At the Arkansas Business Women’s Leadership Summit in Fort Smith, ArcBest VP of Customer Experience Lori Brooks shared her advice with attendees on how and what to communicate with their employees.
Here are her top tips.
1. "Your success is my success. We are in this together." Brooks says only noticing good qualities within your team isn’t enough. "If you don’t share that with them, they may not see that capability in themselves and unlock that dream. Your words have power."
2. "Your unique perspective is valued, and we want to hear from you." Brooks says we are often wired to conform as a society, but it’s the job of a leader to create an environment where people can have different perspectives and feel safe sharing those perspectives.
"Intentionally build diversity," she says. "It leads to innovation and challenges the way we’ve always done things."
3. "Your role is critical to our company’s ability to grow." Brooks points out that employees are sometimes unable to see how their role fits into the corporate strategy, so it's important to communicate it directly. ArcBest, for example, shares the corporate strategy with the entire organization quarterly in order to help everyone see how their individual work fits in and how it matters to the overall company goals.
"It helps you see how the different parts must work together to achieve what we’re after," Brooks says. "It allows you to ask, 'What do I need to do in the short term? What do I need to do in the long term? What does good look like?'"
4. "You don’t need to be perfect or have all the answers." According to Brooks, women especially are hard on themselves — sometimes because society is hard on women.
"It takes courage to say, 'I don’t have all the answers yet,'" Brooks says, "but as leaders, you have to value curiosity and create an environment on your team where it’s safe to not know all the answers while also giving them opportunities to learn more about the business."
5. "You are appreciated. Thank you for your hard work and dedication." While simple, this can often make the biggest impact. Brooks recalls a time she sent a thank-you email to an employee, and that person replied with the Mark Twain quote, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." When your employees know their accomplishments matter, she says, it makes their work more rewarding.
Her final tip: "Be specific. Tell them in front of other people. Public praise goes a long way."
Lori Brooks is the vice president of customer experience at ArcBest, where she leads the company’s marketing and customer experience teams, using customer insights and analytics to develop and execute on initiatives that provide significant value to ArcBest customers and partners.