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The People or the Process?

When issues arise when a customer is dissatisfied or a mistake occurs, it’s commonplace to blame employees for the customer’s discontent. Now I’m in the mindset that most people come to work to do a good job.

I believe that most people do not get up in the morning thinking “I’m going to purposely create chaos for customers and peers at work today!” Every once in a while you’ll find a knucklehead employee that just wants to do what they want to do, but that’s rare in my opinion. I’m more inclined to believe that it’s more than likely a process issue vs an employee issue.

When speaking of processes as the culprit, I’m thinking of two processes in particular:

The process/processes connected to the issue.
The employee training process for the process/processes connected to the issue.
Let’s take a look at each of these.

The Process/Processes Connected to the Issue

Identify and examine the process/processes connected to the issue. Are there gaps that create customer dissatisfaction? Employees create workarounds (Yep, I’ve done it too!) to bad processes.

Employees also create processes when an adequate one does not exist in an attempt to make sure things go smoothly. Remember, most people come to work to do a good job and often go to these lengths to do so.

The Employee Training Process for the Process/Processes Attached to the Issue

Now let’s say that the process is well-defined and contains all of the necessary elements of a good process. The next question to ask is – What does the employee training process look like? It doesn’t matter that you have a great process when the employee training process is lacking.

It’s imperative that employees are provided with the proper training to ensure that their actions do not negatively impact the processes in which they operate. Training should include verification that employees comprehend the training and can demonstrate the ability to correctly perform their process tasks.

When customer discontent presents itself, be more inclined to focus on processes. It’s not always a people issue.

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helloRetaining Employees When Your Company Starts to Grow
4 Steps to Retaining Employees When Your Company Starts to Grow

One of the main goals of a business is to establish a consistent pattern of growth. It’s what keeps the business alive. When a small business experiences the good fortune of an extended growth period, it’s critical to maintain a low employee turnover rate. Here are 4 steps to retaining employees when your company starts to grow.

Consider the Ability of Your Current Infrastructure to Handle the New Demand

Business growth can challenge your current infrastructure. When developing marketing plans, one question that business owners and or leadership teams can ask themselves is – If we get the long-term response that we really want, can our current infrastructure handle that influx of new business? It’s important to remember to take this into consideration.

When the new demand for a product or service is greater than the company’s ability to process the influx, the door is now open to both employee and customer dissatisfaction. Review your current processes to determine if there are more efficient methods available to handle more business.

Can low-cost technology assist in meeting the new demand? Do outsourcing opportunities exist? You may discover that additional employees are in fact needed to handle the increase in business.

Consider the Impact on Your Employees

During a growth cycle, it may be assumed that employees should be willing to work longer hours or wear more than one positional hat, but it’s important to remember that it’s critical to maintain experienced employees during the growth period.

Losing employees in key roles can result in a negative impact on both current and new customers along with damaging internal morale. Refrain from statements like “They’re not willing to grow with the company.” as this can be construed as insensitivity by employees. Remember that your employees have lives. Communicate the value that your employees have contributed to your company and sincerely express your appreciation for their efforts.

Get in the Trenches

Here’s one suggestion that I recommend to my clients which I believe can change a business owner’s or leadership team’s perspective regarding what is really going on day to day within the company – especially during a protracted growth cycle.

Spend time on the front line with employees to see what they encounter in their day-to-day roles. This exercise is usually an eye-opener! One can truly experience what employees encounter when faced with increased activity.

Make the Necessary Changes

When it becomes apparent that infrastructure changes are necessary, take the steps to do so! The suggestions above are but ways to determine what changes may be required. The most important task is acting on the findings. The goal is to keep experienced employees in place when growth occurs.

Your willingness to make the necessary changes goes a long way in employee retention. It sends the message that you are serious about ensuring employees feel that their voice matters. High employee morale is the key to keeping the business machine humming during a growth period.

For more practical insights, visit our website at https://errolallenconsulting.com.

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When the Leader is the Problem

As an operations/customer service consultant, I get a first-hand view of the internal workings of multiple companies. I have the privilege to observe corporate chemistry – how leadership interacts with employees, how employees interact with leadership, how employees interact with one another and how leaders and employees interact with customers.

I get to observe unspoken words cloaked in body language and behavior. When approached by frustrated leaders, it is necessary, to be honest in regard to what I feel is creating a negative atmosphere – I sometimes have to tell them that they are the problem. Here are a few instances that I observed where the leader is the problem.

Undefined Expectations

When expectations are clearly and well defined, employee accountability is usually crystal clear. When the leader assumes and verbalizes that employees should “just use common sense”, trouble is not far behind.

It is imperative that expectations are clearly communicated – primarily via a job description and a set of performance standards. Leaders must be serious about taking the necessary steps to develop and communicate expectations.

Poor Employee Relations

Some of the most shocking behavior that I have witnessed has come from leaders. Condescending communication, temper tantrums laced with profanity, and the “blame game” just to name a few. Cultures, where the leader is prone to any of these, are not conducive to long-term productivity and a high rate of employee turnover is sure to follow. Disrespectful actions must be eliminated before a positive environment can exist.

Unclear Direction

In business, it is sometimes necessary to alter course in response to one’s market or to other economic pressures. When altering course becomes a weekly activity, it creates unnecessary chaos. It’s as if current projects have no meaning as it has now become necessary to “take a different approach”. Employees are caught up in the helter-skelter environment and soon grow indifferent to any ideas presented by the leader as they realize that their hard work never fully reaches the implementation stage – because the leader will soon present something “new” to chase.

Know it All Attitude

When one has a “know it all” attitude, it’s almost impossible for new ideas presented by others to receive any form of consideration. Leaders exhibiting this type of behavior rarely have the ability to keep good people on staff.

Employees become exasperated by the leader’s inability to consider that someone else can think. Meetings with this type of leader become a lecture vs a give-and-take session. I have witnessed employees falling asleep in meetings as the leader rambles on and on as if to impress everyone with their knowledge.

Employees consider these meetings a waste of time, become reluctant to attend (sometimes communicate reasons that they cannot attend), and often find another place to work.

These are just a few of the behaviors that I have witnessed. Leaders often state to me – “I wish that I had employees who really care about their job, I wish I had employees that I could depend on. I wish my employees could understand what I encounter in trying to keep this business afloat.” I often in turn ask “Is it really the employees that are the problem? Have you considered what role you play in your employee’s behavior?”

As an operations/customer service consultant, I get a first-hand view of the internal workings of multiple companies. I have the privilege to observe corporate chemistry – how leadership interacts with employees, how employees interact with leadership, how employees interact with one another and how leaders and employees interact with customers.

I get to observe unspoken words cloaked in body language and behavior. When approached by frustrated leaders, it is necessary to be honest in regard to what I feel is creating a negative atmosphere – I sometimes have to tell them that they are the problem. Here are a few instances that I observed where the leader is the problem.

 

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