What does a cookbook have to do with an empowered workplace culture? Well, for me it has everything to do with it! Let me explain…
This story starts before a single recipe was ever written, or tried in the kitchen, or tasted at the table!
When we held our first Operation QIC® (pronounced “quick” for Quality Is Contagious) company-wide workshop, we asked our people a lot of questions. The emphasis was on quality, so we asked questions about how we could do things better.
AND, perhaps most importantly, we listened to the answers!
This resulted in our people gaining a strong sense of empowerment!
An Empowered Employee
Let me share an example of how one person in my company took a bold step to help and serve others.
A lady in our office desired to do a good thing (without me knowing about it), and offered to compile other employees’ favorite cooking recipes. She planned to type-up the recipes after hours, and make copies of the recipe collection on the copy machine for everyone.
She was surprised by how many people brought recipes. Then one day, she was on the phone with one of our nation-wide suppliers/movers and the conversation turned to cooking. By the end of the call, it turned out that they too, wanted to send in a recipe. As other employees began to talk with other nation-wide suppliers/movers, they also wanted to send in a recipe.
Well, this idea exploded to over 1,000 recipes being turned in. She went to her supervisor for advice on what to do. This simple small offering turned into an overwhelming task.
That is when the lady and her supervisor came to my office to tell me the story and pose the question, “What should she do?”
I was so impressed with this empowered employee desiring to do a good thing that I wanted to come up with a marketing idea that would turn this problem into an opportunity.
“Look forward to opportunity, not backward to blame.” –Jim Lundy
A Practical Plan
After talking through the problem, I asked the lady and her supervisor if this plan would work:
- Turn-over this collection of over 1,000 good everyday recipes for a printer to professional print into a cookbook.
- Hold two nation-wide contests of all those who sent in a recipe to…
- –> Help name the cookbook and
- –> Help design the cookbook cover
- Send/provide a free cookbook to those who submitted a recipe. And we would use the cookbook as a marketing tool at tradeshows and for future new suppliers/movers coming into our nation-wide network.
- Sell any extra copies requested as a Christmas or special gift.
This lady and her supervisor were so excited that they jumped at the idea with both feet running.
A supplier/mover from Missouri won the naming of the cookbook, Sharing Our Recipes from Around the World, and the cookbook design. We also had the lady write a brief forward page with her signature.
WOW!!! What was so amazing was how this cookbook empowered the lady and every employee. And at the same time, the cookbook enhanced our relationships with our nation-wide suppliers/movers network.
Every organization can preserve empowerment by giving feedback.
And I saw first-hand when, as the leader, you involve your people in the decision-making process, they become empowered.
Insight: When your employees experience empowerment, it “gets them going” to follow through with their ideas for improvements. And the power of feedback “keeps them going”.
A Sample List
The following is a sample of ways our employees received feedback that further empowered them:
- We had employees use a 360 management tool to give feedback through an annual leadership survey.
- We began to regularly measure and report performance goals set by every employee.
- Our internal company-wide newsletter, Albert News on the Move, was used to update and communicate to all employees twice a month.
- I began to send thank you, congratulation, birthday and employment anniversary cards with personalized comments.
- A customer satisfaction survey was used to give our employees results (the good, bad, and ugly) from the survey.
- Our separate business units began to have monthly fun and feedback meetings.
- A committee was formed of rotating employees to recognize an employee, supplier, customer, or even a good citizen as an Operation QIC person of the month.
This is just a short list of the feedback mechanisms and practices that we employed at our company. You, too, can put similar practices in place within your organization to further a quality epidemic and the QIC spirit.
What ideas or tips do you have about empowering employees? What kind of feedback do you give your employees? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.