Recently I have been writing and talking about the state of employee engagement in workplace, and the statistics are just staggering. According to Gallup Research over 70% of the US workforce are either disengaged, or actively disengaged, which costs the US economy over $550b per year.
Which, to be honest, I just find very depressing, because as a proponent of good leadership, I have to admit that the blame for the lack of employee engagement lies fairly and squarely at the feet of the leaders.
So it was an absolute pleasure for me to experience one of the most engaged teams I have seen in a long, long time.
They were helpful, flexible and good fun to deal with, nothing was too much trouble for them and they made the experience of dealing with them as easy as possible. They really looked to make a connection, they didn’t see my wife and I as just new customers, it felt like they saw us as new members of their family.
At first I thought I was imagining it a little.
But my wife, who is so much more perceptive than me, turned to me and said ‘wow, these people are really nice, they really love their jobs and their company.’
I was looking for a new bank for my company and my lawyer not only recommended Wells Fargo, but said to me ‘go and see Arfeen at Wells Fargo, she’s is great and will take very good care of you’.
With a recommendation like that, I was expecting to benefit from someone else’s personal relationship, so I set up an appointment with Arfeen, because, to be honest, in banking great customer service is not something I have experienced much.
Arfeen was delightful, but I’d already been told that, so that was not big surprise to us.
What was a surprise was that, as Arfeen introduced the rest of her team Eugene, Sandy and Suzie, how they all exhibited the exact same qualities and enthusiasm, in fact everyone we came into contact with at the Boca Town Centre Branch was a pleasure to deal with.
So it was clear to me that this was not just about one cheerful, helpful individual, but that this about the team culture within that branch.
This was a team that was fully engaged, they worked well together, were supported of each other, and looked to deliver excellent customer service. They looked to give a great representation of themselves but also of Wells Fargo Bank.
So as we looked to set up the services I started to ask more questions, trying to understand more about the team, where their inspiration was coming from. I also told them that I was going to tweet to my followers about how great the experience had been at their Wells Fargo branch, because I believe it’s good for us to give positive feedback when we see good service, and also they deserved the recognition.
When I mentioned that, the teams told me their regional manager Elke Bojes would be happy to hear this. So I asked them about her, to get some more insight, and their response was very interesting.
They told me they really enjoyed working with her. She looked to make them feel like team members rather than employees, and one of them told me, that every time she comes to their branch she always looks for something good that they have done in order to praise them.
This is great leadership, this is what creates engaged teams. I know it sounds too simple, but as in many things in life, the simple, obvious answer, is often the right answer.
Treating people like equals and looking to make them feel good about their work, rather than criticising, is what results in engaged teams.
When you have engaged teams it results in fewer sick days, happier staff, less stress, higher productivity, better retention and improved customer satisfaction, all of which helps company profitability.
I am always staggered when people choose to lead in ways that lead to disengaged teams, so it was an absolute joy to meet Elke and her highly engaged team.