Archive for August, 2011

Putting your people first

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Who are the most important stakeholders in a business?

There are in my view 3 key stakeholders in a business: Shareholders, Customers and Employees. There are others but these 3 are widely seen as the most important.  The question I want to explore  is who you put first on the list of priorities to get the best return for all involved.

The intuitive response from many is that the customer should be number 1 – they pay the bills, the customer is king and everything must be done keep them satisfied. The question when considering any issue is “What is the impact of that decision on our customer?”

There is another school whose mantra is shareholder value, shareholder value, shareholder value and the business must focus on enhancing that value. The question here is “How does that impact our shareholders?”

I would argue that putting your people first will not only create the best business but will also deliver exceptional customer service and a return to shareholders that will outstrip the other options discussed here.

Create an environment where people genuinely want to come to work and they will deliver the service or product to an exceptional standard, resulting in happy customers, repeat business, strong profits and increased shareholder value.

What does putting employees first really mean?

It’s not about paying the biggest salaries nor is it giving the best benefits.

It is about:

  • listening to your people;
  • respecting them for what they do at whatever level  they operate;
  • letting them take decisions they are comfortable taking responsibility for;
  • helping them understand how critical their daily contribution is;
  • showing them how fit into the company vision;
  • letting people make creative mistakes (experimentation);
  • providing ALL the right tools.

So let go and develop processes that give the team the tools to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Oh! – and avoid the half-baked ideas; I was in a restaurant when a young waiter asked, in the time honoured way, ‘Is everything OK with your dinner’ and when I said ‘No’ he became so flustered he had to walk away.  The poor lad had only been given half the tool and hadn’t the foggiest idea about what to do if a customer had a complaint – not his fault; the management hadn’t done their bit.

So putting employees first means putting customers and shareholders second?  The answer to that is a resounding NO.  Understand what your customers need and what the shareholders expectations are and ask “How does that affect our employees?” Answer that, make the investments, make employees the priority and the customers and shareholders expectations WILL be exceeded.

AND you’ll have a fun environment where people want to work saying “Yippee! it’s Monday” instead of “TGIF”

If you want to know more – why not give me a call.

Yippee it’s Monday…

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

…and I’m off work (and looking forward to the day).  Imagine if every employee in a business from the Boardroom down to the latest new recruit had that sense or feeling when they came into your business – the impact it would have.

SO why do so many organisations not achieve this – or more to the point what can we do to encourage the creation of a fun environment that gets people excited about what they are doing.  People spend around 35% to 40% of their waking week at work (that rises to over 50% if you take out the weekends).

I believe the answer is very simple – take an interest in and understand what everybody does and then help them appreciate how their daily activities contribute to the overall success of the business. AND let them contribute to the definition of success. If people know why they are doing stuff and more importantly they see that  mamangement understand what they do then the results will exceed expectations.

That’s not to say it’s easy and there is certainly no magic formula for implementation and the tools you use will be dependent on the business and the current level of satisfaction. It will need some serious and hard work and initially you may doubt the effectiveness and value of it all but it can change everything

But here are a few starters for 10:

  • Give everybody time to stop banging their head to the incessant beat of the urgent drum – the phone-calls, the e-mails and instant messaging. Give people real time to think and stop worrying – remember Winnie the Pooh? “Here comes Edward bear now down the stairs bump bump bump on the back of his head behind Christopher Robin.  He is sure there must be a better way of coming down the stairs if only he could stop bumping his head long enough to think of it” Take time to stop half way up the stairs (to continue the Pooh analogy) with your people and think about what can be achieved.
  • Here’s an old chestnut – an employee survey! BUT commission a team of employees to conduct it.  Let them know what questions you want answered but leave them to frame the questions. AND THEN respond to the findings with an employee team with the authority to take action. DON’T just report back…
  • Implement a companywide programme to help everybody explore where they fit in to the broader picture and find out where they believe the company is/should be going.
  • Create a system where employees can recognise the performance of others – recognition doesn’t always have to come from managers.

SO a few ideas – and there are hundreds more if you ask your teams