One of the highlights of our trips to Oregon each summer is reconnecting and catching up with friends and family. This year we had the opportunity to go to dinner with the Pillar family. Donna Lee and I were joined by Jerry Pillar who graduated from the Leadership Development Lab (LDL)™ seven years ago, his wife Susan graduated five years ago, his son Jason four years ago, and Jason's wife Sharon who hasn't taken the program yet.
Of course, I'm interested in everyone and what's going on in their lives. Jerry continues to build his new HVAC service business adding new commercial techs as sales grow. Jason is way ahead of his roofing sales quota year to date.
Susan told us about a wonderful work experience. Her company recently conducted an employee opinion survey. Always a good idea, but seldom results in relationship and process improvements these surveys can achieve when properly executed.
As expected, several areas for needed improvement showed up. Can you guess where the greatest need for improvement was shown to be? Not a surprise to me, I have surveyed the executive teams (the top eight to twelve people) of hundreds of companies and the same problem surfaces– COMMUNICATION.
If communication is the problem at the top of an organization, it is predictable that it is a problem at lower levels. Communication is the leadership challenge at every level.
To Susan's company's credit, her District Manager gathered all the employees together to learn more about what the communication issues were. Everyone partnered up to discuss the problem. There were an odd number of employees. Susan courageously volunteered to partner up with the District Manager. Susan said, "I wouldn't have had the courage to do it 'pre-Turbo." At the end of the meeting, Susan asked if she could meet with the regional manager one-on-one the next time she visited the store.
A few days later when the District Manager visited the store she asked Susan, "Do you want the store manager in on our meeting?" Susan: "No, not really." She thought, "Well if I get fired, there are plenty of help wanted signs around.
Susan: "Do you really want the truth?"
The District Manager: "YES! I do!"
Susan: "Our store manager never comes out on to the floor. He just seems to hide out in his office. To improve communication, he needs to visit the floor, check in with us, see how things are going, show an interest (Leadership Principle #2 - Become Genuinely Interested) in the work we are doing, give us a little coaching, correction, and praise."
"I'm not sure how the District Manager conveyed the message, but I can say our store manager has been far more present on the floor, morale has improved, and I feel like my willingness to speak up helped everyone in our store including our manager."
Today is the day for you to raise your hand! Speak up!
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems