Thursday, August 23, 2007

Staff Engagement

I listened to a fascinating presentation by Kevin Panozza, chief executive of Hewitt Best Employer award winning enterprise, SalesForce. His attitude towards staff development and his commitment to achieving an engaged workforce come across very strongly.
Here is a summary of some of what he had to say in his dynamic presentation at the AHRI luncheon

Sales Force is an outsourced contact centre with 5000 seats. The business has displayed consistent profit growth
Kevin says that within all relationships, expectations are set for us/ by us: whether or not these expectations are met increases or decreases the level of satisfaction.
Therefore in a corporate culture where staff expectations are met, this leads to positive corporate culture. Often the call centre is perceived as a threat/ burden.
Staff engagement = the measure of how people feel about being at work.
It is essential that staff feel good about being at work if you want to serve the customer well - particularly in call centres which are often described as sweat shops.
What are the eight enemies of engagement? If you know what they are then what can you do about

Enemy Number 1:

Uniformity – making everyone the same. Accentuate the whole leads to the individual feeling diminished. Rather, celebrate the individual as a strategy: Be yourself dress code, personalised work stations, no hot desking, performance based remuneration, develop a leadership pool, hold competition and events. The Sales Force culture = sum of individuals attitudes.

Culture depends on its people and not the other way around.

Enemy Number 2 – Rule driven behaviour. Do it because you are scared. Not being able to make decisions for yourself makes people stressed.

Instead – Have simple guidelines, empower team members, recruit intuitively, recruit for attitude, invest in training. There might well be a solid corporate structure but ultimately it is the agent that talks to the customer. Intuitive behavious is to be encouraged.

Enemy Number 3 – Don’t let call centre look drab – have lots of colour everywhere. Dullness in countries with no sun leads to more suicides. Create atmosphere for creativity.

Enemy Number 4 – Isolation. When the headset is on and computer screen on, you can feel isolated. Use communication – is not a staff newsletter. Interactive training and interactive group interviews to keep close. Team leaders do conversations to see how people are travelling. Tell them if they are living up to expectations.

Sales Force has 'Chairs in' = one on ones for honest feedback. 10 minutes of honest feedback with manager once a fortnight.

Enemy Number 5 – Being taken for granted. Cost of replacing an experienced agent is $10,000. Rather - Use recognition strategies, Awards events, certificates, Chairman’s award. Socialising with work mates, team outings, vouchers, Certificates of attendance, occupancy, turning up on time. Issue these publicly.

Enemy Number 6 – The deep end = you feel lost. Rather have a strategy – go through induction program. Go through the Sales Force Rainbow book. How will you make way in your environment.

Enemy Number 7 – Lack of career opportunities. Instead look at team development as a strategy – find people and help them to get ahead. If you want to get ahead, there are opporunities galore and a brochure that describes how to get ahead. The Sales Force business has an internal RTO that provides training up to a Diploma level, and there is encouragement to do courses.

Enemy Number 8 – Boredom & Tedium – Scripts that need to be followed. Your strategy should be it’s ok to have fun at work. Competitions, dress up days, events, international food day and parties.

There is no doubt that there is a link between commercial performance and staff engagement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Kotter

An amazing session with an amazing man. I would love to crawl inside John Kotter's head and download all the information stored there.
Prof Kotter is dean at Harvard Business School and has some great insights into leadership and what makes change work in an organisation. He is emphatic that there is a difference between management and leadership, with both skills sets being equally needed. Management is all about planning, budgeting, organising, staffing, controlling and problem-solving - anything that makes an organisation run efficiently.
Visionary leadership on the other hand is about creating strategy and ensuring buy-in to that vision; motivating for action and helping an organisation to grow and evolve and adapt to changing circumstances.
Leadership is needed at all levels and no great CEO can do the job on their own.
Kotter's latest book is a parable on change and how penguins cope when the iceberg around them starts melting. This is the time we need a team - not a committee! This is the time to get complacency down - not by leaving anxious people behind - but by really talking and influencing people. It is not simply a case of throwing data at people and hoping they will read it.
When we empower others to act, we ensure that people do not become cynical when barriers appear. Instead we change the systems and structures that are creating the blockages.
Kotter used 2 Australian case studies of change leadership in action - one was the ANZ story of the breakout program and the other case study was on Centrelink and how they reacted in the hurricane disaster relief work.
Kotter's final message was, "Don't over-complicate things" - we all can make a difference.
What was also interesting was Kotter's facilitation style. He only uses videos, stories and discussion - nothing else. Something that we could follow as an example

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bruce Copley

What an uplifting and energising session that we had yesterday with Bruce Copley. The passion for learning that he generates is totally inspiring and if we could all take such a passionate approach to all our learning interventions, the impact would be immense.
Some of Bruce's thoughts:
  • Sometimes it is worth taking things that are old and re-birthing them. Not every learning intervention needs to be revolutionary
  • Learning always involves change - we need a heightened awareness of things around us and we can't be on auto-pilot
  • We have choices in life that lead us to either walk or fly. We all reach the same destination but is there a better way of getting there. Trainers can be 'edutainers' who guide learners who take their own responsibility for learning
  • Incorporate stories into training - it adds lightness to what we do. Work is an intense form of being and we need to include some lightness
  • Not everything needs to be rehearsed before an intervention takes place. Have the trust in the process and understand that you can't always control the outcome. The only thing that you do have control over is the amount of passion that you bring to the process
  • Ask learners what they want to get out of the session and have a deep respect for their intent - learn to listen deeply
  • All the questions will be answers and all the answers will be questions
  • Keep asking participants what do they want and why do they want it - reach at the true intention and the real objective of the session
  • Create a sense of wonder during the day - something is waiting for the learner at the end that is good and positive
  • Integrate games - life is a game in itself, life is a play
  • Keep asking the question of yourself - where to from here? What else will this session give rise to?
  • Know the difference between the map and the territory. The map provides the way, the systems and the models and the territory provides us with the knowing. Territory and the map equates to wisdom
  • There is a difference between teaching, facilitating and animating - animating is the highest form of being together
  • If someone takes 1 thing from a session and integrates it into their life and then shows it to someone else the cycle is complete. You become a catalyst for change in someone else
  • We are all connected to the larger system and what we do has an impact on other parts of the system.
For a demonstration of the 'toothpaste' exercise have a look soon on our mci website: