June 27, 2014
FrontPoint Friday: This Little Thing We Call Unplugged
Let’s talk about this little thing we call FrontPoint Unplugged. Similar to MTV Unplugged, where popular musicians perform live and unfiltered, FrontPoint’s version features members of the leadership team in a live, open and unfiltered discussion with employees.
The Goal of Unplugged
If On the Front Lines (OTFL) is the child of an effort to improve communications within FrontPoint, then Unplugged is its fraternal twin with a slightly different personality.
“This is the chance for FrontPoint employees to have an interactive dialogue with the company’s leaders, sharing their ideas and asking their questions.” -Meghann Scherrer, FrontPoint’s Culture and Engagement Manager, and one of the masterminds behind Unplugged.
OTFL allows employees to get a behind-the-scenes look at what other departments do, aiming to improve communications and understanding, and ultimately building unity throughout the business.
Unplugged aims to do the same, but the participating groups are different. Instead of focusing on interdepartmental relations, employees get a chance to speak with members of the senior leadership in an open forum.
And from my experience, they weren’t kidding about it being open.
An Open Environment
Unplugged was designed to have a warm and welcoming vibe – and it shows. Most notably, it feels like an actual discussion and not a lecture. Sure, a group of executives are leading the event, but employees in the audience routinely chime in with thoughts, ideas, questions and even jokes – and this is encouraged.
“In no other way can an employee interface with so much of the big management so easily,” said Julian Getz, Fulfillment Technician.
Lindsay Nolan, Corporate Recruiter, agrees. “The casualness and openness with the Senior Leadership Team makes you feel like you’re part of the bigger picture.”
In a normal meeting or event, interjections from the audience can often interrupt the flow, but that’s not the case in Unplugged. Most of the questions and comments from the audience aid the flow, building off of established talking points, and continuing the discussion in greater detail.
This can lead to a large (almost overwhelming) amount of information that is shared.
Usually, the majority of the shared information is positive: news, goals, and achievements -- both individual and company. But poor news is not ignored – the leadership team is quick to acknowledge any bumps they’ve encountered.
Individual achievements are also not glossed over. In one particular Unplugged, five of the longest-tenured employees at FrontPoint were recognized for their work and accomplishments. They even received trophies – you’ve met a couple of them already!
Questions and Answers
The final portion of Unplugged sessions are devoted to questions and answers. This is the (even more) open forum element of Unplugged, and questions about a wide range of company initiatives, asks, concerns, etc. are all discussed.
And as a result of employee feedback, the leadership team has also begun answering questions that were submitted online, which has been a hit.
“My favorite aspect of Unplugged is how they answer questions that were submitted anonymously,” commented Gary Llames, Senior Customer Support Specialist. “It really shows they take those questions into serious consideration.”
“Now that they take pre-submitted questions to use as talking points, it makes asking relevant questions easier for people who weren’t even sure what they wanted to know,” added Getz.
And when the leaders are met with a question that they don’t know the answer to, they let the audience know exactly that. Transparency is a key aspect of Unplugged.
Unplugged will continue to evolve and improve. But so far, it’s already been a popular initiative among the FrontPoint staff.
“I like how Unplugged is formatted and how there is a brief Q&A after each segment,” commented Llames. “It allows you to have the questions fresh in your head, as opposed to waiting until the very end to ask when you might have forgotten them.”
As the company continues to grow each day, the job of keeping the family-feeling environment intact becomes more difficult, but with initiatives like OTFL and Unplugged in place, that job becomes much easier.