While great strategy, leadership, accountability and execution drive a company toward success, I have found other factors that contribute to a winning company. These include a variety of work, an overall understanding of the business from a number of different angles and experiences in the community.
Let me start by explaining my personal point of view when it comes to variety of work and overall understanding of the business. I started with Roberts Express, now FedEx Custom Critical, almost 25 years ago. As I rose through the ranks, I moved through many different positions. This gave me a holistic view of how our business works, the challenges that different roles in the organization face and the many job tasks that must work together for a successful business outcome.
I started my journey in operations and then moved to the safety and recruiting area. When I was working in operations, there was chatter about the recruiting team’s lack of traction on getting more contractors through the door to service our customers. Once I moved to the safety and recruiting team, it became clear what a tough job the recruiting team faced when it came to attracting contractors. On top of that, I was able to see the weaknesses in the operations team’s ability to engage the contractors and keep them on board. Without my move from one department to another, it would have been far more difficult for me to see the big picture and understand the accountabilities that both of these departments faced.
Our company takes time to contemplate succession planning, determining how we can use job transfers between departments to prepare our high achievers for their next potential roles. We look at the team members’ current skills and experiences and compare them to what they will need in the future. As positions become available or a project presents itself, we look first to the up-and-comers to see if it might be a good fit to fill in a team member’s experiential gaps. Walking a mile in a peer’s shoes is an excellent way to build understanding, promote new ideas and above all, prepare the next level for leadership opportunities.
In addition to movement within the organization, we believe getting our team members involved in the community is a key part of their development. Having our key employees working in charitable ways helps build a sense of pride in our company while also exposing team members to the ways others may run an organization or project. The networking aspect of community work is also a wonderful way for team members to benchmark with peers, discover the common challenges and hot buttons that exist across different for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and share solutions for handling very similar business dilemmas.
As an example, one of our team members on the board of a local organization quickly found himself involved in its annual fundraiser. This experience allowed him to stretch his leadership abilities and make contacts throughout the community. He was also able to learn about the power of networking to refine ideas, generate funds and bring a project across the finish line.
While moving people around internally can cause some disruption and encouraging team members to work in the community can create pressures on your work force, I truly believe that the payback for each far outweighs any perceived or real inconvenience. Team members will be more prepared for future positions and above all, they will feel valued by their company. These team members will develop ideas that will change processes, attitudes and the way in which we do business.
Virginia Albanese is president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, North America’s largest critical-shipment carrier. The company provides 24/7 service throughout the United States, Canada and internationally, delivering hundreds of thousands of critical shipments each year. She is also the chairwoman of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and serves on a number of other boards to benefit the Northeast Ohio community, including Akron Children’s Hospital and The Boys and Girls Club of the Western Reserve.