Monday, April 25, 2022

Happy Employees = Happpy Customers!

To quote Matthew Kobach (@mkobach), "Twitter is a key that unlocks thousands of doors, some of which you never even knew existed." As a member of the Twitterverse for almost 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. I recently connected with Julie Ann Sullivan and invited her to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A format. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Julie Ann Sullivan’s diverse background gives her a unique perspective as a business culture expert. She earned a BA in Psychology from Cal State Northridge and an MBA in Accounting from National University in San Diego, earning the designation of CPA. She is an international best-selling author, global podcaster, and designated top global Employee Engagement and Experience Influencer. She has been speaking, training, and coaching for the past 13 years as a catalyst of culture. In her book, Blueprint for Employee Engagement, 37 Essential Elements to Influence, Innovate and Inspire, she created a roadmap for the complex journey to create a best place to work. Her second book, Catalysts of Culture – How Visionary Leaders Activate the Employee Experience, is based on her extensive research, experience and interviews on her podcast, Businesses that Care. Visit her website at and connect on Twitter @JASatLNE.

QUESTION: You are the founder of Learning Never Ends (awesome branding, by the way!), whose mission is to change the world to better communicate, collaborate, and cooperate, one person at a time. How do you help leaders to tackle and succeed in accomplishing those three things?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: First and foremost, I cannot help any leader unless they recognize that improvement is possible. The 3 C’s, communicate, collaborate and cooperate are building blocks. The first step is communication. It is key on the path to successfully have a team work efficiently and effectively together. 80% of the work that I do overall includes some form of improved communication. Once known as a soft skill, it is essential for prosperous growth and success.

QUESTION: You state on your LinkedIn bio: "Culture is a puzzle. Your missing piece is costing you top talent, fresh ideas, and MONEY$$$. Your culture defines your brand, your people, and your success. Create one that cares (because) #CultureMatters." What is the biggest challenge for organizations when it comes to corporate culture?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: The biggest challenge depends on whether a company recognizes the necessity and ability to create their own culture. If they are already doing that, the challenge is to continue to seek new ideas. That means including their workforce in the creative process. For those that have not begun this journey, the challenge is to know that a perspective outside their organization can see more about what they obviously have been missing. I begin working with a company by creating a unique survey to highlight their biggest challenges and build a plan from a survey’s results.

(Check out Julie Ann's LinkedIn bio here:

QUESTION: You wrote a book entitled, “Blueprint for Employee Engagement: 37 Essential Elements to Influence, Innovate & Inspire.” Which three of the 37 do you consider the most important, and why?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: This is a tough one. I will pick the three that I think are foundational to all the others:

(1) Communication is first. Without open and honest communication, it is difficult to progress in any area of your business.  
(2) Attitude is second. A person’s attitude determines their willingness to look at new possibilities. This perspective is necessary for change. The good news is that attitude, even optimism can be taught. It is all about changing thought patterns.
(3) Fun is third. There are so many ways to create fun in the workplace. I work with a company that does online employee engagement through gaming online, and it is an excellent way to connect humans to one another. People like to have fun, and it is a catalyst for creating great cultures.

TWEET THIS: People like to have fun, and it is a catalyst for creating great cultures. ~@JASatLNE #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How can employee engagement lead to effective brand ambassadors?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: Your best customer is your employee. If they are not happy, satisfied, and clear on their purpose, they cannot be the best brand ambassadors. Engagement is multi-faceted. An engaged workforce is your best referral service for new employees and new customers. It may be through someone they know or through discussions at a gathering. Happy employees = Happy customers!

TWEET THIS: Your best customer is your employee. ~@JASatLNE #EmployeeExperience #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Many years ago, I had a boss who told me "to lower (my) expectations" when it came to the employees who reported to me. How would you have responded in that situation?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: If someone you are managing never reaches your expectations, then the issue needs to be analyzed.

Here are two questions you might ask yourself:
(1) Is the person not trained or qualified to complete the task that was asked of them?
(2) Am I not being clear in what is expected?

In either case, a discussion is necessary. Many times, people do not feel comfortable asking for help or admitting that they don’t understand the goal. And sometimes, you might be trying to put a circle in a square. If they are a good employee, perhaps, another opportunity exists within the company.  

QUESTION: There is a lot of talk about organizations adding a new C-Suite position, the Chief Customer Officer. This demonstrates that orgs want employees to create an excellent customer experience. However, there should be another C-Suite position called the Employee Experience Officer. Some orgs use different titles, such as, Chief Personnel Officer, Chief Talent Officer, etc. What are your thoughts?
JULIE ANN SULLIVAN: An employee's experience affects the customer experience. That is a given. If you are a large enough organization to have a Customer Experience Officer, then you might want that person to work in conjunction with an Employee Experience Officer. I have found that many companies aren’t large enough to have either one or both. That is when consultants, like myself, can create a pathway to ensure that the two experiences are connected well.

One final note from Julie Ann: If you are looking for a different way for your teams to engage with one another, learn more about the people they work with, and have a great time on a sophisticated gaming platform, Weve is the place to be. Check it out here:

My thanks to Julie Ann for sharing her inspiring employee experience and workplace insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Count Chris via Unsplash.

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