Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just 2 Little Questions Will Tell You What You Need to Know

This week's post is written by Barbara A. Hughes, ICC's Co-Founder.
Here we are at the end of a very turbulent and uncertain 2009. I’ve read a plethora (Cathy’s favorite word!) of articles and papers throughout the year, all containing a lot of information, “helpful” hints and top five/seven/ten tips to create programs that will improve engagement/loyalty/commitment…I think you get the idea.

So, as we click on the page of a new calendar and look forward to 2010, we could simplify all of our searching and inquiring and boil it all down to two questions:
1. How smart do you want your employees to be?
2. What grade do you want your customers to give your products and services?

This suggestion is not snarky. We are absolutely drowning in data and starved for time. None of the information, however good, makes any difference if your human capital – employees AND customers – is disconnected from business results. What is driving most people around the bend (and driving up disengagement and attrition) in many companies is a message that says one thing and behaviors that say quite another.

Don’t start one new program, even if it’s a New Year, until you answer those two questions. If you want A+ business results, you need smart employees and a customer strategy that fits those outcomes. However, if you’re happy with okay employees and a C grade from customers, don’t waste time, effort and resources on programs that don’t fit your needs. The point is: be honest about the results you want and execute on that platform.

If your results are dependent on:
· Profitable growth
· A defined competitive advantage
· Building a sustainable business system
· Retaining valuable employees and customers and
· Resilience in the face of the inevitable ups and downs of business

Then smart employees and high marks from customers are what you need. You won’t get those results long term from “okay” and C grades so don’t try.

Employees get smarter when you:
· Share relevant business results and future plans for the company with employees

· Listen to their ideas about process improvement and customer needs and other areas of

the business in which they are engaged day-to-day
· Facilitate learning by creating a dialogue about why one idea was adopted and another


· Eliminate the old “command-and-control” style and walk your talk

If you want customers’ report cards about you to be A’s and B+’s:
· Understand what they need and deliver it
· Create an experience that exceeds expectations and delights them
· Train front line employees to be knowledgeable about your products and services and able

to resolve problems without continuously escalating up the chain
· Hire employees who have the traits that support excellent customer service

I don’t have an exhaustive list here so how are your companies developing smarter employees and working on “A“grades from your customers? What is working for you? We’d love to hear your stories.


Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Nicely done post Barbara.

BarbaraAHughes said...

Thanks, Mike. I feel strongly about this topic. Too much time talking about A+ results with C effort.