An Open Letter to Executives

Author Bio

Author Bio

No one likes a tattle tale. But there are times when you see something so unsettling that you just have to speak up. So, here I am - tattling. Now, I won’t be so awful as to call out company or individual names. What I want to talk about today has been happening so often, that I think it’s becoming a trend – one you executives need to know about and address ASAP.

As an executive, you depend on your staff to make the right decisions for the business. But how do you know they are making the right decisions for the business as opposed to making decisions that are easy? Allow me to explain.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve seen a worrying trend talking to people at tradeshows and events. As our teams have introduced new innovations and opportunities to attendees, some people refused to listen. Now, before you go congratulating your staff on resisting salespeople’s attempts – you should know the reasons they are refusing. In my opinion, it’s quite disturbing.

Ultimately, the reason is they are too comfortable with the status quo – no matter what it means to your business. Specifically, we’ve heard lines like “I’m retiring in 2 years. I just don’t want to deal with this.” and “No one is complaining. I’m not going to be the one to wake the sleeping dragon.”

Yes, Mr/Mrs. Executive of a very big firm that shall remain nameless, a member of your staff said that. Your staff member is comfortable simply maintaining the status quo. Your staff member is disengaged – just coasting along, and isn’t truly thinking about what’s good for your business. 

To succeed in a highly competitive market, you need your staff to be invested in the customer experience, to be “always on”, and to be thinking about what’s best for the business. But unfortunately, some seem to be sleeping on the job. Staff simply maintaining the status quo is not ok. And it’s not what your customers expect from you.  

What can you do about it? Well, a critical element is to strive to create an environment that encourages and rewards employees at all levels to take the initiative and make recommendations. No, reinventing your corporate culture isn’t something that is just going to happen overnight. But, you can start now! Consider these ideas:

  • Ask your employees for their ideas, and make it easy for them to provide feedback. Surveys are a great way to do this!
  • Remember, depending on your culture today, employees may not feel empowered or safe sharing ideas. So, consider allowing anonymous feedback in the beginning.
  • Make providing feedback worth employees’ time. Consider gamifying the program or incentivizing employees for their contributions.
  • Be prepared for what you might hear. Not every piece of feedback is going to be sunshine and roses. But, listen anyway! You never know what you may learn.
  • Give credit where credit is due. When an employee makes a recommendation and any success follows, make sure that employee is congratulated. It seems small, but it’s so big!
  • Don’t assume managers are the best people to be responsible for escalating feedback and ideas. While many managers honestly have the businesses best interest in mind, some don’t. Employee feedback programs of any sort may be better off managed by a separate and unbiased third-party department.
  • Take action quickly: Employees will be more likely to continue sharing feedback and ideas if they see that their feedback and ideas are actually being taken seriously.