Brand builder

Engage your employees
Once a strategy has been drawn up in the board room, it must be conveyed to the employees who are charged with carrying out its components. Hickler says this conveyance needs to seep
through the entire culture of the company, from the way employees are recruited or trained to the ways they are expected to conduct themselves when working with customers.

DHL developed a program called “I’m On It” to help in the development of the culture throughout the company.

“All of our recognition events, all of our talk about the hero, the legend stories that we have in our company relative to how we deal with customers or respond to customers are tied to this ‘I’m
On It’ tagline,” Hickler says. “It’s really the essence of the culture change we are doing. So we have ‘I’m On It’ awards and ‘I’m On It’ pins, and we have hero stories and videos at our leadership

Hickler says the process of getting employees to buy in to a new strategy geared around customer service is made easier because of his belief that employees truly want to center their work
around the customer.
“There is an intrinsic desire to satisfy the customer,” Hickler says. “I actually think it’s an unnatural course of action for a company to become internally focused. It happens, and it sort of happens by osmosis once it starts. But when you move the ship back toward the customer, typically your employees rally around that.”

At the same time, employees want to feel as though their individual needs are being addressed based on which area of the company they work in. Employees who work in the information technology department, for example, need to know how their work fits into the strategy. The same also applies to the sales department or those who work in operations or any other department.
A strategy also needs to have building blocks that serve as its foundation.
“The core building blocks for us are customer, people and performance,” Hickler says. “One is the customer centricity of everything we do and creating a business that puts the customer experience first and therefore creating an organization and business processes that can deliver to that one. Two, on the people side, how we create an environment and how do we hire, how do we
recruit, retain and develop employees that can thrive and contribute in that environment.
“So you have talent management commitments, you have employee satisfaction commitments, health and welfare, safety — all of those cornerstones. You tie your strategy to how does that matter to the employee.”

Hickler says constant communication between the leader and the employee is vital in creating a culture that will thrive under a new strategy.

“I’m a real believer in the effect that grassroots initiatives can have on an organization,” Hickler says. “Employee engagement is what delivers that brand promise.”

While he says leadership can be learned, people either have the ability to be good communicators or they don’t. Those who can do it are a step ahead when it comes to strategy implementation.

“I do believe that people follow an example,” Hickler says. “If they see leadership behaving according to the norms and values of the company, then they will follow suit. When I start in a new
position, I communicate what I stand for and what my nonnegotiables are. Those have to get filtered into the organization because they are part of the culture like anything else.”

Hickler says his calendar is filled through the end of 2007 with employee town hall meetings and presentations meant to keep those communication lines flowing.

“It’s really getting in front of people,” Hickler says. “We already have hundreds of employee customer action teams that are addressing issues germane to the employee, specifically as it relates
to how do they improve their work processes and improve their experience with the customer.”


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