John Bell: Former CEO, Jacobs Suchard. John reflects on leadership, branding, and life at the CEO Afterlife. He also is the author of Do, Less Better. Read our review of John’s book at What’s Stopping You from Doing Less Better?
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How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
John Bell: I read this question three times before realizing that the answer can be found within the question. Voices will matter, people will thrive, and innovation will become ingrained in the culture if—people find meaning. So if people can find meaning, you can satisfy the question. But that begs another question, “How do people find this elusive meaning in their work?”
Voices will matter, people will thrive, and innovation will become ingrained in the culture if—people find meaning.
In my experience, the starting place is a corporate purpose that not only resonates with employees but binds them together. Sure, we’d all prefer a moral purpose, such as working for a company that saves lives or saves the planet. But that’s not to say that people can’t be inspired by a company vision that thrills customers, pleases people, and brings fulfillment.
For example, I’ll share my experience with Apple. When you are a tech neophyte like me, you can spend a lot of time talking on the phone to technical support people. When I got my iPhone, I spent a lot of time talking to the techies at Apple. I was blown away by their work ethic and their desire to help. They can’t do enough for you, so I asked one of the reps about their process, “Are you not on a quota because you’re not rushing me here or anything.” The rep said, “No, there are no quotas at all. The satisfaction of the customer judges us.” He went on to say that if you do an excellent job, you get a better choice of work hours and schedule. Now, there’s a voice that matters.
At L.L. Bean, the idea of selling outstanding apparel and outdoor equipment at a reasonable profit and treating customers like human beings is worth the effort. For Wegmans Food Markets, it’s all about caring, respect, empowerment, and making a difference. Organizations that walk the talk create Work that Matters. And when you have work that matters, you have more voices that matter and people that thrive personally and professionally.
Note: This is a preview of the full interview. The complete interview was selected by Apress for publication and continues in The Future of the Workplace.