I was watching an old rerun of a show from the 1970’s the other day and one scene was supposed to be a city street, but it was clearly fake. The buildings were all facades. It seriously looked like a back lot instead of a real city street; the falseness made it hard to watch.
This reminded me of one of the problems I see regularly in businesses. So many train their employees to do this or that and then expect them to deliver. This may work when it comes to a task like operating a cash register or filling out the right forms but it simply fails when it comes to behaviors because behaviors are not tasks, they are emotional.
A while back I was facilitating a training class, and when I when out into the hallway, I noticed another class of some sort going on in the room across the way. The sign said it was a customer service class and since the doors were open, I took a peek inside. The attendees and the instructor were all standing in a circle and he was imploring them to listen carefully. After the silence, they all talked about every sound they heard. After this, the instructor told them to remember to employ the same focus when they listened to people. It was a good exercise but it left me wondering how effective it would be if the attendees’ thinking is not one of really caring about the customer, their “listening” would be fake, it would be a facade.
So many of these training classes work hard on tasks but little on thinking, and without working on the thinking, it will all just be fake which customers will eventually see right through. When a smile is a task, it is fake, but when a smile is a mentality, it is genuine.
How can we make these behavioral things genuine? It obviously begins by changing mentalities and I believe that starts with making business human. What I mean is making our dealings with people just that, dealings with people not things. You see so many businesses treat people as things rather than people with needs, problems and goals. And this isn’t limited to customers, it includes employees. When we dehumanize people, it is so easy to take advantage of them, even hurt them, but once we put a human face on them and understand that they have the same issues, needs and dreams as us, it changes the game. That smile can easily come through as genuine. When we see others as just like us that smile at them becomes a smile back at ourselves.
How can you change things where you work? How can you bring humans back into the conversation? When you make decisions at the boardroom table, do you include the employee, do you include the customer?
When we put the human back into people it changes our thinking, it takes fake concern to genuine concern. This is how we go from behaviors as tasks (facades) to behaviors as genuine. Truly working on this will change everything from our relationships in families to our relationships in our workplaces and in our customers’ experiences. To go from fake to genuine requires a change in thinking that makes people human and this is something no task training can do.