I walked through the vast array of gray cubicles, looking at tired faces that seemed to yearn to be anywhere but work. Their phones rang with messages from disgruntled clients, and the employees dreamed of a different job, in a different company, dealing with different customers.
I had just left a meeting with leadership who had brainstormed all of the change progress that had been made in the past six months. They, too, were tired – but encouraged by everything that had been done to move the team forward.
What amazed me was that while leadership patted each other on the back, those tired employees felt lost in a sea of gray and monotony. They had no idea why they were doing the work they were doing, and how their every day commitment had made the company a better place to be.
I heard one woman at the copier say, “I’m so sick of customers – I deal with ‘em every day. I just disconnected during our call and didn’t pick up when she tried to call me back.” Those people represent the company to every customer they have a conversation with, and every experience is the company to that client.
Here are three important ways to keep people in mind:
1. Let your team know the part they play in the change effort. Every person plays an important part in the success of the company, and they need to know why talking to disgruntled customers is critical to the effort.
2. Celebrate small wins. There are actually no small wins; even if somebody just fixes the copier make sure somebody says “thank you” and lets them know it matters. A collection of small wins creates employees that feel they make a difference.
3. Have a monthly meeting where you share how the team has improved the company. They need to see the progress made as much as leadership does. If they understand how they fit into the bigger puzzle, they’ll take their “piece” more seriously.
If I learned anything being one of the people in those cubicles years ago, I learned that 92% of all employees want to know they matter. Ultimately, change happens through the spirit of the people you lead.