Talk of the town

Be a sounding board

To Palmer, finding ways to show peoplethat you are listening is all about finding away to create a personal connection thatwill create a bond between company andemployee.

“That’s a very important piece of everybody in a corporation feeling part of a bigger whole,” she says. “There has to be a

way that you can personalize things, now itmay not be a chairman personalizingthings, but the people who do respond ontheir behalf have a way of being able tocommunicate that what you’re saying tome is important.”

Once you give people the idea that youwant feedback, they’re going to give it toyou, so make sure you understand that andappreciate what you’re getting.

“When you create an open environment,feedback is never an issue,” she says. “Iget e-mails daily on some of the wildestthings, and it’s great. I love that. Peopleshould feel comfortable that you’re accessible and should feel comfortable givingtheir feedback.”

If you want that feedback to continue,you better make the time to respond tothose people who show up at your door orsend you e-mails.

“I am one of those strange people thatreally hates people to manage my e-mail,”Palmer says. “I honestly think that whenyou get an e-mail, and you don’t answer it,it creates a lack of trust from the personthat sent the e-mail. It’s very important tofind a way to prioritize and make sure thatyou get everything done, and sometimes,I’ll just come in for a few hours on aSunday and catch up on things.

To be clear, Palmer has not made
herselfthe stopgap for every problem that heremployees have. She recognizes the needfor channels and will often take the time tosimply respond to say that such and suchrequest is better addressed by someoneelse. But on those simple requests she canquickly facilitate, she does.

“Sometimes, the greatest bond is createdover the most minimal of requests,” shesays. “Sometimes, you have to say, ‘I’mgoing to get one of my regional team members to address this for you, but thanks forthe input. This is great, and so and so willget back to you.’

“You don’t know what an impact thatmakes on someone. They feel very special,and again, the importance of feeling partof that greater thing that is greater thanyou, and we all need to feel part of something bigger, and that helps you feel thatconnection.”

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