Friday, 9 November 2012

Purpose and Your Employees

What is the purpose of business? If you’re like 99% of the people we ask this question to the first response is usually “to make money”.  Our assertion is that, the purpose of business is to meet or exceed the needs of their customers. Period.  Perhaps half of you might say that upon further consideration you agree that this is the purpose of business. The other half of you however are saying, this guy is off his rocker. I work to make money. In our opinion, this misconception of purpose is hurting your bottom line.

Regardless of which camp you are in , my point is that, if you want to make more money, which is one of the results of business but not the purpose, it is important to be clear on your purpose as a business entity.
I have been in marketing and sales for 20 years in one form or another and over and over again it has been proven to me that no matter how good your marketing is, or how effective your sales team, without a focus on service, or meeting or exceeding your customers needs, you will not build lasting success.

Of course, branding, advertising, and other marketing and sales efforts are important but they will be doomed to failure or mediocre results over the long term without a solid grounding in the purpose of your business which is to meet or exceed your customer’s needs.

What is your employee’s purpose for working? To make money? My first job at 14 was with dominoes pizza. Was my purpose for working there to make sure that each and every customer got the best pizza experience possible? No way. My purpose was to make money to buy teenager stuff. Would it have helped if the supervisor or store manager told me that this was my purpose? Maybe. Would it have helped if every day I went in to work that purpose was demonstrated by the actions of my supervisors and co-workers. If any time I was out of line with my purpose for working there I was helped to understand how and why that was not acceptable and recognised for efforts that were in line with the purpose of the company. What do you think?  Of course it would!

Why didn't this happen? Because the supervisor and the manager were not clear on their purpose either! And if they did know they certainly didn't share it with me. Sure I was given policies and procedures to help me do my job but they did not achieve the results that the company wanted. For anyone who ordered pizza from the dominoes pizza in Burnaby 25 years ago, I would like to personally apologise.

So now what?  More bad news.  If your staff are not delivering the service that you would like it is a failure of the leaders in your organisation to communicate your purpose to your staff and hold them accountable for the results they produce. Most managers and business owners I say  this to reply with something like,” I tell them again and again what the expectations are and they still don’t do it. What am I supposed to do?”

You must engage your employees. What do we mean by employee engagement? According to Towers and Watson “Engagement measures the level of connection employees feel with their employer, as demonstrated by their willingness and ability to help their company succeed, largely by providing discretionary effort on a sustained basis.” We thinks that is a great definition.

The question is how do you create this on an ongoing basis and how does this affect the bottom line. The key is a commitment to focusing on the needs of all three stakeholder groups. not just your customers because if your employees needs are not being met, they are not going to deliver the discretionary effort that will result in your customers saying “ wow” and wanting, not only to buy again themselves, but also to tell their friends and colleagues about their experience.

This all starts with being clear on your purpose. Look at your organisation and analyse each of your processes and policies through this lens. Ask, does this system or policy support delivering outstanding service to our customers? Become obsessive about being a customer centric organisation and your results will improve and you will have more fun. I hope that I have sparked some thought. 

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