Helping Your Employees Succeed

A few months back we started transitioning our Twitter and Facebook management over to our new employee Reece. It’s a perfect compliment to his customer service work. While Facebook has been a huge success for us, Twitter has been only a moderate success.

During a meeting that he and I had we discussed ways to better captivate the Twitter audience and take advantage of the immediacy of Twitter as a platform. A few minutes in he had an idea: what if every Thursday we do some sort of Twitter promotion and call it “Twitter Thursday’s.” We could do a variety of different things – product giveaways, contests, coupons, etc – and we could experiment with a variety of time periods ranging from really short (first person to do X gets Y) to the entire day.

I thought this was a really really good idea. My partners thought so too. So, we told him to start at it. Every Thursday he would come up with a promotion idea, run it by us (for now), and then go on Twitter and execute it. The first few worked OK. I suspected that the problem wasn’t the specials, it was our relatively small Twitter audience in comparison to our newsletter list or even our Facebook following.

I brought this up to my partners and we decided to give “Twitter Thursday’s” some extra attention. We adjusted our spring promotions schedule to add in this newsletter that went out last night (Wednesday) to everyone on our list:

We also posted this up to Facebook. By reaching our entire customer base with a few very enticing promotions, we hope to bring attention to “Twitter Thursday’s” and help Reece establish a loyal audience that checks @DetailedImage every Thursday for his promotion.

I’m writing about this because I think there’s a good management lesson here. There’s no surer way to have disgruntled employees than to ignore their good ideas. We’re firm believers that the best ideas come from the ground-up, not the top-down. Good companies and good managers create a culture where ideas for improvement are encouraged and embraced.

If “Twitter Thursday’s” doesn’t work I want it to be because our customers didn’t like it. Not because we didn’t buy in to the idea enough to give it any resources. When an employee has a good idea I think it’s critically important to give them every opportunity to make it a success. If they fail, it shouldn’t be because of you. As a boss, you should be empowering them, not getting in their way. All things being equal, I’d rather prioritize an employee’s really good idea over an equally good idea of mine solely because it gives you an opportunity to show them that you’re the type of employer who gets that.

12 comments on Helping Your Employees Succeed

  1. Dale says:

    Twitter Tuesdays would’ve had better alliteration. 🙂

    Seriously, if my employers had the same philosphy, I still might be working for them.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Twitter Tuesdays would’ve had better alliteration. 🙂

      Haha very true, I didn’t even think of that.

  2. Mark W. says:

    Good post about backing your employee’s ideas with encouragement and resources.
    I’m curious as to whether you’ve been looking into Pinterest. It seems as though it would be a good social media marketing tool to reach existing and new customers.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Good question Mark. Initially when Pinterest exploded, reports said that the user base was 95+% female so I/we ignored it since our sites are more like 95% male. However I’ve seen more recent articles that have cited stats much closer to 50/50, and if that’s the case we should start considering it more. A few of the blogs I follow have written articles about using it for e-commerce. Certainly looks like there could be potential there for Detailed Image. I just made a note to bring it up to my partners at our next meeting 🙂 Like any new medium I’d like to give it a shot, just not sure where it falls on our list of priorities relative to expanding some other forms of marketing that we know work (one of those impossible questions to answer).

      It’s funny, in general as we’ve grown I find we have a lot more of those really difficult questions to answer where you can only choose one thing or another but you really want to choose both. As opposed to in the beginning when it’s just about making enough revenue to survive as fast as possible. In some ways things are a lot clearer when you aren’t trying to weight long-term vs. short-term, using existing employee’s skills vs. teaching them new ones, etc.

      • Mark W. says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
        I was doing some of my own research on the benefits of using Pinterest yesterday. It’s amazing to me how fast it has been adopted in many different ways. As you say, basically, there are many different tools available so picking the ones that work out the best together and reach your audience is the real challenge. And once you start picking them, they require resources and commitment so planning becomes even more important. At this stage, maybe the best advice I can give is to check out what your competition is doing. See if they’re using Pinterest and how they’re doing it. There’s many articles out there on Pinterest. Here’s one I found interesting (mostly in the comment section – 65 comments) – http://myob.com.au/blog/pinning-our-hopes/ .
        And good luck! (which means there is some work involved here – 🙂 )

        • Adam McFarland says:

          Thanks for the link Mark! If my partners agree that it’s worth a shot (they probably will) my first task will be to gather some articles and examples for us. I gave that article and comments a quick skim and it looks like it would be extremely helpful for us.

        • Rob says:

          Thanks for sharing that link, really good. I think pintrest’s demographic and our own target demographic align almost perfectly so I’ll certainly be having a shot at getting a presence on there.

  3. Rob says:

    This does sound like a great idea and it’s awesome you’re supporting your staff in that way. I know that intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic, but have you considered bonuses or prizes related to extra sales, improved customer satisfaction ratings or other metrics?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Yea absolutely. We have given unexpected perks and bonuses in the past for exceptional work. We currently don’t have anyone tied to metrics but it’s something we intend to do for sure down the road. Our full-timer’s are all still relatively new. I think we’d like to wait a while before introducing that stuff in to the equation, both because it will give them time to master their work without added financial pressures and also because we’d like them to be a little more vested in the company.

      • Rob says:

        That’s the risk isn’t it. Why not do something a bit more special and a part of company culture… liiiiike every month there’s an award/prize/whatever. Nothing big, like $10-$20. The winner is chosen by an anonymous poll. Everyone votes for someone and writes a sentence about what that person did that month for them to deserve it. Result – slight incentivisation for people to go the extra mile and the other staff notice and comment on these nice/valuable things. Prizes could be dinner out voucher to local restaurant, wine, sports tickets, itunes voucher…. or, y’know, polishing mitts/microfibre cloths 😉

        • Adam McFarland says:

          That’s a good idea. We do a lot of sports pools where the winner gets a something small like that, but we’ve never done it for work-related stuff. I like the idea of everyone voting for someone else too.

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