How are employees your company’s true competitive advantage?Despite all the talk of people being a company’s best asset, too many businesses waste this resource. They seek to hire talent, yet treat the talent in place poorly. The talent become FTEs, a business unit, a number on the budget. So, in time, the strong talent leaves and the weaker employees stay on to fail your customer success management. Talent acts, cooperates, creates, decides, delivers, innovates, and performs. In a super competitive environment, these virtues distinguish your performance.
How you make things happen?Competitive advantage is not a personality cult. It does not depend on your promises or deals. It depends on the external customers’ satisfaction. But, as the Customer Success leader, what you must get your mind around is that their satisfaction depends on the performance of your internal customers. Your internal customers include those who report directly to you, but they also include your peers and colleagues, the people who make your promises real. To keep them engaged, you should focus on three behaviors:
- Make employee engagement a priority.
- Trust employees to act when necessary.
- Build structures, strategies, and tactics that speed decision making.
Remember: remind yourself every day that it’s not all about you!You need to make your leadership apparent. Employees know you by what you do even before they hear what you say.
- Review and understand the work. Work to create jobs that put workers in charge of their work. This increases their accountability which improves their outcomes.
- Respect and reward contributions. Any gesture, from a simple “way to go” to a formal recognition, shows appreciation for quality performance.
- Visit and revisit the floor. They may be a building away or on another floor, but they need to see the face that goes with the “orders.” Your presence completes the team.
- Feed on feedback. Invite employee input, but make sure you make the feedback work. To make it work, you should set up regular conversations, dialog, or brainstorming sessions. It shows respect and extends ownership in the project.
- Draw big pictures. Be honest about your goals and how they align with the organization’s. Sharing the understanding of their personal performance role in profit margins and business success will purchase their support and loyalty.
Remember: no one wants to be managed. Everyone wants to be led.Your customer success will not last if you provide excellent external customer service but treat your employees badly. As CS leader, you present an authoritative image to your clients, and if your employees do not deliver, your image suffers immediately. If they fail to deliver or time, package things well, or install products well, it creates a snowball effect. You and the company earn a reputation for a place not worth dealing with or working at. In this very competitive business world, everyone competes on the same customer-focused service level. If that does not differentiate your CSM approach, you have no other asset.
Ensuring long term success begins with the recruiting processCaution – if you do not treat potential employees (job candidates) with respect, you risk developing a negative reputation for your company in the long run. My wife, a seasoned freelance Human Resources Director, tells me stories all the time, of certain companies that she’s having a hard time hiring for because the company managed to ruin its reputation in the job market. In other words, candidates heard bad things from others who were part of the recruiting process, and prefer not to work there. It becomes very difficult to reverse this reputation. When you do not treat candidates well, the message gets out to others. The word-of-mouth will haunt you as job candidates avoid your interest. As the snowball gathers volume and speed, you will find it difficult to hire and retain quality employees. And, as recruiting talent suffers, so does the quality of your product and service. The idea: inappropriate recruitment process creates a bad reputation for the company >> Company then has more difficulty attracting good candidates, and eventually left with less-than-perfect employees >> This, in turn, affects the quality of the products and services, which then makes clients leave to seek better service. Now, is there conclusive and irrefutable scientific proof that a less-than-respectful hiring process will eventually snowball into financial ruin for a company? No (or not yet). That being said, do we really want to take that chance? Treat job candidates as you would like to be treated:
- Respond quickly and in a transparent manner. Update regularly on their status in the process.
- Don’t make promises you’re not sure you can keep.
- Say please and thank you.
Remember: one day you can be on top, another day on the bottom. Stay respectful.Keeping the “professional” in Customer Success leadership – Employee retention and a respectful recruiting process are not less important than customer retention. To stay successful, you need talent. You need the talent to build well, improve tangibly, and deliver as ordered. You need talent that responds and innovates, trusts and volunteers. You need skills that matter to the product and to your clients. Talent stays under leadership that respects, honors, and collaborates. It needs nourishment more than hierarchy, encouragement rather than instruction. What do YOU do to build strong and long-lasting relationships with your employees? Feel free to share ideas that worked for you in this matter. Interested in contributing to this blog? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org