Seeking employee input leads to long-term success


March 29, 2024

Bobby Jenkins

Bobby Jenkins

As I write this, my company is in the middle of our annual Ownership Thinking meetings. We have been holding these company-wide meetings for the past 10 years, except during COVID-19.

In these meetings, we gather the team to work on two questions we believe are critical to our long-term success:

  1. What can we do to make our service the best it can possibly be for our customers?
  2. How we can make ABC a better place to work?

The idea is to get creative ideas and engage as many people on our team as possible. This has proven to be a great way to get people involved and energized about the company and the direction we are headed.

At ABC, we often talk about our passion to continue to improve and grow. Our core values are all built around growing — collectively and individually. One of our most common statements around here is: You are either growing, or you are dying.

Encouraging employee input

The process is straightforward: We meet in each branch at the end of the day and start with a nice BBQ or Fajita dinner. I attend and conduct each meeting along with VP Matt Burns. We ask everyone to sit at a table of six to seven folks and have one person be the scribe and be prepared to share the table’s ideas to the larger group.

We ask the first question about how we can make our service better for our customers. Each table brainstorms ideas for about 15 minutes, and then we ask each table to select their Top 2 or Top 3 ideas. We then go from table to table and hear and record their top ideas. After each table has presented, we have every individual vote for their Top 3 ideas from what they have heard.

We now do this electronically and can get the voting done in just a few minutes. Previously, each table would come up one by one and vote by making a mark next to their three favorite ideas.

After everyone has voted, we reveal the top ideas to the entire group. We then move to the second question about how we can make ABC a better place to work, and follow the same process.

At the Austin headquarters, we do it a bit differently. We don’t have a large enough facility to have everyone attend at one time, so we break up the meeting by service division. We have a pest management meeting, a mechanical meeting, a lawn management meeting, and a home improvement and office staff meeting.

This process takes a bit of time for us, as we will hold seven meetings over a three-week period. I refer to this as our Ownership Thinking Gauntlet. Each meeting lasts about two hours and is filled with energy and lots of creativity.

Implementing ideas

Once all the meetings are completed, we tabulate all the ideas and present them to the company in our monthly company meeting. We will present the top ideas broken down by branch and division. We will then show a compilation of the top ideas ranked by preference.

After we present it to the company, the management team gets to work. We evaluate all the ideas. While we tend to focus on the most popular, just because an idea isn’t in the Top 3 doesn’t mean we can’t implement it. Some ideas are simple and easy to accomplish, while others might take time and considerable resources.

I absolutely love this process, and the feedback we receive indicates that those who participate find it very valuable. This meeting is optional, and we generally have about 60 percent participation. I leave each meeting inspired and motivated to work hard to make our company better. I also believe this is a great process to promote and provide meaningful employee engagement and commitment.

Over the years, we have come up with some very meaningful and creative ideas that have made us — without question — a better company. I’m excited to see the new ideas from this year’s Ownership Thinking meetings!

About the Author

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JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Raleigh and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

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