I love chocolate.
I get excited when I see a chocolate fountain at a corporate event or a wedding reception. There is nothing more fun than watching the chocolate drip from the top of the fountain onto each level allowing you to dunk your fruit or cake into the gooey river of goodness. It’s a beautiful self-perpetuating image; the flow running swiftly to the bottom, then regenerating itself as it surges to the top of the fountain, only to make its way down the layers again and again and again.
Last week, I sat across from a leadership team who asked me to brainstorm on some surprising issues they were having with their support staff. Department managers were seeing an uptick in customer calls asking for customer service reassignments. Sometimes this can be explained by a plethora of new hires who may not know how to handle service issues without referring to others. But not this time.
The office in question here boasts an experienced customer service team who should be adept at dealing with processing and system issues. So, where was the problem? When the leadership team pulled the service team’s email responses and reviewed phone call discussions, it was evident that many of the service issues were being forwarded to managers for resolution. Those issues that weren’t forwarded, once reviewed, offered solutions that were unclear, misleading and at times “dead wrong”.
“It really doesn’t make sense,” one of the managers lamented during our meeting. “These account managers aren’t new hires. They should be confident answering these questions on the spot. I don’t get it. If they don’t feel as if understand the situation, why wouldn’t they ask others for help?”
I know this leadership team. They are a polished, professional, “type A” group of individuals who are dedicated to their customers and known for their exemplary level of insurance expertise. As I sat across from the five individuals before me, I shifted the conversation by asking one simple question.
“I am curious,” I said. “When it comes to ‘asking for help’ how would you describe how comfortable this team, right here, is in asking for and receiving help from each other?”
I was met with an awkward silence.
“I’m talking about asking for help,” I said. “Are you good at relying on each other as a leadership team. Is this something your staff would observe from you on a regular basis?”
Slowly, a few of the bewildered faces began to sport smiles.
As business leaders, our attitudes, skill sets and beliefs dictate the culture of the those we manage. Leadership teams have an active “system” of how they communicate. Areas like decision-making, asking for help, and working through conflict are all on display throughout the day. Too often when employees struggle in communication areas, leaders go into what I call “process-mode,” looking for new processes to help improve results through additional training. And when the training program is delivered, too often the results aren’t as promised.
Now, I am not going to say that additional customer service training isn’t helpful because it certainly can be. This form of “spot training” can work for some businesses.
What I do know is that if leaders are trying to promote a skill set or attitude that isn’t being actively demonstrated within the organization’s leadership team, then the chance that this training will have much impact for more than a month’s time is incredibly low.
Now let’s get back to that chocolate fountain.
If you want to improve the taste of the chocolate at one level of the fountain, you’ve got to examine the entire route it takes in its ongoing microcosm. The chocolate is functioning within a vibrant system, just as employees do in the office every day- and if the top layer isn’t fully flowing, due to a "clogging" in the system, the remaining layers are going to feel the effect.
Team Coaching helps leadership teams recognize, understand and redesign how they communicate to allow for a long-lasting flow of meaningful change to take hold. Leaders learn how to manage by adopting a team approach that drives high performance while supporting stronger team dynamics in the process. With the help of DOOR 3 COACHING, organizations will notice the shift in culture as they begin to see and feel higher levels of employee engagement, creativity, candor and accountability. Direct, non-confrontational conversations resulting in higher levels of clarity and revenue.
Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?