Do you experience your employees or do they experience you?
Both are equally important.
As a manager, executive, or business owner, make awareness of the ever-evolving expectations of your team a priority. As often as possible, experience their experience. If understanding a dynamic is elusive, take the time to figure it out. When you admit that you don’t know something and add “but I would like to learn” you earn respect through your authenticity and integrity.
As important as online and social interactions have become, live conversation remains the benchmark for timely feedback and trust-building.
Let’s take it a step further. If your employees, who are “living” your products and services every day, exhibit new or different expectations or perceptions, what does that say about your company? Do these expectations or perceptions match those of your customers or will they soon experience something similar? Could your employees’ perspective impact customer perceptions or actions? If you want your company to stand out, rely on your employees to discover personal, original (and probably unexpected) new benchmarks, enable them to “own” it and let them generate buzz!
Ask questions. Be a curious journalist. You are writing your story every day. Whether your employees play a leading or supporting role, they are as much a part of the story as you are. Build and leverage these relationships strategically and effectively.
Personalization creates an effective and loyal customer experience. It’s as important for you to personalize your employee’s daily experiences as it is for your customers to perceive their personalized importance. Build a company on respect, accountability, and appreciation for individual and team contributions. Your customers will sense this and respond in kind.
Your employees are your most important audience. They leave each workday, go back into their personal lives and either love or hate the company. No-one remains undecided for long and those opinions are shared and ultimately impact the bottom line. If you are watchful for perceived or real cultural shifts, your employee audience will remain engaged, highly receptive and loyal.
A job is usually a necessity. Strive to foster a work climate where your employees view their jobs as a positive choice. As often as possible, on a routine basis (weekly, monthly or quarterly), ask each of them how they are, what you can do for them and how your company integrates with their lives. Depending on the size of your company, you may need to train your directors and/or managers to do this. If that’s the case, make sure the responses get to you. Customizing your own system of “managing up” will ensure that everyone knows they matter.