Description: The following passage is primarily designed to concentrate on one of the most heatedly discussed topics which is related to the key point of employee engagement. The author is mainly going to express some ideas about the ways on how to get your employees engaged.
Welcome to the idea from Harvard Business Review, I’m Sara Greene, I’m here today with Doug Conant who stepped down as CEO of the Campbell Soup Company Doug, thanks so much for coming in, you have a great story, Campbell’s.
When you were there about turning around the engagement, employee engagement of that company tells us what happened there, we were at the time, this is back in 2001, a very toxic culture where a lot of people have been.
We had a very low trust environment, when I first started, it was for every two people, we had actively engaged in our company, we had one person who was looking for a job, so fundamentally, we had 14,000 people working in 6,000 people looking for jobs.
Since I’ve been there and since our team has tackled this issue, we now have 17 people wildly engaged for every one person who’s not and those are world-class levels, so it’s been a wonderful story, I think it’s foundational for a high performance company, you cannot expect to perform at a high level unless people are personally engaged.
They’re not going to be personally engaged unless they genuinely believe that you are personally engaged in trying to make their lives better, you have written on HBR org, I think part of that is declaring yourself.
What do you mean by that? How does that impact engagement? I think we have to realize that people are not mind reader’s, they don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, I think you have to tell them.
Sometimes, we take that for granted, because we know so clearly what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but people are not mind readers, you have to tell them and by declaring yourself and saying we’re going to emphasize employee engagement.
We’re committed to making this a place where you’re personally attracted to working by declaring that you also hold yourself accountable to it, so when you declare yourself, you raise the accountability and they raise the expectations, that’s half of it, the other half is that you have to deliver, so you’ve got to be very careful.
Because once you declare yourself, you have to deliver against that agenda, I want to ask you about another specific part of this which is the handwritten note, because that’s something that you’ve become known for what the power of that is to frame the idea.
I have a practice of writing 10 to 20 notes a day to employees in our company celebrating their successes, you see in my line of work, I’ve been trained to find the busted number in a spreadsheet and find all the things that are going wrong.
The entire culture is built to find things that are going wrong and fix them, my observation is that most cultures don’t celebrate contributions of real significance like they can be celebrated.
So I developed this practice of writing notes to our employees all around the world and over the course of the ten years when we edit them all up, it was over 30,000 notes and we only have 20,000 employees.
Wherever I would go in the world whether it’s Shanghai or Lubich Germany or Paris France or and in Mexico City in employee cubicles, you would find my handwritten notes posted on their bulletin boards celebrating their contribution.
There are a couple of things that are important to know, one is that they were not gratuitous notes, they are related to something specifically these people had done that, had enhanced our company.
The second one is that they were handwritten, because I believe it’s important that you make it personal to me, it’s an emails, but it’s insufficient, if I hit the time, make the time to write the note, it’s something that people will treasure.
Unfortunately, my first 25 years of my career, I think I got about two notes, both of them, but I saw the power in it, as I got started at Campbell and it was a way for me to emphasize the strategies we were on and how important engagement was to let people know I was paying attention.
It sent a lot of positive signals to the organization, I’m glad I did it, one final question for you, a lot of executives talk about management by walking around you, put on a pedometer, what did you get from that exercise?
We were emphasizing years ago, this notion of people get 10,000 steps in a day and we were encouraging people to find ways to exercise to be healthy, my schedule is insane, but the one thing I could do inevitably in the middle of a day a half hour, it frees up, so I would put my pedometer on and I put walking shoes on, so people would know I was doing my walk.
I would start flying and walking all over the building, every day it’d be a different half hour or an hour or maybe at the end of the day, but I was getting my 10,000 steps in and I also had a chance to connect with people and celebrate some of their contributions.
I was paying attention to that, I sent it, I believe it sent a lot of positive signals and I loved it and I also got 10,000 steps in a day, so I’m fitter for it, so it was a win all the way around, I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface, but that’s unfortunately, thanks again for coming in.