Putting new executives to work on the shop floor is a good way to bring field workers closer to the home office. But don't stop with your managers, says Jack Daugherty, CEO of Cash America Investments Inc., a $100-million chain of pawnshops based in Fort Worth.

At Cash America, employees -- from secretaries to accountants to the president -- spend time in a store getting familiar with systems for appraising goods, assessing borrowing needs, and writing loans.

That way, when pawnshop clerks or field managers call the home office, they don't get the runaround. After her stint behind the counter, Vicki Stanley, Daugherty's secretary, saw how merchandise was handled. Now if a clerk calls and has a question, she can help.