026 – Awesome Place, Awesome Props | Jonathon Burns

Jonathon Burns is the General Manager of the Yamaha Marine Precision Propellors division of Yamaha Motors. He places high importance on employee engagement and defines an engaged employee as someone who feels confident in what they’re doing, feels supported by their leadership staff, and feels as if they made a difference when they clock out each day.

To foster these feelings of engagement, Jonathon created the vision slogan, “Awesome Places, Awesome Props,” that has become the heart and soul of Yamaha’s company culture. However, Jonathon explains even if you create the perfect slogan, your work still isn’t finished. The key is infusing it into every part of your company and implementing systems to keep each other accountable (including yourself). If you don’t operationalize it, your culture will never change.

Truth You Can Act On:

  1. Drive Connection to Your Brand: Help your employees see the impact of the work you do and how you serve your customers. This can be done by sharing stories or, better yet, helping them actually go out into the world and experience the product or service you’re offering.
  2. Create a Vision Slogan: Develop your own version of “Awesome Places Awesome Props”. The best way to do this is by gathering your leadership team together to help co-create your vision slogan. This will increase leadership buy-in from the very beginning. Your slogan should encompass what you want your workplace to be, do, have, and give for your employees and for our customers.
  3. Try an Action Board: Get your team involved to collectively create an action board and review it on a weekly basis. You can borrow the components from Jonathon’s board to get you started: reflection and celebrating wins, identifying tools and resources the team needs, understanding the team’s focus for the upcoming week, and reinforcing each individual team member’s personal commitment.
  4. Just Dive In: Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before launching them. You can make tweaks along the way as needed. You’re always going to have employees who aren’t going to buy in right away, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying new things. Get something going. Get it out there. And just dive in.

Nikki’s Book Recommendation:


  • Emplify – Are you still using pulse surveys? How about annual questionnaires? If your organization relies on either of these, it’s time to discover Emplify. Emplify has created a new way to measure employee engagement. It’s where CEOs who want to know what’s really happening within a workforce go… to get honest feedback… and to understand what needs to change for people to love their work using simple and trustworthy data.
  • Titus – In our conversations with CEOs and hiring managers, we hear they are frustrated with traditional recruiting… From outrageous fees to focusing on candidates before clients, the process was broken and needed to be fixed. Enter Titus Talent. Titus Talent Strategies serves its clients using passionate people, a proven process, and unparalleled performance. Oh, did we mention they guarantee the PERFORMANCE of their candidates for 12 months?

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