I am fascinated with the study of people — their behaviors, cultures, languages and societies. Seeking to understand before being understood is a good way to start this process. There are many different ways to understand your audience that may be helpful.
The following are some principles that I have found helpful and I try to live and work by them.
In order to build durable systems for long term growth and organizational success, start with employees. Having a strong, clear purpose and direction for the organization is helpful for everyone. Many employees are seeking guidance to know how to direct their energies. Most of us need a greater purpose to get behind that has more meaning than just making money. Organizations that have a higher reason for being will attract people who want to do something good in the world beyond just showing up to earn a paycheck. It has also been shown that organizations with a greater purpose do better with customers. Train employees first. Get them aligned with a clear vision and purpose and everything else will go more smoothly.
Predictable and consistent behavior from employees builds trust with customers because promises are kept consistently.
People are complex and must be approached gently, with care, and over time in order to build trust and enact change. When change happens too quickly, or without clarity for employees or customers, they resist, disconnect or even sabotage the new programs.
Giving everyone the opportunity to make changes and improve their corner of the process helps individuals to engage in their work at a new level. Sometimes an employee may be working with an extremely cumbersome process and they keep doing it because that’s how they were trained. If they had the opportunity and were recognized and rewarded for improving things, they may best know how to improve it.
There are also times when it takes an outsider to observe employee and customer behaviors to look for opportunities for improvement. These observations are the seeds of innovation. These are the problems that seem to be solved, but an outsider might see ways to streamline the process. Or might identify a need that could not be verbalized.
Employees can also be trained to observe customer behavior and listen to customer needs. They can look for innovation opportunities and to pass those on to central teams for action. Again, recognition and reward are helpful in getting employees engaged.
There must also be a system for receiving and doing something with the ideas submitted. In the past, we have created multi-disciplinary teams to weigh the suggestions and work on the best of them.
On a global scale, it is critical to understand differences in cultures so that systems can be built to help teams to work together and to recognize and integrate to the differences into a unified team. Learn more on the Global Culture Studies page.
The relationship between an organization and an individual should be one of mutual benefit. The needs of the organization and the needs of the individual should be equally valued. If the organization takes a too heavy hand, trust will be broken, and, of course, an organization that makes their own needs less than the customer’s will not be around very long.
When the customer experience is a priority, the behaviors of the employees and organization as a whole will help the customer to feel valued.
At People’s Intermountain Bank, where I worked for the past 11 years, the Vision, Purpose, and Values statement is widely known throughout the organization. Bank employees use these principles in decision-making and performing their jobs on a daily basis. These principles are a deep part of the culture and customers can feel it. The brand promise is delivered through products, technologies, employees and through all customer touch points.
Both the employee and customer Net Promoter Scores® have been among the best in the industry for years. This then translated in the financial performance as the bank was regularly ranked among the top performing banks for its size in the nation.