If you lead or manage a team, you know the damage a disengaged employee can cause. Productivity and team morale suffers and so does the customer experience. Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to slip into punisher mode or head-in-sand mode rather than address off-course behaviors in a way that inspires lasting positive change. What can you do to create strong team trust, integrity, and engagement? Here are five overlooked essentials you can do NOW:
1. Set a service standard for yourself.
It’s not just what you say; it’s what you do, especially under pressure that defines your leadership success. Anyone inside the company whose job is affected by your work is your internal customer. How you treat your team, peers and people in other departments has an impact on customer service because of this simple fact – what happens on the inside of the company eventually shows up on the outside. Research has proven that performance rises and turnover lowers when employees are happy and engaged. And that only happens when you take time to regularly acknowledge what people are doing well and communicate respectfully.
2. Make the vision of service excellence real.
Make it tangible, easy to remember, and a driving force in your leadership decisions. Sprinkle that service-minded vision into all of your internal communications like newsletters, staff meeting agendas and bulletin boards. When every employee is clear on the vision, their behaviors, thoughts, and actions are more likely to align.
3. Meet fear with a focus on the big picture.
Resist the urge to let fear about losses, economic shifts, and temporary setbacks tempt you to allow quality standards to drop. It’s more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep your current customers. Don’t underestimate the significance that quality service has on customer loyalty. Customers stick with and are willing to pay more to companies that offer predictably superb customer experiences.
4. Use a measurable system to stay accountable to service initiatives.
A strong service culture requires full leadership participation. Peer-to-peer and 360-degree reviews can do wonders – keeping everyone engaged and aligned with the mission of service excellence. Suppose you enforce the six-foot rule, requiring every employee to look up, smile and greet anyone who comes within six feet of them. Some managers may be less enthusiastic about enforcing that rule, especially when their department isn’t customer-facing. Knowing that leaders and team alike will be evaluated by their peers offers that added accountability. This creates an upward spiral of success.
5. Set boundaries on inappropriate actions you’ve been tolerating.
There’s a difference between tolerance and compassion. Compassion builds a connection. Tolerating breaks it down. Are you tolerating team members who ditch responsibilities, disrespect, or drain the enthusiasm out of co-workers? What would happen if you used your “internal customer service” leadership skills to approach them with compassion? Discuss what you’ve observed, outline the facts and effects their actions are having, and invite them to have a brave conversation with you. Support them in adopting a new view and layout actions to be taken. Don’t forget to be open to learning something you might not have known. Communication is a two-way street. It helps to view their mistakes and yours as a form of accelerated learning. Boundary setting takes courage, but makes all the difference in the world, especially to the rest of the team.
What do you think? What other leadership essentials would you add to this list?
Marilyn Suttle works with leaders and teams who want to create unbreakable bonds of loyalty and engagement. She helps people make Suttle Shifts for breakthrough success in business and in life. She’s an inspirational speaker and three-time bestselling author.
Sucess resources include:
Color Their World activity and coloring book
Who’s Your Gladys & Taming Gladys bestselling customer service books
The Customer Service Roadmap online course