Line managers, listen up
As a Line Manager, what value do you add to your company by focussing on employee engagement? You’ve got a job to do, projects to deliver, products to manufacture, the accounts to stumble your way through, timesheets to fill in and authorise and so much more. The last thing you need is another conversation with your reports, or is it???
In my last blog I talked about the definition of employee engagement. Now I want to tell you that there is a link between employee engagement, client satisfaction and profit.
Engaged employees make bigger profits while having a good time
I found a great article. ‘Putting the Service-Profit Chain to work’ from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) 1993. What you need to know is, there is a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and client satisfaction and there is a direct link between client satisfaction and “Profit”!!!!!! Who’d of thought?
So why do we measure staff engagement, why do we have employee engagement surveys, why do we use performance reviews and development plans as a vehicle for the growth and development of employees? It’s not just the “Right thing to do”, which it certainly is, but it’s best practice management and it is linked directly to client satisfaction. Companies that focus on clients with a view to building sustainable, long term value adding relationships, need to understand that their client strategy must not only include employee engagement, but should really begin with their strategy for employee engagement. It’s your engaged employees who are guaranteed to deliver client service excellence.
So if you think you don’t have time to focus on employee engagement because you have to focus on ensuring you satisfy your clients, then think again.
The HBR defines the Service-Profit Chain as:
“The service profit chain establishes relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.” (HBR,1993)
As a Line Manager, your inputs begin right at the start of the service chain. It’s the service that you provide as a manager to your direct reports that contributes to their ability and willingness to do their job to the best of their ability. This can lead to an engaged, loyal employee and ultimately a satisfied loyal client. It’s the discretionary effort from engaged employees that delivers quality, innovation, client relationships and ultimately client service excellence.
A manager should have a “Servants heart”
A great Line manager recognises they provide a service to their reports. They turn the organisational structure upside down. It’s their reports who provide what the client wants, not them, so they recognise their responsibility is to provide whatever is required to enable their employees to deliver the very best service to their clients.
Are you providing a platform for your employees to make a customer loyal, and not just satisfied, but very satisfied? Many years ago a Xerox study of its customers concluded that very satisfied customers were 6 times more likely to be repeat customers than just satisfied customers. Imagine that, it’s huge.
The HBR article goes on to talk about the real cost of employee dissatisfaction that can lead to attrition.
“Traditional measures of the losses incurred by employee turnover concentrate only on the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training replacements. In most service jobs, the real cost of turnover is the loss of productivity and decreased customer satisfaction.” (HBR,1993)
Focussing on the growth and development of your employees is critical and reaps rewards.
“What we call the internal qualityof a working environment contributes most to employee satisfaction. Internal quality is measured by the feelings that employees have toward their jobs, colleagues, and companies. What do service employees value most on the job? Although our data are preliminary at best, they point increasingly to the ability and authority of service workers to achieve results for customers.”
“Internal quality is also characterized by the attitudes that people have toward one another and the way people serve each other inside the organization.” (HBR,1993)
As Line managers, it’s our job to really do our best to enable our employees to reach their full potential. If you want to achieve Client Service Excellence, highly satisfied customers, then perhaps start with a focus on your employees.
“Leaders who understand the service-profit chain develop and maintain a corporate culture centered on service to customers and fellow employees. They display a willingness and ability to listen. … spend a great deal of time with customers and employees, experiencing their companies’ service processes while listening to employees for suggestions for improvement. They care about their employees and spend a great deal of time selecting, tracking, and recognizing them.” (HBR,1993)
Here are some questions to provoke some thoughts about your leadership style. Are you:
- “listening, coaching, and teaching versus supervising and managing?
- motivating by mission versus motivating by fear?
- leading by means of personally demonstrated values versus institutionalized policies? …personally developing and maintaining a corporate culture centered on service to customers and fellow employees?” (HBR 1993)
Harvard Business review Magazine, July 2008 (http://hbr.org/2008/07/putting-the-service-profit-chain-to-work/ar/8)
I hope you found this interesting and I would be pleased to read your thoughts and ideas.