Talk down

Michael R. Yormark helped
his team win the Stanley Cup while professional hockey
was on strike.

OK, so it wasn’t the actual
Stanley Cup that gets handed
out to the National Hockey
League champion, but it was a
similarly named business
award given by a publication
that covers the organizations
of professional sports teams.
Yormark — president and chief
operating officer of the Florida
Panthers and its operating
company, Sunrise Sports &
Entertainment — and his 170
employees earned the trophy
by staying focused during the
work stoppage of the 2004-05

That dedication took open
communications and a solid
sense of where the team stood,
but it paid off when the
Panthers were able to get right
back on the ice when the game
returned. With that solid structure behind him, Yormark is
now able to focus on the bigger
prize — the real Stanley Cup.

Smart Business spoke with
Yormark about how to open up
channels for feedback and why
you’d better talk to someone
besides your direct reports.

Go beyond talking to your direct
Staying in touch with
the wants and needs of my
staff is a daily priority. I meet
with my executives on a daily
basis, but one of the things
that I do is I also meet with
each department within the
company on a regular basis to
get their feedback on internal
issues and external issues.

I use that as an opportunity
to get the pulse of the organization, how people perceive us
and what kind of feedback are
we getting from our customers.

It’s also important to talk
about how our employees feel
about the company because
you can really shape how you
deal with consumers based on
how people internally feel
about the organization.

We have consistent dialogue
on what people feel about our
company, how we’re perceived, what we need to do in
order to be better compared to
our competitors, and it seems
to be very helpful for us.

Make sure you understand that
your commitment is needed.
order to effect change, in
order to have an open relationship with your employees, a
leader needs to be committed
and understand that your
employees are your most
important asset.

A lot of people will say to you,
‘Yeah, we know the employees
are the most important asset,’
but they don’t live it. You have
to be committed, and you have
to realize that your employees
are truly the most important
assets that you have, and
their mindset when they
come in the building is so

If you understand that, then
you are willing to create the
type of programs and the type
of interaction that will give
those employees the opportunity to effect change, to communicate and feel as if they
really can make a difference
within the company.

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