Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's my Pleasure...Really it is!

You know the drill you order your Chick-Fil-A sandwich and a friendly employee says, "It's my pleasure."

I go to Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.

I called Comcast to order another cable box and yes you got it..."It's my pleasure."

I remember hearing this for phrase for first time during the first cruise I took.  Everything that came out of my mouth was Royal Caribbean's pleasure.  It was very different...15 years ago.  It was unusual to hear.

Now, the phrase is said so often it feels as if "my pleasure" has lost its good intention by everyone saying it.  It's not only the actual phrase itself but the way employees SAY the phrase.  It has to be genuine and contain the appropriate non-verbal and para-verbal behaviors.

I walked in to Moe's the other day.  It must have been an off-day, because I got the expected mantra of "Welcome to Moe's" mumbled to me by an individual who was talking to someone else and I could have sworn he was rolling his eyes.

Here's a tip....if you have a branding phrase and it is used disingenuously, it is not good for the brand!

How do we put the PLEASURE back into It's my PLEASURE?

1) Make sure you hire people that can deliver on your customer service standards in a genuine way.  In other words hire people that love to serve.
2) Reward for best in class customer service.
3) Hold ALL employees accountable for delivering on "It's my pleasure."
4) Train and retrain employees on world class customer service best practices.
5) Collect customer feedback and do something with the data.
6) Make sure goals are set with all employees that pertain to excellent customer service.
7) Make sure same standards are applied to internal customers, they are just as important.
8) Have a written clear set of customer service standards.  Share these standards with your customers.
9) Manage customer expectations using customer service standards as a guide.
10) Make sure the focus is truly on the customer and not on sales, if customer is the focus then profits will follow.

The above list is easier said than done.  It takes total commitment from everyone especially those at the top and in leadership positions.

It is hard work.  If it were easy then we would all have a customer focused culture like Zappo's and the Ritz.

It's hard...but so worth it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is HR a Profession?

I love this blog post, please read it.  It's worth your time.  Peter Cappelli asks the question, "Is HR a profession or a management function?"

It is a question I have been asking myself and discussing with my HR colleagues for sometime now.

So, let's get some data on this question:

A profession is:

A management function is:

I didn't see a definition per se, but if management is the process of reaching organizational goals by working with and through people and other organizational resources, then my vote is that HR is  BOTH.

Is accounting a profession or a management function?
Is finance a profession or a management function?

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

All I Want is to BE VALUED

Employees are sick and tired.

They are sick of their pay being frozen while benefits and cost of goods sky rocket.
They are sick of doing more with less.
They are sick of not being recognized.

Notice I did use the word recognize and not reward.  I did that on purpose.

I have the honor of training thousands of people every year on topics like performance management and employee engagement.  It seems I hear a different sentiment coming from employees now that we are trying to climb out of this recession.  

What I hear from the employees is the need to feel valued.  Employees want to hear, "I appreciate your hard work and you hanging in here through our tough times."  As a manager, recognition is easy and doesn't cost a thing.  Yet, we get so busy we forget to acknowledge our rockstars.  I also believe those employees that are trying and are making progress need recognition too. (future rockstars)  So, I am not of the camp that only rockstars need the love.  I am of the camp that if rockstars don't get the love they will go get it from  your competition.  So, they HAVE to receive the recognition.  It is just who they are.  

I had a recent conversation with an employee who told me that when she says, "I want to feel valued" and it's not about money.  She told me it is the simple, little things that often time makes the difference:

1) Give an afternoon off, just because...
2) Get the opportunity to have lunch with a member of senior leadership
3) Asked to be put on a special project team, that is highly visible in the organization
4) Send a personal card,  handwritten thanking employee for their hard work
5) Keep employees updated on goals and objectives and what is happening at the company, this makes them feel valued because you are keeping them informed

I am not saying that recognition is your solution to all your retention woes.  I am saying it plays a big part to how connected your employees are to your organization.  Of course there are other drivers of why people stay:

1) Challenging work
2) Opportunity for growth
3) Employee development
4) Pay and benefits
5) Relationship with Manager
6) Goal alignment with organization

Employee commitment is a crazy thing.  Not everyone is motivated by the same thing and yet managers try and use an "apply all" approach to employee recognition.  

Think about your rockstars and your future rockstars.  Do you think they would jump ship for a few more dollars?  Have you recognized them this week?  

I see so many positive signs in our economy, that means that people movement is starting and will continue.  I believe it's much easier to keep rockstars than to find new ones.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Culture is a Cash Cow

I read an excellent article that my dear colleagues Ed Nangle and Charlette Stout brought to my attention last night.  It's by Pamela Babcock, entitled, "Penn State's Organizational Flaws Make for a Perfect Storm."  (sorry it's on have to be a member) It is a GREAT article on the impacts of culture and HR's stature has on an organization.  I liked it so much I read it twice.

Regarding the culture, a 267 page FBI report talked about a janitor witnessing Sandusky assaulting a young boy in the locker shower but not reporting from fear of being fired.  The FBI investigator Louis Freeh stated, "If that's the culture on the bottom, God help the culture on the top."

One recommendation from the report on culture was to:
Vigorously examine the culture to create a stronger sense of accountability among its elders.  The report also calls for more transparency of university management and integrating the intercollegiate athletic program into the broader university community.  

All I have to say on that is, Ya think?????

The report also talks about elevating HR's position within the University as it is not seen as a strategic function.

Another example of a breakdown in culture is that in my own hometown.  The Atlanta School cheating scandal.  I wrote a blog post on that topic here.  It breaks my heart.  How many people in a system have to turn their head, a blind eye, compromise their own ethics because of fear?  Think of Enron,  same situation different company.

So let's pretend the ethical reasons to have a culture of accountability don't compel one to make sure organizational culture promotes key values.  Let's think about the cash.

1) How much money has the Penn State debacle cost the taxpayers?
2) How much money has the Atlanta Cheating Scandal cost the taxpayers and how much future earning potential have these kids lost because they were not educated properly?
3) How much did the demise of Enron cost everyone?

So this begs the question.  If an FBI agent understands HR's role in making sure a culture is strong, accountable and healthy why doesn't anyone else?

I am not sure but managing one's culture seems like an excellent way to add to an organization's bottom line and establishing a competitive advantage.  Think about those that get it much is that worth?