Frankly my dear: how to get your people to care


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Some people, teams (and companies) seem to achieve more than others despite having similar products to sell and similar structures to organise their work. But, if you dig below the surface, you’ll often see that there’s a big, seemingly intangible, difference between them.

In one company, people may be clear about their jobs and what the company wants to achieve. In the other, higher performing company, people care about doing a great job and care about the company doing well.

And it’s this caring that makes the difference. You can see it yourself every day. We’ve all experienced great customer service, or poor service.

And if you’re a customer, a shareholder or the CEO, you’re better off understanding this difference, as it’s crucial to the company’s long-term success.

The question is, how do you go about creating such an environment?

Physical environment

It’s difficult for people to care about their jobs if their working environment is unpleasant. But, it’s easy to fix the physical environment. Creating a comfortable workplace with good facilities is a basic requirement. Appoint a group of colleagues to feedback to you their thoughts about their workplace in case there are issues that can easily and quickly be addressed.

But, more importantly, it’s worth spending time assessing the effect the working environment and atmosphere have on your people. Do they feel invigorated? Are they encouraged? Are they motivated?

If your people think you don’t even care about their most basic requirements, are they going to care about you, your company or, most importantly, your customers?

Lead by example

As a manager or boss, or even as CEO, it’s difficult to encourage your people to care if you don’t really care about the business yourself, or don’t demonstrate that you care. Employees are much more motivated by a visible boss who shows how much s/he cares about the job. How can you do this? You could consider the following:

• speak to customers! Find out what they want and what’s important to them. Find out what they don’t like, and address it.
• speak to your people. They speak to hundreds or thousands of your customers, so they will know what’s important to them and what you and your colleagues should care about
• put in place, and give priority, to programmes addressing customers’ concerns.

Incentive schemes

Money talks but incentive schemes don’t all have to be finance-based. Certainly you can give prizes and bonuses to the people who make the business better and who improve your customers’ experience. You could also praise your staff publically in an in-house magazine or via your intranet. This person could become a company ambassador or obtain more holidays or access to the CEO. Or s/he could become a high profile ‘customer champion’. Think imaginatively.

SMART targets

Ensuring that each member of your company has SMART targets is an easy way of ensuring each person is focused. SMART targets are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. They also need to be reviewed regularly, and possibly adjusted and reset. Ensure that each target is tied into the company’s overall targets. People need to feel that they contribute to a bigger picture than their immediate circle. And if you really want these targets to be effective, introduce a performance related pay component to your compensation plans.

Getting your people to care can sometimes seem like an up-hill struggle, but it’s a vital one. It’s well worth it. After all, it could make all the difference to the success of your business!


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