Devin FosterJanuary 13, 2021
Topics: Employee Experience

Empowering Employees to Realize Their Potential [Video]

As we welcome 2021, we must build opportunities and encourage talent to pivot and grow, learn along the way, optimize internal mobility, and improve the quality of life for each team member.

But that’s easier said than done, and current workplace circumstances complicate efforts further.

Mary Miller, CEO of commercial cleaning company Jancoa, joined us for 2021’s first episode of Talent Experience Live to discuss her experience in fostering a culture that prioritizes helping employees reach their full potential.

In her 30-year journey with family-run Jancoa, Miller has solidified an approach that values people over processes. She’s also the author of Changing Direction, which captures her philosophy of turning dreams into reality through goal-setting and taking control of our choices. Check out the full episode below!

How has Jancoa adapted to changes since last March?

In 50 years of operation, Jancoa has, of course, seen its share of change – but nothing compares to 2020. Constantly shifting regulations and guidelines directly affected how Jancoa managed the safety of employees and customers.

Communication with staff, clients, and the community regarding measures the company was taking to protect health and safety became paramount. “Embracing change isn’t always easy, but it’s how to differentiate yourself,” Miller observed.

How can organizations invoke creativity to solve problems?

To pave the way for a creative approach, Miller suggests the following steps:

  • Keep the desired end result in mind
  • Identify the biggest obstacles to your goal
  • Ask questions to formulate a strategy to overcome these obstacles

“Instill positivity, and look at the long-term,” she advises.

How do you help employees evolve and develop their careers?

Career paths don’t necessarily follow a straight line, and even successful employees can hit unwanted plateaus. It’s up to HR to help recognize talent and skill sets and suggest next steps.

Nurturing employee development is a pillar of Jancoa’s culture. The company has a program in place that originated in the 1990s as part of an effort to reduce turnover. The program’s core mission is to help employees gain clarity on personal and career aspirations — and find a way to get there.

“We help employees move toward achieving dreams,” Miller said. That often means helping them reach goals that move them closer, such as obtaining a driver’s license. In cases like these, Jancoa connects the employee with public programs and services that can help them move forward.

Can you share tips for navigating tough conversations with employees?

Communicating truthfully with employees regarding career development is not always easy. And as Miller pointed out, it’s often assumed that new hires understand more than they actually do about how to perform tasks.

Miller has invested a lot of effort in developing better communication skills. Her most valuable takeaways for having tricky conversations included:

  • Keep the desired result in mind
  • Focus on humanity
  • Use “I” statements

Also key to changing behavior patterns is to show appreciation for what’s going well, identify changes that are needed, and ask the employee if they’re willing to make these changes.

How do unique employee talents help drive the success of the company?

Jancoa considers nurturing employee potential a major part of its mission – identifying how employees are gifted and applying that talent to best-fit positions within the company.

Miller shared the example of an employee who had originally applied for a cleaning position. Recognizing the applicant’s excellent people skills, Jancoa helped her capitalize on this talent with a front-desk role.

Recognition programs play an important part in uncovering employee aspirations. “When you give your team permission to support and reward others, it opens doors to finding out what people’s dreams are,” Miller said.

How do you plan to continue the company’s success in 2021?

Miller recommends this exercise to jump-start planning efforts: Get together as a leadership team (be sure to include multiple departments to broaden the perspective) and allot three minutes for each member to list the company’s biggest obstacles to success.

Then break obstacles down into smaller pieces to form a strategy for overcoming them.

Specifically in 2021, Jancoa plans to add value to its employee referral program. “We know that our best people are our current people,” Miller said. The company is increasing bonuses for both referring employees and referred hires to build accountability and motivation on both sides.

How does helping employees recognize their true potential solidify your employer brand?

Miller has found that investing in employee development is good for retention and for business. Happy employees organically grow the company: They refer new talent, they provide excellent service, and existing customers refer new customers.

“When you create value [through people] and not just focus on selling a product or service – when you acknowledge the humanity – it’s amazing how things flourish and grow,” Miller said.

Can you share some final thoughts on embracing the future?

No matter what’s going on in the world, our individual intentions and actions do matter — they do make a difference, Miller emphasizes. “When you really develop relationships and connections … life works a whole lot better.”

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