News Flash for Business Owners: Your employees are your most under-utilized, leverageable and accessible asset in your company.
Every day, your employees interact with people on the phone, at meetings, in the halls, and on their computer. When they leave your facility, they go to stores, restaurants, gyms, banks, and bars. They call, text, post, comment, upload, Skype, and email.
With all of that communication, you gotta wonder…
When they talk about your company, are they saying good things? When they speak to your customers, prospects, and network, are they reflecting a positive company image?
In other words, do your employees act as committed, passionate ambassadors for your brand?
If you are a business owner who can unequivocally shout “Yes!” then congratulations! On the other hand, if you think your internal team could take brand representation to the next level, then here are some suggestions for you.
Develop company values
One of the first things that we do at Kinesis when we work with our clients is to lead a strategic planning day. During this session, one of our key focus areas is to build living, breathing values. These values are actionable statements that guide your team in their decision-making processes.
Core values should describe the collective behaviors of an organization and what is important to it. They drive the day-to-day actions of how employees act with customers, prospects, vendors, and partners.
Once you’ve developed core values, weave them into every aspect of your business. For instance, here are some of the ways our clients have incorporated their values into their company:
- Talk about them at staff meetings
- Explain them to new hires at their orientation
- Measure employees’ performance based on them
- Ask your team how they can implement values into more aspects of the business
- Incentivize managers for instilling values in their department
- Reward employees for acting in alignment with your values
- Write your marketing materials around your values
- Include your values in your job descriptions
Serve your customers, exceptionally
Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.
- Tom Peters, business author and speaker
Customer service isn’t a department – it isn’t even a function. Customer service is an expression that is tired and trite. If it were up to me, I’d throw it out of our business language and have each company come up with a unique expression of what it means to their company to serve their customers.
Instead of customer service, begin to think about how you can make your company extraordinary. Ask yourself (and your team), what stake can we put into the ground that says, “We do this one thing better and different than any other company…and we always serve you, our best-fit customer, in a remarkable way.”
I really like the Zappo’s core values, especially their first one: “Deliver WOW Through Service.” If you have time, go to the Zappo’s website and click on each one of their values to read their elaboration of each value. Below their Wow Value, they write:
At Zappos, anything worth doing is worth doing with WOW.
“WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.”
Imagine if the way in which your company served your customers was in alignment with this value. What if every single person in your organization delivered WOW, day in and day out? Do you think that would change the experience that people had with your brand?
Hire and nurture A+ players
One of the big problems that we see in professional service firms is employees who hold back the growth of the company. Perhaps you can relate. There are certain employees who whine, bring drama to work, consistently under-perform, make too many mistakes, require constant hand holding, and/or rub other team members the wrong way.
They are not delivering a WOW experience.
Conversely, an A+ player – in any position of your company – will help grow your revenue, bring new ideas and solutions to your organization, make other employees enthusiastic, and consistently infuse your business with optimism and energy. This type of person is excited to live your values, passionately express your brand, and deliver WOWs.
Create a recruiting and hiring system that attracts top talent – people who bring a strong skill set and personality that align with your company values.
Make your company a great place to work. This vibrant environment will help retain top talent. One way to do this is to develop opportunities within your company for training and advancement. Great people are not just hired; they are crafted. Many of your existing team members can be trained to be great. People respond to great leaders – they will help achieve your vision if you clearly identify expectations and show that you truly care about them.
Create a “we” organization with an atmosphere of transparency and open communication. Ensure your leadership listens to the front line as much the other way around. Find a myriad of ways to say “thank you” to your team. Celebrate successes and acknowledge people for their work.
Grow your people
Read Jim Collins’ “From Good to Great” and Bradford D. Smart’s “Topgrading” for more tips on how to hire and nurture great employees.
Employees matter, a lot. The success of your company depends on how each individual employee feels and speaks about your company. They have the potential to be your biggest advocates, positively reflecting your business in the myriad of ways they communicate every day. Your team is the engine that can catapult your company upward. Bottom line: treat them well.