Engage Your People to Engage Your Customers

/Engage Your People to Engage Your Customers

Engage Your People to Engage Your Customers

Right now – as you are reading this sentence – 70 percent of your staff are alienating your customers, keeping you from achieving your goals, or costing your company money that could be used for more productive uses.

Scary, huh?

And true, according to the Gallup Management Journal’s Employee Engagement Index. The Gallup study reported that 71 percent of employees are either not engaged or, worse, actively disengaged.

What This Means For You

Employees who are not engaged (54% according to Gallup) tend to be task rather than goal oriented. They do exactly as told – nothing more or nothing less. Chances are they feel their talent is overlooked, or hesitate to share ideas that could make your operation better.

The actively disengaged (17%) undermine others’ performance. They voice their mistrust to co-workers, and their discontent is readily visible to everyone with whom they come in contact.

These are the people representing your brand in the marketplace. They – not your logo, tagline, or marketing campaign – send the real message to your customers about the promises your company makes and keeps.

You would have to be blind to miss the connection between a culture where people are engaged and committed and bottom-line results. But just in case you missed the obvious, ISR, a leading global employee research and consulting firm, gathered information from 664,000 employees around the world and simultaneously analyzed traditional financial measures from their companies over a 12-month period.

Companies where employees felt connected and engaged saw a 19.2 percent increase in operating income, while those where employees are not engaged saw a 32.7 percent decline. That is a difference of almost 52 percent.

What You Can Do Today

People want to work in a place where they can succeed and feel their contribution is appreciated. They want supervisors who care about them and their growth. They want to be challenged, and they want to feel proud of what they do and who they work for.

Here are seven things you can do immediately to connect with your staff:

1 Connect a clear focus for the business with individual performance. Specific goals and expectations linked to a common, compelling vision provide a sense of contribution and focus.

2 Provide the time, tools, and training to accomplish the job. Doing more with less does not mean doing everything with nothing. Frustration develops when barriers are erected that make success impossible. An investment in tools and training reinforces the idea that you want the business to succeed. Providing adequate time to accomplish the task sends the message that quality is important.

3 Make recognition and encouragement a priority. The best performers are internally motivated and hold themselves to a high standard. Sincere recognition to the stars ensures that they don’t look for a better environment in which to utilize their talents. Poor performers can be motivated by the realization that managers are willing to recognize their value rather than only look for the negative. The majority of employees do a good job each day. They view recognition as verification that their performance matters. A one-percent increase in performance from those who simply meet expectations makes a tremendous difference in the bottom-line.

4 Address poor performance. Good employees grow weary of shouldering more than their share of the performance load. There is no advantage and considerable harm in publicizing your efforts to improve someone’s performance. Straightforward, sincere efforts to help people improve will show up through a change in the individuals’ behavior.

5 Use honest mistakes as a learning opportunity. The most important lessons we learn in life often came from mistakes. So how are honest mistakes handled in your organization? People who feel punished for honest mistakes take great pains not to get caught. Communication becomes closed, and you lose the opportunity to share valuable knowledge that improves performance and results.

6 Remove a barrier every thirty to sixty days. Ask your staff to identify and prioritize the obstacles that prevent excellence. Begin with those that can be accomplished quickly and provide visible results. Utilize staff at all levels to design and implement solutions. When the list is exhausted, create a new one and renew the effort.

7 Have fun and promote personal relationships. Environments that promote laughter contribute to higher morale, improved productivity, and lowered on-the-job stress. Having fun is not just playing games or dressing up at Halloween. The ability to be relaxed and enjoy oneself creates passion in the workplace that increases loyalty and creates a bond between team members that decrease the desire to find something better.

The choice is clear: Allow disengaged staff members to define the relationship with your customers, or build a culture of connection and commitment that delivers amazing results. Which will you choose?