An interview with Tom Reynolds on how defining a clear direction for your company creates happy employees.
A key to happy employees is defining a clear direction for your company. When you have a company, you need to have a plan. A big strategic plan. What you need to do is carve it down to a 90 day period that people can really digest. A couple of pages, easily read and simply written. It gets everybody on the team all rowing in the same direction. It starts with the simplest piece of business. What is your mission? What is your vision? And what are your values? A mission needs to be very simple. Your mission is a clear statement about what you do. You start with the mission, vision, and values. The mission tells briefly what you do. The vision is, what we need right now. It gives people a direction. Here’s where we’re going. Let’s get there. Having that common focus and everyone knowing where we’re going is key to everyone being on the same page and expectations are clear. The third thing, which is super important, is the values of the company. These are how we act in this company. Communication is one of the most important parts of these values. Everybody’s going to be very happy because they’re clear about where they’re going, they’re clear about how they’re supposed to do it; and they’re clear about where it’s going to take them.
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About Tom Reynolds
The Reynolds Group
La Cañada, CA
GEOFF JOHANSING: Hello everyone. I’m Geoff Johansing with Insurance Office of America. I’m a property and casualty insurance agent focusing on happy employees. Today I have with me Tom Reynolds, of the Reynolds Group. Hello Tom.
TOM REYNOLDS: Hey Geoff, how are you?
GJ: Fine. You want to introduce yourself? Kind of talk about the company and what you do?
TR: Absolutely. Thank you very much. My name is Tom Reynolds, and I’m a salesman in marketer’s clothing. And what that means is that I love to sell stuff, and help companies increase their revenue, increase their sales. A typical story would be a client I just finished with had only closed 2 new clients in 12 months and decided that they needed some help. So we came in and in 6 months we were able to get them 8 new clients and 7 hot prospects and really help them with their growing their revenue. So it was a blast.
GJ: Right on… and what’s your background?
TR: Well it’s a good question. You know I’m a fourth generation salesman. Aren’t you a fourth generation insurance guy?
GJ: Yes, I am.
TR: Well you know that puts it in our DNA, what we do. I mean we would like… we might want to do something different, but we can’t!
TR: Because we’re passionate about it. And we feel it. I mean it’s… we’re not your typical consultants. And so, I believe firmly, that to sell is to serve. And the trick is to work with clients and get their whole organization selling. And get them enthusiastic because selling’s fun, you know, and you had a saying once about what you hear on a phone.
GJ: Yeah. You can hear a smile through the phone.
TR: You bet. You know, and so if you can have happy employees and also employees that believe in what you do, you can you can achieve great things.
GR: I completely agree.
TR: So we were a manufacturer. And then, when I got out of Stanford, I helped my dad make it a software product based on DOS. And then, we had to take it to take it to Windows. And then, we were also early adapters to the Internet, to do, we were doing graphics. And so, recently I’ve been doing a lot of work with big data. So I’ve always been interested in technology, and that’s always a part of anything we do in marketing, on the marketing side of what we do.
GJ: I hear a lot about big data. There’s a lot out there. And it really helped some, I think solidify, or not solidify, but assist in the sales process.
TR: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
GJ: So you’ve got a sales process, that you and I have talked about, and providing that, and how does that equate to increasing employees happiness?
TR: Yeah, you bet. So I started with 35 employees. I ended with 150 employees.
TR: And we had to take them through a whole series of technologies, and changes. And management was ready for it, but sometimes employees aren’t. You know, they learn new skills. They have to… So.. and that’s from top to bottom. And so, I heard a gentleman speak, from Azusa Pacific University, who is the CEO, named John Reynolds (unfortunately, no relation) and he talked about a thing called a 90-day strategic brief.
TR: And what he believed was you need to have a plan. A big strategic plan. But that goes on the shelf, and it often isn’t looked at. Ok. So what you need to do is carve it down to a 90 day period that people can really digest. A couple of pages, easily read, simply written. And it gets everybody on the team, from your receptionist to the guys in shipping, to middle management and the salesman, all pulling in the same direction.
GJ: So everyone’s in the same boat, rowing in the same direction.
TR: You bet.
GJ: Got it.
TR: And it’s simple. It’s just, you can’t you can’t make it complicated. So, it starts with the simplest piece of business. What is your mission? What is your vision? And what are your values? And I think a mission needs to be very simple, in a thing like this. So you answer a simple question of, “I’m excited to be part of an organization that exists to…” And then you say what you do. So your mission is just a clear statement about what you do. It’s a flagpole.
TR: This whole thing, the mission, vision, and values, is a flagpole. Or the magic castle. That’s what we want. We want that magic castle. And that’s what Walt did, right?
TR: So…you start with the mission, vision, and values. The mission tells briefly what you do. The vision is, imagine being in the desert, and you’re really thirsty. Right? So what you see in a mirage is water. Or if you’re in the desert and you’re really hot, your shade. Well, you should have that kind of energy in terms of what your vision is. It’s what we need right now. Right? And it gives people a direction. Again that rowing analogy is good. Here’s where we’re going. Let’s get there.
GJ: And having that common focus and everyone knowing where we’re going is key to…everyone’s on the same page and expectations are clear. And…got it.
TR: And the third thing, which I think is super important, because I use it a lot in my marketing, is the values of the company. And the reason I think that’s important is that these are the things, how we act in this company. Even on the last day of business. We’re going out of business, but we’re going to call back all our clients and let them know what’s going on. Communication is one of our values.
GJ: Got it.
TR: So, the thing that’s great about that, and if you put them on the wall, is that your middle managers will manage a certain way. They are part of the vision, but maybe they’re slipping out of where the values are. Well the employees now can step up and say, “hey you know we’re out of sync, right?” And they can say “let’s just go back to the 90 days strategic brief and review. And if that value isn’t in sync with where we’re going, let’s talk about it.”
But now instead of waiting a year you’ve got 90 days to go back and talk about it. So, once you get the flagpole in, the next very important piece is to kind of do a SWOT. You know, strength, weaknesses, opportunity and threats. You know, those two things outside the business, two things inside the business. And if you get the whole company doing it, even department by department, it gives people a chance to kind of put everything out there that worries them. Also, the things that excite them, right?
TR: So you get them all on a piece of paper, and you take three of them and say, “What are the three things we can do that are going to most influence this company?” OK, and you take those three things and you break them apart and say “Who’s going to do this? Who’s going to this? Who’s going to do this?”
TR: Now everybody’s going to be very happy because they’re clear about where they’re going; they’re clear about how they’re supposed to do it; and they’re clear about where it’s going to take them. Right? And they’re going to be busy. And in 90 days you get to come back and review it.
TR: And the last piece is measuring. You’ve got to measure how you’re doing on those 3 things. And again, everything needs to be on the wall, so people can see how they’re doing. And if you nail those 3 things down, then great. And if those 3 things actually uncover 3 more things you have to do, great.
GJ: Keep going.
TR: Just, keep going.
TR: And you do it every 90 days. And what’s nice about it for my company is it really invoked change. I did it once with a client who just had merged with another company, and we did this thing. And it got everybody from the two companies talking. And about how they did it, and how they did it, and what the values were. And it really solidified. At another company I did it and he wanted to sell his company. And he wasn’t… he wanted his company to know that. So he wanted everybody pulling in the same direction to try creating the value, and he was going to make sure they all benefited from it.
GJ: Ok. Wow. Wow.
TR: Ok, so it’s a really powerful tool and it can be used in so many different ways.
GJ: Right. Open communication is, I think, vital to any organization.
TR: Right. And direction. People start worrying when they don’t get it. When there’s secrets.
TR: And this takes those secrets out of there.
GJ: So you have one more thing you want to share?
TR: I do. As I said, I’m a salesman to the “T” and this is something my dad actually gave me. We used to read it to our clients because we were teaching them how to communicate at the point of sale. And it’s called salesmanship. And it goes like this:
Don’t sell me clothes. Sell me the neat appearance, style and attractiveness.
Don’t sell me shoes. Sell me foot comfort, and the pleasure of walking in the open air.
Don’t sell me furniture. Sell me homes that are comfortable, clean and content.
Don’t sell me books. Sell me pleasant hours and the profits of knowledge.
Don’t sell me toys. Sell me playthings to make my children happy.
Don’t sell me tools. Sell me the pleasure and profit of making fine objects.
Don’t sell me tires. Sell me the freedom from worry and the low cost for miles. Huuuh… This is where I get a little emotional.
Don’t sell me plows. Sell me green fields of waving wheat.
Don’t sell me things. Sell me ideals, feelings, self-respect, home life, and happiness… But do not sell me things.
GJ: Absolutely, Tom. Thank you everyone, very much. Again, Tom Reynolds, with the Reynolds Group, and I am Geoff Johansing. And, if you’d like to see more videos like this, please go ahead and check out our blog.
GJ: Geoff does a great job.