Huntsman Post

Jim Quigley Talks About the Power of a Unified, Committed Workforce

By Christine Arrington

Imagine that you are a brigadier general with 170,000 soldiers at your command—that would be the equivalent of 34 NATO brigades of 5,000 soldiers each. Can you picture it? Perhaps the Roman Legion comes to mind.

Jim Quigley speaks with a student

Photo by Steve Eaton

Utah State accounting grad Jim Quigley was just such a leader, as the global CEO of Deloitte & Touche Tohmatsu Limited. He recently completed a five-year term leading that organization and its 170,000 employees around the world. At a Dean’s Convocation at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business on Nov. 16 he described that journey and the next chapter of his life.

Perhaps the key leadership question, he said, is “how to galvanize large numbers of diverse individuals to work together productively to accomplish shared goals.” He continued, “The most successful leaders are able to unleash the full potential of their workforce”—by inspiring employees to meet not just their “contractual commitment” but to go beyond that and include their “discretionary effort.”

Working with the co-authors of his recently published book AS ONE he has created a substantive, quantifiable, groundbreaking method to enable leaders and organizations to do three things:

  1. Measure how well people in an organization work together and how committed they are.
  2. Discover which of eight leadership archetypes would be most effective for a particular organization.
  3. Begin a conversation about how to improve employee engagement, and then track the change quantitatively across time.

Here is how they did it:

First, Jim and his co-authors surveyed 3,200 knowledge workers to discover how engaged they were at work. The results were shocking:

  • Twenty percent of those surveyed were passionate about their work, having “an intrinsic drive to do more and to excel at every aspect of one’s profession.”
  • Twenty percent were engaged, at a somewhat lesser level of effectiveness.
  • Fully 35 percent were “complacent.”
  • Another 25 percent were even “disaffected.”

That meant that 60 percent of those surveyed—more than the majority of employees—were not really engaged! Jim said that if he extrapolated from that research to Deloitte and assumed the same results, then he would have been paying $12 billion per year in salary and bonuses to 102,000 people, 60 percent of the workforce, who, if that held true, were complacent and disaffected.

$12 billion is a lot of money!

Jesse Jensen, a Huntsman MBA student, speaks with Jim and Bonnie Quigley after the Dean’s Convocation.

Jim and his team then refined the research and confirmed that the results from measuring five criteria of employee engagement and the “directional intensity” of change of those criteria objectively correlated with performance—predicting revenue growth and profitability.

The first global test of the five criteria was carried out with Deloitte employees. The research confirmed what percentage of employees were:

  1. Committed to taking action for the firm and its strategy
  2. Supportive of taking action for the firm and its strategy
  3. Not sure about it
  4. Unaware
  5. Opposed

By responding to these results, identifying where there was a mismatch between leadership style and what employees wanted, and driving change based on this knowledge, Deloitte eventually reached a position where 80 percent of the employees were committed to taking action—an extraordinary level of engagement.

That meant 136,000 “soldiers” who were committing their “contractually agreed effort” and also their “discretionary effort” to effectively delivering on Deloitte’s strategy.

This was the prelude to Deloitte’s definitively moving ahead of its remaining three direct competitors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, to become the undisputed global leader in professional services.

Jim plans to spend the next years “helping leaders succeed” using these important new tools. He said we are just entering the phase of “Global 2.0” battle, a more competitive period than the world has ever seen before. “Are we ready to compete on our own soil — we the developed countries — with the Chinese and the Indians?” he asked. He described what he formerly considered a totally all-American company, Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in the heartland of America, St. Louis, Missouri. “Did you know that Anheuser-Busch is now owned by a Brazilian company?” he asked.

Having grown up in Kanosh, Utah, working on a farm from the time he was a young boy, Jim Quigley said his motto is this: “I believe in hard work and luck — the harder I worked the luckier I got.”

To see the Jim Quigley Dean's Convocation click here. He was interviewed on Utah Public Radio's "Access Utah." To hear that interview click here.