The sixteenth article for my column on Customer Think sees me create the longest title of the lot! During my career, every time I have had to endure…. I mean enjoy the pleasure of a job interview, I have always wondered just who should be interviewing who! Whilst most companies would make me feel that it was I who had everything to prove, I always believed that the company doing the recruiting needed to expend just as much time convincing me.
A number of years ago, I was interviewed for a job. The role profile, remuneration and location all appealed. I was not completely sold on this particular organisation’s products and services, but I was always keen to find out about industries that were new to me. At the time, I was leading on my process improvement skills. As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I was excited to have the opportunity to be a part of a new ‘deployment’ – it was a real chance to test both my technical and leadership skills.
During the interview process, I made it very clear to the recruiting board member how excited I was. Having been involved in process improvement for a while, I was delighted to have found an organisation who appeared to share my values and beliefs – that wanted to use process improvement primarily for the benefit of their customers. The recruiting director convinced me that this was indeed the case.
The interview was very much a two-way event – I convinced the director and he convinced me. We agreed that ‘cost reduction’ was a benefit of deploying the methodology correctly and that NO cost reduction targets would be set. I could not wait to get started.
A few weeks later – on day two of my new job – the very same director sent me an email. The email outlined details of my cost reduction target for the year. The next day, in an uncomfortable meeting with the director – I resigned. It is the first and only time I have done so within the first week of starting a new job!!
This long boring story has lived with me ever since – I will often tell people about it – not because I am proud of what happened, but because of the message I think it portrays. Every year since this event, I have been incredibly conscious of the organisations I have worked in and with having what I would deem as ‘the wrong employees’. At the same time, I have also observed employees working their socks off in ‘the wrong companies’. I thought that I was the right employee finding the right company many years ago. In actual fact, it transpired that I was the right employee in the wrong company (in my opinion)!
Any business aspiring to succeed as a genuinely customer centric one must be able to determine if it has the right employees. There are still so many who focus almost entirely on technical competence, whilst ignoring behaviours and attitudes. You can have the most technically competent employee on the planet – but if he/she does not BELIEVE in what your organisation is trying to achieve, their value to your business will be greatly reduced.
I have come across so many businesses that are trying to change their strategy; their behaviour; their focus; yet with employees – people – who are unwilling to accept the change. The most customer centric of leaders will understand the importance of – and have the courage to – change the people as much as anything else.
This message goes both ways though – I also meet some unbelievably passionate; talented; driven; innovative employees on my travels. Some of them are the right employee in the right company, yet the majority are the right employee in the wrong one. Frustration; anxiety; stress; anger are not emotions that anyone should have to endure – but if the right employee remains in the wrong company for too long, then these emotions are almost inevitable.
To achieve Customer Experience Success, all leaders need to understand that it is equally important for an employee to find the company that is right for them, as it is for the company to find the right employee for it. No one benefits from having the wrong match up. So here is a little question and answer ‘test’ I have created – from both sides of the fence (so to speak):
Are you the right employee in the right company?
- Do you like your job?
- Do you like the company/brand?
- Do you know and believe in your company/brand purpose?
- Do you like your colleagues?
- Do you like/respect your leaders?
- Are you proud to work for your company?
- Would you recommend your company’s products/services?
- Would you prefer to work somewhere else?
Are you the right company with the right employees?
- Do your employees like working for your company?
- Do your employees use your products and services themselves?
- Do your employees stay with you – even if offered jobs elsewhere?
- Do your employees ‘do whatever it takes’ to satisfy customers?
- Do your employees constructively challenge leadership?
- Are your employees proud to work for your company?
- Do your employees recommend the company as a place of employment to others?
- Do your employees ‘live and breathe’ the company values?
Are you able to answer all the questions? If so, are they the answers you were expecting? Fundamentally, if your company is employing the wrong people or you are employed by the wrong company, you will need to make some very tough decisions. To succeed as a Customer Centric business, you will have no option but to do so.
Change is not a bad thing – in fact I always argue that change is a huge opportunity for everyone. To achieve Customer Experience success, you will need to determine if change is something that people have the courage to face up to.
This post was originally written exclusively for my column on CustomerThink – a global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises. The site serves 80,000+ visitors per month from 200 countries.
You can read my column here!