Ken Rees takes every opportunity to ask front-line employees to share their ideas and experiences interacting with customers. “That’s where the answers are,” he says.
Rees is CEO of Think Finance, which makes financial products. He energizes his workforce by adopting motivational programs that resonate with employees:
• “Cookies With Ken.” Every few weeks, he invites about 12 employees from different units of the company to an informal chat. He’ll share corporate news and then ask each attendee to identify something they like about their employer—and something they dislike.
“I always come out with at least one thing that is eye-opening,” he says.
• The “Bulldozer Award.” As Think Finance grew, Rees needed to motivate employees to step up and advocate for their ideas. He created this quarterly award to recognize determined individuals who pushed ahead to produce results. By bulldozing over obstacles in their path, they exemplify what Rees likes to see in his team.
• The “Bus Driver Award.” Rees realized that some people aren’t cut out to be bulldozers; instead, they may possess a talent for facilitating teams.
To recognize these bridge-builders, he rewards “bus drivers” who assemble high-achieving teams that advance organizational goals. That’s important because Think Finance often has multiple initiatives in place at the same time.
• Uplifting daily huddles. In daily huddles with histeam, Rees asks each executive to share a piece of good news related to the business. This prevents meetings from getting bogged down in negativity.
— Adapted from “How to Become a Bus Driver, Not a Bulldozer,” Adam Bryant, www.nytimes.com.