Archives for posts with tag: staff

Everyone’s been all in a tizzy over the customer experience the last few years, with bags of content being produced and companies popping up all over the place with offerings to help companies focus on their customers’ buying process and the end-to-end journey.

This is all great, but what’s not really talked about much is the employee experience. You see, a company’s most important stakeholder is usually not their customer. It’s their staff. If you have good staff they’ll take good care of your customers.

From this, it follows that getting the customer experience right is actually secondary to getting the employee experience right. How many times have you worked in companies – or been a customer of companies – where the staff don’t know what’s going on, they’re not brought along on projects and processes or the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing when it comes to news, launches and the like? This is a top-down thing, and to get the employee experience and internal communications right senior people need to follow a similar process as they should do for marketing to their customers.

Here’s a link to a really good whitepaper from Hubspot on how internal communications can be the secret weapon within the marketing function.

I’m sure I’ve written before about US strip malls and the fact that staff park their cars in the furthest away spots to allow their paying customers to take the most adjacent spots. It simple, thoughtful and common sense practice.

You don’t see so much of it in Europe in my experience. Staff seem to get priority. That cosy consultant’s parking space at the front of the hospital. How come they get that? Surely it should be for the nurses or the midwives who do most of the bloody work, no pun intended. Or perhaps, revolutionary thought, the patients, who have to pay to park in the next parish.

Anyway, I was waiting in the car park for my 9 o’clock doctor’s appointment the other day to rid myself of a pesky chesty cough that I didn’t want advancing to a chesty infection. I was 8 minutes early and so people watched from the comfort of my car. By 8:58, the car park was full, since staff had used up both the car park and the spaces behind the surgery which are supposed to be for staff only. There simply aren’t anywhere near enough spaces for both staff and paying patients.

Who has to to park on the curb? The paying patient of course, who in this country funds the vast majority of the salary of the attending staff.

Madness, I tell you. If I ruled the world, or at least administered some of it…

Your staff are your greatest asset. They form the culture of your organisation, and culture is almost everything.

It’s our job as employers – and plain common sense – to protect our staff. We get the staff we deserve, so it’s our responsibility to look after them.

I was reminded of this fact lately, when a story emerged in the English football premier league about a player who had transferred from a Spanish club to an English club at the very end of the last day for club transfers. Except that he didn’t. The papers had left the selling club, had been received and processed by the buying club, and all the papers except one had been received by the governing body. The last paper was received 15 seconds outside the transfer window, so the transfer hadn’t been completed properly.

Who suffers the most here? The player himself was in limbo, a kind of non-self-imposed purgatory. He wasn’t on the staff of either the selling club or the buying club. Both clubs were firmly in self-protection mode and distancing themselves from the situation.

In my day-dreaming moments of being a world-class footballer I naively imagine that my responsibilities would be to country first, club second, and self third. With money, stakes and ego all unbridled in football these days, that priority list looks more like club first, self second, country third.

It’s a pity that clubs can’t reciprocate, putting the player first and protecting their staff. It’s the staff that win the trophies, isn’t it?

People settle at their own level, or certainly tend to, I think. It’s a question of fit. Partners, spouses, friends. You can’t pick family 99% of the time, unless of course you marry into it.

Companies are the same. You get the type of customers you deserve. You also get the suppliers you deserve, the staff you deserve, and – I would argue – the boss you deserve.

These are your just deserts. If you don’t like the profile of your customers, suppliers, staff, or boss, then you need to work hard to change it. This is really hard to do as an individual.

It boils down to culture. The collective values, ethics, atmosphere and ambitions of the place where you work govern the stakeholders you interact with, and the individuals within those stakeholders.

To change your just deserts, you need to work harder, smarter, better and more honestly. If you can’t do it where you are, perhaps you could move to somewhere where you don’t need to?

Continuing, dear reader, this week’s focus on respecting the customer, I want to tackle the recruitment industry. This is an industry that provides a valuable service both to customers and potential employees, and to an extent serves them both.

Some call themselves recruitment consultants, while the posher ones that deal with more senior appointments call themselves executive search firms, after the ‘headhunter term first coined a generation ago fell from favour.

These companies are either paid by or retained by their customers to filter candidates and appoint the best available person for the role. So the prospective employee is not the customer, but they are a vital part of the recruitment process and are in effect the secondary customer.

It seems to be they often get de-prioritised in the heat of battle, so to the recruitment industry I offer the following five best practice rules for dealing with the pawns in the game, namely your secondary customers:

– Understand that most of the risk is with the new employee, who might be leaving a secure environment with tenure for a job that promises better but who has pretty much no rights in the first 12 months of their new job

– Understand that the impact on an employee of a bad hire (by which I mean the cultural fit is bad) is usually worse than it is on the employer. It may not feel like that to your customer who has hired badly at senior sales level, or C-Suite level, but it is

– Understand that your customer is usually in a buyers’ market, and that while it’s perfectly understandable that in fast-moving businesses requirements change and roles get pulled, your job is to educate your customer that it is poor practice not only to do the real resource planning after you’ve engaged prospective employees but also trawl for candidates for internal benchmarking or other purposes when you’ve no intention of hiring anyone

– When you get applicants for a job, it is a cop-out to say that because of the volume of applicants you can’t communicate to those who have been unsuccessful. There’s no excuse for not even sending out an automated email to say sorry you weren’t successful this time. You allow the applicant to cross the role off the list and look elsewhere. You don’t leave them flapping in the breeze

– If a candidate asks you for feedback as to why they were unsuccessful – and not many do – give it. It strengthens the overall candidate gene pool

I know your prime responsibility is to your customer, so please treat this as a gentle reminder to keep the secondary customer on your radar too. The best recruiters do.