you helped successfully move on from your organization.
Does your company leadership know what your employees’ five-year goals are; especially the ones who don’t see themselves working in your company five years from now? Help them obtain their goals and let that story go viral. For one, they will be much better team members while they work at your company; every employee’s and customer’s experience will be elevated. Secondly, they will be brand evangelists for potential employees and customers. And thirdly, it will demonstrate your leaders truly care about the human being versus how much productivity can they squeeze out of each employee.
Leaders who care about their employees and work for their employees rather than thinking that their employees work for them will disproportionately attract and retain top talent.
Knowing Your Employees’ FORD
Leaders who have a relationship with their team will find that their employees are so much more engaged and bought in. When we help companies work on creating a world-class internal culture and better leadership skills, we always do an internal FORD (family, occupation, recreation, and dreams) exercise with the leadership team. We give them a list of the employees who report directly to them and see how much FORD they know. For example, do they remember the spouses’ names, the spouses’ occupations, and the names and ages of their employees’ children? Sadly, too often, even leaders with decades of experience struggle with this. Yet as leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to actively build strong rapport with our employees.
Even what appears to be a little thing to us may be huge to younger team members—their first car, for example. Do you remember your first car? Mine was a total beater that shouldn’t have been allowed on the road; however, it was all mine. Getting that car was more special to me than driving a fancier car off the showroom floor years later.
The Ripple Effect of Positive Work Conversations
It’s not just about the amount we talk about work, but the content and tone of those discussions. Positive workplace conversations enhance the individual’s outlook and create a ripple effect that influences the wider community’s perception of a company. When employees feel engaged, valued, and part of something meaningful, they become ambassadors of the brand, unconsciously marketing the organization’s values and mission.
Beyond the immediate social circle, the power of digital media cannot be understated. Today, a casual conversation about work can quickly be shared, retweeted, or reposted, amplifying its reach exponentially. Platforms such as LinkedIn, where employees often share their achievements and company updates, can spread the message even further. These shared positive sentiments build an organization’s reputation and can attract not just potential customers, but also top-tier talent.
The Importance of Authenticity
While structured sound bites for new employees can help provide a clear message, fostering an environment where employees organically speak positively about their work is essential. Authentic, spontaneous conversations about job satisfaction and company culture have a genuine tone that is often more relatable and impactful. It’s these unscripted moments, born from genuine satisfaction and pride in one’s job, that truly resonate with listeners.
Empowerment Through Knowledge
Ensuring that employees, both new and old, have a clear understanding of the company’s goals, vision, and accomplishments empowers them. When they can see the bigger picture, they can find their place in it and take pride in being a part of something larger than themselves. Regular updates about the company’s achievements, innovations, and milestones can be a source of pride and adds to the topics of positive conversation.
While the frequency with which we talk about work is notable, the quality of those conversations is paramount. Leaders have the responsibility and the privilege to shape those discussions, turning them into powerful tools for brand building and employee engagement. Investing in genuine, meaningful interactions and fostering a culture of pride and belonging will ensure that when your employees talk about work, they do so with enthusiasm and authenticity.
Check out NewDay USA’s “Day in the Life of a Customer” Video
We have had the pleasure of working with NewDay USA, a mortgage company for active service members, veterans, and their families, for nearly a decade now. NewDay’s commitment to providing a world-class veteran experience is impressive, to say the least. They have sent more than two dozen of their leaders through the Customer Experience Executive Academy (CXEA) over the past ten years. Their biggest challenge is that of many companies. Their typical customer-facing employees (Account Executives) are recent college graduates in their mid-twenties. Their typical customers (Veterans) are Vietnam Vets 70+ years of age. Obviously, there is a disconnect. That is why this video was created to help all their employees have more compassion and empathy for those they are serving.
Contact us if you are interested in us helping you create a Day in the Life of a Customer video for your organization (firstname.lastname@example.org ).