Few leaders would argue the importance of knowing your target demographics and the psychographics that drive their decisions. But do you know this information about the people you lead?
A third-generation CEO of H&M, Karl-Johan Persson took the reins of his grandfather’s corporation in July 2009 and immediately began work on a company-wide sustainability program. By early 2010, H&M had drastically reduced its use of traditionally sourced cotton, and by 2011, debuted its “Conscious Collection,” which consisted of fashions made with 100% organic cotton and other sustainable materials. Soon after, Persson spearheaded an international program, offering customers 15% off their purchases when they brought in old clothes—from any manufacturer—to be recycled or donated to charity.
Public reaction was positive. Interestingly, employee reaction was positive, as well. Team leaders reported their sales staff’s passionately directing customers to the sustainably sourced options in the store, and often overheard cashiers prompting buyers to bring an item to recycle the next time they shopped with H&M. Persson, it seemed, had tapped into something his employees cared deeply about, and it improved their job performance. Profits soared.
In the home office, Persson was working with his leadership teams to expand H&M’s sustainability program when Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangledesh, collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. Even though no H&M clothing was manufactured by the factory, Persson immediately facilitated conversations between clothing manufacturers and government officials to create greater oversight of the Bangledesh garment industry. Again, employee support was immediate and emphatic.
Deciding that true sustainability had to ensure fair treatment of all people touched by the manufacturing process, and encouraged that his employee base shared this vision, Persson worked with his leadership teams to take next steps—beginning with Cambodian factories that manufactured H&M clothes. Within months, Persson flew to Cambodia to discuss working conditions and fair wages with government officials. Through his extensive network, he helped bring labor unions and decision makers together, and the resulting negotiation produced an increase in wages 21% higher than the Cambodian garment workers had initially requested.
Employee response was explosive. U.S. job satisfaction surveys, which had hovered near the 59% typical with U.S. companies, soared to 76%. H&M’s salesforce believed in the mission of the company, and without any change to their working conditions, reported greater happiness and motivation to do their best work. There is a lot we can learn from this.
Knowing what motivates those we lead is an incredibly important part of leadership strategy. Whether we use the information to shape future projects that involve an entire department, or to make individual assignments on a case-by-case basis, understanding the target demographic for the job, and the psychographics that motivate the employee are key.
Do you want to know what motivates your employees? Do you want to help your teams approach their work with excitement? Let us share more leadership lessons from insightful leaders in an online workshop. You bring the team members, and we’ll create an immersive learning program, linking real-life examples with your individual workplace issues.
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Are your teams motivated to give their best? Have you developed methods which have helped you on your leadership journey? Please share your ideas and stories, below.