(From Time) -- You’ve been there. You’ve stared at a blank document as you struggled to come up with incredible words of wisdom that will inspire and motivate your employees.
So has Scott Moorehead, CEO of The Cellular Connection, which has over 800 stores and is the largest Verizon premium wireless retailer in the U.S.
“I was sitting in front of my computer, trying to come up with something I could tell all these smart people in my company that would help them do their job better,” Moorehead says, “and I realized that what I really should be doing is asking them what I should do.”
Make them CEO
The ground rules were simple: Yesterday you were a regional manager. Today you’re the CEO. What would you do to make the company better?
Moorehead says many of the answers related to the person’s job, but some related to broader issues. And regardless of the answer, employees were able to indirectly express their emotions out without offending anyone.
“Overall I loved the feedback,” Moorehead says, “but it was also depressing because a number of people said, ‘I would do whatever I could to bring back the family atmosphere we used to have in the company.’ Those responses made me feel like such a fraud. Every day I was talking about how our business is a family and about really knowing our employees…. and that’s not how employees in the field felt.
“We have 800 locations and people across the country,” he continued. “It was hard for all of our employees to feel like they are part of the family. I hadn’t recognized that. I still saw us as a mom and pop, but they saw us as a giant bureaucratic company. So I immediately changed my mindset from growing the company to fixing who we are.”
Keep in mind Moorehead is used to listening to employees. His parents started the company, and they put him through a rigorous training process that required him to work in more than 30 positions throughout the company–from customer service to sales to delivery truck driver to accounting.