Every CEO wants to drive higher performance, productivity and profits. The way this is accomplished is by and through the employees. Every employee wants to be engaged and empowered in a sustainable career. They want meaningful work that makes a difference. Research is demonstrating that employee satisfaction is now more about relationships than money.
What would happen if we break through the boundaries of traditional jobs and even cross-functional teams and asked every employee to contribute to every functional area in the company.
It is still important that the employee perform their individual job but how much better will they perform when they understand that they not only help to drive the company toward the goals through their job but they have the power to optimize every aspect of the company. Yes, this would mean that every employee would have access to top management. Top management benefits by tapping into the analytical problem solving skills of every employee. Let’s take a look at how this could work.
FINANCE: You may think that you can skip this section because you already have a CFO or Controller that runs everything. What could happen if every person in your organization was comfortable with the fundamentals of finance with an understanding of the current financial picture, what was needed to make the company grow and a working knowledge of P&L, budgets and forecasts, etc. along with the ability to give their knowledge and experience to top management and see their suggestions implemented. What if everyone knew what information went into a report and what reports were being run. The more familiar people are with numbers the greater likelihood everyone will begin to find ways to cut costs, optimize efficiencies and increase revenue. There may even be opportunities to create better reports and use more meaningful key metrics.
MARKETING: Every business wants to compete in some differentiated way rather than competing on price and becoming a commodity. Imagine how different your company would operate if every employee knew how to talk about the company’s products or services, how they are different from the competition, how they solve problems or make something work better. Imagine the credibility, trust and confidence if every employee is excited about the products and services and took that excitement into their own personal environments with a “you just have to try this” perspective. Your employees can be your biggest advocates but they must have the skill and confidence and they must know what the next steps when they spark interest.
SALES: Every company needs to generate new sales and grow the customer base in order to thrive and you may be leaving this to the sales manager and the sales team to get this done. If you think about sales as helping and solving problems you will realize that every employee can be in sales while performing their job and in their personal environments. When employees have a helpful, problem solving mindset they will foster better relationships with each other, vendors, and customers and they will recognize sales opportunities no matter where they are.
HUMAN RESOURCES: Human Resources manages every aspect of an employee’s lifecycle including hiring, benefits, corporate policies and other employee-related issues. Why are companies spending valuable resources on studies when the employees are the best resource for learning how they want to be managed, motivated and retained. What if companies stopped thinking of the exit interview as an important tool for improvement and allowed employees to contribute their experience, needs and problem solving abilities to make a better workplace.
OPERATIONS: There are many examples of companies listening to their employees and implementing suggestions to improve purchasing and using materials, work flow and schedules, production, inventory, logistics and shipping, etc. A great example is Southwest Airlines – one of the persons who cleaned the airplanes suggested that the airline purchase plain garbage bags rather than spending money on customized garbage bags bearing the company logo and saved countless dollars over the years.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Most employees are proficient at information technology including social media, websites, phones and computers. They understand the capabilities and most importantly, they understand when their company is not utilizing information technology to its full potential. If you see one of your employees always looking intently at their telephone do you immediately think about asking them what keeps them so engaged and what they think can be done so customers will look at the company website and social media that intently and that frequently?