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CHANGE … which Values and Empowers your Team January 28, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Business Excellence, Change Management, Leadership, Learning Organization, Process Improvement, Team Building, Uncategorized.
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Many people find it extremely difficult to grow their organizations, because they feel that size alone restricts their ability to manage the company expansion, while still trying to maintain the same feel and culture. They sense that they can’t be on top of all of the issues as they have in the past… Guess what? … You can’t!
The critical element is that this is very much about scaling an approach of excellence across new people, new processes and then getting the desired results. The “why” of valuing your people is really the solution to the issue of managing your growth while scaling with an eye to quality. More importantly when you are people-centric you now have the ability to be the leader not the manager. This approach encourages the growth you so desperately want to encourage.

Six Rules for Change - Diagram by Esther Derby
Even more importantly, you can now duplicate and innovate as you grow because your people bring their best ideas as well. It is all about insuring that there will be ongoing productivity and your team itself can respond to challenges that may not exist currently.

The critical question then becomes “how” can I accomplish this… when I have been hands-on for such a long time? This can be a challenge but begin to build a team you can trust and then connect with them. You should know, and they should know, that you will always back them up with your support when they take care in their decision making. Be consistent in your expectations and your feedback. An article by Jeff Haden, that was in Inc Magazine, may quickly offer you a sense of these ideas and why it is so important.

You should set objectives that make sense and expectations that are transparent to your team. The balance comes in your people leadership, and how you respond to your employees and celebrate their success and innovation. If there is a need to critique or criticize, don’t do it in a public forum that would serve to embarrass or impede that enthusiasm. Encourage a sense of value for ways to continually enhance the process and increase the product improvement.

This is a way to grow … and more importantly grow your team in the process.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective


Becoming a Great Learning Organization January 15, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Business Excellence, Change Management, Excellence, Learning Organization, Process Improvement, Team Building.
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We use all sorts of words to describe a variety of today’s organizations that want to achieve a high level of excellence in their daily process and product. Very early on in this effort, we set out to identify best practices that seem to help us identify and repeatedly function at a level above the competition. We seek ways that allow us to further capture an improving and Continuous Improvement process to then stay on top.

This Learning Organization model can have some built in pitfalls because of the expectations we put on our people as well. A recent Harvard Business article (with over a decade of research) identified some of the human impacts and reactions that we face in this push for a rush to excellence. It stated that “Biases cause people to focus too much on success, take action too quickly, try too hard to fit in, and depend too much on experts.”

In the process of identifying what we do and how we do it, the process becomes all encompassing. We create a vision of what we really want to accomplish. There becomes a real urgency to take advantage of this new mindset. We push forward to implement and try to effectively communicate the change. We then find a way to establish the improved process as a standard. Researchers and Professors like John Kotter have frequently delineated many of the steps that are necessarily part of effectively rolling out a real “Change Initiative”.

On the people side of the whole effort, we then have the some traditional biases crepe in. Example is the fear of failure or how we each see ourselves respond, either from learning to grow or others that are so fixed in their ways that they can’t grow or adapt. So management responds to a demand for action and ways to then also measure that action. Sometimes less is indeed more in the whole process.

One of the things that I learned early on, is that failure plays a stronger role in the strength of real learning than success does. You literally need to work harder to insure that a growing department or new group really understand the minutia behind attained success. It was a lesson from the sports world but really applies in an even greater sense in a traditional business environment.

A critical element that is obvious, is you need to hire good and thoughtful people, but also hire people that know you want them to offer their input. If you aren’t going to encourage your people to be part of the solution you will never establish a continuous improvement model. Within this approach you truly want your people to build from their own strengths and on their own strengths.

I have a personal critique that you also need to uncover not only your team’s strengths but identify their own natural weaknesses. What a gift to offer both to your people. If done correctly it will also build a more realistic Team Environment, and prevent people from sharing their own “strengths” as a kind of free pass to try and dominate new change decisions.

The second to last piece can be difficult as well. A Harvard Business Journal article indicated that you may be too inclined to rely on outside experts to bring the level of expertise to the team. In today’s world it is quickly overdone and over emphasized. Educational credentials only go so far. You have to be able to build consensus and expertise within the organization. Direction is one thing but involvement and actions are imperative.

Finally communication becomes the ongoing challenge at every turn. It is critical to insure that you believe and involve all of your people in the learning movement. You can’t have a process which says only management has a role in defining what we do and how we do it. You need buy-in and actions which are driven by actual ideas from your hands-on-team. This approach will either allow you to drive forward in quickly finding real adoption or spiral into a world of inconsistency and repeatable team progress. An Involved Business Team will find the way to succeed.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective

Customer Service Excellence – a Total Approach January 8, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Business Excellence, Change Management, Customer Experience, Customer Service Excellence, Excellence, Process Improvement, Training.
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The conversation was initially about mastering the art of delivering Customer Excellence. It came up in a specific conversation, but it doesn’t really matter whether it was first needed at the factory, at the point-of-sale, within a complaint communication or even at a Call Center. Everyone agrees that they want a better way to maximize a positive Customer Experience.
There has been a lot of studies to try to determine how Excellence exists in any business (Peters, Blanchard, Collins, etc) and how it is developed and maintained. For purposes of this discussion it has all to do with responding to and interacting with a customer. I would argue that being proactive on the front end, before any “complaint” develops, is also crucial to the entire outcome. But let’s just say in this review we want to only address the Customer Experience and Customer Service element.

I was specifically asked how we managed the process and delivery of the experience. What most people understand is that effectively planning and then training your people is critical. My own argument is that you need to first vitally understand that all of your people come from a different learning make-up. However if you understand the importance of an empowered training program then it comes down to some critical implementation and action steps.

It is important to involve all of your people in realizing the true value of empathizing with your clients and re-enforce that regularly. Secondly the message needs to be focused on handling the customer concern professionally and with more than just words. Third there needs to be a critical follow-up that insures that you demonstrate you want your customer to be satisfied not just pacified. I would say that Gregg Lederman does a great job of drilling down into your employees intrinsic involvement as described in his book “Engaged“. In fact Greg also relates that with your own people it’s initially 1% training and ultimately 99% reminding.

I differ in the actual percentage required for the proper training program like in The Amazement Revolution by Shep Hyken he illustrates Seven Strategies to drive the Customer Service Experience. Change is also part of this internal process and it requires knowing and practice. The psychology behind what your people actually say to a customer or client needs to be learned. You can leave the wrong impression if something is simply voiced with the wrong words, tonal quality or even facial expression.

Finally the ability to maintain this progress and insure the approach with your own people is more about The Power of Thanks (Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine) than just a reminder. It’s really not about simply ranking outcome performance or listening in on conversations. Build up your team and you’ll build that performance which your customers will feel and genuinely appreciate.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective