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.

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