FMG keynote 2: An engaged workforce will create a positive brand experience

Business and leadership consultant Jackie Frieberg encourages business leaders to empower people and thus create long-term customers

LAS VEGAS — For many businesses, the key to success is differentiating themselves in the marketplace.

In her keynote address, business and leadership consultant and author Jackie Frieberg challenged attendees of the FMG Symposium held here this past week to think about how they accomplish this important task. And even more importantly, how do they get their employees engaged in the process.

“We need to differentiate,” she said. “We are in a sea of sameness. How will you create a culture that helps you stand out and build loyalty. Loyalty among your customers and the people who work for you — and I like the word ‘with’ so much better.”

Jackie Frieberg speaks to members of FMG on the first day of the annual symposium.

The word “with” also aligns with the theme of building a culture where people feel engaged and want to come to work each day.

“When you get back, I want you to go in and have a new perspective on what to focus on that really matters, be curious and engage and empower your people.”

An engaged workforce, she noted, will spur innovation that solves problems and creates new opportunities.

“Innovation starts in the hearts and minds of people working with your customers, and they know the pain points and what works best. Innovation does not need to be that difficult.”

“They also want to know their ideas are valued and that they matter,” she added, noting that feedback is key for employees looking to grow with the organization.

“Feedback doesn’t have to be complicated as long as it’s clear and it’s kind,” she said. “As an owner of a biz you should have high expectations, but are they clear? If they (your employees) are not rising to the occasion, have a sit down and say ‘what else do you need from me? My expectations are here and I believe that you can do it.’ Feedback should be a gift. … we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Service, she said, is another key aspect of what helps define your business and helps it stand out among your customers.

“But you can’t just ‘do’ service these days — you have to create a unique and memorable and standout experience for the people you are doing business with,” she said. “You create culture from the inside out, one person at a time.”

Some examples of “engagement crushers”

She added that “when people want to work for you they want to offer their own gifts and talents to realize their own dreams and desires.” Unfortunately, leaders don’t always engage with their employees in a way that helps to learn their goals and what drives them to stretch and grow with the organization.

Yet, there could be managers or leaders that are not the best for those positions.

“If you have leaders and managers and supervisors who aren’t good in that role that will be the No. 1 reason they leave,” she said. “The No. 1 reason people leave today is because of a bad boss, someone who is hard to work for. People want to know what matters most is that they are doing what they are really good at and that they can get feedback from a coach or a mentor.”

And some ideas on how to create engagement …

The ability for leadership to create an environment of support and engagement will create not only long-term employees but also long-term customers as it’s most often the employees who are engaging with customers. “Dead people working,” as she defined those unengaged workers, “are checked out and will not create positive experiences for your customer base.”

“They won’t innovate and come up with creative ideas,” she said. “Their idea may have gotten pushed aside, saying, ‘It won’t work right now.’ But sometimes we have to provide the opportunity to try things. Those people who are engaged are your most valuable assets.”

“Be an engagement accelerator. Not everybody in your operation is customer facing, but everybody has customers. What are you going to do to make that touch point outstanding so they love doing biz with you?

“When you create a remarkable experience, you create loyal ambassadors for your brand and they become a loyal customer.”

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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