Renee Pepys Lowe is all about taking the time to celebrate her company’s successes.
For her, as a business leader, moments of glory are about more than just dollars and cents; they are about reaching your employees and getting them to feel the same pride for the company that you feel.
And in that, she has succeeded. For example, one of her customer service representatives at CoCaLo Inc. carries a box of the company’s products in her car so that she can present to would-be customers at anytime.
“She is proud and passionate the way she talks about what she does and who she works for,” says Lowe, founder, president and CEO of the company that designs and manufactures infant bedding and room decor accessories for toddlers. “That gives me goose bumps, and it makes me feel so good.”
With her dedicated enthusiasm to her company and her employees, Lowe has CoCaLo to an average annual growth rate of 23 percent from 2005 to 2008.
Smart Business spoke with Lowe about how to spark your employees’ passion to get them engaged in their work.
Q. What is the key to motivating employees?
Try to always be mindful of what they enjoy doing best and what they are great at. Find out what they are best at and do more of it.
It’s listening to the team listening to what is on their plate and what they have in their plans. They know their job, in many cases, better than anyone.
It’s always going back to our business and operating plan. It’s trying to empower them in the right way so that it complements our direction of what needs to be done.
Have a clear definition of their job description so they know what they are responsible and accountable for. Make sure they have a clear understanding of the company and department objectives.
The more you invest and the more you engage with individuals, you start learning about their background, previous positions, their passions and maybe what they love to do. They could be utilized here, they could do this or they could contribute here. Say you are filling a position. You go through a whole process and go through a candidate and look at the resume.
It’s not until you start digging deeper that you realize that person could be responsible for so much more. That’s a natural stage for growth. Most people do want to have that opportunity for growth.
What I love most is when I get to travel with a lot of our employees. That is such a treat when you get to really know someone even more so professionally and personally out of that dayto-day environment [and] you’re in a relaxed setting.
They see a leader that cares about them, that cares about the product and about the business and about the company.
Q. How do you get people engaged in your vision?
We have a company meeting that we do on a monthly basis.
Each of the leaders will just talk about what’s going on in their business. That helps keep everyone connected.
It’s communication. What sparks their interest is hearing the product stories. They can relate best to that. All of us, at the end of the day, our end result is hearing those stories about how the product is selling at a retailer.
What retailer is interested in that product? What are the success stories? What are the stories about a mom who just sent a letter about the nursery? There is a consumer, a buyer and a retailer. The spark comes when we’re talking about product. It’s that touch and feel.
Q. How do you ensure that things get done?
We’re all here to maximize our opportunities and to reach goals. That’s important for managers and leaders to be on top of that. It’s important to have fun, but at the same time, we do have work to get done.
Managers work with individual team members to go through the review process of their goals, individual goals and department goals. Everyone knows what their goals are.
It’s having the team leaders and managers being on top of that. They are running their businesses, and they know what’s important.
We should all know what the priorities are for that day, for that time period, of what needs to get done. It’s the culture of the organization. We know what needs to get done, so we make sure that gets done.
Q. How important is the opportunity for feedback?
Make sure that everyone feels they are contributing.
I love working with each of our individual team leaders or teams. That’s fun because you start exchanging ideas and you can see the excitement and inspiration and fun.
You start realizing the more time you spend with people, they have a lot to contribute.
The more you’re engaged, the more you invest and the more you get out of it.
If there is feedback that is exchanged in those meetings, the most important thing that can be done is to act upon that. If we disregard it, it discourages people from talking again.
HOW TO REACH: CoCaLo Inc., (714) 434-7200 or www.cocalo.com