How to Prevent an Employee From “Checking Out” After They’ve Resigned

One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur or leading a team is when you lose a key member of your team.

At first, you may feel a sense of anxiety or resentment. More over, you’re often faced with the employee “checking-out” and coasting after they have given their notice.

In this video, I share three ways to maintain employee engagement up until their last day with your company.

3 Things You Must Have to Become a Great Place to Work

In this video, I’m going to outline the three things your business must have to be considered a great place to work.

Welcome to my YouTube channel where I teach you how to use customer experience and employee engagement strategies to build your business.

Today I’m talking about building great workplaces.

The reason everything I do is focused on customers and employees is because all companies, regardless of size or industry, are in the people business. It’s your people that you must leverage to build purposeful companies.

I was extremely fortunate to have worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the world’s largest junk removal company, for nearly six years. When I joined the company they had been voted the best workplace in Canada two years in a row. Think about that for a moment. A medium sized business, in a non-traditional industry, voted the best workplace in the entire country of Canada!

What I learned at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and what we’re building at Baro, the 16,000 sqf, 100+ employee restaurant and venue that I’m a partner in, is what I’m going to share with you today.

If you go out and design systems and processes to be considered a great workplace the return on investment is that you will strengthen your company culture, increase employee retention and improve employee morale.

Company culture is something you’ve heard of before but culture isn’t bean bag chairs, beers on Fridays or unlimited vacations. A best-in-class workplace is an organization comprised of individuals with shared values, respect for each other and common goals.

The #1 thing I look for in great workplaces is how they reward team members who embody their core values.

#1: Rewarding Core Values

At Baro, our core values are: celebration, ownership, foresight, humility and integrity.

At Zappos, three of their ten core values are: Deliver WOW Through Service, embrace and drive change and create fun and a little weirdness.

Now, this is where most companies stumble, They create their core values and do very little with them. Your organization’s responsibility is to reward your team members who live and breath them each and every day.

You can recognize your top performers when hosting 360 reviews, weekly coaching sessions or through daily conversations. The reward doesn’t have to be monetary or incentive-based. It can be as simple as your CEO going out of her way to personally thanking the team member for driving the business forward.

Here’s a tip for rewarding and recognizing team members. Not all team members want to be rewarded publicly as it may make them feel uncomfortable being recognized in front of their peers. Thinking that all employees should be praised publicly was a mistake I made earlier on in my career. When onboarding a team member ask them if the prefer to be praise publicly or privately.

Being a great workplace means that you must align your entire organization behind the DNA of the company and, often, the DNA is made up of your core values. When you have a team member who is living your core values reward and celebrate their efforts.

#2: Create a Sounding Board

The second things I look for in a great workplace is if they have a sounding board.

The most underutilized tactic, the one that I use every time I build or advise a business is an Employee Advisory Board or an EAB.

An EAB is when one team member from every department is appointed to form a council that meets once per month. The only thing on the agenda is the current state of employee engagement and workplace morale.

The reasons I recommend EAB’s for all businesses is because:

  • Your frontlines team members are able to speak candidly with owners or senior management about the current state of the workplace.
  • It also allows different departments to come together to discuss employee engagement ideas that are generated from the ground floor.
  • And, most importantly, EAB’s hold the leadership team accountable to continuously refining and improving the workplace.

I don’t ever recommend inviting middle management to your EAB meetings for a few reasons.

  • #1 – Management already have their own regular meetings and
  • #2 – You always want to be growing your next layer of leadership

To become a great workplace, you must give your employees a voice and an opportunity to contribute to creating systems and processes to increase employee morale.

 #3: 1-on-1 Development Sessions

The third thing that will make you a great workplace are 1-on-1 development sessions.

Every manager within a business must sit down for a 1-on-1 weekly development session. The format I suggest is called Goal Setting & Review or GS&R’s.

A GS&R is a weekly, 60 minute meeting where a team member and manager meet to discuss the team members Top 3 quarterly or yearly goals. It’s imperative to discuss the tasks the team member is going to complete each week to achieve these goals.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you operate businesses in the hospitality industry like me. One of your team members primary goals might be to manage labour percentage. Managing labour percent is the primary goal and the weekly task to manage labour would be to hire another line cook to avoid going into overtime hours.

GS&R’s should follow these rules:

  • It’s participant-led. This means that the employee runs the majority of the meeting and the manager provides feedback and ensures the meetings stays the course.
  • You never cancel the meeting. The GS&R should be a recurring meeting on both the employee’s and manager’s weekly calendar.
  • And you give each other at least 24 hours to prepare for the meeting so the conversation is focused on goals, desired outcomes and tasks.

To be a great place to work your leadership and management team must continuously promote both micro and macro development of your employees. GS&R’s are a great way to promote micro development to achieve quarterly or yearly goals.

CLOSING

These are three things that build great workplaces.

I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me what other things must be considered to become a great place to work.

If you learned something by watching this video:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be alerted when I release my next tutorial-style video
  • Like this video
  • And Share it with your friends.

Have a great day and I’ll see you next time!

3 Customer Service Skills Your Employees Need to Create Customer Loyalty

Welcome to this week’s video where I teach you how to use customer experience and employee engagement strategies to grow your business and create customer loyalty.

Today’s video is solely focused on your customer service employees – whether you’re in hospitality, operating a call center, retail, real estate, trades or whatever – your customer service employees are the face of your company. We can all agree to that, right?

With this understanding, we must invest in their education to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge to deliver an experience our customers have never seen before. Let’s consider these statistics:

This gives us even more evidence that we must recruit and train our employees with premium education.

Okay. Let’s get into it…The first skill your customer service employees must have is what I call Service Endurance.

SERVICE ENDURANCE

Service endurance is a term I use that describes how employees can deliver amazing customer service to the 100th customer of the day as they did the first.

We should all have empathy for what our frontline team members go through. Speaking to customers all-day can be exhausting, regardless of how great your team member might be, we should find ways to help them break through even when it’s been a long day.

When I was a call center agent in my early 20’s I would take 100 calls a day and even though I was good, there were times when I didn’t want to take another call. Some ways I would combat exhaustion was by:

  • Having a stress ball at my desk that I would squeeze during tough times because it helps to release a bit of stress.
  • I would post a motivational quote to help me keep going even when I didn’t want to take another call, in fact, I still do this. Here’s a picture of a shelf in my office that has a quote of Kobe Bryan on it.
  • Before a stress ball or motivational quotes are posted near your work area, going for a brief walk outside is the best way to disconnect for a moment. Leaders of companies must acknowledge that the extra break won’t be a cost, it will be an investment because you will have peace of mind that your team members are physically and mentally prepared to deliver amazing service to every customer, every time.

FORESIGHT

The second imperative skill your team members must have is foresight. The reason that this is a vital skill set is because you want to ensure that your employees have the foresight to anticipate customers needs and to assist their peers and colleagues who are inundated with too many tasks.

At Baro, one of my restaurants, one of our core values is foresight. We want our team members to have the awareness to act on customer needs by offering suggestions before they are asked – this helps create an experience customers have never seen before. In my business, an example of this could be a waitress recognizing that the family of four who has a toddler with them will need a high chair. Our guests shouldn’t have to ask for this, we should anticipate this to create an effortless experience for our guests.

When it comes to employees, do your team members have the foresight to recognize that Sally, your office manager, who just received three phone calls at once and has a FedEx employee waiting for a package to be signed needs help? Do your team members have the foresight to recognize that Sally is getting slammed and needs help without her having to ask?

Team members with the foresight skill set not only earn higher customer loyalty by delivering a better experience but they create comradery with their peers. If this comradery is created they are more likely to work together to deliver a seamless customer experience which also increases loyalty.

EMPATHY

The third customer service skill set was first introduced to me when I worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s corporate office. Their core values are Passion, Integrity, Professionalism and Empathy, or PIPE for short.

Do your current team members show genuine empathy for your customers? If your customer happens to mention that there was a death in their family or they have upcoming surgery, will they acknowledge what has been mentioned and show empathy for the situation?

HOW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EARNED WARBY PARKER FREE PR

Often, your customers, share information with you that require empathy that you can use to build a stronger relationship. Take this Warby Parker story as an example.

A customer of Warby Parker in Atlanta shows up to pick up her glasses and after the employee asked her how her day was going she responded with:

“Not well. I had my car stolen yesterday…I’m here to pick up the glasses that I ordered.”

Side note: these glasses I’m wearing are from Warby Parker – I love them and their company – they are actually the company I’m learning from the most from right now.

The Warby Parker employee could have simply said:

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Here are your glasses…”

but it’s what they did next that’s separates them from their competition and is something I’m preaching within my businesses and clients…they are creating micro customer experiences. A micro customer experience is a subtle, affordable and memorable gesture you do for your customers that resonates with them for years.

The Warby Parker team sent this hand-written card to the customer shortly after:

Hey Tess,

We were so sorry to hear about your car. Since you probably won’t be the designated driver anytime soon, here’s a round on us! Love your friends at Warby Parker. PS. Your Durand frames look amazing!”

Within the envelop was a gift certificate to a local micro brewery so the customer could get that beer she said she needed in passing.

This Warby Parker employee listened, showed empathy and took action on what she had heard to create a memorable experience.

Now, not any employee could do something like this. Only truly empathetic people could do this genuinely. I don’t know the Warby Parker customer personally but I’d bet that this customer is never buying prescription sun glasses from another company again in her life, which is true customer loyalty.

Oh, not to mention, this customer experience earned Warby Parker free PR in Forbes, Business Insider and Mashable. As the saying goes, Customer experience is marketing!

In my next video, I’m going to share what questions to ask during the interview process to identify if your candidates have these customer service skill sets. To be automatically alerted when I release this video, subscribe to my YouTube channel right now!

I want to hear from you. What other skill sets do you look for when hiring customer service employees? Leave a comment below to share what you think is most important customer service skill set.

I’ll see you next week.

5 Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Tactics I Used to Open a Business with 100 Employees

 

5 customer thumbnail

I’ve been advising companies on customer experience, employee engagement and company culture for six years helping entrepreneurs learn the systems I leverage to build stronger and profitable relationships with customers and employees.

It has been very rewarding for both my clients and I. However, I knew it was time to begin doing it for myself more frequently.

This blog post outlines the key steps my partners and I took (I can’t share everything as I wouldn’t want to share all our tactics with our competitors) to open a very complex business with nearly 100 employees, three kitchens, three bars sprawled over 16,000sqf and four floors. This venture was a Latin-themed restaurant called Baro.

Does this sound like your business? One with many team members and moving parts? If so, I will share some tips you can use in your business. Keep reading to learn how we:

  • Created our mission statement and core values
  • Recruited and built our interview process
  • Onboarded all employees
  • Trained and developed our team
  • Ensured that we continuously refine our systems and processes

Mission Statement & Core Values

Baro opened on December 7th, 2016. About six months before we opened our doors we knew it was imperative to create our mission statement and core values. Now, I understand that some readers may have just rolled their eyes as mission statements and core values can sound like a fluffy platitude, but they aren’t if you live and breath them each and every day. They were created to act as our “north star” (something I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk) and guide our decision making – from hiring and firing to delivering our service to our customers –  we used them to dictate how the business would operate from day one.

Ultimately, your mission statement and core values should shape the type of company culture you want to build for the legacy of your business.

After about 16 hours of discussion and a handful of revisions, the following mission statement and five core values were created by my four partners and I.

Our mission at Baro is simple: to consistently deliver seamless experiences. We do this by creating a series of inspired moments which turn into lasting memories for our guests. We celebrate each day and every guest with enthusiasm, energy, and fun in true Latin style. It’s white glove service, without the white gloves.

CELEBRATION

Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a Tuesday; our guests are here to celebrate, and we are here to celebrate them, with energy, fun and passion. We make each guest feel special through our words and actions and they love us for this.

OWNERSHIP

We are one team. Each of us individually is a part of the greater whole, and we come together enthusiastically each day for one reason: to create lasting memories for our guests, and for each other.

FORESIGHT

Our guests anticipate a fantastic experience with a positive vibe; we anticipate their needs, and the actions we must take to make it happen. We take pride in being aware of the needs of our guests, our team members, and ourselves at all times.

HUMILITY

We will make mistakes. When we do, everything will be done in our power to fix them with no ego; we will own them, we will share them, and we will learn from them.

INTEGRITY

We are honest communicators with an unwavering moral compass. Doing the right thing – particularly when no one’s looking – is our expectation of everyone.

After the mission statement and core values had been created we knew that our job wasn’t done; we needed to create a plan to continuously promote it within the business to create alignment with nearly 100 team members.

One thing we did to create unity and serve as a constant reminder of our “north star” was to have the first sentence of our mission statement stitched on the inside of our Face of House and Heart of House (notice how we don’t called it Front of House or Back of House?) uniforms.

File_000-44

A Baro apron.

Now that we had created the mission statement and core values, we needed to build our team to deliver a memorable customer experience to our guests.

Recruiting Plan & Interview Guide

I’ve seen the recruiting plans and interview guides of dozens of companies across every industry imaginable… we all have the opportunity to revitalize our programs. When we opened Baro, we relied on several traditional and new age methods of recruiting such as posting on job boards and social media platforms which produced leads. However, it was our job fair that we hosted that began to promote our company culture to the city and painted a picture of the type of atmosphere we were setting out to build.

Take a peek at the shortened video of our highlight reel from our job fair.

Simultaneously, while we rolled out our recruiting strategy, we developed our interview process. While I’m not willing to share our “secret sauce” I can tell you that we follow a six-step process for every single position within the business. This process spans multiple days with numerous interviews.

Regardless, of whether you’re applying for a General Manager position, Hostess or Dishwasher, everyone goes through the exact same format. Yes, the questions may change depending on the position but the format stays consistent each and every time.

I can share that we meticulously developed our interview questions to ensure we stayed away from asking questions like:

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

michel photo 1

Our actual interview and recruitment playbook.

We developed the interview questions which reverted back to our core values and created questions around them to increase the likelihood that we would find individuals who would align with them. The most challenging thing you will face during an interview process that focuses on company culture is not losing the integrity of your values.

You will meet very talented individuals who are skilled but don’t fit into your culture. These people, according to Reed Hastings, the Founder and CEO of Netflix, are referred to as “brilliant jerks.” You must have the courage to say no to individuals who will pay a dividend in the short-term, but long-term will become cancerous to your company culture.

I can report that this process has worked better than I could have ever imagined. We are well on our way to building an organization recognized for their company culture and courageously defending it.

I wanted to share some words from Cristian, one of our bartenders and quite possibly the most genuine human-being I have ever met, describing what he experienced at our job fair and interview. If you’re ever in Toronto, be sure to visit Cristian at the bar and ask him to make a cocktail for you; he’s brilliant!

christian headshot

“My interview process at Baro was carefully tailored to stand in a category of it’s own. In my 10 years of seeing almost every angle and approach to recruitment in the hospitality industry, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the process. I was able to engage in conversation with operating partners, management and future co-workers during one of the most intriguing job fairs I’ve been a part of. The in-depth interviews that followed gave me a glimpse of Baro’s vision and goals. The importance of their pursuit to find the best of the best was very clear.”

Here’s a simple reminder that I share with my clients:

If a fisherman wants to catch a particular type of fish they must target the right body of water; recruiting and interviewing is no different.

Employee Onboarding

If your expectations are that your employees will give themselves to your customers then you must be willing to give yourself, as a leader, to them. This is why creating a memorable employee onboarding experience is crucial to setting the tone on the type of experience you want your customers to receive.

I define employee onboarding as:

What your employees see, hear and feel after they have been hired.

Related: Are We Doing Employee Onboarding All Wrong?

At Baro, we follow a 3-step model to welcome our team members to our business:

  • Mentor: each employee is partnered with a mentor for the first 30 days of employment. This mentor is not their manager or anyone in their department.
  • Memorability: we have several ways that are secret to the business that genuinely captures the hearts of our team members on day one of joining us.
  • Training & Development: More on this in a moment but we slaved over building our training and development program and spent a notable amount of time and money to facilitate it. Why wouldn’t we? The livelihood of our business depends on customer loyalty and, to achieve customer loyalty, our team members must be set up for success. For me and my partners, this is a non-negotiable.

Each of these steps are outlined in our Employee Onboarding Playbooks that were designed to document the process and create a straight forward guide for management. After all, your team is only as good as the tools you provide them with.

Training & Development

cx TRAINING

Your customer experience begins and ends with how you train your team and goes hand-in-hand with hiring great people. Exceptional team members, ones who will contribute to the success of your business, expect and deserve highly educational training programs.

At Baro, we separate our training in two parts: customer-centric (i.e. how to identify different personality types etc.) and skill-based (table maintenance etc.). Every employee, regardless of position, must go through customer-centric training to ensure we are creating a system-wide, customer-focused culture. For us, it doesn’t matter whether you’re customer-facing or not, everyone in the business must understand our culture-centric philosophies and beliefs.

When I advise companies on building their employee training programs I often hear:

“Training is expensive.”

Training isn’t expensive. Bad training is expensive!

Our training program is designed to deliver an incomparable, industry-leading customer experience to our guests that will earn customer loyalty; that is how we earn our return on investment.

As entrepreneurs and leaders of our businesses, we need to stop cost cutting in the areas that matter the most. Let me ask you this, if you were an employee of your business would you expect exceptional training to do your job remarkably? Of course you would. Why do we approach this any different when we are put in positions of influence?

Spend more on training and development and I guarantee you will build a lasting business with exceptional financial benefits.

The “You’re Never Done” Mindset

At this point, when we opened the doors on December 7th, we had created our culture and many systems to support it.

Our reservation books have been filled for weeks; you literally couldn’t get a table (even me, an owner), without booking well in advance. Recognizing that we were generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue each week, we could have rested on our laurels because we were the hottest restaurant in Toronto. However, unless you believe that customer and employee expectations will never change than you don’t ever have to refine your systems; we knew better.

After we opened, we took a couple of days to celebrate with our family and friends – I was actually in Australia keynote speaking for a real estate company on their customer experience during our opening week – but, then we got back to work and started discussing strategies for Q1 of 2017.

You see, you’re never done developing your company culture, customer experience and employee engagement programs. You must always refine them to continuously improve your business. Is it challenging? Of course, but nothing worth having is easy. Some of the things we will do in the future are kept behind closed doors, for now. But, I can tell you firsthand that we, as partners, are 100% committed to our culture, customer and employees.

Conclusion

Whether you’re getting a business started this year or currently operating one that has 100 team members, I highly recommend the strategy I have outlined here. I’ve advised companies as big as Verizon Wireless and as small as a five-person start-up in Los Angeles; regardless of the industry or size of your company, these strategies are proven to work. They have never failed me and they too will work for you.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you learned a thing or two. Be sure to leave a comment below if I can answer a questions for you.

To follow my entrepreneurial journey and learn more strategies like these, follow me on social media.

Click to follow: YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

Why Your Employees Need to Be Responsible For Their Own Development

How did Michael Jordan become the best basketball player of all time? Sure, for the majority of his career, he had Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach of all time. Jackson refined Jordan’s skills, but it was the hours of jump shots, free throws and conditioning that Michael worked on when Phil wasn’t around that made him the greatest player of all time.

Employee development is no different.

You may have heard the old adage,

“You don’t grow businesses, you grow people.”

Which remains true. However, your employees can’t simply rely on their manager to develop them to their full potential.

I read this quote the other day that really resonated with me,

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

I still remember the day in 2007 when I committed to understanding customer experience management and how it grows businesses. While working at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a company that grew from a $1000 investment in 1989 to an organization that earns a quarter billion in sales per year, I was provided with all the support in the world that contributed to my development but I don’t believe I would have been able to become an entrepreneur, advisor or keynote speaker if I didn’t invest in my own education.

How did I invest in my own education?

I read books on customer experience, I set up a Feedly account and read dozens of articles every day on the subject. I reached out to customer experience professionals on Linkedin and asked many questions. To take it one step further, I selected five companies – Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Apple, Amazon and Westjet – and studied them intensely. I was flown out to visit Zappos before it was a cool thing to do and spoke to key people at each organization to ask even more questions.

This was all done on my own time, no pay cheque, no “employee of the month” award to recognize my efforts. I was in my mid-twenties when I was working throughout the night on Friday and Saturday nights because I knew it was contributing to my long-term success. It’s not enough to simply work and develop yourself Monday to Friday, 9-5. I don’t know if it’s my South American blood but I take pride in my work ethic.

I’m very thankful when anyone wants to work with me or hear me speak but I will never rest on my laurels. I still study every day (actually) so that I can share my education with my clients and audiences. When I first started out I was studying the aforementioned companies. A coupls years ago, I was studying Uber and Airbnb. Today, I’m researching companies like Warby Parker. To continue to advance my knowledge in customer experience and hospitality, I learn from people like Chip Conley and Danny Meyer.

“I will never stop learning because I’m scared I will become obsolete or irrelevant.”

I recently spoke with someone who I can only assume was in their 50’s or 60’s; “I’m too old to be studying” he proclaimed. This person is dying, maybe not physically, but professionally, they are dead. Educating yourself doesn’t end after university or when you’re in your early years of your career. Regardless of age, you must continue growing and developing yourself.

Individuals who spend time studying and expediting their development are the ones who get promoted. They are the ones who are sitting in on strategic planning meetings with forward thinking ideas. They are the ones who are heavily recruited.

If you genuinely want to be the best at what you do, regardless of what your expertise is, you need to work hard to develop yourself independently. The saying, “work smarter, not harder” has never resonated with me; you need to do both.

MF-banner-ad-blog-gofourth-final (1)

Here’s what I’m doing to help my team members invest in their own education:

  • I connect them with my friends who have a skill set that they want to acquire. For example, Jordan, our Marketing Coordinator, wanted to learn how to manage his time better. While I could teach him how to do this myself I don’t want him only learning from me so I have my friend, Rhys Green, coaching him monthly on this topic. It’s a win, win. Rhys likes doing it and Jordan appreciates the education.
  • We host Goal Setting & Review (GS&R) weekly meetings where we evaluate both of our performances, mine as a leader and theirs as a team member. During this time we also review our company’s five core values to hold each other accountable to them.
  • Purchase affordable online courses
  • Buy relevant books

I use the term culture of learning a lot as it’s something I constantly as it’s something I believe a company needs to grow their team and become an admired employer. I recommend you bring this language into your business and watch how your team, if you’ve hired correctly, rallies behind the philosophy.

Leave a comment below. What is the ‘culture of learning’ like in your company? Do you facilitate learning outside of the office? What would it mean to your business if your team was the most educated in your industry?

Follow Michel on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

The Most Important Career Development Tip You Can Receive (Or Give)

 

In this short video, I share the career development tip I used as an employee that helped me get promoted five times in five years. Whether you’re a business person, athlete or artist, this tip has proven to work time and time again.

Hint: Derek Jeter and Beyonce make an appearance in the video (sort of). And, I filmed it at an iconic Canadian landmark.

Marello-Webinar-Testimonial

3 Things You Should Regularly Tell Your Employees (But Probably Don’t)

3 things

Whether you went to business management school, or learned how to manage employees in a non-traditional way, you know this: positive reinforcement works! Doing so will, more often than not, increase employee engagement.

The Workplace Research Foundation says that highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. Employee engagement software company, 15five, recently published a blog post covering some very interesting employee engagement trends for 2016. As the blog post suggests, there is an abundance of data and real-life case studies that suggest employee engagement can be a growth strategy for businesses of all sizes, across any industry.

Along with statistics, it’s interesting to read what proven business leaders have to say about employee engagement. Here are three of my favourites:

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” — Simon Sinek

“It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment & helping to find a way to innovate.” — Marissa Mayer

“A company is people … employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.” — Richard Branson

The three conversations I believe most managers fail at having with their team members are to think long-term, invest in yourself and be curious.

Think long-term

When I was growing my career as a wide-eyed, anything-is-possible, eager employee, my greatest strength was that I was able to think long-term. I knew that my efforts would pay off one day. I never chased the pay cheque; I chased the dream. My dream was to one day advise, invest and keynote speak for multi-million and billion dollar companies.

Often this long-term mentality led me to willingly make short-term sacrifices to win in the future. Working for free (i.e. staying an extra 15 to 30 minutes without asking to be recognized or paid) was common. Did I care about receiving recognition or extra pay? No! I was aware that others would notice my diligence and hard work.

As the saying goes:

Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.

As a leader in your organization, it’s your responsibility to help your team members peer into the future. Allow them to envision what their future looks and feels like, then gently bring them back to reality. Help them create a plan for themselves and share real-world examples of how colleagues of yours have propelled their future by making small sacrifices in the short-term to win long-term.

Marello-Webinar-Testimonial

Invest in yourself

I wrote a blog post titled, Employees Needs to Be Responsible for Their Own Development. The thought was inspired by an idea I had while at an airport. In short, the blog post outlines my belief that an employee that wants to excel can’t rely on their manager. Rather, they must take ownership over their own destiny.

I turned to my friend, Annette Franz, a master in customer experience and employee engagement, for her thoughts on this topic.

I wholeheartedly support my employees investing in themselves. As a matter of fact, I tell them they are in charge of their careers, their development, and how far they will go; I’m here to support them along the way, to provide some tools, guide rails, encouragement and direction. I’m always happy to answer any questions they have or to provide whatever help they need, but I also suggest that they look at the vast majority of external resources available to advance their skills and knowledge: books, blogs, Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups, webinars, meet-ups, whitepapers, continuing education courses and more.

What I liked most about Annette’s advice is that several of the ways that you can invest in yourself are free – all it takes is effort. When it comes to customer experience management, Annette recommends the CXPA as an opportunity to learn, network and advance your career.

Be curious (and ask a lot of questions)

Ever since I was a boy, I have always asked a lot of questions and been very curious. Whether it was turning over a stone to see if there were any worms underneath it, or being in the workforce and asking a neighbouring department what they were up to, I always had a desire to ask questions so I could learn new things. These questions led me to conduct my first round of research on customer experience which eventually became my profession.

A primary reason why I’m an advocate of open-office layouts is because it increases the ability to have candid conversations and reduces silos. Furthermore, it allows team members to freely ask questions without skyscraper high cubicle walls to overcome.

Interview Tip: When I advise companies to help them refine their interview strategies – to recruit customer-centric team members – I always suggest that they ask a question or two to understand how curious the candidate is. You can ask a question like,

“When was the last time you were curious about something that eventually became a hobby or regular occurrence.” Candidates may say things like salsa dancing (after watching Dancing with the Stars) or archery (after watching The Hunger Games).

My friend and former colleague, Rhys Green, Director of Field Operations at O2E, takes it one step further with a profound thought.

I don’t hire people who aren’t curious. Curiosity is the fuel that drives learning and a person who doesn’t want to learn is as valuable today as they’ll ever be. I hire for what you’re going to do for the organization in the future, not what you’ve done in the past.

MF-banner-ad-blog-gofourth-final (1)

Conclusion

When managing employees to excel in their current positions, and help them propel their careers to new heights, we must reevaluate how we are mentoring them. It’s easy to go through the suggested management best practices, by identifying your strengths and working on your weaknesses, but that isn’t enough.

The three suggested conversations worked for me when I developing my career and, if you hire correctly (watch this video on how to hire motivated customer service employees), you will be able to inspire your team to exceed your expectations as their leader.

What type of management tricks, tips or tactics do you use to increase employee engagement? I would love to hear what’s working for you; leave a comment below.

Peer Cross Training: What Is It And How Will It Improve Your Customer Experience and Employee Engagement?

Does the thought of aligning your entire company, improving your customer experience and increasing employee engagement interest you?

If so, this post is for you – I want to introduce you to peer cross-training as a way to improve alignment, customer experience and employee engagement in the next 30 days.

In this post I will outline what peer cross-training is, explain the benefits and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to host it for your company.

Receive a 7-Step Peer Cross-Training infographic to visualize the process and share with your team. Click here to get it delivered to your inbox.

But first, I want to share a few statistics on employee training and engagement that shows the positive ROI that organizations can experience when they take these concerns seriously:

  • 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their position within the first year. – Go2HR
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. – Gallup
  • 69% of employees report engagement is a problem in their organization. – Psychometrics

What is peer cross-training?

Peer cross-training is the practice of having one representative from each department host a presentation to their neighbouring departments. During these presentations the representative describes a day in the life of their team, as well as provides detailed descriptions of their motivations, challenges, measures of success/KPIs and goals.

Imagine you were to ask your marketing department:

“Can you describe what our call center agents do?” 

Would they have a detailed answer, one that adequately describes the ebbs and flows of a typical day in the department? Would they even be able to recite the service-level agreements or workforce management protocols of the call center? Or would they simply reply with:

“They answer calls from new and existing customers.”

You see, often our teams have a general idea of what their colleagues experience, but seldom do they have an in-depth understanding of what their neighbouring departments do to help customers and achieve their goals.

As a consultant, advisor and keynote speaker, my career is built on helping companies improve their customer experience and increase employee engagement. It was nearly a decade ago that I recognized that no company will ever reach their maximum potential in creating a world-class customer experience if their organization isn’t truly aligned.

MF-banner-ad-blog-gofourth-final (1)

Why peer cross-training?

By appointing one member from each department (or more if you’re a large company) and asking them to build and host a presentation describing their department’s motivations and challenges, your company will experience the following benefits:

  • Employee engagement: It’s likely that your team has never hosted such an event before in their career and, if you’re hiring the right people, they will jump at the opportunity to describe what their department does to their neighbouring departments. Peer cross-training provides your team the ability to share how their department contributes to the overall success of the company.
  • Organization alignment: After hosting the workshops, each member of your company will walk away with an in-depth understanding of each department and clearly understand the end-to-end customer experience. How can you possibly achieve alignment if your departments don’t know what each other do?
  • Peer empathy: You will experience an increase in empathy after hosting peer cross-training. You will often here employees say, “I had no idea that’s what your monthly sales goals are!” or, “Oh, that’s why you need three days to complete that task.” This greater understanding only stands to benefit your employees’ intra-organizational relationships.
  • New initiatives: Sometimes asking someone who has an unbiased, unemotional opinion will lead to new, cutting-edge initiatives. Often we can become so entrenched in our day-to-day professional lives that we neglect to identify new opportunities to improve. Neighbouring departments, once they are exposed to every facet of what your team does, may be able to offer great ideas that your department can adopt.
  • Better customer experience: Your customers won’t truly experience a seamless customer experience until your company is aligned. By hosting peer cross-training, you will be one step closer to creating a fluid and frictionless customer experience for your customers.

FREE infographic that outlines the 7-Step Peer Cross-Training process. Receive it instantly by clicking here.

How to host peer cross-training?

I want to provide you with a step-by-step guide so that you can host peer cross-training for your company.

Step 1: Set goals for the initiative

goal-setting-sign

How will you measure success?

When creating an initiative for your company, always outline the goals before you start building to ensure your team understands what success looks like. Your goals when hosting peer cross-training may include the following:

– Have attendees walk away with a deep understanding of other departments’ operations and customer experience. This can be measured by sending a short survey after the training sessions have been hosted.

– Improve your team’s presentation skills. The person or small team that hosts the presentations will walk away from the workshops with a newfound or improved skill set for presentations.

– Build and deploy a high-impact, medium-effort initiative within the next 30 days.

Before you go into ‘solution mode’ you must first outline the goals for your initiative.

Step 2: Outline follow-up plan

Follow-Up-740x434

Like any initiative, you want to create a follow-up plan that will ensure the program is successful long after deployment, and in such a way that it builds off the momentum you have created. After you have hosted the workshops, I recommend that you do the following:

– Create awareness for the fact that the individuals who hosted the workshops are now the main point of contact for other departments when they have questions or commentary for the respective department

– Form an advisory council. In an earlier post I outlined how to create a Customer Advisory Board (CAB). The people who hosted the presentations will be each department’s representatives within this advisory board. This team should meet regularly; I recommend that they meet weekly or bi-weekly.

– Produce quarterly department reports, company-wide, that share each department’s initiatives and goals. By doing so, your entire company will be able to receive a snapshot of each department.

Following these three steps will increase the likelihood that the program is successful long after you host the initial peer cross-training sessions.

Step 3: Outline the education you want attendees to walk away with

education 2

What type of knowledge from each department do you want your company to walk away with? Before you begin hosting your peer cross-training workshops you must outline exactly what you want your company to learn.

For example, you may want your entire organization to understand:
– What your sales team’s targets are
– What your service-level agreements are for your call center
– How your marketing team measures success for the content they produce

It’s highly recommended that you understand how each department contributes to the top and bottom line and communicate these metrics. Whatever is measured should be shared during peer cross-training.

Step 4: Select your single point of accountability (SPA)

 SPA 2

Who will be each department’s representative during cross-training? There are two ways to determine this. Please note that I’m not partial to either way; the choice really depends on how your company prefers to move forward with Step 4.

– Your leadership team can identify an individual from each department who would be a great fit to represent their team and offer this individual the opportunity. This person should exemplify leadership qualities and a strong desire to grow within the company. Often this person is someone that management is grooming for a leadership role or future promotion.

– You may follow a democratic approach by presenting the opportunity to each department and allow individuals to volunteer their services. After you have selected the SPA, be prepared to explain your decision to the individuals who were not selected. To ensure that your decision doesn’t negatively impact anyone’s morale, invite these individuals to help the SPA build their presentation and offer feedback.

When determining your SPA, it’s advised that the chosen person has the experience and tenure to effectively represent their department and that they feel comfortable presenting to their peers.

Michael Schneider inline

Step 5: Build presentations

presentations

Your SPAs will need time to build their presentations. Don’t ask them to do this on their own time. Instead, reserve a day to allow the peer cross-training team to get together and work in coordination to build their presentations.

I’ve hosted peer cross-training sessions with companies on-site, at their office, and even off-site at a hotel conference room. Later this year I will be hosting a peer cross-training session with a company that has rented out an entire home through Airbnb, which will host the team for the duration of the session.

The following content should be included within each presentation:

  • Department overview: What does the department do? What does a day in the life look like? How does the department measure success (i.e. KPIs, etc.)?
  • Customer success: How does the customer define success? What does the department do to achieve this success?
  • Barriers to success: What barriers does the department face in delivering a world-class experience? How does the department avoid or overcome these barriers?
  • Department collaboration: What departments do they regularly interact with? What’s the dynamic of these relationships?
  • Q&A: Reserve time for the SPA to answer any questions the audience may have.

Ensure that your SPAs are very specific. For example, you want them to communicate specific service-level agreements and key performance indicators in their presentation.

Step 6: Host presentations

presentations 2

Now that all the preparatory work has been completed, it’s time to have your SPAs host their presentations! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for scheduling presentations because each company has a different bandwidth.

For small and medium-sized companies, I recommend that the audience size for each presentation does not exceed 24 people. Presentations may be held over a few days, or longer, but don’t allow it to exceed two weeks as you may lose momentum.

For large-sized companies, it will be virtually impossible to schedule presentations due to the sheer number of people involved. In lieu of in-person presentations, consider having the SPA record videos that outline their presentation, which can then be shared system-wide.

Step 7: Debrief with team

Image of smart business people looking at their leader while he explaining something on whiteboard during seminar

As you would with any initiative or new program, you will want to debrief with your peer cross-training team after presentations have occurred. During your debrief period, it is the leadership team’s responsibility to understand the following:

  • What did the peer cross-training team enjoy about presenting to their peers?
  • Do they believe that the training material resonated with the audience?
  • Allow them to provide feedback on the process and approach that was designed to host the peer training program

You may also consider surveying the audience to understand the effectiveness of the program. I recommend using survey tools like TINYpulse or Survey Gizmo (both have free options).

Regardless of your company’s size or industry, peer cross-training is a high-value, medium-effort initiative that can align your company, improve your customer experience and increase employee engagement. The positive results you will achieve when hosting peer cross-training far exceeds the cost of resources that the initiative requires.

Last chance. Receive a 7-Step Peer Cross-Training infographic to get started today. Delivered, for free, to your inbox instantly. Click here.