A New Era of Engagement — Enhancing Productivity Through Professional Development
Written by Linda Luty
Author and Thought Leader
Bill Huber, CFO at VELUX, supports a high-performing team who serve as business partners and servant leaders to the entire organization. VELUX, a global company specializing in manufacturing skylights, has seen an uptick in business as home renovation increased in the last year even amidst a serious business contraction in the initial months of the global pandemic. With the shift to remote work happening on a global scale, Huber has focused on supporting the business by fostering a culture of innovation, empowerment and continual development.
According to Huber, his team has their hands in everything, “from sales results forecasting and strategic alignment, product pricing, product development and innovation, working with manufacturing teams and understanding the cost of every element of our business. We are continuously involved in labor and material costs and staying on top of global and local economics as they impact our product cost… not to mention the Treasury, Tax, Legal and Risk Management functions we manage.”
Huber has a good problem: his team is highly engaged and full of top performers. So, when you have a highly productive and collaborative team, how do you “level-up” and continue to develop personally and professionally?
Carson Tate is the managing partner at Working Simply, an author and thought leader, and expert in employee engagement. Huber and Tate have now worked together on two different initiatives: understanding the team’s productivity styles and employee engagement.
Listen, Acknowledge, Digest, Reflect, Respond
After organizational changes at VELUX led to significant team changes, Huber wanted to ensure his team felt supported with resources to continue their high performance. “I wanted to make sure that they knew how much we care about their engagement in our business, their role as those business partners to our line of business,” says Huber.
Huber’s focus on continual growth and development and the partnership with Tate continues to yield great results through a focus on productivity styles, communication tools and authentic engagement techniques.
Huber developed a model years ago called LADRR: “Listen, Acknowledge, Digest what was said, Reflect on the message, and Respond constructively, not necessarily in the moment, but after the reflection.”
“Everybody has an opinion, and frankly, we've got a lot of subject matter experts. But when we are asked to evaluate and make significant financial commitments to the business, I tell my team to take your time, understand what's being asked for. Take the time to digest what we're really thinking about and then respond constructively,” Huber says.
The first time Huber and Tate worked together on productivity styles was illuminating, and the purpose was, “helping the team reframe and own their unique productivity style strengths so they could get work done more efficiently and effectively. This is a really talented, high performing team that just needed to reframe how they approached their work,” says Tate.
Engagement in a New Era
Huber and Tate are now working on a “four part, live, highly interactive, instructor-led webinar series, starting with the power of feedback to elevate individual performance and customer service.”
“One of the most effective ways to do that is to ask for and receive specific feedback. This was a skill that had not yet been developed on the team. After the workshop on feedback, our next session enabled team members to identify their unique strengths and explore how to fully leverage them for their own fulfillment and engagement,” says Tate.
Keeping the momentum going from these workshops could have been difficult, especially during times of great stress and change. By encouraging the team to think differently, by naming their strengths and evaluating the value they bring to the team, Huber and Tate have unlocked even more potential from an already high-performing team.
Next up in the series was a focus on relationships, specifically cultivating authentic relationships in the workplace. “We built upon the prior work on productivity styles, examined how we unconsciously undermine relationships through the assumptions we make about our colleagues and why social connections are vital for individual and team performance,” says Tate.
The final session is around “how to develop more meaning and purpose in your work,” says Tate.
How do you identify the value and the meaning of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Huber feels this is a powerful opportunity for his team to grow. “I found that type of development empowering, in the sense that I see people who have been here a long time simply having a higher level of confidence and engagement with people they talk to every day.”
The “Final Stretch”
Part of the success of this program is the pacing, say Huber and Tate. The program has enough time between workshops for the team to implement the new concepts, skills, and tools. Holding people accountable to the learnings from the sessions, reinforcing ideas and strategies as time passes has given people time to practice and internalize and act on the things they learned through each training.
Huber never misses an opportunity to praise his team or to support their wellness in a holistic way. The team has a bi-weekly “final stretch” meeting to support their physical well-being, and the added effect of camaraderie is a bonus to their engagement.
But it takes effort. “We really had to be deliberate about our efforts to get on that meeting or even schedule the meeting, which is why I started doing even more of the ‘final stretch’ and similar meetings,” says Huber.
The future of work has changed, and not only how we do work, but also what people expect out of their workplace and how people show up to work every day. Whether your office has plans to return this year or a hybrid model is adopted, engagement needs to remain a focus point for any leaders.
“To overcome communication obstacles requires focused intention and appropriate tools. Office-centric communication and collaboration tools don’t always translate to the virtual environment,” says Tate.
“It takes a deliberate effort to make sure that we were all still communicating. I am extremely fortunate that I have a team of independent thinkers and doers, but it taught me there are still those touch points you have to maintain to make sure I’m aware of the things happening and not surprised by anything,” says Huber.
Never missing a chance to praise this high-performing team, Huber says, “We strive to achieve great results together, demonstrating mutual respect. We treat each other as we would like to be treated ourselves, always making improvements. We work to be better every day and take action and collaborate to reach our goals. We ensure the right effort at the right place, at the right time. These are the core values we live at VELUX.”
Special thanks to all participating companies.
by C-Level, for C-Level
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