We’ve all been acquainted with the WII-FM attitudes from people in various organizations.
The WII-FM culture (What’s In It For Me?) stems from a lack of leadership to align it’s people with customer-centric and altruistic ways of assisting those they serve.
Some areas you may have seen this are:
- The stock clerk who never makes eye contact
- A doctor who talks more than the patient does
- The sales rep who’s concerned about their commission
- A mechanic at the service desk who ignores the customer in line
- The bank cashier who shuts down the window just as you approach (it’s break time after all)
These people may say they like to take care of their customers, but deep down their behavior and actions belie what they core value truly is.
Yet truly great people come from great organizations that foster a servant attitude in their entire company.
A servant attitude doesn’t mean the oft mis-aligned connotation of servant; it means having an attitude of “I’m here to service YOU”, the customer, instead. It’s a culture of putting oneself aside to take care of the needs of another throughout the workday. In fact, it’s what we’re paid to do.
It’s the effort to keep the store clean, know your customer, and talk about the products that makes Trader Joe’s stores a favorite among grocers. The staff are eager to find boxes for customers with heavy loads of loose cranberry juice bottles, and take time to comment on the items being purchased, all in a non-pushy, friendly and casual way.
Servant attitudes are Southwest Airline employees empowered to take care of travelers, always be cheerful and humorous, and do everything possible to make a flier comfortable for the ride. It’s that type of environment that has driven them to be the highest preferred airlines for many years.
One of the best examples of servant attitudes has to be Chick-Fil-A. When employees and managers consistently tells guests “It’s my pleasure”, it’s only a matter of time before that attitude becomes part of the employee’s DNA. There is not a visit goes by without the “Certainly” or “Thank You” that emanates from the staff in their pursuit of taking care of customers first and having a culture that backs it up.
Whatever your personal or corporate agenda is, nothing can differentiate you towards success and customer loyalty than aligning your people with a proven servant attitude. From top-to-bottom and side-to-side, an organization that consistently drives this type of culture will not have to worry about what their competitors are doing. And neither will your customers.
A couple of months ago I filled out an online survey that asked for feedback on my recent shopping experience.
While my overall visit was good, there where some issues I wanted to put down in the survey. But much to my chagrin, there was no opportunity for my feedback.
The survey was limited to 5 questions on a rated 1-to-5 scale. While I could answer those questions with a solid favorable across the board, their questions were confined just to those few areas and did not touch upon anything I wanted to address.
In addition, there was no open comment section that I could free form any feedback. Overall, I was penned into giving feedback on what they wanted me to provide.
How many times have we experienced a situation like this? The ask for feedback that actually pigeon-holes the respondent to give the canned answers that are wanted – and not necessarily needed – to be asked.
Successful organizations want open straight and honest feedback. Those that don’t want to have their shortcomings exposed or recognized have adopted blind spots in their culture which are an indication of larger looming issues to come.
There are numerous feedback traps that exists, such as the asking for the following:
- Customer feedback
- Staff feedback
- Employee reviews
- Managerial reviews
- Demographic surveys
- Journalistic surveys
The easier and all too common result that comes from many of these surveys or feedback forums is that the feedback is limited, truncated to those few items that the company wants.
Where this becomes dangerous is when an organization purposely restricts feedback and manipulates the questions to garner a more favorable response, or squelch open talk and straightforward communication. The questions are often construed to elicit a favorable response by carefully chosen words.
The results themselves are thus manipulated, fashioned in such a way that the end scores give a favorable but less than holistic view of what is truly the real feedback of the organizations performance. Net promoter scores then don’t show that lack of customer confidence that exists; employee surveys show alignment when there is actually culture rot and high workplace stress; and yet the company touts how successful they are to the public.
The leadership then gets a biased view of their performance, often promoting their success and how well they are doing out to the marketplace, shareholders, or even internally to display how great they are. Instead, they fail to give an opportunity to expose their flaws, ways to improve, and more critically, areas in which they can instill greater trust and confidence among their people and their customers.
All companies and organizations need to challenge themselves to create feedback mechanisms that lay open potentially fatal flaws in their system. Good feedback is getting honest answers from what you ask. Effectively great feedback is receiving straight input on any topic at any given time.
Don’t shortchange your customers, staff, or your organization by limiting feedback. We have the communication tools to facilitate this like never before, if we choose to use them honestly and wisely for the greatest effect to those we impact.
Generations ago the typical work week as Monday through Friday from 9am until 5pm. Needless to say that model rarely if ever exists today.
Most workplace environs run beyond the old school work week. Banks have been open Saturday mornings for many years. The service industries of retail and restaurant have grown past blue law Sundays and even run 24 hour operations (such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart). The trucking industry has been on the go around the clock for decades. Healthcare facilities need 24 hour care workers, and electrical workers need to be on call for many hours at a time due to storms.
And thinking more long term, many companies span time zones and countries, making a leader’s task of connecting with their people more challenging than ever before.
In order to be an effective leader, you cannot stay within the confines of a work timeframe that is comfortable for you, especially when your people look up to you. The best leaders find ways to reach out and impact their teams during times that it is not convenient for themselves, in order to tie together the people who work in these expanded time workplaces.
Here are some real-life examples of how effective leaders work across today’s round-the-clock and/or round-the-globe organizations:
- They know their job is to serve their employees and put personal convenience aside for that end.
- They use the old and still effective management-by-walking-around method to physically be at those places or shifts to connect with those teams.
- They set aside some of their work for off-hours and ensure their working day is in support of the mission-critical actions of the organization.
- They show up unexpectedly on a day off or holiday to lend their support.
- These leaders work long days to connect with second shift or come in extra early to meet with the 3rd shift and break down those silos.
- The best leaders will often travel to remote locations to ensure culture permeate the local area and that they feel connected to the homebase.
- They use technology like Zoom, Skype, and other online platforms to host meetings and live discussions.
- They make those team building conference or person-to-person calls at 2 am to reach that team across the globe.
- They don’t see their role as having arrived and not needing to put for the extra effort. They see their role as having greater scope and responsibility and needing to extend themselves even further for the organization to succeed.
If you’re company extends across shifts or time zones, you have opportunity today like never before to effect a winning culture and connect with your people. Leaders will make the effort, managers and supervisors will not.