Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Building a Trusting Workplace #3

March 2, 2009

This is the third of four blogs on Overcoming Commoditization with Your People.  Click here for the original post.

Our businesses are always at risk for being seen as “commodity suppliers” by our clients, customers or prospects.  Our people are the best resource we have to differentiate ourselves in the markets we serve.  So far we have discussed identifying the values on which our enterprise is founded (#1) and having the right people in place (#2).  This blog is about “catching people doing something right.”

Forty years ago, the founder of Integrity Solutions, Ron Willingham, recognized the vital significance of building people by positive reinforcement.  Then Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard wrote their little book, The One Minute Manager, which was a roaring success.  Steven Covey’s Seven Habits took the business world by storm in the 1980’s.  In this decade the Gallop organization has numerous books on the importance of creating a positive work environment, including Vital Friends by Tom Rath.  All of these deal at some level with the need to reinforce people in a positive way.

What about growing the person?  How do you focus on the positive?  You have to be intentional about it!  The best way to grow people is to 1) assess their strengths, 2) talk with them about those strengths, and 3) listen to where they want to grow.  Then encourage and help them accordingly.  When we teach Integrity Coaching® part of the mindset we want supervisory and management folks to adopt is: 1) Point out a person’s strengths and show them how those strengths fit into the organization’s goals.  2) Ask them for areas in which they would like to see themselves grow, and encourage them to grow in those which are compatible with their strengths. 3) Point out to them every time you see them doing something correctly in either strength or an area they identified for improvement.  In his book, The Greatest Management Principle in the World, by Dr. Michael le Boeuf (now out of print), he makes this key point in building up people:  “Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.”

Building a Trusting Workplace #2

February 25, 2009

This is the second of four blogs on Overcoming Commoditization with Your People.  Click here for the original post.

In the context of teaching your people to “out-behave” your competitors, I believe it is important to build an organization in which your people trust each other to do the right things for the customers and the company.  Tthe first key culture factor is clearly communicated values and mission.

The second key culture factor is having the right people on your team, or in your organization.  If you are not starting from scratch, then you have to begin building your team where you are.  This means that when you communicate and reinforce by your own behavior the values and mission of your enterprise, then you must give your people the tools they need to demonstrate that they are the right folks to be on the team.  (Here are some ideas about coaching people.) The Gallup Organization research shows that in most organizations, as much as 15% of employees are “actively disengaged.”  This means that they are sabotaging your efforts to build loyal customers.  These folks need to be given the opportunity to become “actively engaged,” or invited to succeed elsewhere — and quickly.  Our experience shows that a well-designed learning or training process to focus attention on the internal and external customer should enable disengaged employees to reengage within 5 to 7 weeks.  (The key is the way the training process presents the material and positively reinforces the learning.) 

If you are just building your team, or adding to an existing organization, then add people with care.  The old adage, “Haste makes waste,” certainly applies here.  Properly designed assessments can help you choose the best people.  Other than basic abilities to perform the functions of the job, the most important attribute for success in selling and serving are beliefs, attitudes  and skills, in that order.   In addition to looking at the skill sets of people, look for instruments that enable you to evaluate the attitudes and beliefs of your applicants.  One of our assessment tools, for example, help companies design “behavioral interviews” around the success factors for  people in that job.  They way they have behaved in the past is an excellent indicator of how they will behave when working with you.

One more thought:  if you are agonizing over dismissing an employee, who is obviously not the right person for your team, you may need to go ahead and kindly dismiss the person.  My experience is that they will be relieved, the rest of your people will be relieved, and you will be relieved.  At best they are unproductive.  At worst, they are sabotaging your business.

J. Mark Walker