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September/October  2004

Customer Service
   tips for quality service

Being the Best
by Carl Tompkins

It has been my observation that when things get tough in business, employers drift away from the practices that had once made them very successful. When the financial welfare of a company runs astray, management starts crunching numbers and ignoring their greatest asset and resource of recovery: employees.

There is not one financially-related circumstance in existence that cannot be traced back to the origin of people not performing at a required level of productivity. Those people-based problems are: absenteeism, conflict, customer and employee complaints, turnover, insubordination, theft, poor product and service performance, disorganization and a messy workplace.

Being a great employer is a key to financial success. When employee welfare lies at the heart of management attention the previously stated problems are greatly reduced. Southwest Airlines is rated the most profitable in its line of work. The company also rates number one in employee satisfaction. Founder Herb Kelleher built his entire management focus on taking care of his employees. Through my own survey of Southwest’s staff, from my many flights, all employees love their job. Their specific reasons match the research recently completed by John Sullivan of San Francisco University that indicated the top seven employee needs, which are:

1. Honest, full and frequent two-way communication;
2. Challenging and exciting work;
3. Knowing that their efforts make a difference;
4. Appreciation, trust and recognition with rewards;
5. To grow and learn;
6. A degree of control with some work schedule flexibility and empowerment; and
7. Fair compensation and benefits.

When these needs are met, employees no longer look at their responsibilities as a job but, as a career and life-style. Employee morale runs high and it is morale that fuels business success. 
The practices to correct people problems are:

A. Start having some fun at work. One economist recently reported in the Sloan Management Review that corporate America has lost its social fiber; little is done to promote social bonding among employees. The size of the company is irrelevant. Employers need to orchestrate social opportunities to create the “family bonding” that once took place, creating a positive work environment.

B. management, must utilize the 50-30-20 rule. Fifty percent of management’s time needs to be focused on activities that cater to supporting their employees. Thirty percent should be devoted to conducting typical management administration duties. Only 20 percent of management’s time should be spent on activities that pertain to the work others should do or fixing problems. if management was to be honest they would find these numbers reversed.

C. Note the ways in which employers can meet the top needs of employees:

a. Honest, full and frequent two-way communication: Meet monthly, one on one and privately, with each employee. Get to know them and learn from them how to improve your company. Such meetings should last at least 30 minutes and be conducted away from the office. share everything the employee would like to know about the business. Welcome suggestions and show sincere appreciation for his work and concern for the business.

b. Challenging and exciting work: Have the mindset to promote people to new levels of responsibility. Learn, from the meetings, what you can do to improve their work environment while creating new challenges. Do what you say you are going to do.

c. Knowing their efforts make a difference: During your meetings, be prepared to share the value of their role and how their efforts make a difference. Be specific. Showing appreciation and acting upon their suggestions demonstrates that their involvement makes a difference.

d. Appreciation, trust and recognition with rewards: Every employee should receive a daily “thank you” from employers. Set goals with rewards. Praise people in front of others.

e. To grow and learn: Do employees have a job description defining their goals and objectives? Are they trained by the employer to meet those goals and objectives? Are they measured in a way that the employer can confirm what is going well and what areas can be improved upon? Review performance through those monthly private meetings. Frequent reviews provide a better learning environment.

f. A degree of control with work schedule flexibility and empowerment: Give employees some breathing room and ability to make decisions. Define the guidelines for effective decision making and performance requirements, then let the employee demonstrate his capabilities. Everyone is different. Some require more supervision than others to be successful. The key is for employers to know each employee’s level of ability and comfort.

g. Fair compensation and benefits: Employers must know their industry and what is deemed to be fair and competitive for both income and benefits. Remember, money is compensation for results provided by the employee and is never to be viewed as an award or reward.

Being the best employer is taking care of your people and, the better you do the better they’ll take care of your bottom line.

Ask your employees to rate their company:

Answer Key: 
1 - Failing 2 - Needs Improvement 3 - Satisfactory 4 - Very Good 5 - Excellent

How would you rate the quality of our company work environment? 1 2 3 4 5
How would you rate the cheerfulness and positive outlook of our team of employees? 1 2 3 4 5
How would you rate the commitment to succeed and energy level to do so by our team of employees? 
1 2 3 4 5
How would you rate our future chances of growing as a successful business?1 2 3 4 5
A rating less than a 4 should be viewed as an employer’s need for attention.


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