Important Techniques to Inspire Passion in Your Employees
By Jeff Kmiec President & Managing Director, The Greenbrier | May 29, 2011
In May 2009, The Greenbrier experienced one of its most significant changes in over two centuries: a new owner, the first in 99 years. The transition from an out-of-state corporate parent to a local businessman, Jim Justice, was sure to bring challenges, as well as a new leadership team. With over 1500 employees, including more than 300 with 25 years of service or more, it was vital that we quickly establish a rapport between the new management and tenured staff. And to achieve our new owner's far-reaching goals, we also had to motivate the team so that we could not just accomplish these tasks but surpass them.
To do so, we utilized five key techniques motivate and inspire The Greenbrier team. At the core, we established our vision and mission statements. This ensured that we were all working toward the same end goal. We also improved communication, enhanced our recognition programs, exhibited enthusiasm and finally, we let the employees inspire us.
During the previous two years, The Greenbrier team had endured a great deal of adversity and faced an uncertain future. Jim Justice, who is also an incredibly successful high school basketball coach, was intent that we, the resort's new leaders, bring the team back together stronger and more focused. Creating new vision and mission statements was the first step in this process. Our vision statement described our ultimate goal and our four mission statements, employees, guests and members, owner and community provided the map to achieve our vision. How we implemented these principles was equally important.
In the beginning, we challenged each other to recite these mantras and we used them repeatedly in meetings. We printed pocket-size vision and mission statement cards for employees to carry with them and painted the phrases on the walls of the corridor leading to our employee cafeteria. The vision and mission statements became part of our new employee orientation, training sessions and employee meetings. We used them everywhere.
As everyone became familiar with these statements, we moved to the next phase and showed their relevance to our operations. For example, when discussing changes to our purchasing operations, we would relate it to our mission statement for our owners, which read: "We will increase the value of The Greenbrier by being financially responsible while driving profitability and sustainability through continuous improvement."
While the statements were designed to be guiding principles, they were also inspirational. We wanted to create a sense of pride among the employees so these messages were upbeat and positive. This is best exemplified in our mission statement for our employees: "By creating an environment and culture that inspires passion and excitement in each other to serve with excellence, our jobs will be the envy of the world." We wanted each employee to feel a personal connection and recognize their role, their importance, in achieving our goals.