September 23 2014

Leadership Lessons from Jack Welch: Create a Candid Culture

Tom Feeney, Safelite® President and CEO


Today’s leadership lesson in our series, “The Five Steps to Winning We Learned from Jack Welch,” is this:

3. Above all else, create a candid culture.

My favorite advice from Jack is the importance of candor. As a native New Yorker, I have no problem being candid. But the difference in true leadership is letting your employees know it’s a two-way street. Not only are they going to get it straight from me, but they can be candid with me as well.

To support this kind of environment, we embrace an “open door” policy where employees can communicate in a candid and open manner and resolve problems in a mutually respectful way. We believe that direct communication is the best method for addressing conflicts and difficulties and that every employee has a responsibility to speak up.

We provide different avenues to support candid conversation throughout the organization so our people are empowered to offer suggestions and share their ideas. For example, AskTom is a dedicated channel where associates can reach out to me directly via email with questions, comments or concerns and receive a response that is then shared with the rest of our organization on our Intranet.

Another way we’re creating a candid, feedback-rich culture is through our annual People Opinion Survey. This is an important tool in bringing our People Powered philosophy to life. It helps us measure and understand our employees’ perceptions about our culture. They are asked to be candid and share their honest thoughts on the company – both on what we are doing well (so we know what to continue) and where we need to improve. We promote the survey as a way for our teams to be engaged and get involved in being part of the solution. By speaking up they are involved in building a culture they want to be a part of, which helps us build a culture where they can be at their best.

The results of the survey become a discussion starter for leaders and their employees on areas of strength and opportunity. The team works together to create action plans `

Being candid is crucial to building trust from and among your employees. If your people see that you listen and genuinely care for them it builds engagement and they will likely go above and beyond to delivery extraordinary service for your customers. Our hope is that by building a feedback-rich culture, employees know they can come to their leaders with new ideas and concerns at any time without fear of repercussion.

Particularly with our technicians being on the front lines of customer interaction, this employee base is 100 percent crucial to our success. By encouraging them to share and by listening to their daily experiences, without fear of retribution, we will become the company we want to be – one that is People Powered and Customer Driven.

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