Everyone wants to feel valued. One way of showing a person that they are important is paying attention to what they say. When people know that they have a voice, you will get more out of them.
Giving people an opportunity to shine is one way to win their loyalty. When a person can tell their friends that something done in the organisation was their idea, you have a true ambassador. So, creating a flow where people’s voices are heard is a non-negotiable in any company that wants to stay relevant.
I learnt a valuable lesson on giving people a voice from Bob Collymore, the late chief executive of Kenyan telco Safaricom. My daughter, who was16 at the time, did not like the company.
One day at a function where Mr Collymore and I were speaking, I told him that my daughter was unhappy with him. His response was, “then we need to meet”. A few weeks later, I was speaking at a Safaricom function and I went with my daughter. Mr Collymore pulled her aside to ask what her issue with the company was. He made her feel like she was the only one in the world at that moment. When he heard her out, he called a few of the company’s leaders to resolve her problem. The CEO made a major change in a product because of a teenager.
This is how ambassadors are made. When you make people know that their voice is important, you win their loyalty.
This level of communication is common with companies that have a growth culture.
Growth cultures are not fixed mindsets. The emphasis is on the growth of individuals within the company. This is why companies with growth cultures pay a premium for staff development and training.
What does a growth culture look like in an organisation? There are several attributes.
The first is team focus. In a true team, it is impossible for one part to fail and the other part to succeed. Each person's victory must be seen as a win for the team. As such, each team member is dedicated to ensuring that the others succeed.
The team owns the victory. There must be a shift from "I" to "we". Only then can we say that a true team is born.
A major complaint I hear from many organisations is that people are encouraged to come up with ideas. But when they do, it becomes the team’s project. When it works, the team gets the credit and the boss takes the glory.
However, if the idea fails the team is absolved and blame goes to the person who initiated the idea. That person’s morale is broken. Others seeing what happened to that person resolve never to express their thoughts again. So even if the ship is sinking, they will keep quiet and jump off.
To build a vibrant organisation, build a team that understands that, in winning or failing, they are together.
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks. E-mail: [email protected]