The Intangible Things Employees Want from Employers

An interesting article looking at research in to engaging employees. It introduces the ‘me-to-we continuum’ encouraging organisations to tune in to the needs of employees to deliver better outcomes for all.

“The acid test of a satisfying employee-employer relationship is rooted in a set of specific behaviors along the “me-to-we continuum.” The best employers help us each achieve our personal “me” goals and dreams on the one hand, while simultaneously collaborating with us to solve more generalized “we” worries about the economy, the environment, the world on the other hand. And, in between the “me” and “we” extremes, there are a variety of ways that employers can enrich the lives of employees and communities alike”.

How in tune is your current organisational strategy?

Source: The Intangible Things Employees Want from Employers

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The workshop won’t allow it!

How often to we hear that one part of an organisation will not allow another part to deliver a service because the policies and procedures get in the way of common sense?

He is a local example of what happens in practice.

I have been talking to a motorcycle dealer recently about the option to change my bike.

Now the sale team have been really good at giving me access to ride the bikes that I wanted at a time that suited me. They have fed me coffee, and spent time trying to understand my needs.

Despite their best endeavours the dreaded computer systems managed to get in their way at regular intervals.  I have been asked for me address, and email address on a number of occasions, by the same two people for different computer systems!

In conversation the other day I found out that because this particular branch of the dealership is too successful they register some sales via their other dealerships. You will never guess why – because the supplier sets the dealers targets on an annual basis to sell units.

If they appear too successful then the supplier increases the targets to the point that the dealership begins to lose revenue! so, the dodge is to register units at different dealerships to disguise the success on one branch. making efficiencies

This makes good business sense for the dealer who is bound by the stupid rules of the supplier, who doubtless thinks that it is being clever.

The rub for the dealer in question is that this means that they have to travel backwards and forwards up and down the motorway to register vehicles at different locations to bend the rules set by the supplier.

Step back and hopefully you can see the madness in this target. The waste and additional cost that is incurred by the dealer to bend the rules to maximise the income from the supplier and manage the outcome performance at the year-end.  Not to mention the impact upon the customer!

This is sadly not unusual in businesses, who for reasons best known to themselves put in place silly rules and procedures in an effort to control the market place.

In reality of course the same number of units is sold in the market place what ever the supplier decides, but because the rules the dealer has to manipulate the data to make the system work.

So that’s seems pretty normal, but then the stupidity really starts. I have received a great service from the guys at the front line trying to sell me a bike, they have done what they can to help me make an informed choice about a replacement bike.

All is going well, until I receive a call from my nice sales guy to tell me that I must pay a bit more cash over as a deposit because ‘ the workshop aren’t very busy today and want to work on preparing my new bike’ sounds good I thought, but then the bombshell.

The workshop won’t start the work until I have topped up my deposit to cover their costs!!

Guess what the sales team don’t run the business the workshop does! Now in truth it’s not the fault of the workshop manager. It’s his boss.

You see even though this is a small dealership they have very clear lines of demarcation. Functional specialisation on steroids.

They clearly have separate profit centres. If the workshop do work for sales and it does not follow through to a sale then the workshop loses out financially.

So the system quickly begins to breakdown from a customer perspective. What starts life as great customer service ends up as a trade-off between sales and the workshop and guess what –  the customer loses out big time.

Now it does not have to be this way. It’s a relatively small business, it has two locations. The systems in place plausibly look like they are adding value to the business, but in truth they all run around with bits of paper and talk to one another all the time, so what’s the need for a CRM style system.

Functionalisation is driving cost in to the organisation. I know from the relationship that I have built up that the margin on the sale is not huge, so why burn profit undertaking bureaucratic nonsense that makes life worse for the customer.

And as for the supplier of the product –  well it is a great product, but its relationship with its dealerships is based purely on number of units,  and yet its philosophy seems intended to be more customer centric.  The lesson here is about the unintended consequences of targets against longer term vision.

In the end I take delivery of a vehicle that does not have all of its accessories fitted. Some did not turn up in time, other bits are still awaiting for collection at the other franchise.

I need to spent time at some point going back for rework. In effect lost time and effort for the workshop who did not get it right first time, because the parts did not arrive at the right time.

Great product, with enthusiastic people trying to do the right thing within a system that makes it difficult to get it right first time: can the leaders spot the room for improvement I wonder?

Do you see parallels in your own organisation?

We help leaders to purposefully reflect upon their current challenges, and identify practical and pragmatic ways of getting balance back into the demands upon your life, and delivering positive results in work and life.

Our one to one support will help you to cut through to the nub of your personal challenges and help you to facilitate a way forward that will give you: –

  • Clarity around the key business issues that you are facing and a clear approach to tackle them
  • New capabilities, and capacity to meet future challenges 
  • Greater personal job satisfaction
  • Strategies to deal more effectively with difficult people or situations in your working life

To find out more about how we can help you move your business forward please follow this link. Helping leaders develop new habits

A dislocated approach to organisational change

What brings you to this article?

  • Having to down size and make tough choices
  • Running lots of projects
  • Chasing impossible targets
  • Too many things to do
  • Working too many hours
  • Losing employees due to poor morale
  • Or is something else that’s bugging you

Here is a short article that Phil wrote based upon his own life experience that holds a mirror to organisational life as a senior leader. How much of it can you relate to?

Sitting in Urgent Care nursing a dislocated collarbone.

Don’t ask – boys will be boys!

I began to wonder after the pain had subsided how I would cope with one useful arm.

It’s amazing how much we take for granted in our everyday lives.shoulder sling

For most of us normal everyday functioning is achieved at the level of the subconscious. Automated routines are played out by our bodies every second of our lives without any major reference to the conscious mind.

We could not function without such programming.

All of a sudden I was faced by the reality that my left arm would be out of action for a while, and I would have to figure out how I could run my life.

Automated routines running in my subconscious would only cause me pain, and result in a failure to get even the most basic of activities completed.

I began to think about the parallels with modern organisational life: blame the strong painkillers the nursing team prescribed me at the hospital.

It dawned upon me that most organisations operate on autopilot to get things done.

Policies, procedures and practices are prescribed within the hierarchy to set up the organisations ‘subconscious behaviour’: it’s culture.

Of course in practice employees form the organisations sub conscious – they learn the routines, cues and responses until they too become automated in to everyday actions.

In truth anyone that has been in the same job for more that a few months will be performing mainly on autopilot, largely unaware of what they are doing, and how they are doing it.

I believe that the analogy also holds true for the approach to efficiency savings, and organisational change.

For years now we have been taking cost out of our organisations – slimming down, chopping back, reprioritising. Caught in the world of benchmarking, best practice, and inspection we see the same mistakes often repeated over and over again across business and commerce.

In my experience leaders often fail to see an organisation as a living entity.

It is the physical actions and responses of people employed on behalf of the organisation that bring it to life. A living system that runs on autopilot until something catastrophic happens to destablise the current situation.

Now dependent upon the size of the catastrophe we can fall back on coping strategies.

In the case of organisations we have a tendency to look back in to the past to see what we have done before, and if we can make it fit this time.

Someone scrambles to sort out a temporary fix; Just like the sling and the drugs that the nurse gave me in the treatment room to make me feel more comfortable, and to take away the pain.

In many organisations a series of temporary fixes have been put in place over time to make things work.

The problem is that the closer you get to the front line the more dislocated the functioning of the organisation becomes; the more ‘work arounds’ are put in place at a local level to enable the system to continue to work.

Unlike the human body the ‘corporate brain’ in an organisation tends to be isolated, away from the immediate functioning of the core operation.

The pain and discomfort of the impact of indiscriminate action e.g. salami slicing budgets over time upon the customer and the front line is not directly felt by the ‘corporate brain’ and so actions carry on regardless of the pain suffered at the front line.

So, organisational leaders genuinely have a tough job to do to continue to figure out how to make ends meet going forward.

It would be wise to spend more time understanding the real impact, and unintended consequences, of the decisions already taken; with the help of colleagues on the front line to figure out the damage that may already have been done.

The equivalent of a sling and a few painkillers is not a sustainable solution.

We help leaders to purposefully reflect upon their current challenges, and identify practical and pragmatic ways of getting balance back into the demands upon your life, and delivering positive results in life and work.

Our one to one support will help you to cut through to the nub of your personal challenges and help you to facilitate a way forward that will give you: –

  • Clarity around the key business issues that you are facing and a clear plan to tackle them
  • New capabilities, and capacity to meet future challenges 
  • Greater personal job satisfaction
  • Strategies to deal more effectively with difficult people or situations in your working life

To find out more about how we can help you move your business forward please follow this link. Helping leaders develop new habits

Fake Tan, and the Tudors

£30 to remove fake tan!

I know can you believe it?Tan by artur84

I was talking to someone recently who had hired a lodge at a Medieval Hall near Preston as part of a birthday celebration.

Now bare in mind that this is a venue used for weddings, so they will have made a few grand during the day on the hire of the venue, food, champagne for the toast etc.

Now most decent venues usually do something to make the night one to remember for the couple. You know flowers, chocolates in the room, a bottle of bubbly.. Well they do non of that!

Not many would expect a £30 charge if you get fake tan on the bedding now would they?

But there it was a notice in the room giving the incumbents fair warning that a charge would be made for getting tan on the sheets.

Fortunately the birthday party had all been on holiday, and so did not need to apply fake tan. So far so good, however,

It gets worse!

The group involved in the birthday party sleep over got charged a premium the following morning!

Yes, they slept in the beds! And as a result got charged an excess for the change of linen after they had left.

You could not make it up.

Customer service from the dark ages. I suppose that it is in perfect keeping with the age of the venue. But in this day and age how long can it keep going with this type of behaviour?

Sky junk mail

A few months ago after 13 years as a loyal customer of Sky we parted company. A hopeless situation.making efficiencies

I was looking for a better deal they just wanted to up sell me broadband and phone.

A targeted sales operation cynically positioned as a way of reducing cost. After a good 40 minutes of chatter I gave up and terminated the relationship.

Ever since the marketing department had bombarded me with deals to entice me back. How ridiculous can it get?

If the customer services function and the sales/ marketing departments considered working together the could retain more customers. Instead they are set up to compete. That’s why the fees are so high in the first place.

Lots of money poured down the pan chasing customers. Why not try something novel and look after the ones you already have.

What a mad world we live in!

Sky if you are reading this please do us a favour and stop sending us junk mail with offers in them. It’s too late you had your chance and you blew it.

Easier to break into a prison?

Just tired to get to talk to someone via the Post Office call centre about one of their products and almost gave up.

I think that was really what they wanted me to do – give up!

Every IVR connection that I made pushed me towards the web site. The answers that I had already found did not answer my question.

When I did get through I spoke to a young women who clearly did not really want to speak to me. She tried to close the call at every opportunity.

I persisted to get the answers that I wanted. It’s a shame really because they have a really good product. A pity that they have bred a call centre culture that behaves like all the others. Time bound, and target driven.

BT gets termination notice on £300m outsourcing contract

Yet another example of the prevailing logics in business that fail to deliver the services that local people have a right to expect. #leadershiphabits

Campaign4Change

By Tony Collins

Sandwell Council has issued BT with a 30-day termination notice on a 15-year £300m outsourcing contract that has yet to reach its half-way point.

The metropolitan borough council says there are various defaults BT needs to resolve. Based at Oldbury, West Midlands, about five miles from Birmingham, Sandwell has been an outsourcing reference site for BT.

The company quoted Sandwell Council in its presentations that formed part of the bidding for Cornwall Council’s planned outsourcing work.

The “guaranteed” savings in Sandwell’s contract with BT appear to be based on a level of spending the council is not maintaining. One point of contention appears to be the council’s wish for BT to reduce its charges to the council in line with the authority’s lower levels of activity.

In June 2012 Sandwell submitted a change request that asked BT to recalculate the annual service charge because the service volumes delivered…

View original post 797 more words

Emergency Mental Health Care

Insight into the operational reality at the front line. A complex world of competing demands brought about through functionalisation, and stereotypical thinking.

Mental Health Cop

Last month it was announced that a newly invigorated Care Quality Commission will undertake a review of emergency mental health care.  This follows on from several things and is much broader than the issues arising from the Adebowale Report – recently, this independent Commission into policing and mental health in London which has national implications.  The Adebowale Report made 28 recommendations, two-thirds of which relate to health and social care and so it was well said that “The Metropolitan Police can’t do this alone”.  It was (partly) in response to those issues that the CQC announced their review.

What else could be done? – well, most operational police officers could list a range of things from our experience and if anyone thinks I’ve missed any points here, you should feel free to let me know or add a comment to the blog below.  I’m going to make sure via…

View original post 2,525 more words

We would like you to come back to us…

One afternoon I reflected upon how much we were spending on watching TV.

We had been loyal customers of Sky for 13 years.P1040211

We needed satellite because we are in an area that gets poor reception, and for a long time Sky was the only option. Then someone told me about free sat boxes.

As Sky had been my supplier for a long time I phoned them to ask them what they could do for me to reduce the cost of my TV package. Of course the phone number you call in to cost me money as I was not a sky phone customer!

The usual IVR sent me in all directions and I eventually got through to speak to a human being. It was quickly very clear that my customer loyalty stood for nothing.

The agent spent 35 minutes trying to up sell me broadband and a phone package and tried to trade my TV package down by turning off elements of the current deal. She was evidently targeted to up sell to customers rather than listen to the customers nominal value

In the end I gave in, and served the 31 days notice required to terminate my relationship with Sky. In the meantime I purchased a free sat recordable box, easy to install.

The free sat channels are brilliant and the recording facilities are equal to, if not better, than the Skybox.

It’s been about a month since we became free from Sky. Guess what – as a ‘valued customer’ I have just received a flier through the post telling that I was a loyal and valued customer, and that they would like me to come back to them with a 25% discount for a year!

What a pity that they don’t empower their frontline agents to offer such discretion to existing customers a false logic if ever I saw one. I bet that they have a target to get former customers to return to Sky. It will be a different department. I cannot wait to see what they send me next…. What a mad world we live in.

Then the inevitable happened. I received a phone call from Sky asking me if I had received the flier about discounts for valued customers.

The agent I spoke to obviously had no information about me as a client, or the recent history. Obviously not, she was probably from a different business unit, with a different set of objectives to the other teams that have contacted me in recent weeks.

I quietly explained what had happened, and the irony in her phone call. She quit the call quickly as she was clearly not going to meet her target to get me back as a Sky subscriber. It’s obviously not her fault, she has a job to do and bonuses to make.

A crazy world –  a company is prepared to  waste so much resource losing my custom,  and then trying to get it back! Multiple that by hundreds or probably thousands.

They have an internal industry of worker bees who in systemic terms are adding no value to the bottom line.

How different is your organisation I wonder?

Experience suggests that a better understanding of what is actually going on at the front line from a customer perspective will give leaders a more informed diagnosis of the real problem that exists and the actions that can be tested to solve it.

We help leaders to purposefully reflect upon their current challenges, and identify practical and pragmatic ways of getting balance back into the demands upon your life, and delivering positive results in work and life.

Our one to one support will help you to cut through to the nub of your personal challenges and help you to facilitate a way forward that will give you: –

  • Clarity around the key business issues that you are facing and a clear approach to tackle them
  • New capabilities, and capacity to meet future challenges 
  • Greater personal job satisfaction
  • Strategies to deal more effectively with difficult people or situations in your working life

To find out more about how we can help you move your business forward please follow this link. Helping leaders develop new habits

Virgin on the ridiculous!

My broad band has been patchy for a while.

The line had dropped out at regular internals over time. Like most I put up with it for quite a while, but my family complained more and more about the patchy signal as it affected them streaming TV and music.

The download speed was not the best, but the package represented reasonable value for money.

Then I became aware of Yorkshire Broadband from a good friend of mine, who had been using it for a long time. So, I did my research on their easy to use website, and gave them call.

I was soon through to a human being who spoken confidently and clearly about the product. They gave me good advice about the best package for me, and I was signed up.

They took care of the transfer of the line and terminated the current service. Emails, text and phone calls kept me up to speed on the progress of the transfer to the new service.

In the first few days I need to get some advice about my wi-fi signal. A quick call to the UK call centre helped me to solve the issue with sound advice.

This was achieved because the agent had the right skill set and a good knowledge of the technology. A refreshing change from the normal experience of call centres.

This is in stark contrast to another provider who confidently miss sold me a TV, Broadband, and phone package that I was trying to sort out for my father recently.

The small print in the contract showed that the package did not in fact have the TV channels promised. A phone call to the company eventually enabled us to unpick the sale.

A series of three agents spoke to us about the decision to terminate the arrangement. Despite the questions asked, and conversations during the phone call no one passed on information to the next person in the chain.

Each time the story was repeated for the benefit of the supplier, rather than me as the customer. In the end I was passed through to an Indian call centre to an agent who then tried several attempts to sell me an alternative package.

It was clear that each agent had their targets to meet to process my call, and attempt to sell me an alternative. In the end I got what my father wanted – an ending of the contract that we had been miss sold, and a promise that nothing has been done to terminate the existing package. We will have to wait and see!

All of this could have been avoided.

It was complete waste of time from a customer view-point. At point of sale the nature of the phone call had focused upon the detail in the TV package, as I knew exactly what my father wanted.

The agent went for the sale by failing to be specific about the package, and in effect made false promises.

He could have saved us all a lot of wasted time, and the company a lot of money. But, targets drove him to push for a sale and get his performance for the day.

I very much doubt that the link will be made between the call handler and the cancellation of the contract. This will be handled by separate functions set up with targets and response times.

If only they measured what matters to the customers, they would learn so much more! Alas, they will continue to mislead customers by chasing false targets in the belief that they are offering good service, instead of focusing upon what matters to the customer.

It’s true Yorkshire broadband for me!