“It’s a lot easier said than done, and you’ve always got to remember that no matter what, there’s still going to be problems,” Walton says. “There’s still going to be days when somebody is complaining. There’s probably going to be days when they tell how much they don’t like you. But you’ve got to stay the course.”
With this employee group, criticism can be taken the wrong way, he says. Try to eliminate the blaming, complaining and defending. You have to get them to understand the reasons why you’re presenting areas for improvement. It’s taking care of the customers; it’s not because you’re trying to pick on, threaten or fire them.
“They’ve got to hear it over and over and over again, whether it’s individual or group meetings, team events or company events,” Walton says.
“I’ve always believed that you have to tie it back — the behavior you want and how it helps them.”
You also need to listen to your hourly employees, to respect their opinions and feelings.
“People at that level feel as if they are taken advantage of, that they are not made a part of the organization,” Walton says. “Do your best to try to include them in as much information as you feel is necessary to make them part of the team.”
Premier Office Movers also provides benefits its competitors don’t, too. For example, it has a quarterly bonus program for hourly employees only. By rewarding them for team effort, it goes a long way to helping build a proper team, he says.
The company has an employee council — three associates that rotate annually, which management meets with monthly. Walton says it’s a good way to talk through policies that aren’t working, throw out new ideas for feedback or examine the company handbook, truck maintenance, communication, training processes, etc.
“The more that they feel that their ideas are being at least respected and listened to, and occasionally they see something that comes from them, really makes an impact into them getting more and more ideas,” he says.
Walton does admit that there’s always room for improvement. One of the things he’s working on now is pushing leadership and ownership down the chain of command.
“(I want to) let these people have opportunities to make their own decisions, rather than just being told what to do, rather than just being robots and lambs … that go through the motions,” he says. “No, I’m saying, ‘This is your deal’ — to give them a little sense of ownership, and a greater sense of pride in what they do, because it’s really them that’s doing it.
“I think if we can continue to extort that and get that to grow, it’s going to be very, very powerful down the road.”