In the latest issue of Inc. magazine, a profile of Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank highlights a key strategy the exec uses to manage his rapidly expanding business.
Plank avoids making unilateral decisions, and he goes out of his way to solicit input from his most trusted employees.
Here’s an example from the Inc. article: When Under Armour started acquiring makers of activity- and diet-tracking apps two years ago, some of the company’s oldest employees were sceptical.
So Plank spent hours, some of them during his winter vacation last year, holding one-on-one conversations to try to persuade those staffers that the acquisitions were a good idea.
“It was important,” he told Inc., “that this not just be my decision.”
Writing in Inc. in 2009, Plank said much the same thing. To a startup cofounder asking how to motivate his team, Plank said that when Under Armour had fewer than 25 employees, he would bring the entire team together at least once a week to talk about major decisions, among other issues.
“My team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered,” he wrote. “Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued.”
Once his company swelled to thousands of employees, Plank said he started gathering together six or seven “potential stars” at his company a few times a month to talk about what was going on in their departments.
Plank is probably right that feeling appreciated is a powerful motivator in the workplace.
A 2013 Glassdoor survey found that more than half of US employees said they would stick around longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. And 40% said one way managers can show that appreciation is involving employees in decision-making processes.
So how exactly do you go about including employees in decision-making?
As author Susan Steinbrecher writes in Entrepreneur, one technique is to ask, “If you were in my shoes and could make all the decisions, what would you do and why?”
Steinbrecher says asking this question encourages employees to act like leaders and helps them empathise with the responsibilities of company leadership.
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