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Passion, People and Principles

What My Boss Could Do To Convince Us

post # 174 — August 28, 2006 — a Managing post

a) That he /she really wants to make this place customer-centric

b) That he / she really cares about the long term

c) That he / she really wants us to be team players




Leo Bottary said:

Sadly for some, it would take accepting a position with a competitor – a three for one benefit!

posted on August 28, 2006

RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com said:

This is a deceptively complex question. It seems simple at first because we all have a tendency to answer instinctively from within our own paradigm: “What would motivate me?” Most of us are mature and emotionally healthy enough (I hope) to recognize that what motivates us, does not necessarily motivate others. But that’s only part of the problem. . .

Within any apparently homogeneous group, there are very likely to be generational differences at play when it comes to motivation as well. For example, ask a 65 year old lawyer what’s going to motivate him to dedicate long hours to the firm, and he is going to think like a 65 year old person who has experiences of being able to count on large organizations. Pose the same question to a baby boomer of the same race who might have cut his teeth questioning those same societal organizations, and you’re likely to get answers based on a very different paradigm. And if you pose a question like that to a Gen X’er (or Gen Y now entereing the workforce) you’re very likely to get a blank stare because we have a very different experience of the longevity of any organization.

Now, to really blow you mind, factor in that in each of the four examples above I used the adjective “he” on purpose. Change it to “She” and you get a very different paradigm – four different paradigms, actually.

I have some experience working with managers of large & mid-size firms to help them devise individual motivational plans for each team-member. Beware of any simple answers about what motivates your associates, partners or staff that their boss wants the place to be clientcentric, will even exist in the long-term, and/or that the team members will still be around a few years from now.




posted on August 28, 2006

David (Maister) said:

RJON, the question doesn’t asl what would motivate each of us. It asks waat it would take for us to be convinced the boss is serious in what he /she asks for. I believe that’s a diffreent question. It’s asking about actions by superiors that make us truust their words and motives.

posted on August 28, 2006

Jennifer said:

Well, a boss convinced me he was serious about making this place customer-centric when he spent half his day going and asking clients what we could do better and then followed up with some pretty serious action.

posted on August 29, 2006

Leo J Bottary said:

I’ll take a more serious stab at it this time. I think Hal Rosenbluth had it right. He created an organization that focused on employees first and the customers were the big winners – the employees not only realized it, but it was a source of pride for them. How great would it feel to work for the best customer service organization in the world? From a management perspective, you build that organization by focusing on those who are actually closest to the customer and delivering the service – day in and day out. It seems to me that all Rosenbluth Travel employees (before the company was eventually sold to American Express) would have answered a resounding yes to all three questions. I would imagine it’s a big reason AE purchased the company as well.

posted on August 29, 2006

Bob Brown said:

The simple answer is to change what’s being measured, talked about and rewarded by “the boss.”

While at IBM I had the opportunity to specialize in the area of customer relationship management consulting. We documented a wide range of best practices regarding “customer focused.”

For example, an associate’s and a firm’s ‘hours billed’ is certainly important and will certainly be included in the monthly reports circulated among management and senior staffers. But, is there also some real, quantifiable measurement of customer satisfaction – especially tied to the actions of individual associates — also regularly included in those reports? Are special rewards and bonuses to associates and teams— at least partially — based on customer satisfaction measurements?

How do the firm’s monthly and quarterly financial results impact the recognition and reward structure? Does “the boss” obsessively focus on the quarterly financials to the exclusion of other acts and occurrences related to the firm’s stated vision and mission? Are individual and team personal and professional development accomplishments included in the monthly reports? Are personal and professional development accomplishments recognized and rewarded with even half the enthusiasm as the signing of a new contract?

What’s being measured in the regularly scheduled performance appraisals? What weight is the success of the team or teams to which an associate given in determining the result of the appraisal.

What is actually measured and rewarded dictates staff’s perceptions and behavior; period. Everything else is just talk.

posted on August 29, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Leo, you describe what Rosenbluth achieved, but not how he did it. What were the cruial CEO actions that led to the outcome?

posted on August 29, 2006

Leo J Bottary said:

The book that describes exactly how he did it is called The Customer Comes Second by Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters. To your point, the concept is easy to grasp, but the book describes all that goes into creating that culture. As one would imagine, it was an enormous commitment. The book was an easy read. I would highly recommend it!

posted on August 29, 2006

Matt Moore said:

Gotta side with Jennifer on this one. I know a boss is serious about something when they walk the talk. Particularly if they do something that will genuinely cost them.

I am going to tackle this one:

“That he / she really wants us to be team players”

– Well, the boss has to be a team player. They have to work with the team. Not get too chummy but definitely role up their sleeves up and muck in.

– They have to let the team make certain decisions. Not just ask advice but actually let the team decide and stand by their decision.

– Support good behaviour & step on the bad. This probably should not be public but to tell individuals when they are doing good or getting out of line.

Measurement may have a place here but teamwork is pretty hard to measure fairly. I would suggest that care should be taken that measures don’t impede team work (e.g. competitive goals set between those who are supposed to co-operate).

posted on August 30, 2006

Tim said:

As far as team player motivation, I think group rewards/recognition are good. The other two are fairly difficult. In fact, the whole question is complicated and depends on many things.

posted on September 1, 2006