Employee Engagement = Increased Sales & Profitability

By on April 13, 2011
Employee Engagement Path to Increased Sales and Profitability

About a year ago, my wife, Dolores, and I drove up to a local grocery store a couple minutes after seven in the evening to buy some flowers for a dinner party we were having the next day. Dolores walked up to the door, tried to open it and found it locked. The store manager saw her, opened the door, and asked, “What is it you want? We close at seven.” Dolores replied, “Oh, we got here just a little bit too late. We wanted flowers for our dinner party.” The manager replied, “Our registers are locked for the night. Come in and pick out the flowers you would have gotten. They’re on us…and they’ll look great on your dinner table.”

We were both, frankly, stunned. Wow, was this unusual behavior! This store manager’s behavior was not only unusual; it was the kind of behavior that creates indelible impressions. You know, the kind of experience you just can’t forget. The kind of experience that is so powerful that it colors all of your future impressions of the place at which it occurred.

And what single word best describes their treatment of customers? It’s the word “focus.” In addition to the word “focus” what other words come to mind when reflecting on the way their employees act? Immediately words like “energetic,” “happy,” and “enthusiastic” come to mind. It’s just a fun place to do your shopping in.

You get the picture. This is just a great place in which to do business. Who wouldn’t want to be around folks who are energetic, enthusiastic, happy and very focused on making your shopping experience an extremely positive one. But what does this have to do with Lean work processes?

Here’s the connection. The high degree of “focus” demonstrated by this grocery store manager and, especially, its spontaneity as demonstrated in the situation I just described, happens only when employees are almost totally engaged in their work. Focus happens when engagement exists. Without full engagement, no focus. And Lean thinking and work processes drive engagement.

Developing a workforce that leaves customers with indelible impressions is simple, but it does take hard work. It takes managers and supervisors who understand Lean thinking and who accept its core beliefs. It also takes managers and supervisors who know how to train and coach employees in ways that will make Lean thinking and behaving stick.

Employees whose thinking processes have become “Lean” are continually looking for ways to improve work processes. They are 100% present, body and mind, when they’re on the job. They have high degrees of confidence in the value of their individual intelligence and creativity and they know that the organization for whom they work values their intelligence and creativity. They have also learned on-the-job that nothing is quite as enjoyable, nothing as energizing, as knowing, through experience, not just words, that your company really values your creativity and intelligence. Employees like this are fully engaged in the work they’re doing.

How typical are high degrees of employee engagement? They’re not typical at all. A study conducted by TowersPerrin in 2009 showed that only 21% of employees were fully engaged in their work and, further, that 38% were partially to fully disengaged. What are the implications of numbers of this sort? That’s simple. No company that only has 21% of its employees really engaged in the work they’re doing is going to be successful in today’s economy. It also means that companies with fully engaged employees are going to stand out from the crowd. They’re going to be winners in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.

If you’d like to get some information now about our training and consulting services that will build Lean thinking and trigger customer service experiences that create indelible impressions, please call George Friesen, at 314-303-0612 and let’s talk. Working together, we can help you in the critical task of building a highly engaged workforce.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login