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I recently travelled to the US for both work and vacation. I thought it appropriate to provide you with some reflections on the good and not so good of business practices I experienced. Also to mention that the highlight of my time was spending a week with 22 other consultants from around the globe in a Thought Leadership Symposium at Palm Beach, Florida - hosted by Dr Alan Weiss with Randy Gage and Daniel Pink also contributing during the week.
To take time out of our busy schedules is a challenge for all of us but making the time and participating in high level learning environments with fellow peers is essential to be on top of our game, no matter what business or career we find ourselves in. Having others who act as sounding boards for ideas and plans, third party objectivity, assists in keeping us off the frenetic business treadmill we too often experience. To regain vision, identify the related key action steps and the scheduling of their completion speeds up our progression to the next level or growth phase.
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BUILDING A CULTURE OF TRUST
above shows the basic rules required for those who enter Venice Beach in
California. Noticing the sign I realised that many companies head down a similar track. Often based on the premise that employees are damaged individuals who can't be trusted, management create and hand down rules, policies, procedures, standards etc in order to keep staff within tight boundaries.
On one hand the sign says 'we welcome you' but the pre-dominate word is 'NO' - assuming that people are going to do the wrong thing thus the use of the word. There is nothing wrong per se with doing this (and public places need guidelines such as this) but when companies head down the 'NO' approach it creates the following:
a rigid organisation where your people don't feel they can exercise personal choice and discretion
the destruction of an innovative and trusting culture
clogged decision making processes - when rules have to be followed rather than people having the power vested in them for choosing what they deem to be best
fear based environment
a dogmatic and top down decision making entity
I like to approach working with people from the basis that they are healthy individuals and who can be trusted to make the best decisions
for the company. This foundation, coupled with performance goals and strong accountability has the effect of allowing an organisation to flourish. Workplace rules, policies etc should be supportive not dictatorial. They are to serve as guidelines, akin to railway tracks to serve in keeping the team heading the same way.
Once these guidelines
become dogmatic rules, taking away peoples autonomy in their work (which leads
to a sense of mistrust of management), you will end up with a bunch of
automatons, following the rules but lacking happiness and productivity in their
work. This leads to lack of innovation and ultimately high attrition rates of good people.
Base your company on trust. Establish performance measures and accountability structures that serve to promote people and teams, not merely just to keep them in their place.
throughout the US gave me some good insight into the highs and lows of customer
service, particularly in cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels. Two main observations
here that you might want to consider in light of your own organisation.
Wages Those in
the US rely on tips as their major income. Some get paid as low as $2.14 per
hour, having to earn the majority of their income from
tips. The service I experienced was definitley hit and miss - more miss than hit. To be honest I was surprised at how often I received low levels of service. My initial thinking was that
if they make their money from tips they would be more motivated to provide exceptional service, which in turn would give them higher income. I was wrong. What I realised is that due to being paid such a poor base wage, it increases stress in that their basic needs are not taken care of.
Leadership I noticed
in the places where the service was of a high standard also revolved around the
owner or managers approach to customer service. The exceptionally high service I experienced at Felice 64 (who I
have written about below in the Cellar Notes) was driven from management down. They were exceptional at making people feel like they belonged
and the staff followed their lead.
the stress out of employees being paid a menial amount combined with managers leading by example are two primary elements to customers returning day after day (as I
did at Felice) and the high tips that result.
A Washington DC Hospital Fails to Put the Customer First
up in a US hospital on lazy Sunday afternoon to receive a scan for a potential flight (DVT) related issue. As the afternoon progressed I was aware that I was a component
on a production line, going from station to station and stopping at intervals
in order to fulfil the various line requirements. It took approximately three
and a half hours and here is an outline of what happened:
Check in - name and address
Ascertain problem - this
person took more detail about me and asked what the issue was; blood pressure
taken and sent to a waiting room
Junior nurse comes in and asks
what the issue is, tells me to dress appropriately in the gown etc setting me
up for the next person (turns out I didn't dress appropriately)
Senior nurse comes in and does
her check also taking a blood test
Doctor comes in and does his
Administration comes in to
take my money for the afternoons activities
Wait till male nurse arrives
to wheel me on the bed through the corridor maze to the scan room (I told him
it would have been quicker to have walked myself)
Wait for male nurse to wheel
me back to original waiting room
Junior nurse comes in and says
scans will take ten minutes
Senior nurse comes in and
takes out blood test drip (after me going and finding her) and tells me that I
can change out of the gown and wait for the report
Report is delivered by the
Junior nurse saying all is OK
Process completed after
approximately three hours and a half hours
here is the fact that these fourteen steps, (that obviously suited the hospital
but totally missed the fact that the patient is actually the centre of the
process) could potentially have been
completed in seven, drastically reducing the time by 70%. Here is the potential consolidated process:
Nurse - initial check
Doctor - diagnosis
Walk to scan room
Doctor or senior nurse conveys
process around your customer. Their most precious commodity is time. When it
comes to your business, list the steps involved and then see how you can
drastically reduce them into consolidated stages. Treat the customers time as
sacred and they'll beat a path to your door
Note: My tests were all clear. No DVT issue at all. Embarrassingly, the injury was actually caused from dancing in the wrong
shoes. (I wasn't game to tell the doctor once I realised.)
If you're ever in the Upper East Side of Manhattan this place is a must. Exceptional service, Italian cuisine, unique wine list with an homely environment to match, Felice 64 is a place you will return to again and again. Apart from the great food and wine, the real highlight for me was the staff. All of them were friendly with no request being too much trouble. I think the telling evidence of this was the repeat customers. They knew people by name and their dining preferences. No wonder I called it my New York dining room!
Experiencing a jet lagged induced 4am breakfast in a New York diner, a young woman upon finishing her meal says to me: "are you an actor?" Feeling good about her question I responded "no I'm not." Her next guess... "a used car salesman?"
A momentary ego boost and back to earth again all within 5 seconds.
"Having worked with Ray on numerous simPRO customer sites he always seems to be able to find and drive the efficiency gains our customers are look for. He Identifies any bottlenecks in their processes and realigning their workflows with simPRO and the correct personnel within the organisation to carry out the tasks to create a very efficient end to end process."
are receiving this email because you have met Ray Hodge, you may be or
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