Empower Your Team to Thrive

Sep 22, 2020 | Crisis Marketing

“We are transitioning from an ‘And / Or’ culture to an ‘And / And’ culture,” said Brett Stevenson, COO of Central Smith.

If you have eaten ice cream in a Canadian restaurant, chances are you’ve eaten Central Smith’s ice cream. They are one of Canada’s largest ice cream manufacturers, and a long time Sticky Branding client.

The pandemic has pushed Central Smith to extremes.

At the start of the crisis, Central Smith experienced a sudden and dramatic decline in orders. The restaurant industry was effectively closed. But within weeks demand from the retail sector surged — in excess of seven times.

Through these extremes Central Smith has been thriving, and a big part of this started with their team.

Brett’s quote really resonates with me, because he is speaking to how the Central Smith team shifted after coronavirus. Employees weren’t constrained by job descriptions or roles. They would just step up, “This is my job and what else can I do to help?”

For example, at the height of the crisis Central Smith’s truck drivers weren’t as busy. They still needed and wanted to work, so management gave them an opportunity to work on the production line. They packed boxes and got to learn another side of the business.

Central Smith’s And / And culture extends across the entire organization.

I’ve shared this story many times in my Crisis Marketing Webinars and the Crisis Marketing ebook. With the closure of restaurants across the country, Central Smith had an overstock of 11.4 liter tubs of ice cream. These are the giant tubs of ice cream used in scoop shops and restaurants.

Meghan and Jillian, two employees, suggested putting up a Shopify store and offering curbside pickup. They didn’t know if the big tubs of ice cream would sell, but they were empowered to innovate and try.

The duo launched the Shopify site within a week, and then reached out to the local Chamber of Commerce and a few food bloggers to help get the word out.

The results blew away everyone’s expectations. Ian Scates, CEO of Central Smith said, “The first week the Shopify site was live, online sales exceeded a normal month in the retail store.”

Jillian and Meghan kept innovating. Each week they’d try something new, and each week online sales increased.

It could have been so easy for management to say “no” to Jillian and Meghan. There was no proof or reason that their ideas would be successful, and that is the mistake so many companies have been making during the pandemic.

Leaders are shutting down ideas and controlling decision making, because of the uncertainty. Even small investments can feel risky after coronavirus. As a result, many employees are feeling disempowered and unheard. They have ideas, but are finding their managers and leaders aren’t willing to listen.

While scary, empowering your team is one of the smartest business decisions you can make.

First, you never know where a great idea may come from. You definitely don’t have all the answers. I know I don’t. But the collective genius of your team increases innovation and ideation.

You’re empowering your team to learn. This helps your company find answers to complex problems, faster.

Second, empowerment leads to ownership.

Jenn Scates, Vice President of Central Smith explains, “Through the pandemic we haven’t had one single employee stay home sick. Every single person has not missed a shift, or not been late for work since March 13. That’s a true testament to our people and what’s going on in this organization.”

Empowered employees are dedicated employees. They feel that their voice matters, they feel heard, their work matters, and they have a stake in the company’s success.

Empowerment is a two-way street. When you give your team the opportunity to step up, many will (not all). It’s in those moments that you discover the stars on your team, and the people who will help grow your company to the next level.

Crisis Marketing

Sticky Branding works with you to recover the customers and revenue taken by Covid-19, and to develop the strategy to come out of the crisis stronger than ever. If you’re interested, call me (Jeremy Miller) directly at 416.479.4403, or check out our Crisis Marketing services.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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