Welcome to our interview with John Bell. John is the author of Do Less Better, a Transformational Leader, Corporate Director, and Former CEO at Jacobs Suchard. You can learn more about John on his blog The CEO Afterlife where he reflects on Leadership, Branding and Life.
Welcome John, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of the Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces conversation.
Note: We also interviewed John on his book – Do, Less Better. You can find it at: What’s Stopping You from Doing Less Better?
Bill Fox: How can we create workplaces where more voices matter, people thrive and find 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 it binds them together. Sure, we’d all prefer a moral purpose, such as working for a company that is saving lives or saving 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. We are judged by the satisfaction of the customer.” He went on to say that if you do an excellent job, you get a better choice of work hours and scheduling. Now, there’s a voice that matters.
At L.L. Bean, the idea of selling really good 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.