The Support Team

Christmas in July (Part 6)

The owner of S and Company had decided to go full speed ahead with a Christmas in July initiative.  The meeting with The Managers went very well and actually created goals a bit beyond the ones he had in mind.  Everyone seemed to be on board and the coaching/accountability meetings would give him a lot of insight, opportunity to work directly with the managers and really gave him a chance to feel the pulse of business that seemed to get lost in the corporate offices.

He had turned the tables so that the producers were participating in helping their managers achieve their goals and really contributing to the growth of the producers and the company.  The representative team loved having a role and the buzz that had been created throughout the company could be heard just about everywhere.

The group remaining that he really needed to bring on board was the support team.  This team included everyone who was a part of the company supporting the business but not a producer or manager.  Basically, these were all of the people who kept the wheels on the bus going round - front desk, administrative, IT, marketing, accounting as well as the corporate leadership team.  The corporate leadership team and the departmental managers had been in the manager’s meeting, mostly on the sidelines. 

As he thought about the group, excepting most of those on the corporate leadership team, these people were task oriented, well trained in their area but with little connection in terms of either role or tasks with most of the company.   Some had little interaction or communication with producers and managers other than something related to one of their tasks.  They knew how to keep the wheels on the bus but did not know how their job impacted the speed and/or destination of the bus.  Their training and orientation included a few words about the importance of their job to the company but nothing that made them a part of the team.   They were important to the success of the goals and initiatives, but it was difficult for them to see when focused on tasks.

He decided that first he and the corporate leadership team, with the divisional managers, had to make sure that they saw why their job was so important and what it would impact if they were backlogged or for some other reason became a bottleneck.  They also had to understand the impact of their communications when talking to managers or producers.  Finally, they needed to understand what they could do to help build opportunities and revenue in the company. 

The decision was made to set aside a portion of the net profit that exceeded the year end objective as a bonus pool specifically for this group.  He then decided to feature one or two a week with a brief bio and personal statement on the company Intranet to introduce each as more than a person others saw coming and going.  A part of this was to be written by them as a short "here is what I do".  Each of these jobs became a part of a puzzle in which the picture, when completed, showed everyone as a puzzle piece connected to others.  

The departmental managers were tasked to come up with a method of distribution for the bonuses which would require participation, recognition of extra effort and reaching out to be a team player.    Word spread that they would be included in the Christmas in July initiative, even before the bonus plan was finalized.  There was a noticeable difference in energy, more smiles and seeking information to learn what they could do to help achieve the goals.  Unexpectedly, one of the first things that happened voluntarily was that they asked about the vacation schedule so that they could help by providing cross coverage.

The distribution plan was modeled on the concept of "catch me doing something right".  An online system was set up on the company Intranet to collect responses.  The departmental managers also decided that there needed to be interim awards and recognition.  Each person who was recognized on the Intranet each month was put in a drawing for lunch with the boss.

It was beginning to look like things were really coming together for the Christmas in July initiative.  The next step was to take a strategic look at how to leverage the market. 


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