In a democratic organization it takes 50% plus one vote to hold the power of an elected office. However, as experience throughout history has taught us, holding the power of an office is not at all the same as being able to accomplish things with that power. That’s politics. Not everyone agrees with the president.
I suppose good political science writers could publish countless papers and books on why this is true, but I think I can summarize the situation fairly easily: They can’t accomplish their goals because too few of their “coworkers” are aligned with their vision. Often these coworkers are elected officials themselves who have their own vision and goals and are running around, looking for others who align with their goals.
Alignment is crucial when groups of people are required to accomplish something, which is just about every significant human endeavor. This is certainly true when you’re trying to create a great experience for your customers.
Fortunately, in business we have some advantages over the political system, where everyone who is elected sees himself or herself as an authority-wielding visionary. In business, the people who create the vision have the authority (certainly) and the ability (hopefully) to bring the individuals within their organizations into alignment with their vision. I think there are three important components in this:
- Hiring the right people
- Training employees
- Consistent process
Granted, doing these things well is not always easy and there is much to be said about each one. Today I want to focus a little on hiring and one element of training. In hiring, companies invest a lot of money trying to find the best people. Fortunately, hiring managers and recruiters are getting a lot wiser than they used to be. In previous days – and still in some companies – a sterling resume could propel a candidate to the front of the line. However, a person’s willingness to align with your company’s vision can’t be deduced from line items under categories like “experience” and “skills.”
Smart companies dig deeper and take more time in the hiring process. They put candidates through a variety of personality profiling assessments that help determine if the candidate’s behavioral style or personality will be a fit for the job for which they are being hired, and just as important – maybe even more so – with the company’s culture.
I was recently talking to Andre Lavoie, CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany, and he was telling me about what they are doing in this area. ClearCompany has developed technology that helps prospective employees see if their goals align with a company’s vision and also lets companies determine if their talent strategies align with their goals. A software program that helps determine if an employee’s (or prospective employee’s) ideas are aligned with the company’s. Cool stuff!
If new hires start out from a position where they are somewhat pre-aligned to the visions of their new employers, it will turbocharge the company’s ability to provide a fantastic customer experience.
In terms of training, there are all kinds of great programs, but let’s take a step back and look at a bigger element. In one of my books, The Cult of the Customer, I discuss the importance of a “mantra” for helping create alignment within an organization. We are all familiar with short phrases that are associated with different companies. Some call them “taglines,” and are quite good – even enticing. But they don’t all serve as “training mantras” that help employees align to the company vision on an almost visceral level.
Many of these phrases or taglines are actually advertising slogans and they don’t really help create the alignment we’re looking for. One of the best mantras that illustrates my point is Avis’s old tagline, “We try harder.” Yes, it is a tagline, but it also serves at a guiding mantra. It’s hard to imagine three words that could more powerfully communicate to employees what they should be doing while they’re representing the company.
Another one I like (actually my favorite) is the message that Ritz-Carlton preaches to their employees; employees are often reminded that, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Nine words sums up what the Ritz-Carlton is all about.
Now let’s compare this to Coca-Cola’s “Things go better with Coke.” That’s a fantastic ad slogan but it doesn’t translate into a good mantra. The Avis and Ritz-Carlton mantras have a direct or implied connection between the employee and the customer. That’s when your mantra becomes powerful. It weds the customer experience to the employee experience. After all, they are on a shared journey and ultimately a shared fate.
So how is your company doing with regards to alignment? Do you consider alignment when you hire? Do you have a mantra that captures the essence of who you are, or who you want to be?
If you take care of these essentials, I think you’ll find that a lot of the issues that are now hampering your ability to create an amazing customer experience will begin to fade away.
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This article was written by Shep Hyken from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.