Employee engagement is a commitment not a campaign – Interview with Stan Phelps

goldfish

Today’s interview is with Stan Phelps an “experience architect”, author, professor and popular keynote speaker. Hat tip for the idea for this interview goes to James Lawther who recently hosted a guest post (5 Easy Ways to Increase Employee Engagement) from Stan on his blog.

Stan recently published a new book: What’s Your Green Goldfish?: Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture and joins us today to share some insight into the book and the lessons that businesses can draw from it.

This interview follows on the back of last week’s interview: How to be more interesting (and keep customers for longer) – Interview with Jessica Hagy and is number fifty-seven in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Stan:

  • The longest and hardest nine inches in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer.
  • What's Your Green Goldfish Stan Phelps

  • This current book is the second in a trilogy. They follow a colour pattern: Purple Goldfish is all about the customer, Green Goldfish is all to do with your employees and the last one (Gold Goldfish – which is still to be written) will deal with what do you do with your top 20% of customers and employees in order to power loyalty, engagement, advocacy and retention.
  • Marketing needs to shift. Marketing needs to become more about employees and customers and how to connect more and less about quarterly reporting and campaigns.
  • Companies that have engaged employees grow up to three times faster than others with a company with less engaged employees.
  • Up to 70% of employees in the US are not engaged or actively disengaged
  • There is a simple premise that happy employees lead to happy customers
  • The colours in the trilogy (purple, green and gold) are the colours of Mardi Gras.
  • The underlying premise that drives a lot of what’s in the books is a concept called: lagniappe, which is a chiefly Southern Louisiana & Mississippi (Creole) term meaning a small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer’s purchase OR an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.
  • The biggest myth in marketing is trying to meet someone’s expectations. In reality, you will exceed or fall short of expectations but rarely meet expectations.
  • Using lagniappe, in this context, is a way of thinking about the little things that you can do to ‘plus’ up the employee and customer experience.
  • Stan uses goldfish and how they grow as being analogous to business how they grow. It turns out that the growth of a goldfish is determined by five factors: 1. Size of the Environment = The Market; 2. Number of Goldfish = Competition; 3. The Quality of the Water = The Culture; 4. How they’re treated the first 120 days of life = Onboarding; and5. Genetic Make-up = Differentiation.
  • The Purple Goldfish book project crowdsourced 1,001 examples of companies doing the little extras for their customers.
  • Following on from that, The Green Goldfishbook project crowdsourced 1,001 examples of companies doing the little extras for their employees.
  • Stan splits his examples into 15 different types of Green Goldfish initiatives covering everything from the basics like what your building is like or on boarding right through to how much flexibility you give your employees and how you empower their dreams.
  • Stan’s research finds that the best companies do things in all 15 of the areas and continue to add and innovate.
  • However, he also finds that they started small with one or two initiatives and built on those steadily over time to get to where they are now.
  • These types of initiatives don’t have to start with or come from leadership but leadership is required to help initiatives stick and spread.
  • If you are thinking of getting started with your own Green Goldfish initiative then a good place to start would be with recognition, which if done the right way can be a fantastic driver of performance and engagement.
  • Let us not forget that business is done by people for people.
  • One of the takeaways from the book is that there is not enough emphasis placed on leadership development as 70% of people who leave jobs in the US don’t leave because of the jobs but leave because of their boss.
  • Employee engagement is a commitment not a campaign. It takes time to make change happen.

About Stan (adapted from his website and LinkedIn profile)

Stan Phelps 9 Inch Marketing What's Your Green Goldfish

Stan Phelps is an “experience architect”, author, professor and popular keynote speaker. He believes that marketing must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Stan is a dynamic, top performing marketing executive with more the 20 years of experience in experiential marketing, customer experience, sponsorship activation, business development and relationship management. He’s the author of “What’s Your Purple Goldfish? 12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth” and “What’s Your Green Goldfish? Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture.

He’s also the Chief Measurement Officer of, which was founded to focus on both customer and employee experience. Their goal is to help to make brands remark-able. Creating the little extras that give customers and employees something to talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about.

Their founding belief is that: “The longest and hardest nine inches in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer.”

You can check out 9 INCH marketing here, connect with Stan via LinkedIn here, via Twitter @9INCHmarketing and grab a copy of his books via these links: “What’s Your Purple Goldfish? 12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth” and “What’s Your Green Goldfish? Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture.

Photo Credit: protographer23 via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian , Stan,

    Glad I made the introduction.

    The point in the interview that resonates most with me is “Let us not forget that business is done by people for people.”

    I have worked with so many organisations that instead of talking about customers they talk about accounts, or policies and instead of talking about employees they talk about human resources or personnel.

    I know it is only words, but words can have huge ramifications.

    James

  2. Hello Adrian and Stan

    I find myself to be in total agreement with you. There is a lot that Tops can do to create organisational contexts that foster employee engagement. And it starts with getting present to people as people and not merely as human resources.

    Maz

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