Tag: Servicebrand global

Organizational Alignment and Growth

Organizations are becoming more aware of the value alignment can bring in increasing profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. Research suggests that highly aligned organizations are 72% more profitable and grow revenue 58% faster than non-aligned ones. When your strategic plan, company culture, employees and customers are all aligned with your purpose and values, the chances of growth are significantly enhanced.

So how do you choose which area to focus on first? Knowing where to start building alignment can be a challenge.

Slow down to arrest momentum

Understandably, many leaders start with energy and enthusiasm to develop new strategies to create improved alignment. However, one area that is frequently overlooked is the impact of the ‘status quo’. How are your current strategic plans affecting organizational culture, customer experience and employee engagement? If misaligned strategies have been pulling your business off course, it is important to deal with these. ‘There’s no point hoisting new sails if you’re still laying anchor.’

The key here is to understand the impact of a change in one specific area on other parts of the organization. For example, if you put in place a productivity initiative to enable call centre team members to handle more calls, what is the knock-on impact on their behaviour and, ultimately customer perception/satisfaction?

When you begin to understand the interplay between all parts of your organization, it makes it easier to identify points of friction and drag. These challenges can be expensive in terms of money, time, effort, morale, and employee turnover and impede growth and development of the organization.

Building on strategies

Having a clear strategy will help provide direction for everybody in the organization. A focus on the purpose and values of the business will provide a strong foundation to build a strategy on. It will create a compelling reason for employees to want to work with you, and for customers and service users to want to engage with you. However, an inspiring vision on its own is not enough. It must be supported with a strategic plan that is believable and achievable.

There will be issues with an alignment approach if leaders are not honest and transparent about their motivating factors. For example, it is fine to have a focus on profitability but, if this is the case, avoid stating your vision and purpose as being one of service to the community just because you are trying to create a harmonious and aligned culture.

Take time to consider deeply what it is you are offering, and why. When you truly know the why, finding people that are interested in achieving that same purpose will become easier. Once employees are in alignment with your purpose and values, they can become the best sales force and brand ambassadors you could ask for.

Alignment and Culture

One of the reasons alignment fails is the lack of harmony between the espoused culture employees and customers think they are engaging with and how things operate in reality. Time should be taken to capture measurement and insight about the perceptions of various stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, investors, local communities) and their behaviour (through monitoring and observation).

Organization culture exists, whether this is by default or by conscious design, is up to you. How can you expect to scale your business as successfully as brands like McDonalds or Starbucks, if you don’t understand how everything is planned? Why would anybody expect to create alignment, assist flow, and make scaling and growth a natural and inevitable result, rather than something that is a constant struggle?

High performance needs high performers

Growth comes when we find the right people to tend to our vision. People that share the same or similar ideals and values to us, that can find a home and purpose by aligning themselves with our organisation.

Values are difficult to teach. It is far easy to make it clear what you stand for and let people who feel the same come to you. How you attract employees and engage them will play a key role in driving their performance and thus your growth. If you’re company culture or strategic planning are lacking, alignment will quickly dip, as the employee realises your organisation isn’t the beacon, they had been looking for to help achieve their own desires for a meaningful and purposeful life.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in fully understanding the relationship between alignment and growth. We want to help organizations understand what is holding them back and how to create strategies, cultures and performance that will keep them on the cutting edge of their chosen industry. If you are looking for help in understanding how to elevate your organization to one of consistent alignment and growth, why not see what we can do for you?

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!

Building Company Culture

An organization’s culture is driven by its values and sense of purpose. It is the driving force behind everything you do. When organizational culture is done well, it can lead to far better performance, not just of employees, but improved relationships with customers, service users and partners as well.

One of the key mistakes organizations make is believing they have a good culture, purely because they say they do. How often have you applied for a job on the basis or belief that the organization’s values, purpose, and culture are a good fit for your own. Only to discover the company culture is superficial and goes no further than the welcome talk and training during the onboarding process.

Changing culture

Cultural change can be challenging, especially when systems and processes are deeply engrained. You would think that toxic culture would be easy to root out and remove from the workplace and customer interactions, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees live up to certain parts of the organization’s culture, while holding negative or reductive attitudes towards other parts.

The desire for a cultural shift often comes from a realization that something in the organization isn’t working well. In our experience, time and time again, the situation is caused by a disconnect between the organization’s stated values, purpose and culture and the reality of what is actually happening within the business.

First steps

The first key step in building a strategy to manage long term and successful culture change, is having a sense of where the organization stands right now. This can be tricky, especially if the current systems and processes in place are causing toxic behaviours in the workplace. This could look like employees lying on feedback surveys for fear of repercussions, or customers being incentivised with deals or gifts to give feedback that paints a false picture of how well the business is doing.

In the very worst cases, cultures of fear scare employees into cheating and lying about the quotas they have to fill. This is why fear is seldom a good motivator of organizational culture. You’ll get told what you want to hear, but your finances will always show the truth of it in the end, and you’ll waste years not improving because of a lack of awareness to the damaging practises going on beneath the surface.

Anonymous reporting, feedback surveys and storytelling are great ways to get true and honest feedback about the current state of company culture.

Values

At its heart your company’s culture is a reflection of your values. All of our unique human behaviours and habits are informed by our values. If you value being of service to others, habits will form that see you being of service in functional and useful ways. If you value continuous learning, adaptability, or exploration, you are more likely to create a habitual way of being that helps you fulfil these values.

Passing on our values to others is not easy, that is why it is important to understand your organization’s values in a clear and easily communicable way. This will help you find people that already align in many ways with your culture. Forcing someone to adopt a culture that is foreign to them is doable but takes a lot of work. It is far easy to know where you stand and then find people that align with that purpose.

What next?

Once you know where you are, you can create a plan to take you to where you want to be. Whether that is to improve or overhaul organisational culture, elevate the ideals of the business, or create an environment that enables innovation and service to the customers and service users to flourish beyond merely making money.

Inclusion

People who don’t feel included are far less likely to work with the processes and guidelines. Make sure to include the people that work with and for you in the conversations on culture. Not only them, but your customers as well. People are far more likely to be emotionally invested in a product or service when they feel valued and heard by the leaders of the organization.

Having customers and employees shine an honest light on the realities of company culture can be a challenging experience. Without constant diligence and attention, you can find yourself to have drifted far from the course you originally set out. While this can feel confronting, it is important to be open and honest and trust that with the right adjustments you can realign your organisational culture to properly reflect your purpose and values.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

If you are struggling with an aspect of company culture, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL is well-positioned to help you identify your current culture, its strengths, and weaknesses. We take abstract and challenging topics out of the conceptual realm and apply them to real and dramatic effective within your organization. Get in touch today to see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL might help elevate your company culture, realign it, and develop new strategies to build your overall business health.

Keeping up with changes in the CX world

The impact of COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people across the world. Not just in terms of the death toll, but also in the way that some people’s livelihoods have been shaken to the ground. The pandemic has also had a dramatic effect on customer experience and organizations have been forced to reconsider what customer care means.

During times of great fear and crisis, our emotions are heightened, as are our desires and expectations. A rude telephone call, a lack of support on a customer care call, items failing to be delivered, while irksome, pre pandemic would not have been the end of the world.

Fast forward to a time when we couldn’t leave the house, or access services without risk of serious infection, and how we get things delivered and dealt with became of critical importance. The organizations that successfully navigated the first waves of the pandemic did so by placing attention on their customers and services users in an empathic and concerned way. Going above and beyond to show they care and understand the difficulties presented by the situation.

Permanent shift

Although mass vaccination has helped dramatically reduce the numbers of people dying or requiring hospitalization , it looks like COVID-19 is here to stay, in one form or another. After two years of a global pandemic, organizations must realize the importance of becoming more adaptable in the face of a crisis, and the consequence of not doing this is potentially terminal.

A crisis like this clearly presents a challenge and when the pressure is on true values shine through. Better.com did not focus much on communicating its culture and values to the outside world but this was placed in a harsh spotlight when CEO Vishal Garg fired 900employees on zoom and the story went viral leading to a mass exodus of talent from the company including Mr Garg stepping down from his position ‘temporarily’.

Layoffs happen in the world of business, but how you handle them says so much about your individual leadership style and your organisation as a whole. The same is true of the way you treat your customers. In times of crisis or panic, your customers’ interactions with you will be emotionally heightened and much more long lasting than in time of safety and security. This means customer loyalty and trust will never be more fragile than it is during a crisis, and how you handle it can make or break the relationship.

Connection, empathy, and care

Building connections with customers and service users is of vital importance to any organization. Without meaningful connections, customer retention will fall, as they go in search of that ‘little something extra’, that sense of feeling more than just being another cog in a money-making machine.

Customers desire, and are almost desperate for, connection. To not reach back to them is a huge waste of relationship building potential. So how do you build and maintain these connections?

One answer is to share your organization’s experience in an open and honest way. Throughout each wave of the pandemic, the organizations speaking honestly are the ones that have continued to have the support of their customers. And speaking honestly includes admitting it when you don’t know or apologising when something has not gone as well as it should.

After two years, some organizations are just catching up to this idea, while others, at the forefront of best customer experience practice, have created strategies to adapt to changes at a moments notice. These strategies bring the customer on the journey, make them feel involved, supported, cared for, and understood. This level of adaptability and effort reinforces customer loyalty by connecting to the idea of trying our best.

When we are panicked, we struggle if we look around and see the people, we rely on panicking too. It is time for organizations to step up to their social responsibilities, to commit to caring for their customers’ needs over the desire to make a quick profit.

CX evolved

Customer experience has always been tricky to get right, there are many factors motivating a customer to shop, spend or become a service user of an organization. It is even more of a challenge now, as organizations have been forced to deliver on the customer’s terms .

Because of this, e-commerce sales have risen dramatically around the world, first as a result of the pandemic, and then as continued uncertainty abounds around how long we will have to live with COVID-19.

If your organization depends on quality and well-trained staff to interact with your customers, switching to a digitally led experience can be very challenging. What communicates well in person, doesn’t always translate well into online engagement.

In order to keep up, your customer experience strategy has to evolve, to provide more digital options for interaction with ever more homebound customers. Connecting with 3rd party businesses to make delivery an option for your products too, is a great way to maintain market share while you put your own delivery services together.

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling to keep up with the pace of change and need help building a customer experience strategy to help improve customers loyalty, trust, and retention, SERVICEBRAND Global can help. Care, empathy and understanding of customer needs are often the first things to go out of the window during a crisis, but there are ways to cut costs and streamline operations without damaging customer experience and customer relationships. Let us help you navigate these uncertain times with adaptable, specific, and tailored strategies for your organization!

Customer Service and Effective CX Strategies

Customer Experience on Modern Style Illustation. with Orange Arrow and Hand Drawn Icons Around. Customer Experience – Business Concept. Inscription on Brick Wall with Doodle Icons Around. 3D.

Customer service is one of those areas that seems to be written and talked about by experts and put forward as the key to business success. And yet how often do we experience outstanding customer service? Rarely. Outsourcing of customer service functions, poor understanding of the importance of quality service and limited ways to effectively resolve issues all play a part in making customers feel at best frustrated and at worst, invisible with no voice once an organization has taken their money.

This approach to customer service takes its toll because if customers aren’t having a good experience, they are more likely to try out a competing brand or service. It is good to remember that your competitor is only one mouse click away.

CX reimagined

Imagine a world where customer service is the key strategy… in practice; where customer service delivery shapes all decisions and choices by everybody in the organization; where the best measurement and insight tools create tailormade user profiles for each customer, specifically designed to give everyone the best possible experience and interaction with the organization; where the business leaders are obsessed with creating and improving purposeful interactions, that keep the customers feeling valued, in a sustainable but ever evolving way.

What is it and why should I care?

A customer experience (CX) strategy is a plan that focuses on a value-based holistic approach to customer service and interaction. One that places less important on making customers buy the product or service, and more on how they feel while they do it.

This is by no means an easy task. It requires a detailed understanding of not only the purpose of your organization, but a willingness to view customers through the lens of their values and emotions, rather than just their wallets.

Most important is a thorough understanding of the customers’ journey. Here are some questions to consider:

• How do customers find you?
• How are you making your products/services available to customers?
• What are your customers’ motivators e.g. necessity to buy, lack of alternatives, best value, ease of purchase/delivery/use, values alignment, loyalty to your brand or organization?
• If they are loyal, do you understand why?

Consider the simple matter of how easy it is for customers to make contact across a range of channels. If it is difficult and/or complicated to get information or to make a complaint, customers might become disengaged from your organization, and far more likely to change their brand allegiance.

Where do I start?

The world of marketing and advertising has evolved. Previously, the product or service was created and then ‘sold’ to the customer, not just on a rational (often financial) basis but emotively as well. But as the markets have become flooded with competing brands, creating positive differentiation has become more of a challenge.

The key to starting a good CX plan is to consider the customer experience, before the product, and work your way backwards. What do people value and what are they missing? How will they feel if they can get what they consider to be lacking or be connected to an organization that shares their values.

Start there and work your way back to the product/service you offer and then the processes necessary to create and implement it. When you not only meet, but exceed a customer’s expectations, they are far more likely to be repeat customers, and not only that, but are also more likely to become brand ambassadors, offering ever-valuable free word of mouth recommendation. Today, your organizational stakeholders are the new marketing department.

Listen to the people you want to serve

One of the common errors in effective CX strategy development, is a failure to effectively measure, understand and then implement changes on customer feedback. Profit is not a great indicator of customer service. When given competing options, customers have no reason beyond you having met a basic required need or service, to not jump ship when treated even fractionally better by another brand.

Creating multi-channel lines of engagement is a great way to not only gain vital feedback but to also give customers a freedom of choice in how they interact with you. Some may prefer social media, others email, and still others to speak to a human being on the phone. But the key to this is having as many ways as possible for customers to feedback about their experiences, if you can’t effectively measure their experiences, then how can you hope to improve their experience?

When you have taken the time and trouble to collect data, make sure that it is analysed and used to make decisions. If this doesn’t happen, what was the point in collecting the data in the first place?

Effective resolution

If you are looking to improve customer service, don’t wait until there is a problem to be fixed. Take a proactive approach, for example having a live chat assistant on your website to help deal with any queries about your organization before they become complaints. Or by having a dedicated customer support line for customers to voice their concerns before making a purchase. Two key points to remember with problem resolution: first, do everything possible to resolve an issue at the first point of contact; secondly, always view the problem from the customer’s perspective (and understand that this can vary from one customer to another).

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL our goal is to help you create the most effect CX strategy, regardless of your organization’s size. We can help you understand the limitation of your current strategies, and help you create and implement strategies that offer the best customer engagement possible, through measurement, insight, and optimization. When coupled with an ability to continuously learn and adapt to your customer feedback, your CX strategy will begin to take on a life of its own, one that will always be aimed at creating even better customer experiences.

Alignment And Governance

The last in our blog series on alignment, looks at governance, and the way in which conflict often arises when organizations move away from their values, causing misalignment with their service users, customers, and employees.

Governance is an amalgamation of policies, systems, and structures, along with a strategic, operational framework that aligns organizational leadership to take action, so that they can make effective decisions with accountability.

People over profits

In order to be successful organizations, need to move away from quantitative governance, towards a more qualitative model. When the discussion is always centred on quantity, alignment is at risk.

A common model for defining corporate governance is to describe it as comprising of four pillars: the board of directors, management, internal auditors, and external auditors. Gaining alignment among these pillars is not easy, but it is possible when you live your organizational values. People always have a sense of authenticity about the organizations they interact with. If the governance is strong, values-led and aligned purposefully, that message will permeate employees at all levels and out to customers, service partners and local communities.

“To lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The statement is so simple; it is easy to overlook its profound impact. With this statement, the Roundtable CEOs are acknowledging the impact their organizations have on all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, communities, and investors/shareholders) and linking the value they provide to these stakeholders to the success of their companies, communities, and country.

They have committed to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal fairly and ethically with suppliers, and support the communities in which they work. This is quite a change from the profit and shareholder focussed approach which (in the extreme) takes advantage of customers, pays employees as little as possible for as much performance as possible, intimidates suppliers to provide more for less and uses communities and environments as resources to be exploited, depleted, and consumed.

Shared values

The people who live most purposefully and boldly embody their values, are not always the best able to teach that value back to others. There are repeating and noticeable trends of the effect of misalignment, anytime a major CEO leaves the company they built; consider Steve Jobs, leaving the company he built when the governance? fell out of alignment with his purpose, only him to be re hired 11 years later, after consistent profit falls. He may not have been the best able to articulate his purpose, but he lived it consistently and his passion to live purposefully, helped build Apple’s cult-like following.

Today, people pay a premium for Apple products, in part because they relate to the company’s purpose of enriching people’s lives. This example should serve as a reminder to any governing body, not to fall out of alignment with the vision, purpose, and values of your organization.

That is not to say, you must live completely unrestrained and give everything away! More, it is about finding the balance between the head (governance and profitability) and the heart (Values and purpose). This is where alignment is key, when you are able to find a way to communicate purposefully, the profits come as a result of practicing authentic purpose. Lead with the heart but keep the head on track.

Governance evolved

The world is ever changing, the rigid reactive structures of old are being broken away, in favour of more active and fluid processes. These frameworks are more fit for purpose in the way they allow for quick changes to be made when things aren’t going right. Having a governing board that is not accountable to anyone else, will never generate meaningful results.

The same is true, when a board spends all of its time in conflict over the outcomes of misalignment, poor public image, low profit, unhealthy workplace cultures etc. It’s tough work, but if there is a problem with outcomes, it’s important to examine the root cause of those issues, not just talk about the issues themselves. Don’t get mad at the rain, understand why it’s raining.

When done right, governing bodies will not be waiting for the next crisis, they’ll be actively tackling the issues, to build trust within the societies they sit, rooting out unethical behaviour and giving people faith in their purpose.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND framework can support governing bodies because of the ‘whole organization’ approach we are able to provide. Starting with how the organization’s purpose and values inform everything that organization does (the good and the potentially limiting).

We can help you realign your organization, from the top down, across all service partners to provide the best possible customer or service user experiences. Tailor-made measurement and insight processes will cut away procedures that do not add value and implement effective communication, reporting and corrective strategies to ensure everyone knows how to be the best brand ambassador for your organisation.

Alignment and Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our SERVICEBRAND 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.

Due to the vast scope and nature of the subject, there is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. Every nation, business, organisation, and individual has a different idea on what it is and how it can be achieved. Sustainability is not a new concept, with many indigenous peoples across the world having long histories of living in balance with their land and ecosystems. But the idea of global sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the World’s first Earth Summit in 1992.

The original definition of sustainable development 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.”

Organizational sustainability

A lot has changed since that first summit, 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… and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

When taking a closer look at organisational sustainability, it often looks at two key areas sustainability practices have the greatest impact on. These being the effect on society and the effect on the environment.

The best outcome of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact in both of these areas, by producing a product or service that is of benefit to society, while not negatively impacting the environment.

Often organisations will prioritise societal convenience over protecting or limiting their impact on the environment, and because of this, show no care or attention to either of these areas, while also failing to take responsibility for the damage they cause. It is because of this kind of behaviour that we find ourselves facing the challenges of deforestation, baron soil, water poverty, social injustices, and famine, to name a few.

Alignment

Societal and environmental stability don’t always have to be at odds with financial gains, there is space for them to align and provide the best possible outcome for the organisation and for the people and spaces it affects. This is what is known as a shared value opportunity. When you align your organisation with social and environmental needs, you will be able to drive positive financial outcomes with positive deeds. The more consistent and sustainable you are, the more likely customers and service users are to engage with you, and most importantly, stay with you.

Convenience has long dominated business focus because it works for short term profitability. But it is not good for the long-term goals of anyone involved. It can be harrowing to shift your organisational strategy away from a convenience led, fast profit model. But the long-term benefits far out way the short-term losses.

How to begin?

Realignment takes time and can seem overwhelming, but it will make a huge difference to the organisation’s future. Becoming a sustainable organisation requires being open to considering factors that previously hadn’t been a priority. How your decisions will affect the environment, the economy and social issues should always be considered when developing effective strategies. When you understand your impacts, it helps prevent the pile up of longer-term liabilities or crisis’s.

Thanks to dedicated climate and social scientists, it has never been easier to measure and reduce our impact on the world around us. From apps that help track and off-set carbon emissions, to water conservation, rewilding and forestry schemes, even renewable energy incentives.

Why should I?

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 had almost double the coverage compared to November. Investors are anticipated to spend $1bn 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.

Global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which 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.

SERVICEBRAND

When you are able to align your organisation with sustainability goals, you establish a powerful narrative, one that connects you to your consumers and services users through mutual understanding of the responsibility we all share to make our planet a better and safer place to live. We here at SERVICEBRAND aren’t about lip service, we are here to help you create sustainability strategies that see you transform the way people recognise you, helping them to engage with you in a more long lasting and purposeful way.

Alignment and Inclusion

In this next blog exploring alignment in the landscape of the Values Economy, we’ll be looking at how inclusion can boost organizational alignment and consumer engagement by putting people first and empowering them through representation.

Inclusion

Being an inclusive organization provides significant benefits, from gaining a competitive edge by hiring from diverse pools of talent, to attracting a wider audience and consumer base from different communities.

We use the term Inclusion rather than ‘diversity’ because we believe that just having diverse people is not enough. Diversity and inclusion are not synonymous and, to be worthwhile, the two must go hand in hand. This means that while organizations can work hard to hire people from different backgrounds at all levels, it is all meaningless tokenism unless these people’s voices are heard.

Time and time again, research into the benefits of inclusive organisation has shown a positive result across the board.

· Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time

· Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions twice as fast with half the meetings

· Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results

More diverse companies are better able to attract top talent, improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making. This is likely to become even more important in the future as demand will grow for skills such as analytical thinking, innovation, active learning, creativity, collaboration and complex problem-solving, while rote skills and easily repeatable tasks will be shunted off to automation.

Inclusivity can be a challenging area, if your organization has only focused its attention in one direction for a long time, the changes necessary to include others can and often do challenge the most toxic parts of organizational culture. Marginalised peoples and communities have long been the subject of water cooler talk, an exercise in bonding as the butt of a joke.

Why inclusion matters

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the perfect present for the test of our civilization.” M K Gandhi

Values-driven inclusion is so important because the effort will not succeed if people in the minority don’t feel safe to be themselves. It is estimated that over 50% of people who identify as LGBTQ remain in the closet or diminish their true selves to fit in better at work, to avoid being the subject of rumours, gossip, and workplace bullying.

Several HR and D&I leaders struggle, to the point of paralysis, to have a conversation about race at work. Sometimes they either do not know where to start or are unable to convince their leaders of why this is so important. Other areas of diversity and inclusion such as age, disability and social class seem to receive less attention and others such as neurodiversity are receiving long overdue recognition due to increased levels of knowledge, understanding and awareness.

Inclusion encourages a wider perspective across all stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, local communities etc) to consider the benefits for individuals, organizations, and wider society beyond the traditional business performance metrics.

As mentioned in the previous blog on the Fourth Revolution, data collection and management processes can play a powerful role in equipping organisations with the right information to understand, support and include everyone from the ground up.

Aligning values with inclusion

A recurring theme we have noticed is a tendency for diversity and inclusion initiatives to stand alone or exist in isolation and not reflect the organization’s purpose, values, and priorities. Including people is not a gimmick or marketing tool, to create inclusive rhetoric, when the organisation does not build and live practises designed to support consumers, service users and employees, and will always result in the minority being further marginalised, while empowering the majority to retain toxic workplace cultures that promote exclusion and division. This not only has a social impact but a definite financial one.

Bringing your values into alignment with inclusive practices requires patience, mutual awareness and understanding. It is not a race to collect the most tokens, but instead it is a sincere effort to recognise the unique humanity of everyone that will engage with your organization.

Avoid box ticking, while acronyms for protected characteristics like BAME and LGBTQ, are important and necessary, intersectionality is far more individual and complex. Asking someone to speak for their entire ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual identity is reductive and limiting. When you align your organization with the values you truly represent, it will build an atmosphere of inclusion, one where everyone that uses your service will be aware of being valued for their unique humanity, not begrudgingly served because they have to be.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you to align your values with inclusive practises that allow everyone to feel respected and treated fairly. We believe in a holistic and individual approach to build employee engagement initiatives that go beyond the stand alone, unconnected one day seminars telling people what to do, rather than showing them the benefits of full and proper inclusion.

Demystifying the world of Values

VALUES / Torn Paper Concept (Click for more)

Taking the mystery out of values

The ‘values’ word has received increasing attention over the past few years and it has now become fashionable for people from all walks of life to use the word as a way to gain support for their point of view or cause. ‘Values’ is used freely but often in a general way without much consideration for any specific values and, even when these are used, they are rarely defined or described in practical terms. The word values has therefore become a word that most people are familiar with and yet, at the same time, far fewer grasp the meaning of.

For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

Organisational values set out the principles by which the organisation aspires to practice in all areas of engagement with various stakeholder groups. At their best, they are a way to inspire employees to give their best and help other stakeholders to be clear about what is important to the organisation. At their worst, they are a meaningless set of words which are totally disconnected from the day to day reality of decisions and behaviours and might be referenced by leaders from time to time to ‘validate’ a message, decision or action..

When developed correctly, a set of strong values that are clearly articulated both internally and externally, will help build your brand identity, maintain employee, service partner and customer or service user loyalty, and provide room for the organisation to grow.

The challenge is that organisational values are sometimes treated as a marketing or PR exercise, led by a few members of senior management (and perhaps supported by external creative agencies) to create an attractive ‘display’ and documentation. The real test of values being alive in an organisation is whether everyone that works there can tell you what the organisation does, what its values are and what this means to them in their day to day work. In our experience, this is rare.

Worse still is when employees can list off the organisational values like a parrot, but there is no evidence anywhere of them actually being lived or put into practice.

Beating ambiguity

The size of your organisation doesn’t affect your ability to define its values. But it is easy to get lost in the process if you aren’t careful. Many businesses when starting down the road to identifying values, struggle to delineate and distil who they are at their core.

This can lead to walls and walls of laminated sheets with great words like ‘responsibility, honesty, communication etc’, that have no sense of uniqueness or real-life practice put into them.

The disconnect here comes from an inability to reconcile who you think you are with who your organisation actually is. Much like individual or personal values, the core values of your organisation should be borne out of your purpose and who you want to be, not only when times are good, but also in times of crisis.

Establishing values

If we remove money as a motivating factor, employees will almost always choose a career in an area that aligns with their personal interests and identity. When values are not made clear by the organisation, it can lead to people feeling mislead, and and an almost immediate disengagement from the employee.

Whether starting a business now or re-examining who you are in a time where employee engagement and alignment truly matters, establish your values first. Once you know who you are, it will be far easier to attracted talented people who will fit in and engage with your organisation.

Values in practice

Words are great, but don’t often come with values practices to help create tangible and actionable behaviour. Everyone might have a slightly or more extreme different interpretation of the organisational values as they relate to their own individual experience.

The key to good values is how they are practiced. If you are stuck, begin to observe the behaviour of the people engaged with your organisation, what does it tell you about the type of people connecting with you?

How might that need to change or be altered to better reflect who you want the organisation to be at its core?

Once you can identify what you stand for, it becomes easier to see when things are not aligning correctly. Misalignment of values and purpose within organisations causes billions of pounds and hours of effort every year to be wasted. So it really is worth putting the work in and firstly developing your values and then further creating practices with which you can see tangible behavioural results.

Crisis shifts

Times will always change, and unforeseen events might occur that have the potential to shake organisations to the ground. Your values are what see you through the tough times to maintain and rebuild stronger in the aftermath.

The pandemic highlighted this mass shift, as it made it clear to service users who really lives their values and who doesn’t. When you are inconsistent in your values, consumer trust is lost very quickly, can be slow to rebuild, and is sometimes lost forever. Make sure when creating a values plan, that the values you choose to represent you, are ones you will live even in a crisis. Those companies that put loyalty up on the wall, that then laid off many employees when the pandemic hit, have now seen dramatic drops in their profit and engagement since. If you can’t be trusted, your customers will feel it.

More choice allows people to be more thoughtful and purposeful about their engagement and alignment with products and services. The clearer you are about who you are, the more easily likeminded individuals can find you, and when alignment is truly achieved, you’ll have secured a customer for life.

SERVICEBRAND

Anyone can claim a set a values, but they are for nothing if not lived in practice. Approaches such as the Values Pledge and the award winning 31Practices approach can help to turn the conceptual into something more practical, taking values off the wall and translating them into concrete behaviours. Why not connect with us at SERVICEBRAND and see what we can do to help you navigate the world of values because we believe that values are for living not laminating.

Values are for living, not laminating

Developing values

So many people have stated that the last eighteen months have caused them to reassess what is important in their lives, or in other words their values. When you consider that 33% of people feel their work and personal values don’t align, it’s no wonder that it is a challenge to develop and implement corporate values and grow a healthy values driven culture.

How often have you found yourself asking someone why they do the work they do, only to be told, for the money?

The word values is now so commonplace that sometimes the meaning is forgotten. Core values are traits or qualities that represent deeply held beliefs. They reflect what is important to us, and what motivates us. For an organization, values define what it stands for and how it is seen and experienced by all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, suppliers, and communities).

Values act as guiding principles –as a behavioural and decision-making compass. In an organization, values (explicit or implicit) guide every person every day. They are the foundation for the way things work, providing the basis of the corporate culture. For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

Understanding different types of values

Values are a vast a complex subject matter. It will never be as simple as saying “we believe in compassion” because different people might have a different idea of what compassion means and looks like, based on their own experiences.

So, when starting to examine what your organisational values might be, you might first wish to consider what the core essence of the organisation is and what makes you different. This will help you get to the heart of who you are, what truly matters, and how to go about living it, in an authentic way.

If you set values with only colleagues in mind, they won’t represent your business, customers, or service users. The same is true when creating values based purely on your perceived notions of what the customer wants.

Understanding values isn’t about putting some words up on a wall. It is about honest identification of your organisations purpose and the style in which this will be achieved, being consistent to different stakeholder groups.

Disconnect between what is and what should be

Creating values driven organisational culture is complicated – if it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. It is alright to ask for a little help, when coming to new and different ways of doing something. But if you are here, it is because your ideal culture isn’t aligning with the reality of how things actually are.

Understanding and engagement is key, and what is hard to tell is easy to teach. How many times have you attended a meeting or huddle where the boss has espoused a new plan or set of values that are now who we are. No feedback, no involvement or recognition. Just this is it. Live it.

If you are familiar with this scenario, you’ll know enforcing values seldom works. The weight of having to internalise a whole new set of values in order to be considered competent, can often lead to far more misunderstandings and frustration.

Imagine being told one of our new values is ‘open and authentic communication’ only to be ignored or to live in fear of actually reporting things to higher management. For the longest time, fear, power, and respect have been used as motivational tools to enforce workplace productivity. But they have a critical failing. If the people working for you don’t feel able to communicate honestly about the issues they are having on the ground, you will always be working with the wrong information. This builds further resentment and frustration from the top down, because in appearances everything is fine. But the numbers don’t lie.

It is far easier to live values by example than by dictation. If you value open communication, all you have to do is communicate openly, and this will teach those around you how to do so as well. (Prepare yourself, thicken your skin and remember “critique of your management style is not a personal attack”.)

Putting values at the centre of everything an organization does is the starting point to create a strong and authentic brand. This is particularly relevant for service organisations where people are a core element of their proposition. But the focus on values needs to be sincere and authentic rather than a lip service PR campaign and, remember to lead by example.

Weaving real commitments into lived values

To create an impact, core values need to extend into the day-to-day fabric of the organization and be a reference for decisions and behaviours at all levels, influencing people daily.

“Values are for living not laminating.”

Those in different places in an organization see evidence of culture and values differently. For example, those at the top, rate tangible KPIs (key performance indictors) as demonstrative of organizational culture (e.g. financial performance, competitive compensation); those lower down rate their personal experience as important evidence of ‘values’ (e.g. open communication, employee recognition, access to leaders). Both are important forms of evidence that should be considered when developing and implementing any change in workplace culture.

Rules vs Values

Once you have established a set of values, they should represent you, informing all who come into contact with your organisation, what you are about. Hiring, promotion and dismissals should all be aligned with your values too. Get the right people in the right places and watch your organisation transform!

Values play a much more effective roll in workplace culture than rules do. It is impossible to always monitor everyone at your organisation, not to mention uncomfortable and toxic to have the need to have to do so.

When all your practises are aligned, you don’t have to worry as much about enforcing rules, because you’ll know who you are and have values driven processes in place to hire people that fit your organization, and thrive on your encouragement, rather than suffer under your thumb.

SERVICEBRAND

Why not connect with us here at SERVICEBRAND to see how we might help you identify you values and cultivate a plan to help shift organisational culture towards a values-based system that will increase the wellbeing of everyone at each point of service.

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