Back in 2014 Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk about how good leaders make others feel safe.
Using a real life story from a military officer sacrificing his life to save others, and paralleling the parental duty of sacrificing for the nurturing of one’s children, Sinek outlined how these examples don’t reflect the current mindset of most business leaders.
And, unfortunately five years later, this still remains true.
Take as a prime example the fiasco at WeWork and SoftBank’s handling of the startup’s fall from grace.
In the last couple of months, the workshare company went from a potentially highly valued IPO to tumbling to a fraction of their value and being run by main investor SoftBank. They removed founder and CEO Adam Neumann who effectively ran the company into the ground and bought him out for a $1.7 billion golden parachute.
That was October. Last week, just about 4 weeks after, 2400 WeWork employees were notified that they were being laid off. As one would guess, many employees are outraged about Neumann getting off free while others have to suffer for his financial improprieties and erratic behavior.
This example shows the pervasive business mindset of sacrificing employees for the sake of a leader’s own self, or company stock price, or profits. All the things that Simon Sinek outlined in his talk that good leaders do NOT do.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them.
Sinek also told the story of a company back in the great recession of 2008 that was faced with a 30% loss of sales during 2008 and their labor needed to be cut by millions of dollars. When the board asked for layoffs, the CEO refused and instead gave every employee (including himself) 4 weeks of compulsory unpaid leave to be taken any time they chose over the year. He told the employees it was better for everyone to suffer a little, rather than a few suffer a lot. They saved $20 million, and morale greatly improved. As the leader instilled a sense of trust in the culture, some employees started trading leave – taking 5 so another would take only 3.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them. And people only trust their leaders when they know that their leader will take the risk themselves, and first.
When leaders do this, the natural response of people is to trust in return and to likewise sacrifice for the good of the leader’s vision. Because their leader would have done the same for them.
Great leaders find a way to sacrifice for their people, even if it hurts.
You realize that it’s only a couple of days before the holidays, and you’ve missed the boat to do anything for your people.
Work can get so busy that before you know it, the holiday season upon you and here already. You’re still scrambling to accomplish year-end goals but also want to include your people in thanking them for their loyalty all year.
Just a few minutes to thank your people in these ways will show how they are truly valued in your organizationTweet
No worries, there is still time to give value and meaning to your teams. Here are eight quick and cost-effective ideas to thank your people:
- Buy them breakfast. Breakfast is a cheap meal alternative and a very fast on-the-fly menu. Very little planning needs to be involved here. Whether catered or picking up a bunch of baked goods and juices at the supermarket or a breakfast locale, you can start the days before Thanksgiving off in a nice way that shows your people that they’re appreciated. (Lunch and dinner can be done to this effect too, but breakfast is usually the least expensive and fastest route).
- Have an informal holiday meeting. You can even couple this with having a breakfast social. Gathering your people to tell them how much they are valued in your company and even highlighting some of the achievements of the past year shows them that they’re recognized for more than the results they generate and work they produce.
- Handwritten cards from the leadership team. The entire leadership group can divide and conquer to write off some nice holiday cards and pass them around to sign. For larger organizations, this may be the most effective way. Everyone (still) loves to get a tangible means of expression and thanks. Doing this during conference calls, meetings, or a little earlier in the morning can help get this effective means accomplished rather quickly.
- Buy a round of $20 grocery, gift, or gas cards. Usually, grocery cards are popular this time of year as everyone can use these for their families in hosting the holidays. Call the stores and find out if there are bulk discounts and take advantage of what they offer. Some may even allow you to place your order ahead and have ready for you to pick them up.
- Lift up those who’ve been down. Know those who are struggling during this time. Undoubtedly there are people hurting financially, or with an illness, loss of a loved one recently, or other hardship. Help them out however you can, and pay special attention that these folks aren’t herded into the rest of the group generically. Their circumstances will need some extra attention and will encourage them during these coming days.
- Remote conference calls, video chats, employee email. Especially for large and/or remote workforces, sometimes a quick impromptu 5-minute call or email that expresses sincere appreciation can be effective as people are still working into the holiday season. When you can’t meet them in person, meet them however you can.
- Ease up a bit. Sometimes the push of finishing the calendar year off strong coupled with the busyness of what the holidays bring to everyone’s personal lives creates a great deal of extra stress on your people. Being mindful and compassionate about what your people are burdened with and letting up a bit on work demands can show your people what they really mean to you.
- TBWA – Thank them by walking around. But when you can meet them in person, do so. Just having a boss or member of the leadership team shake their hand, pat them on the back, and look them in the eye with a genuine thanks goes a long way towards making someone feel highly esteemed in your organization.
Just a few minutes to thank your people in these ways will show how they are truly valued in your organization. You’ll be thankful you did!
What if you called a company to disclose a complaint with a product or service and you found yourself in the following conversation:
“Sorry, you’ll have to talk to your customer success manager.”
“But this is the number the website instructed me to contact.”
“I’m sorry, but the person in charge of your account will have to contact you regarding your concern.”
“Well, could you transfer me over to them?”
“They’re on vacation but I can put you through to their voicemail.”
“Isn’t there anyone who can help me in the meantime?’
In this scenario, no one else in the company took ownership for the customer’s experience. Unfortunately, thousands of transactions like this occur every day. And not all of these conversations are like the one mentioned above.
Some of the poorest customer experiences are because companies, and many times individuals or teams within those companies, choose to make things easier for themselves rather than the customer.
Make the CX a great one by making the experience about the customer.Tweet
Here are a few examples of poor excuses that get in the way of great customer experience:
- Your website is designed because it’s easier (and cheaper) for the IT department to maintain, rather than be simple for the customer to shop and navigate.
- Your staff are trained to hold fast to a black-and-white policy because of the impact to financials rather than make decisions closest to the customer to resolve the situation.
- An employee is allowed to continue with poor behavior to your customers because a manager doesn’t want to make waves and avoids the conflict of addressing the issue.
- Business integrations are made for the ease of one company but neglect the reporting or end user needs of the other parties involved in the transaction cycle.
- Customers are directed to buckets or silos (departments) when a complaint is brought up without giving them a chance to explain their concern to someone first because the main contact is not from the customer service or customer success team.
- Safety concerns are ignored in product development because of the time and money it would take to halt production and correct the issue.
- Companies choose chatbots, augmented reality and/or AI technology because it is easier and cheaper while customers continue to ask for more real-time, real-person and/or in-person experience to hear their concerns and help their experience.
It’s no wonder that the best and most recognized companies for their customer experience hold that as the chief core value above all else they strive for.
It’s due to a strong culture of the customer experience that a company will apply every procedure, every hire, every policy and every touchpoint against the CX in order to ensure their customers are not neglected but in fact positively impacted in their interactions with the company.
The spread across any industry from lowest to highest NPS scores shows that there is a wide gap between those companies that make things easy for the customer and those that make things easier for themselves.
Making the CX easier always takes some extra time and money, but the net result from that investment should pay off each and every time if your company manages everything else correctly.
A strong culture of customer experience drives a company to apply every procedure, every hire, every policy and every touchpoint to always positively impacts their customers.Tweet
As customers tend to have more access to information on who and where to do business, and the trends shows that they are more willing to switch after a poor experience than ever before, it’s a good idea to audit your CX to ensure everything the customer touches benefits them.
Because if it doesn’t, they will most likely leave and your company won’t benefit either.
Make the CX a great one by making the experience about the customer.