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Posts Tagged ‘Organization’

“Customer experiences are being harmed because business efforts to improve employee engagement are fundamentally flawed” – Neil Davey (Managing editor, MyCustomer.com)

As a result, there has been increasing attention paid to the employee experience in recent years, with growing focus on areas such as wellness, diversity, inclusion, mental health, capability development and training.

Yet despite the proliferation of these projects, estimates by Temkin Group suggest that the number of engaged employees still remains disturbingly low – with its research indicating that only 33% of staff are highly engaged, and that number dropping to as low as 26% for those aged 18-24. This last statistic is of particular concern because this demographic is amongst the most likely to be serving customers, whether in contact centers or in other customer-facing roles.

He identifies a few reasons why engagement continue to be so low despite the surge in employee experience effortsincluding the mistake of treating money as an overriding motivator.

Among them are two crucial areas, I thought, that go a long way in strengthening employee engagement and in turn CX:

“Failing: Not engaging staff with the company’s wider purpose.

If understanding employee motivations is crucial, there is also the other side of the coin to consider: do employees understand the organisation’s motivations? Do staff know what the company’s purpose is, and do they buy into it…

Whatever the purpose is, it has to have meaning and connect with the employees in the organization…whether it’s a customer-centric purpose, or a profitability purpose, it has to be something that employees want to rally behind to achieve…

And then the leaders need to translate that purpose to every part of the business in a meaningful way.

Reminds me of an inspiring anecdote SU (a Division head) shared with us years ago:

In his days as a salesman, on one occasion, he moved heaven and earth to fix a problem on a IBM 1403 (a legendary line printer) he had sold to a customer – the awry drum and fan-fold paper movement was ultimately traced to dampness in the paper, fixed by heating up the stock with an electric bulb before usage! For him, a mere salesman, and his organization, the sale did not end with invoicing and collecting.   

Needless to emphasize the purpose needs to be authentically reflected in both thought and action at all times. Any incongruence at any time in this regard on part of the leadership, careless or otherwise, seriously undermines the cause.

This leads us to the second significant failing which is a little more of a challenge.

“Failure: Not connecting day-to-day tasks to the bigger purpose.

…As well as understanding and being engaged with the organization’s wider purpose, the employees also need to understand how their basic, daily activities contribute to that purpose.

The most famous and possibly apocryphal story that best demonstrates this, concerns President John F. Kennedy’s first visit to NASA headquarters in 1961. During his tour of the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. “I’m helping put a man on the moon,” came the reply.

The janitor understood his employer’s wider purpose, and also understood his daily task’s contribution to it – by ensuring everything was spotless, all of the sensitive equipment could function without fault. The cleaner did not view himself as simply a janitor, but a member of the NASA space team with an important role.

Without this important connect, the purpose remains as a lofty statement enshrined on some plaque. The tail does not go with the head!

For instance, it’s necessary and important to ask and answer How does having a customer-centric purpose translate to a call center agent? At the meaningful level, how does that tell you to behave and operate in a certain way? Does that tell you to smile more often, or to say please, or thank you, or does it help you answer the telephone in a slightly different way?

Of course it is not always so simple when it comes to those daily tasks that often appear dull and of non-strategic value. At this point it is important to realize even these tasks are connected; else they would not be performed in the first place. The trick is to uncover and present the connection that exists in right context.

Guarding against these two failures significantly enhances employee engagement.

And, how does an engaged employee perform?

Here’s a short and timely anecdote from Seth Godin:

“The $50,000 an hour gate agent:

Conventional CEO wisdom is that top management is worth a fortune because of the high-leverage decisions they make.

But consider the work of Wade, an unheralded Air Canada gate agent. Yesterday, I watched him earn his employer at least $50,000 while getting paid perhaps .1% of that.

The microphone was out of order, but instead of screaming at the passengers, he walked over and spoke directly to the people who needed to hear him.

On his own, he started inquiring about the connection status of a family of four. He could have cleared the standby list, closed the flight and told the four that they’d have to find another way home. Or, he could have saved them their four seats, which would have flown empty if they hadn’t been filled. Instead of either path, he picked up the phone, organized other staff to find and expedite the family and get them on board.

And then, in an unrelated bit of valor, he tracked down a lost wallet and sent his #2 to fetch it from where it had been left–getting it to the plane before it left.

Most of all, in an era when loyalty is scarce, he probably increased the lifetime value of a dozen wavering customers by at least a few thousand dollars each.

Krulak’s Law states that the future of an organization is in the hands of the privates in the field, not the generals back home.

In conclusion, when Godin asks, “Where is your Wade? What are you doing to make it more likely that he or she will bring magic to work tomorrow?” you know where and how!

Davey may be read here and Godin here.

End

Source: Pinterest, Wikimedia.org and huffpost.com.

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In my long career in hi-tech, there were two HR chief’s I was fortunate to observe from close quarters though their tenures were short. Both ladies, early in their career, graduates from TISS. In the years that followed we went different ways. But I continued to measure the HR chiefs I encountered subsequently and they all fell short by lengths in comparison.

This post is about one of them, U.

Passing out from TISS, she joined the org as an Executive Assistant (EA) to the Big Boss – not sure if this was her first job in the industry. Several months later she was sent to the Division dealing in hi-tech and also the most profitable of the many in the brick-and-mortar company as the HR chief, essentially a one-woman team.

A hurricane on the move, only benign.  Some saw her as a very useful ally and others, an overbearing youngster, often going beyond her brief running smack into know-all senior line-managers.

Was she ‘successful’ in the traditional sense? I don’t know, for, can’t recall her being feted in public as such in her short stay. During which time, all the same, some magic she had wrought, I thought. 

What did she do?

  • In all her thought and action, org’s interest was the first and foremost, possibly the only preoccupation, I suspected. Yet, not wearing it on her sleeve.
  • Abs fearless, she thought nothing of taking up issues with and questioning pet theories of the senior executives until satisfactory closure. Of course this was possible because she sought and got the crucial support of the Big Boss, all credit to him. In this regard, perhaps her earlier stint as his EA helped.
  • Though young, she had the maturity to go for the doors that were open to her rather than bang her head against walls that wouldn’t budge (some seniors). She could live well with both kinds.
  • Most part of her time she was out sitting one-on-one with employees. Like with the bosses, she would mix her praises with provocations to get them spill out their guts, all work-related of course. She would herself address many of those problems by offering solutions, work-around’s or through counselling with, yes, subsequent follow-up’s. And the more complex issues would be taken to their bosses. If you’re not happy, why are you working here still…? OrWhy are you still doing the same work you did over the last two years? Aren’t you good for anything else? Or Why are you not getting promoted? Not doing good, eh? are not unusual in the provoking sessions which, to be sure, did not end in destructive fire-works. Her disarming and bonafide ways let her get away. These sessions revealed the swirling under-currents and provided useful inputs to the manager, otherwise impossible to get. And she would take points-of-view from the boss back to the employee. Yes, playing politics it was, but constructively. Issues often got fixed before too late.  Of course the bosses too had their sessions with her.
  • She would play it likewise with peers running their feuds to the detriment of the org.
  • She was no cat’s paw nor did she play favorites. Nor cowed by heavy-weights.
  • A high-energy person with an infectious enthusiasm in a team, also good to talk to when chips were down.
  • In her own role she was constantly wanting to do more. I remember going with her for campus recruitment of trainee-engineers. After watching me a few times from the side-lines, things came to a point when she carried on with the technical interviews all by herself rendering me superfluous!

That’s what a capable and empowered HR can deliver. Want to settle for less?

Neither the land nor the heavens would ever be the same after her premature and unfortunate transition a few days ago – she was one to stir up the stew wherever she went for the larger good.

RIP, U.

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“…that pernicious nonsense about being a leader and not a manager. Your challenge is to help the team and team members succeed. The only way to succeed at that is to do all three kinds of work. Lead. Manage. Supervise. Do them all well. “

Read this short post from Wally Bock to know what each entails.

End

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Don’t miss the last few seconds – relate to it?

 

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From an article by Jessica Stillman, available here:

getty_631080340_20001332181884391434_318666The founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, knows something about what it takes to succeed despite long odds. He grew up poor, failed his university entrance exams (twice), and was turned away from dozens of jobs. Now he’s worth something like $29 billion.

What does he credit for his success?

In a recent talk at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, he explained that while IQ is certainly helpful, and EQ is also beneficial for getting ahead, his rags to riches story was possible only because he possessed another extremely valuable quality — LQ. “If you want to be respected, you need LQ,” he told the assembled bigwigs.

Our secret weapon to beat the machines: LQ

What’s LQ? It’s “the quotient of love, which machines never have,” Ma explained. In a world of rising technology, what will allow you to succeed isn’t sheer mental horsepower — computers will always be faster and more accurate, after all — nor is it just basic EQ, like regulating your own emotions and recognizing others’. What sets humans apart is love, i.e. our feeling for justice, our creativity in the face of challenges, our ability to empathize deeply and respond wisely.

“A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have soul, and [a] machine does not have a belief. Human being have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines,” he insisted.

The problem, according to Ma, is that we’re training young people to try to outdo machines in areas where we’ll never beat them. Instead, we should be nurturing children’s LQ. “We have to teach our kids to be very, very innovative, very creative,” Ma said. “In this way, we can create jobs for our own kids.

Perhaps the post What Philosophy can teach children Google can’t  is in a way directed at a part of the problem Ma leaves us with.

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bea16f181b9553084879e01c5be59e2f patch com

There was a King who bred 10 wild dogs. He used them at his whim and will to torture public servants in his court who fell out of favor.

So one of the ministers once gave an opinion which proved to be wrong, and the King didn’t like at all.

So he ordered that the minister to be thrown to the dogs.

The shocked minister pleaded: ‘I served you 10 years with my sweat and blood and you do this?’

His pleas fell on deaf ears.

‘Okay, so be it. Please give me 10 days before you throw me in with those dogs.’

The merciful King conceded.

The minister went to the guard in charge of the dogs and told him he wanted to serve the dogs for the next 10 days.

The guard not knowing the reason was baffled. But he agreed.

So the minister started feeding the dogs, cleaning for them, washing them, providing all sorts of comfort for them.

So when the 10 days were up, the King, true to his word, ordered that the minister be thrown to the dogs for his punishment.

But when he was thrown in, everyone was amazed at what happened – they saw the dogs licking the feet of the minister!

The King did not like what he saw.

He asked petulantly: ‘What ever happened to the dogs? Do they know what they are doing?’’

The minister spoke up: ‘I served the dogs for 10 days and they didn’t forget my service. And I served you for 10 years and you forgot all about it in a trice.”

So the King realising his mistake made amends…

and got crocodiles instead for the minister and the dogs.

When the mighty make up their minds the meek don’t stand a chance.

End

 

PS: You may read ‘Authority’, ‘Government’, ‘Management’…for the ‘Mighty’. Need I add attribution to Chanakya is advertently erroneous 🙂

Source: facebook.com/groups/101024580247213/ (Gautham iyengar) and image from patch.com

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Clap

In the last few weeks/months there were some pleasant experiences with people/companies I would like to recount:

Blue Star Infotech:

This happened some months ago. One fine morning, I received a mail from Sunil Bhatia, currently the CEO and MD of Blue Star Infotech that left me without words. I was informed of a tree being planted in my ‘honor’ at the periphery of Khumbalgarh Sanctuary near Udaipur (through an NGO, Grow-Trees). Retired from active service a few years ago and with no ongoing interaction whatsoever with my ex-employer, I was completely overwhelmed by this unsolicited gesture towards an ex-employee. What gladdened me even more was to see  the enduring values established by the founders and ingrained in us over the years by successive bosses expressed thus in today’s times when such examples are rare to come by. More than the recognition for the individual, a gesture of this kind towards out-of-sight ex-employees elevates the organization to a new high in everyone’s perception.

Thank you, Sunil, for your kind sentiments – it meant a lot to me personally.

What did I do to earn this honor? Well, besides the long association with the organization, I worked like it was my own organization, a feeling that persists even today, wrought by the magic of empowerment and leadership, an example set by many a senior in the organization..

I learnt subsequently this was part of a ‘Grow-Tree’ social initiative of planting over 2,000 trees.

Kumbhalgarh project site

Grow-Trees is an NGO that helps individuals and corporates to plant trees serving dual purposes of conferring recognition on individuals or entities and at the same time building the much needed green cover on our land. From their site: ‘Tree planting creates low-skill jobs, and trees provide benefit to current and future generations, have a direct impact on carbon reduction, restoring forests, improving wildlife habitats, and upgrading water catchment areas, and offer flowers, fruit fodder and fuel for local communities and all living creatures.’

Coming back to Blue Star Infotech, how supportive they were in the final years of my career with the organization when my health failed me is a subject for another day.

The reason I’m sharing this episode is to highlight in today’s atmosphere of prevailing distrust, (good) organizations’ concern for their employees is not a myth – they go several extra miles to do what they can. It is well worth giving off your best while you’re at it.

Citibank:

Some years ago I became a holder of Citibank credit card and for some reason I cannot recall, a second card too though I was never a heavy user of credit cards. May be when I was not very alert I said ‘yes’ to one of those pushy telemarketers.

With two printed monthly statements coming by post I did not scrupulously track how much I owed on which card and when was the payment due. To add to my woes, the drop-box to deposit the check was way off my usual route for running errands or for evening walks. So payment defaults were not very uncommon attracting stiff penalties. If I remember right, the penalty was hiked to Rs 500.

In sheer disgust with myself, I guess I paid a lump sum of Rs 5,000 so that there was always a credit balance on my cards. Over the following months and years I shied away  from those cards fearing payment issues  and finally they were marked as inactive. And it was all forgotten.

Some months ago, out of the blue, I got a communication from Citibank informing me of a credit balance of Rs 5,000 on one of my cards. As needed by them, I posted a written application for refund supported by identity proof. In matter of 2-3 days, the check was couriered to me. No telephone calls, no follow up – just like that. That was impressive.

Of course I was too happy to receive the principal amount to quibble about the interest for the period.

Thank you, Citibank.

Unit Trust Of India:

I remember Unit Trust Of India doing the same for me some years ago. Again one fine day a UTI manager called up to inform me about a portfolio that I had lost track of. She helped me compile the necessary documents and redeem the holdings. It’s unfortunate that I did not think of writing an appreciation note to UTI on that occasion.

Jet Airways:

On to another recent incident where the fault once again was mine:

I had booked tickets for the family by a Jet Airways flight leaving for Chennai at 2-35. On the appointed day we reached well in time – I’m a cancerian. To my horror, I learnt it was an early morning flight that I had tickets to. The counter clerk regretfully told me it was a ‘no show’ and I would have to buy a fresh set of tickets (This part however is not ‘cancerian’). And there wasn’t much anyone could do much about it – she knew this very well because there have been other similar cases. When I pleaded with her it meant a big loss to me as a senior citizen, the girl was moved to making some attempts to mitigate the disaster. She had figured out some solution and went after it. With no sign of irritation or impatience she was at it for much more than an hour. Getting to speak over the phone to her back-office to confirmed the fresh bookings was not easy for her! The back-office was too busy to take her calls. She kept pressing on.

Luckily there were not many customers demanding her attention at the same time. The effort she took was amazing regardless of the eventual outcome which was quite uncertain till the end. She finally did it in a way that significantly cut my losses. As I said I would have been no less thankful to her if she had not succeeded in her individual initiative when the rules were clearly not on my side. I would gladly give out her name if I’m sure she’ll not get hurt.

Thank you, S….. and Jet Airways for empowering your staff.

Sanofi:

Recently my doctor prescribed for me a new insulin injection supplied by Sanofi.

He gave me a sales contact who quickly arranged for a dealer to supply me the cartridges at a discounted price. The sales person also offered to fix up a house visit by their staff to show me how to use the new pen. I tried gently to dissuade him since I was quite familiar with the pens. He reiterated it would be useful to meet up with them and it wasn’t going to cost me anything.  Finally I relented.

On the following day a young man and a lady turned up at my place. I was convinced it was going to be a waste of time. I received them with perfunctory interest.

In about ten minutes into the session, it was a complete turnabout for me. They showed me how I was doing it wrong for years and the right way to do it. And they had reasons for saying whatever they said. Finally they spent more than an hour going over the details for me. There was no skimping, no corners cut…

I asked the lady how could they make these calls at no charge. She said Sanofi had a field team just for this initiative and they don’t intend making it a chargeable service. And there was even going to be a follow-up visit in six months to see how am I faring!

Well, I was/am quite impressed. It’s a model other companies in pharma and other sectors too could follow and strengthen their linkages with their customers.

Thank you, Amit, Vaishali and, of course, Sanofi.

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