Want to use your leadership to drive cultural change at your company? Here’s what it takes: a 9-point checklist of what we’ve found, as culture change consultants, to be required for a company culture to achieve organizational and customer experience excellence.
Someone in a leadership position in your organization (I’m counting on you, my reader, here) needs to make the initial decision that cultural change is a priority, that putting customers (and the employees, and vendors, and systems that serve them) front and center matters.
2. Codify your cultural decision in a very short statement.
An explicit (but very brief) statement of what that decision looks like: How you’re going to treat customers. How you’re going to support employees. How you’re going to treat vendors. Because making a decision once isn’t enough: you need a clear way to refer back to it.
3. Change your hiring practices to reflect your (newly) stated values.
Every single employee, from that moment forward, needs to be hired for reasons that are congruent with your newly stated values. This is very, very important.
4. Improve your onboarding:
The way you bring employees into a company is all-important. As I like to say, you need to go overboard with the onboard. Overboard in stressing (ideally, have the CEO there, personally stressing) the purpose of employment at your organization, as opposed to the normal stuff stressed at orientation: how to handle the minutiae of your job description, signing in and out, and so forth.
5. Adjust your personnel policies:
no more docking people for coming in late from the lunch break to assist a customer they found in distress. No more ranking based on average handle time on phone calls. And so forth. The CEO can make the highest of high-minded values statements, but here is where the rubber hits the road, where your culture can be supported or sabotaged.
6. Write down your standards:
Everything that reasonably can be expected to happen to customers needs its own standard. Not immediately, but develop these as quickly as you can, thoughtfully, do so. Important: every standard needs to include the reason for the standard, so that your employees know when it makes sense to deviate from it to accomplish.
7. Come up with a sustainable reinforcement plan:
Onboarding is important, proper hiring is important, but ongoing reinforcement is crucial. Perhaps the best plan for most organizations is to follow the Ritz-Carlton daily lineup approach: a few minutes every day discussing just one of your list of cultural values or service standards, with the meeting led by a different employee every time. The result, added up over a year or years, is a lot of reinforcement. And it makes every single one of those days of that year or years better on its own.
8. Use the right metrics, and get rid of the wrong ones:
Do you try to have 80% of your calls answered in 20 seconds or less? Hmmm. That’s a nice goal, but it isn’t the most important goal for a customer. More important to the caller is “did this call resolve my issue?” and “do I like the resolution I received?” This example (hat tip here to Colin Taylor) is just one of many I could give you of an organization getting their metrics wrong, and as a result sabotaging their goal of a customer-centric culture.
9. Commit yourself to employee-directed job design:
In business, we have a terrible tradition going back at least as far as Frederick Taylor (yes, the “Taylorism” Taylor) that jobs are things done by employees, but designed by their so-called superiors. As our society has grown more specialized, this bias has increased in its intensity. While, of course, to some extent this has to be true, especially in life-threatening situations–your employee can lead an evacuation down a fire escape but can’t necessarily design standards for what is an acceptable or unacceptable level of smoke inhalation–it’s important to simultaneously push against it, to let your employees know what they need to get done but not necessarily how they should go about designing their day and carrying out their duties.
Because if employees are only doing things right because you spelled out every little thing out, even if you do so very, very elegantly, you haven’t created a culture, and you haven’t created an approach that is sustainable. A culture is a living thing, powered by and kept up to date by the people who are encouraged to be, in a meaningful way, part of it.
In case you missed it, my last post was Culture change starts at the TOP
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