Tag: Engagement

How to Deliver Sustained CX Performance

“You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” ~Napoleon Hill

Customer Experience (CX) is about more than designing how you engage technically with your customers. It needs to focus on how each customer or service user feels about your organization. It is good to remember that, without customers, your organization would not exist.

The organization matters in its entirety, from the boardroom to the front line end even beyond, to service partner organizations, local communities and investors. A singular focus on CX can lead to poor employee engagement. Similarly, the most brilliant employee engagement strategy in isolation will not work. Achieving alignment across all areas, understanding the organization as one single entity, rather than a series of silos, is a critical step on the path to delivering sustained performance.

Never stop measuring

It sounds obvious, but many organizations miss out on vital data and understanding because of a lack of systems and processes to measure, track and improve the experience of everyone that has contact with the organization.

‘Measurement and insight are expensive.’ is often used as a reason or excuse for a lack of customer data. But this pure cost perspective misses the point because it is the value of this data that needs to be recognised. CX data is a critical component of understanding the financial health of the business. It can provide insight into how to sustain, scale and grow your business.

Measuring and understanding CX might seem expensive and time consuming, but the value of the data is priceless. Imagine creating a customer experience journey so that any problems that arise are flagged in real time, and dealt with immediately, before they can negatively impact your brand reputation. By continuously collecting and measuring data, you can deepen and widen your measurement pool. There is a caveat, always remember that data is only useful if it is used to make decisions. There is no value in collecting data for the sake of it. What decisions does your organization make with the CX data collected?

Little and often

It can be hard to know where to begin, there are so many different metrics to measure, how will you know which ones matter?

You won’t. Not until you start measuring, capturing, analysing and making decisions. Then it will become clear which data is useful in creating successful CX strategies and which is superfluous.

If you are really struggling, begin with direct customer feedback. Consider carefully how best to collect this information because the method will vary according to the setting, organization and context. This might be a customer survey in a hotel or restaurant (hard copy, electronic or QR code), it could be a push button smiley face rating as you leave the security area at an airport and some organizations hold customer events to proactively seek feedback in a less structured format. Any time a customer or service user engages with you, feedback about their experience is valuable, what was great and what could have been better.

If you can make this an integral part of the service delivery, customers will feel engaged and you will keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Once again, there is an alarm bell to be aware of: always think from the customer perspective eg customers might not appreciate being requested to complete a survey every time they use their credit or debit card!

Anonymous or not?

We don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer here. The focus needs to be on receiving honest feedback and there might be a place for both anonymous and attributed feedback. For example, in this age of social media, sometimes customers want a very public resolution to their issues, queries, and complaints. In this situation, the faster and more personally you deal with the situation, the better your customer’s experience is likely to be and other people will have a positive view of your organization.

On the other hand, some customers are reluctant to confront issues they find uncomfortable, and this is where anonymous ways to give feedback can be helpful. Take for example a regular guest at a global hotel chain. They might like the chain, generally but have issues with the behaviour of some service personnel in certain hotels. Having a way to share their feelings, without it becoming personal or facing reprisals, will give customers the courage to speak honestly about their experiences.

Happy employees make for happy customers

J. Willard Marriott said “Take good care of your employees, and they’ll take good care of your customers”. One of the best ways to improve customer experience, is to ensure your employees are happy and engaged. The feedback principles used for CX are just as relevant here. Survey and meet with your employees frequently, formally and less formally. Ensuring their feel heard and valued, will enable them to communicate that same feeling to every customer they meet.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in an all-encompassing approach to customer experience strategy. If you are struggling with aligning the whole of your business or just want to improve one area such as measurement and insight, get in touch to see how we might help you develop your customer experience strategy.

Values as a Competitive Differentiator

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…” Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

It is no secret that we live in an oversaturated market for many products and services. Every day, businesses and organizations compete for our attention. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, product placement and subliminal messaging.

As a result, the majority of us forget a brand’s advertising attempts within three days of seeing it. The functionality of intelligent tools that let us search for whatever we need, whenever we need it, also plays a roll in this mass forgetting. We don’t need to remember where anything was or if it was good, because we have tools to access all that information.

So, if people aren’t really connecting to the branding and marketing for your products and services, how can you maintain their loyalty for the long term?

Setting up for success

Brand awareness can be complicated to measure correctly. Especially if you are unsure about what to measure in the first place, or how to properly extract meaningful insights from the data you gather.

Your connection to your customers and service users is about more than the product or service you are trying to sell them. People need a sense of feeling that they can connect with. They like to feel like their purchasing decisions matter and are more likely to support organizations whose values align closely with their own.

Do you know what your organization values? Is there a set of well thought out and simply defined values that are core to the way you do business? Critically, are those values communicated in a consistent way, not just verbally, but in every action and behaviour across the organization?

Benefits of knowing your Values

There is near limitless choice for customers. Anything we want we can get, and from multiple organizations.

We are motivated by story lines and remember them far longer, for the way they made us feel, than if we are told a series of facts about the product or service. The cost or functionality of a product or service can be replicated easily by competitors. When your organizational values are the foundation of every interaction your customers will have with you, they become a powerful differentiator which is not easily copied.

Consistency is key

Having values that set you apart is only as good as your ability to send that message to your customers and other stakeholders in a consistent way. The experience someone is having of your organization should reflect your values in action and behaviour and it should be the same at every point of service. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but when your organization gets this right, it will help you to improve stakeholder loyalty and performance and drive sustained profitability.

Finding the flow

Imagine a time when everyone in your organization is in full alignment with your values. Your employees don’t have to wait or go through countless steps of approval before acting. They embody and live your organizational values in every moment of their working day. They are clear about the behaviours expected and what is not acceptable. They are trusted to do the right thing without micromanagement.

The key to achieving this outcome is alignment across the areas of Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, supported by Systems & Processes and Measurement & Insight. This is the SERVICEBRAND approach which has delivered measurable success across a balanced scorecard of business measures for organizations in different sectors, of different sizes and in different geographies.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe that your organizational values set you apart. We can help you figure out the values sitting at the heart of your mission and show you how to bring these to life with all stakeholders. When used well, values can build transform business performance. Why not see what we can do for you?

Cultural Alignment


Understanding the terminology around Culture, Values and Alignment can be a challenge. This is a highly subjective area and, as such, every leader, employee, service partner and customer might have a different perspective on what certain words mean and which behaviours are appropriate or not.

Can your Values align with that of the organization without being a cultural fit? Or do you have to fit in with the company culture to be aligned with the organization?

What do you mean?

Being a cultural fit can be interpreted in different ways, but at its heart, the meaning is about how well an individual fits in with the rest of the organization, while retaining their authentic and normal self. The trouble starts when different individuals champion their understanding of what fits as the only right way or feel forced to change their everyday behaviours to fit in with other people.

It is a fine balance, but the bottom line is that speaking to the nature of your culture doesn’t make it so. This is especially the case if customers and employees are having a different experience entirely.
On the one hand, leaning too heavily on one idea of what organizational culture should be can cause problems. Sometimes it helps to investigate the true personality or nature of the organization’s culture from all perspectives. On the other hand, leadership need to grasp that it is their responsibility to create the desired culture and can have a strong influence. We love the quote from Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker that “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

The right people

The happier and more connected employees feel while working, the more likely they are to remain with your organization and to be consistently productive. Just because someone is occupying physical space doesn’t mean they are interested or engaged to be there. Take the time to find people that really connect with and love what they are doing. It is not rocket science that this investment of time is paid back over and over again.

Employees that aren’t a good cultural fit can also be damaging to the overall health of the organization. When people don’t mesh well together, conflict and toxic behaviours arise that can spread quickly. In a short time, there can be a widespread bad feeling about engaging with the business, even with those who are a good cultural fit.

What culture fit isn’t

Organizations seeking to create culture-based hiring strategies often look to the skills and personalities of their ‘successful’ (through one lens of success) people. They think it will be a simple process to identify those traits and then match external applicants against them.

The big problem with basing culture fit on skills and personality is that you end up with carbon copy employees that think and act in incredibly similar ways. Diversity is a proven generator of innovation. Having a wide mix of differing personalities, skills, and abilities, creates the ideal melting pot for continued growth and longevity within an organization.

Desiring a specific kind of culture, should never amount to creating barriers that certain people cannot pass. When companies like Abercrombie and Fitch for example created their ‘look policy’ a toxic culture of exclusion was created for anyone that didn’t fit that mould. Now this policy has finally been removed, it opens the way for innovators to rebuild the brand into something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The Value of Values

So, if designing culture around personality can lead to problems, and the same is true for skills, what can you do?

Values are the best starting point for any cultural design. When you study and understand what it is you truly Value and how your organization wants to bring that Value to the world, you create the perfect beacon with which to attract other likeminded people to share in your vision.

People can share common Values while embodying a multitude of different skills and personality types. If your organization designs its cultural fit around Values alignment, you’ll end up with the best people for you, all working towards a common goal.

In this way the gender divide, the age gap, reductive beliefs around people with disabilities in the workplace, all fall away in pursuit of finding people that live the way of being you value the most.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in placing Values at the heart of everything an organization does. Whether you already know what your Values are, or if you are at the beginning of your journey and would like to identify your values, we can assist in the creation and implementation of strategic designs that see your organization create the best cultural alignment possible. The key is alignment across the organization, vertically and horizontally. We have specific proven tools and approaches to do this. If you are stuck in a toxic situation or just wish to understand a bit more about the Value of Values, why not connect with us and see what we can do for you?

Sustainable Organizations and Values

“A sustainable business is resource efficient, respects the environment and is a good neighbor.” (Phil Harding )

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, and keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

There is no universally agreed definition of what sustainability means. There are many different views on what it is and how it can be achieved. The idea of sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the world’s first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The original definition of sustainable development, according to the Brundtland Report of 1987, is usually considered to be “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition.

Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating long-term value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities, etc. – and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

Sustainability on the move

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity. As an indicator, ESG news in April 2020 had almost double the coverage compared to November 2019. Investors are anticipated to spend $1 billion on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth).

BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed. In June 2020, global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative that aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

The triple bottom line theory expands the traditional accounting framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of a company. These three bottom lines are often referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. B Corps are businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. B Corporation certification (assessed by the not-for-profit B Lab) is given to for-profit organizations that achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards. B Corps have been around in the USA since 2007, with brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia achieving certification.

To date, there are over 3,000 Certified B Corps in 150 industries and 70 countries, and over 70,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. B Lab was named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020, landing at number five in the not-for-profit sector list. Since UK B Corps was launched in 2015, members have experienced an average 14% year-on-year growth rate (national economic growth 0.5%).
Values are the key

We believe that the reason this movement and B Corp companies perform so well is because they are creating a sense of shared values with all stakeholders, especially customers and employees. There is a growing body of research showing that there is a strong link between financial performance and values-driven organizations.

“Without exception, the dominance and coherence of culture proved to be an essential quality of the excellent companies.” (Tom Peters and Robert Waterman )

The key point here is that values must be alive to add value. We use the phrase ‘values are for living, not laminating’ because all too often in organizations, values are just words (and the same ones from one organization to the next) but they do not translate into practices or ‘the way things work around here.’ A recent study revealed that there is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees. The SERVICEBRAND framework helps to make this happen at several levels:

• The Brand Identity Element identifies the organization’s purpose and values
• The activities in the Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements are explicitly informed by the purpose and values
• The activities in the Systems & Processes Element are consciously designed to support the first three Elements
• The Measurement & Insight Element helps to identify a range of whole-system metrics to monitor, assess and guide performance

This is how using the SERVICEBRAND approach can help to deliver sustained performance over time.
What implications does the topic of sustainability have for your implementation of the SERVICEBRAND approach and each of the five Elements? What opportunities does it present? What challenges and obstacles will you need to overcome?

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling and battling with the creation of sustainable strategies and processes, why not see what SERVICEBRAND Global can do to help. We believe in connecting people with their true values so they can be of service to the world around them, while still turning a profit.

Jumpstarting Customer Trust

Building customer loyalty requires trust. On the surface this sounds simple and the anonymous quote “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair” reinforces this one-dimensional approach. Here, we will explore why trust is important but more complex than is often portrayed.

The power of the customer

While the act of selling a product or service has become intensely personal, the reputation of your organization is still a collectively understood entity. The impact of how you treat and respect your customers is not limited to their own purchasing behaviour. It can also spread to existing and potential new customers via reviews and word of mouth. The internet and social media have turned up the volume regarding communication. We can now share our feelings and comments with millions of people all over the world in a heartbeat.

Developing a trusting relationship with your customers and service users is made even more difficult by the ever-changing nature of the customer market. Mass-marketing started in the 1980’s, where organizations hired advertisers to convince the consumer of their needs and desires. This has been replaced to a certain extent with more tailored, individual, and personalised customer experiences.

So how do you get customers to trust you, when by their very nature, they all have different ideals and expectations of the services they seek?

Putting the customer first

Over 75% of customers and service users expect a personal service when engaging with any brand or organization, not only during their first interaction, but in all subsequent ones. Using outsourced, cheap AI, or call centres, shows a lack of desire to create a customer first, service driven business.
More money is lost every year through ‘money saving’ schemes and cost-cut outsourcing than would be lost over the lifetime of an organization that focused on building lifelong loyalty from fewer, but trusted customers. You might gain substantial profits in the short term, but these businesses rarely have real long-term viability.

Hiring employees that are customer focused and customer friendly is key. Yes, every customer might have different desires. Well trained and adaptable customer facing employees can create a bond with each individual customer.

If customers and service users can’t get in touch with your organization, can’t log or register complaints, or can’t get their queries resolved easily, don’t be fooled by the silence. These customers might never use your service again, they might become negative ambassadors, actively talking down your business to everyone they meet.

Take care with your data collection strategy. What message are you sending if, for example, you don’t give customers the ability to customize the data you collect from them, or the ability to decide which tracking cookies can follow them around the internet after using your service? It might appear that your ability to mine personal information is more important to you than the customers’ awareness, choice and privacy. If, on the other hand, you are open and provide clear choices, and behave appropriately with the information, the customer will begin to develop a trusting bond with you.

The customer is always right

This is not in the sense that you should always do everything your customers demand. However, 9 in 10 people trust what other customers say about an organization, more than what the organization says about itself. Customers are therefore potential brand ambassadors… as well as potential brand destroyers.

This is why it is so important to collect customer and service user feedback and be transparent with this information. Your customers can trust you have nothing to hide.

The good and bad, reflect the true experience each customer has had with your organization. In some cases, it might have been a one-off, in others it might indicate a further ingrained systemic issues that needs to be trained out.

Either way, by championing transparency, customers are more likely to trust you. Especially if they have had a really positive experience despite a few negative reviews, it will communicate that you actively listen, address, and resolve those issues for future customers.

Some businesses are tempted to manufacture or ‘manage’ the feedback, but, once again, the truth will get out, probably faster than you thought possible, and where will that leave your customers’ levels of trust?

The wrinkle

We believe that the impact of time on trust is overstated. Instead, the key driver is the quality of trust gained and trust lost.

Also, reputation and trust are often confused. Having a “good reputation” doesn’t say much about trust. For most of us, ‘trusting’ a company just means we like their products, or ‘trust’ them not to violate laws. That’s a pretty low bar.

When an organization becomes involved in a scandal, we lose trust in those companies quickly – not because trust loss is quick, but because there wasn’t much trust there to begin with. Take a very personal example of a long-term trusted friend who doesn’t show up for a meeting as planned. Depending on their level of responsibility and the impact on you, you might choose to brush it off or you might treat the matter more seriously. The key point here is that whether loss of trust happens quickly or slowly is a function of how much trust we had, the impact of the violation and where the responsibility lay: it is not a function of the calendar.

SERVICEBRAND

Building customer trust is not easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it much better. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we can help you understand a true and honest picture of the state of your organization. Let us help you get connected to the heart of your business. A little trust goes a long way, why not see what we can do for you.

Why Do Organizational Values Matter?

There are numerous benefits for organizations in declaring a set of core values that embody the way you wish to go about achieving your mission or purpose. Driving collaboration and teamwork between likeminded individuals is one. Streamlining decision-making process by aligning everyone with the same ideals about the way the organization does business is another.

One of the most powerful aspects of having a strong set of organizational values is the ability to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your stakeholders. This is the case for customers, employees, service partners, investors and local communities. In the emerging paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy, successful organizations will establish a sense of shared values with all stakeholder groups. When everyone knows what your organization believes in and trusts you mean it, they have no reason to go anywhere to have their needs met. Nothing creates brand loyalty faster than trust.

Who are you?

Around 82% of people believe that a good and well understood set of values can give an organization a competitive edge. It is no wonder that so many leaders are desperate to tick this box.

But simply laminating some words and putting them up on the wall, doesn’t create a successful values-based organization. To know what you value, you must first know what you stand for. Our values are never more consciously present than when they are being tested, or when we succeed.

You cannot copy another organization’s values and expect to achieve the same outcomes. Effective values statements reflect the truth at the heart of the company. They are unique and not transferrable.

It is important to follow a robust process to explore the essence of the organization. Why does the organization exist? What does it hold true to the core and will never give up? What differentiates it from others? If you are people driven, your values will reflect this, and, if you are profit driven, that is fine too. Values are neither good nor bad, they are an expression of what matters to us. For example, if money/financial performance/return on shareholder value is important above all else, it is better to be honest about this. You might discourage some people, but you will also attract the kind of customers and service users who are aligned with that kind of value ideal. What is critical is to avoid a situation where you claim that the organization stands for something and then does not live up to this with behaviours and decisions that are made by employees (all levels).

Who do we want to be?

Once you know who you are, it is easier to decide where you would like to go. You can develop a purpose statement and set of values that will serve as a beacon for every stakeholder that engages with your organization. Now is the time for clarity and simplicity. Have confidence in the words used by the people in your organization rather than feel drawn to copy and paste other people’s values. The words need to be yours. Then when you have the concise wording, give thought to how this can be communicated to every person in the organization and, more importantly, put into practice.

Community Culture

Organizations are effectively a community, comprising of the various stakeholder groups. Just like in the rest of the world, there are healthy, flourishing communities and less healthy ones. When you articulate your values, it makes it easier for likeminded people to find and align themselves with your purpose and what you stand for.

The notion of improvement and growth is applied and understood in most areas of business. So how do you apply this to the area of values in your organization? What perception do your various stakeholders have of how well your organization’s employees live up to the stated values? If you do not know the answer to this question, how can you take action to make improvements? If your values are important to you, why would you not measure your performance? We offer a corevaluescore survey which provides a snapshot of stakeholder perception of the way in which your organizational values are lived in practice.

Remember that, as with personal values, organizational values might adapt, change, and grow. Over time, the organization will be presented with new situations, opportunities, and challenges. Sometimes the core values will remain the same but might manifest themselves in different ways. In certain situations, you might feel that there is a need to re-examine or refresh your values. The key point is, from time to time, to ask the question “Are our values (and associated behaviours) still relevant and reflect our essence?”

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe strongly in the power of organizational values. We have been delivering award-winning projects with measurable impact in this area internationally and in UK for nearly twenty years. When values are done well, they create shining beacons for employees, customers, and all stakeholders to follow. Not only that but values aligned employees and customers have much higher productivity and loyalty. You might be right at the start of your values journey or feel that it is time for a refresh, or you might be struggling to embed your values effectively in practice. Whatever stage you are at, we would love to help you take the next step so why not connect with SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL to see how we might help you create a healthier, values-driven company culture… in practice.

Creating Positive Organizational Culture

Culture is one of the key elements contributing to organizational success. A strong and sustainable culture makes it much easier to attract the kind of employees that fit. More importantly, it will keep them engaged. This will help you retain skilled and talented employees for longer.

Organizations that succeed in creating healthy workplace cultures, often find themselves a cut above the competition.

Where to begin?

It can be hard to know where to start, and difficult to admit that you might be getting it wrong. All too often we see organizations championing values like honesty, accountability, and respect. Yet, in the day to day, we do not see these values put into practice.

Employees that are punished for their honesty, are less like to be honest again. Unfair and uneven processes of accountability often breed resentment and demotivate employees from trying to do the right thing. Respect is a two-way street. You cannot demand what you refuse to give.

When starting the journey to a healthy and positive organizational culture, you must first consider what really matters to you. What is your organization’s purpose and values? Clarity about what you are trying to achieve and the way in which you want to achieve it provides a guiding compass that will sustain your business on its journey to success.

The value of different points of view

It is valuable to gain insight into what is important to a wide range of stakeholders, especially employees. This might be straightforward in a healthy, open culture and more of a challenge if you are attempting to fix a toxic culture. If your employees fear the leadership or management they work under, it will be harder to get an honest and unbiased answer. Getting to the truth of the real experience employees are having is critical to creating a positive culture.

Anonymous surveys can be a way to get genuine feedback. Prepare yourself though. Just because your employees aren’t complaining, doesn’t mean they are happy. They might be in fear of their losing their job or that horribly demotivating feeling of finally speaking up and still not being heard.

The way your employees see the organization is critical in understanding and exploring strategies to build more positive culture. Make sure to give them the time and space to express themselves. And try not to take how they feel personally. Your role as a leader is to create a safe and positive company culture through understanding, not blame-shift or deny the experiences of others, as they feel them. This is the same approach as encouraging and receiving feedback from customers.

Painting the right picture

Think of the creation of a healthy culture being like an artist painting a picture. They both take a delicate balance of structured planning and attention to detail to deliver the best result. Too little structured planning and the ‘canvas’ will become a jumbled mess, too much attention to detail and it will take too long to finish for fear of getting it wrong.

Navigating the path between those behaviours you wish to encourage and those that you must make clear cannot be tolerated is a complex one. Pay close attention to the way you train and teach what is unacceptable behaviour. If you train your employees too strictly over minor infractions, you risk creating a group of disengaged people that will likely only perform when they know you are watching. On the other hand, as Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker state “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.” It is a fine line.

Culture informed processes

Once you know your purpose and values, you can start to design processes that will eventually create a self-sustaining loop of positive culture. When you know what you value you can start to look for people that are already aligned with similar values. Your recruitment processes should always look for the right ‘fit’ for the company culture. Rather than talking about the organization’s values, you can reflect and reinforce the values in the process itself.

Skills can be learned, trained for, and developed overtime, but our values are wholly unique to our individual life experience. It is far better for your organization’s longevity and profitability to hire people that work well within the kind of positive culture you wish to create, than it is to hire an incredible seller or customer service agent that doesn’t work well in a team.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in creating bespoke strategies that focus on understanding purpose and values to drive organizational alignment. We don’t believe in copy and paste organizational cultures. We want to help you create a self-sustaining positive culture in the workplace that lets you get the best out of your employees because they are valued and part of a team. Why not see what SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can do for you!

How to Create an Encouraging Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of encouragement and support in your organization can be a challenge. Successful culture isn’t about maintaining positivity 100% of the time. It is more about employees feeling a sense of belonging, being part of something and contributing that is valued. They need to feel that they can engage with leadership in a common cause to achieve the organization’s vision and objectives. When employees feel seen and heard, it bolsters confidence to face challenges and improves resilience to overcome setbacks, knowing they are supported.

The pitfalls of positivity

It is not possible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time, group-wide or individually. It is also important to understand that everyone is unique and does not fit a standard mould when it comes to positive thought and action.

Leaders have a responsibility as well as a privilege to ‘set the tone’ in an organization. Encouragement at an individual level is key. When positivity is enforced without focusing on encouragement at an individual level, employees can lose their sense of self-worth and self-belief, leading to potential burn out. Toxic positivity is a leading cause of demotivation among employees. Telling someone to be happy, doesn’t make it a reality. On the other side of the coin, leaders can exert significant positive impact on any event. Employees welcome honest presentation of the facts (even when this might not be comfortable), an inclusive approach to identifying potential solutions and are generally motivated to make an improvement. If your employees are struggling to maintain a natural and balanced sense of positivity in the workplace, it is your role as a leader to discover why this is the case.

Leaders lead… in practice

It can be tempting for leaders in organizations to think that their role is to focus on the future and planning. Of course, this is true… but not at the expense of becoming disconnected from the need to support day to day operational delivery. Employees need the right tools to do the job alongside the encouragement to overcome challenges. It is a key leadership role to make this happen, and, if or where this is not possible, to agree another approach. Pretending the challenge does not exist is not an option. In general, employees want to do a good job. Of course, human error happens but usually when something goes wrong, the reason is a business process that is not fit for purpose, inadequate tools, poor communication or similar. When you face these situations, resist the temptation to place blame and, instead, encourage people to understand what went wrong, why this happened, the impact of the situation, the importance of identifying a solution and how future repetition can be avoided.

Every voice matters

Building an encouraging organizational culture starts with listening. This can be scary for leaders who sometimes think there will be an expectation for them to address every issue raised. However, an open and practical approach is generally appreciated “It is so helpful that, with your valuable input, we have now identified a wide variety of issues that need to be addressed. The XYZ team has reviewed the list and conducted a high-level assessment to identify how we can focus our efforts for the best impact. I will share this plan, so you know what we are planning to do and when. Your ongoing input will be critical as we progress to get the best results.”

Employees are often our first point of contact with customers and service users. What they say and do, has a dramatic impact on how the organization is perceived by customers. Because of this proximity to customers, these employees are also the first people to know when something is not working, unfair or causing problems. These ‘eyes and ears on the ground’ are priceless, so grasp the opportunity to tap into this rich seam of knowledge and make employees an integral part of the decision-making process.

When you encourage your employees to speak up and practice listening to what they have to say, you’ll keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Recognise, affirm, and reward employees for bringing their voices and positive contributions to the table.

On another practical note, there will be a minority of outlandish or even inappropriate requests. Don’t allow these to knock you of course by giving them to much attention or airtime. This is where your judgement as a leader comes into play – humour can be a valuable tool in some (but not all!) situations.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teams made up of people that think and act the same can be stagnant, uninspiring, and blind. Diversity of thought breeds innovation. What can you do to create more difference of people, background, character, and ideas?
Team building exercises and challenges are a well-established way to simulate the stress of a real crisis and give people the opportunity to bond, trust each other, and begin to trust their ability to get the job done. These kinds of exercises also give you the chance to model the kind of encouraging behaviour that you wish your employees to model – no derision if they make an error and, instead, supportive, and constructive feedback, encouraging them to try again when facing difficulties.

To create real value from this sort of activity, consider two points. First, team building shouldn’t only work horizontally. Vertical integration is pivotal in building the kind of lasting culture that sees strong teams trained to believe in their abilities and achieve greater results for the organization. Marriott’s Spirit to Serve program was a powerful global initiative founded on cross-functional and hierarchy workshops. The second point is to make sure that the team building experience and lessons is taken back into the organization, applied, and developed. Otherwise, these events can become a fond memory with no lasting impact on the organization.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe in the power of encouragement to create a healthy, flourishing and long lasting positive organizational culture. Perhaps you have an aspiration to build the kind of teams and culture proven to improve profitability, retention, and longevity or maybe you are struggling with your current organizational culture. Either way, why not see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can help you create new and more meaningful ways of engaging with your employees.

Engagement Focused Leadership

Whether you are new to a leadership role or have been in one for many years, finding the right tone and balance with your team is crucial. Sometimes you might have been leading the same team of people for a long time. Other times you might have more change in the team. Whatever the situation, it is important to be able to assess each person’s abilities and motivation, and balance that with your own and the pressures of delivering on achievable goals.

This blog looks at three key areas for leaders to consider improving engagement with their employees.

1 on 1

Far too often, 1 on 1 meetings are viewed as a waste of time. Something to get through that doesn’t really contribute anything meaningful to the organization. 67% of employees feel like meetings inhibit their ability to get on with being productive at work.

As a manager and a leader, it is your responsibility to come to 1 to 1 meetings prepared to engage and get the most from your employee. Use this valuable time wisely eg avoid giving organizational updates that could be sent en masse in an email or given in a group huddle.

Also remember to respect your employees and that it is not their responsibility to manage your time. Setting up meetings that you frequently rearrange or cancel at the last minute due to other ‘priorities’ will send your employee engagement plummeting. If employees don’t feel like their time is being valued, they will disengage.

Word of mouth spreads quickly in any organization. If your employees feel like their time is being wasted in these meetings, be sure that everyone else will rapidly hear about it. On the positive side, the news of productive meetings will also spread fast.

Leading with the right questions

Knowing what questions to ask members of a new team can be a challenge. As Stephanie Perkins says, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” These early experiences
will often set the tone for your team’s perception about the kind of leader you are going to be. When you are in a one-to-one conversation with an employee you can be business-like and make it personal at the same time. You and the employee are both performing roles for the organization… and you are both people.

A critical mistake that is often made is trying to give the employee too much time to share their views and opinions, out of a desire to be a good listener. This can put pressure on the employee and result in them talking for the sake of it and in different directions. As a leader, you can lead the conversation with questions that are designed to get the most from the interaction.

If you are coming to a new organization or team, here are some general work-focused questions you can consider beginning with:

What brought you to this organization?
More importantly what is your best hope for working here?
In your opinion, what do we need to start doing here?
What do we need to stop doing?
What is important that we continue to do?
What one change would improve the customer experience most?
What one change would make this a better place for people to work at?
What are you most proud of about working here?
What irritates you about working here?

The most important way you can build engagement is by showing your employees that you trust their knowledge, experience, and opinion.

The Value of listening

Once you know the right questions to ask, it becomes a matter of practicing truly concentrated listening. Managers often get stuck on the first level of active listening. Have you been in a 1 to 1 meeting, that feels like you are talking to a parrot? The other person just repeats back what you are saying. Repetition shows that you have been heard, but that doesn’t mean the person you are talking to has really listened.

If you want to engage your employees into deeper and more meaningful conversations, you must show them you fully understand what they are trying to say to you. Take what they have told you and reflect it back them in your own words. Show them how you understand what they have said and make sure your way of understanding it, is in line with what they were trying to express.

Self-expression is complicated. Youmight feel like you are the best explainer on the planet and yet someone else might not understand what you are explaining. There is no harm in being sure that what has been said is what was actually meant.

This applies even if you don’t agree with what you are hearing. The goal is to build a trusting relationship that is more likely to keep your employees engaged and willing to share their views and opinions with you.

By actively listening, employees will trust that they can bring issues to you while they are still small. This can be so much more beneficial than employees holding off until it is a big problem before being able to count on your attention.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in the power of values-driven employee engagement to improve retention, productivity, loyalty, and advocacy. We help managers and leaders appreciate the value of listening to and understanding what their employees have to say. Too often businesses fail because of a poor attitude to the importance of having employees engaged, motivated, and directed towards achieving your organization’s mission or purpose.

If you feel like you are struggling to connect with your team, or your employees, we can help you create effective planning strategies to greatly improve the way you interact with them. This can only have positive and beneficial results!

Communicating Organizational Values

Organizations are becoming more switched on to the importance of aligning their vision and purpose with their values. A set of clearly defined values can directly contribute to the creation of an inclusive, engaging, and strong organizational culture.

How well these values are understood has a direct impact on employee alignment. And also how well connected your customers and services users feel about your organization’s identity/brand as a whole.

The next hurdle

Defining these values can be a complicated task. We have dived into deeper discussions on how to identify the right values for your organization in previous blogs. The process, however, doesn’t end with a neat list of values. What comes next is the most difficult part. Successfully communicating them to your employees and to your wider audience as a whole.

Building understanding in a consistent and well explained manner is a keystone to developing company culture that supports your purpose and vision. This can be done by aligning everyone with actionable, values-led behaviours to embody while representing your organization.

Values are for living

Values are for living, not laminating. Of course, visual reminders can play a useful role in reinforcing the message around expected behaviours. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is the job done. The key is to focus on the specific behaviours you are looking to employ within your organization. For example if one of your stated values is ‘integrity’, you might put energy into ensuring that ‘We treat all of our service users equally.’

The words used as Values are nothing more than a label. They are highly subjective; each person might have a different idea about which behaviours they most readily associate with the words selected to represent the organization. That is why clear communication of the definition of the value word and the kinds of behaviour expected to reflect those values is so important.

The Leadership Shadow

The next important step in the effective communication of values, is also the most critical. People learn by example. Employees’ and customers’ perception is strongly influenced by the way employees in management and leadership roles behave. If the behaviour is in line with the stated values, then the perception of the brand is enhanced. If the behaviour doesn’t reflect the stated values, they will become, at best, confused, and, at worst, disenfranchised.

Anyone in a position of leadership must embody the values of the organization as a matter of personal behaviour. If you have disruption and discomfort in your leadership team around behaving accordingly, they might not be the right people to carry your vision and purpose forward.

Positive reinforcement from leaders will help employees feel supported and encouraged to adopt the right behaviours to best reflect the company’s desired image. Actions do indeed speak far louder than words. A key leadership role is to set the right tone of speech and behaviour for other employees to emulate.

Recognition and reward

Recognition (and sometimes rewards) is important in encouraging people to adopt new behaviours. It is not practical to fire people that don’t immediately fit and replace them with people that do. Change can and does happen, but it takes time, leadership, encouragement and sometimes incentives to change behaviours and perceptions.

When you see employees truly living your desired values, spotlight them with recognition and celebrate this widely to positively reinforce the desired behaviour. Other employees will understand the behaviours that are expected and those that are not accepted. Over time the desirable behaviours become the norm.

But be careful when instituting rewards programs, as they can and often do generate devious behaviours in order to secure a reward. They are great for spotlighting the right desired behaviours in the short term, but don’t have as much of a long-lasting effect as visual ques and learning by example.

SERVICEBRAND

It can be a challenge to identify the kind of organizational culture that would best fit your purpose. Figuring out how to communicate the values effectively and efficiently to everyone can present additional challenges. If you have already started or thinking to start down the path of a values, vision, and purpose assessment of your organization, and want to make sure that they are effectively communicated and embedded, SERVICEBRAND Global can help.

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