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The Gallup Exceptional Workplace Awards: 2023 Manager of the Year

The Gallup Exceptional Workplace Awards: 2023 Manager of the Year

by Jessica Schatz

Gallup recognizes the most engaged workplaces in the world with the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award. Each winning organization nominates an extraordinary manager to be considered for the Manager of the Year award. Gallup's panel of workplace experts and talent analysts named one winner out of 10 finalists in 2023.

Congratulations to the 2023 Manager of the Year: Nick Reynolds from Enterprise Holdings!


Nick's CliftonStrengths: Restorative, Responsibility, Relator, Achiever, Belief

When people talk about the difference a great manager can make in their employees’ lives, there’s no better example than Nick Reynolds. He’s an excellent communicator whose intentional commitment to engaging employees at every stage of the employee experience is making a world of difference for his people, as evidenced by his department’s near-perfect engagement score.

Nick’s 19-year career with Enterprise Holdings began in September 2003 as a management trainee. After earning several promotions, thanks to his leadership and dedication to the business, he’s now the fleet production manager based out of Houston, Texas. There, he serves as the department leader for the airport and is responsible for the training and development of his team. He has 197 direct reports, including drivers, auto detailers, lot attendants, lead drivers and fleet production supervisors.

Nick Reynolds makes accomplishing the superhuman sound easy. His approach to engaging his teams, for example, is deceptively simple: "That's all engagement is -- just doing the right thing for people that you'd want them to do for yourself."

The reality is: Nick goes to great lengths to ensure that all his team members have the resources they need, feel seen and understood for who they are inside and outside of work, and have opportunities to advance in their career with Enterprise Holdings. His commitment to ensuring an excellent employee experience for each employee is unparalleled, and it starts with his hands-on approach to the hiring process.

"That's all engagement is -- just doing the right thing for people that you'd want them to do for yourself."

Finding the Right Fit

For Nick, building strong engagement with his team members begins during the hiring process. He attends all hiring events and sits in on all interviews with the goal of helping applicants feel more at ease.

“When people come into an interview, they’re nervous, scared, and it’s our job to create a comfortable atmosphere in the interview room,” Nick explained. By preventing the interview from feeling like a boiler room, he finds applicants can speak more freely, resulting in better hiring decisions for applicants and Enterprise Holdings. “They want to open up to you, and you don’t have to dig for those answers you’re looking for.” Sometimes the most nervous candidate is the best candidate -- it’s about finding the right fit for the applicant and for Enterprise Holdings.


New employees will find a familiar face during onboarding and training, as Nick volunteers to help HR with the onboarding process -- even when he doesn’t have a new hire in the group. To Nick, onboarding is just as important as any other part of the employee experience -- it’s an opportunity to get to know the new hires better and deepen the relationship.

Onboarding is also Nick’s first opportunity to help employees understand how critical their work is for the customer, even if they don’t interact with customers directly. The work they do each day dramatically affects the customer’s experience with Enterprise Holdings because the customer spends the majority of their time in the vehicle -- not at the counter. So, the little details -- how clean the vehicle is and how long the customer had to wait for it -- leave a lasting impression.

“Even when they’re not customer facing, they’re the heartbeat of our business,” Nick explained, further underscoring how he inspires his teams to continue to deliver excellence time and time again.

Building Deep Relationships

Nick understands that one of the most critical skills of being a manager is the ability to build relationships. The list of ways that Nick builds and deepens those relationships is long, but it begins with his commitment to learn three personal things about each employee (yes, all 190+ of them). Then, he uses that personal knowledge to establish a strong working relationship.

In his experience, seemingly small gestures make a big difference. You’ll find Nick bringing in snacks to thank his employees, sending texts or calling employees to acknowledge birthdays and holidays that are personally meaningful to them, like Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Nick’s personalized approach creates a truly exceptional work environment for his team members, as he prioritizes making himself approachable and available to his teams. Managing a department that works around the clock can be challenging, but Nick strives to connect with his employees during their shift, even if it's outside of his own workday.

When an employee joins his team, Nick personally takes them on a tour of the airport. He also assigns every new hire to a buddy to help them acclimate and answer any questions. No matter how busy he is, he sets time aside to get to know his employees through staff meetings -- Nick views every conversation as an opportunity to connect with his team members and deepen those relationships.

“The biggest thing is, after that onboarding, to have that open-door policy and be approachable. When someone comes to you with a question, you might think it’s the easiest question, but it might be a very difficult situation for them,” he said, explaining that it’s important to listen earnestly and have that conversation to see if you can work through the problem together. And if he can’t solve it immediately, Nick is sure to follow up with the employee with a solution.

His dedication to communication is another difference-maker in his efforts to engage his teams. He conducts pre-shift huddles that help set clear expectations for his team about what’s needed that day. He holds a semi-annual town hall meeting to openly discuss and recognize top performers, address any employee needs and highlight upcoming company initiatives. Nick prints a newsletter to recognize top performers, and given the prevalence of Spanish-speaking employees, he shares the newsletter in English and Spanish.

Providing Opportunities to Advance

Beyond investing in relationships, Nick invests in his employees’ potential. This starts as he’s getting to know each individual during onboarding -- he pays attention to what they share about their lives outside of work. Perhaps they’re in a leadership role at their church or a nonprofit and possess leadership skills that could be further developed and applied in the workplace.

He’s also mindful of his employees’ lack of time in front of the computer when on the job, so he posts notices prominently in the break room and in other highly visible areas when there’s an opening or new developmental opportunity. If he hears about an opening and thinks that a specific employee would be great for it, he’s sure to connect with that person and let them know. Nick understands that hoarding talent limits potential for his team, for Enterprise Holdings at large and for the employee.

In some cases, Nick has created developmental opportunities where they didn’t exist before. He took the initiative to create career path criteria for the auto detailer role to support his group’s aim to help employees progress in their careers. His efforts have helped elevate the auto detailer role and define next steps to progress to the lead auto detailer role, and then potentially to a fleet supervisor role. In the last 18 months, two auto detailers have been promoted to lead auto detailer as a direct result of Nick’s actions.

“The people. That’s the best part. The people piece -- 19 years with Enterprise, the people keep you here.”

Nick also appreciates the value of mentoring, having benefited from mentors himself over his 19 years with Enterprise Holdings. He currently mentors two other fleet supervisors, meeting regularly with them in his personal time. He also crafts biannual team-building exercises with supervisors and leads to continue to build a strong leadership team within his department.

And his investment in these relationships is paying dividends for Enterprise Holdings and the people who get to work with him. It’s not uncommon for a recently promoted employee to thank Nick for his influence on their career when promotion notices are shared internally.

Willing to Listen and Reflect

So, how did Nick become this perfect embodiment of a great manager? In addition to his mentors along the way, a lot of credit goes to his willingness to listen, receive feedback, reflect and grow.

Early in Nick’s career as a manager, an employee told him that though it looked like he was listening during their conversations, the employee didn’t feel like he was. Of the many ways Nick could have received this observation, he chose to take a step back and figure out how, with nearly 200 people, he could engage with them without it feeling to them like he’s checking a box.

His solution: Be intentional and be where your feet are. To Nick, that means identifying ways to optimize his one-on-one meetings by minimizing distractions -- for example, Nick sets his phone aside and takes notes to ensure meaningful follow-up.

“When I started doing those things, everything started clicking. Because before, I thought I was being genuine, but I wasn’t,” Nick said. “Their perception is their reality, so I had to figure out how to reset and be genuine with my employees. And trust -- it took some time,” he continued with a smile.

Given how relatable, personable and genuine Nick is in his role, his favorite thing about being a manager is fitting:

“The people. That’s the best part. The people piece -- 19 years with Enterprise, the people keep you here.”


Jessica Schatz is a Content Writer at Gallup.

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