Read This Before You Consider Firing Your Problem Employee

Have you ever had or been that employee that just couldn’t get it together? Constantly late? Seemingly unhappy with the job or company? At the time, it may seem that the only resolution is to part ways. But, wait…

First, realize that the dissatisfied employee is not alone. As a matter of fact, they are part of the majority. According to the 2016 State of the American Workplace Gallup poll, 67% of those surveyed either hate their jobs or are completely disengaged. Sadly, that number hasn’t budged much over the past decade and a half, remaining between 67 and 72 percent since 2002. Why is that? The key is in the answer because it is estimated that lost productivity, stolen goods, and missed days of work cost the U.S. nearly $500 billion each year.

The troubled employee is either displaying passive aggressive behavior or outright complaining about his/her job or the company. Why shouldn’t you fire the employee? They have valuable information! Only they hold the true key to unlocking this mystery and with the statistics above, firing them may only result in a twin replacement. As a manager, executive, or business owner it is your job to find out if their unhappiness is personal in nature or if there is some substance displeasure that warrant a closer look and strategic action.

If they are in fact passive aggressive or have not expressly stated their issue, the best place to start is by asking why they are unhappy or what is the problem? That may sound simple and easy enough, but if they are already unhappy and disengaged, it may take some investigation and creativity to get them talking (or writing). Once they do, BE OPEN and LISTEN. A shocking, 96% of people do not voice complaints to the company involved, most of them simply walk away and never look back. The danger in them walking away is that you may never know the reason, how to fix it, and with whom they will share their experience. If you don’t know, you can’t adjust, adapt, or grow.

Approach the employee and issue with this in mind: When an employee is engaged and their needs (basic needs, individual needs, teamwork needs, personal growth needs) are met, they are emotionally and psychologically attached to their work and workplace. Subsequently, their individual performance increases and they drive their team and organization towards improved critical outcomes. It is guaranteed that the dissatisfaction lies in one or more of their needs not being met.

Out of your dialogue with the employee or employees you may glean an opportunity for individual coaching or a fresh look at some necessary changes. Do not be afraid to address the elephant in the room! If at the end of the conversation it is determined that the employee and the department or organization are not a good match, then be willing to admit it, help the employee understand it, and help them to find something else that fits. Ultimately, the key takeaways should include lessons learned and an action plan for both parties.

Is Customer “Service” Dead?

With the majority of businesses knee-deep in automation, the Internet, and technology, it is no wonder why customer service comes into question. Take the supermarkets for instance, it appears that nearly half of the lines are self-check out. The others are split between cashier and “express”. Sure, self checkout may be more convenient and somewhat faster. But how many times have you almost punched the machine because you scanned an item and placed it in the bag, only to be asked to remove your item and scan it again? Or your coupon didn’t work? Or you scan an item twice by accident? And the list goes on and on…. The point is that the technology is ideally more convenient, efficient, and cost-saving, but there is still need for human interaction and assistance.

Automation, Kiosks, Online, Outsourcing are all great ways of streamlining processes and better serving the customer. The transition seems to blurred the focus on the customer. The push to constantly become “faster”, “better”, “stronger” has removed us far from the personal touch customer service once had.

There is still hope! Business has transformed, therefore the approach to customer service management (CSM) must follow.  Enter the era of customer experience management (CEM). The customer experience engages a unique combination of the five senses and technology creating a lasting memory for the customer, leading them to return again and again. Invite customers to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear your business. An experience is more memorable and sensory than “service” (it’s a deeper connection).  According to Forbes contributor, Stephen Diorio (2016), successful customer experience strategies are inclusive of physiological, physical, or environmental tools.

Chick Fil-A, Disney, Starbucks, and Marriott are regularly praised for their attention to detail and creation of exceptional customer experience.

Here is the difference between good customer service and lasting customer experiences:

CUSTOMER SERVICE  

 

VS

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
“Hello, I’m Susan. How can I help you today?” “Hello, I’m Susan. May I call you Mrs. Jones or is there another name you prefer to be called?” “Ok. Mrs. Jones, I see you were having trouble with X on our website, is that why you are calling us today?”
Customer stands and waits for meal to be ready. “Order 154”. Order placed on counter for customer pick up. As customer awaits order, he/she is offered a seat and complementary beverage or small appetizer as they wait. “Joan, your order is ready. See you next time. Have a great week.”

 

The above examples are simple things that can make a big difference. Are you creating a customer experience or simply providing customer service? Start with a thorough review of where in the process your business can not only add value, but increase the customer experience. Then, create a corporate culture of exceptional client/customer experience and tolerate nothing less. You won’t end up out of business but, you will end up with talent who want to be there (for more than just a check) and those who are there to serve your customers.

In answer to the leading question, “Is Customer Service “dead”…The short answer is no. Customer service is not dead. Customer service is the caterpillar that has transformed into the customer experience butterfly!

Thinking about your business or industry, what can you do to keep that personal touch and ramp up your customer experience?

 

Looking to create an experience that will make your customers tell all of their friends and keep them coming back? Contact Diamond Strategic Management Design here.

Breakfast with a Side of Feedback

As a process improvement and customer service enthusiast, inefficiencies stand out to me like a marker in a haystack. I like to call these inefficiencies “opportunities”. Unfortunately, when opportunities and feedback are presented in the business setting, they are sometimes ignored.

Here’s my recent experience:

A few weeks ago, on early on a Sunday morning, I stopped in at my local IHOP restaurant to grab takeout for my all day meeting. It was around 9am so it wasn’t super busy inside (ikely because church hadn’t let out yet). There were a few wait staff scurrying around, a hostess, and an associate at the checkout counter. I was greeted by the front desk associate and offered a menu. I  placed my order, sat down, and observed as I waited.

The counter associate was taking telephone calls, telephone orders, and walk in orders as well as cashing out checks. I watched in awe as she was a jack of all trades. Business quickly picked up during my 20 minute wait and the line stretched to the inner entrance door. The look on her face screamed “help me, I’m overwhelmed!” Unfortunately, no one came to her aid. Finally, a very frustrated customer standing in line spoke up.

“Is somebody going to come and help her? This is ridiculous. She’s answering the phone, taking orders, and cashing us out. I mean, look at this line. You got waiters standing over there patting their heads and then you’re just standing there!” – Angry Anonymous Customer

This customer expressed her frustration to the hostess, whom I actually think may have been the manager on duty. The hostess simply stood behind the podium and indicatedthat there was nothing anyone else could do, “only one person can use the register.” I continued to watch in amazement. I understood everyone’s frustration. I was also appalled that no one did anything to relieve the line or the team member. The circus continued on as I grabbed my food and left.

The opportunity to recover the customer experience right way was lost in the moment. I left there with the impression that the team is disjointed and fail to support each other in crucial times. There was very valuable and crucial information in that angry customer’service feedback. To me, it screamed “where is your teamwork? Do you care about me? Do you hear me?” Managers and team members, treat your customer feedback as if it were a diamond. It is!

What are your thoughts? Have you been the customer or team member in a similar situation? How did you handle it?

5 Signs Poor Management is Ruining Your Team

Teams are made up of a diverse group of people, all with their own unique set of values, talents, and experiences. With that, there is no surprise that issues may arise. There are many reasons that the team dynamic could be off, but could management be one of them. How do you know if management, or lack thereof, is the reason your team is fizzling? Look for these five signs…

Communication

In any team, communication is the key to being a well-oiled machine and getting things done. It is often said, communication is a two-way street. Although cliche, it is very true. In instances where team members refuse to communicate with each other or are only communicating via email/text, the message can become distorted. Email and text communications have no emotion, no voice inflection, and no body language to help the reader understand the meaning. At the first sign of a communication breakdown within the team, there should be measures taken right away to address or correct the issue. If the team cannot “self-correct” this issue, a communication issue should never be ignored. It is the managers’ job to intervene, pinpoint the underlying issue(s), and facilitate a resolution.

Other communication issues include mixed messages and gossip. As yourself: Is the team receiving mixed messages? If members of the team interpret the same message differently, the answer is yes. The most obvious team communication issue is team members speaking negatively about each other behind their backs.

Why is this a management issue? Because, whether or not team members are able to openly and clearly communication with each other is reflective of the manager(s) above them. For example, if the manager is regularly in their office with the door closed, it would be hard to notice or even address any communication issues. As previously mentioned, these types of issues should be addressed right away. Avoiding or ignoring them, like the elephant in the room, will only give them more time to snowball into bigger issues.

Micro-management/Do-overs/Double-work

A manager should not be performing any tasks that are the responsibility of anyone else on their team. Unless, of course, the team member is out and the manager is covering for them. Roles and responsibilities should be clear to everyone on the team. All team members should be clear on their role and responsibilities as well as accountable for such. The manager should not feel compelled to assign a task and then complete it themselves or go back over it to do it their way. This is not only micro-managing and double-work, but it creates an air of distrust, showing the team or team member that they are not trusted. Management should ensure that there is clarity on directions and deadlines for assigned tasks and follow up only after the deadline has passed. Otherwise, be clear that the team members are encouraged to reach out should they need help or wish to give updates.

If a manager finds that they are wasting time (yes, wasting) micro-managing or re-doing work, there may be opportunity for individual or group coaching. First, the manager may need to do some reflection to see if these wasteful practices are self-inflicted or an indication that some processes need improvement.

Burn-Out

Yes, burn-out is a poor management concern. Both Forbes and Harvard Business Review have identified employee burn out as a company issues and not an employee issue as once believed.

An excerpt from HBR states: “The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and far too little time for creative work” (Garten, 2017).

Aside from creating unhealthy team members, the team is also at a greater risk for losing team members completely.  Teams and team members suffering from burn out or severe stress are a sign that roles and responsibilities need to be realigned, processes need to be improved, and/or the team is understaffed.

Singled-Out

The word team indicates togetherness and a common-goal. With that in mind, no one team member should feel singled-out. Nor should cliques within a team be acceptable (or overlooked). Cliques and loners create a divide in the team and often an “imaginary” hierarchy.

Again, departmental or work unit culture comes into play. When management becomes aware of these types of disconnections, critical conversations and creative solutions to get the team aligned are key.

Inefficient Processes

Process improvement should be a regular occurrence in every department, work unit, and business. Process improvement helps to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and create best practices. Everyone on the team should be trained to recognize opportunities for process improvement, how to report them, and document recommendations.

Inefficient process in a team indicate that the team manager is either not as vigilant as they should be, the team is not properly trained on process improvement, or the team is not empowered to improve their own work processes.

 

Ultimately, these five team issues are reflective of poor management because the manager sets the culture for the work environment. If you are on a team or managing a team that is displaying any of these issues, take some time to assess the underlying causes and a plan to realign. It is never too late to regroup, however the longer these issues linger, the harder it may be resolve them and get back together. Even losing “problem” team members and adding new ones won’t fix the issue.

 

What are your thoughts on Poor management and Team issues?

 

Are you having team issues and looking to rebuild or realign? Diamond Strategic Management Design can help. Reach out via my Contact page or at http://www.diamondstrategicmanagement.com