All business leaders know that loyal customers who are advocates for the business are key to driving profitable growth, yet creating a culture that drives customer loyalty is hard to achieve. Even though the organization may have pockets of excellence, there may still be struggles with chronic inconsistency from location to location, team to team or individual to individual.
How does an organization get every person focused on delivering excellence to customers consistently? The solution is in transforming the culture from the inside out, and it starts by redefining the fundamental “Why” or mission of the organization, ensuring everyone has the mindset necessary, and then driving behaviors that work to achieve it.
UNDERSTANDING THE FUNDAMENTAL PURPOSE OF BUSINESS
Few would dispute that every business, organization, movement, school, or any group that wants to inspire a devoted following, whether those followers are employees, volunteers, or customers, should have a mission, a purpose, a “Why”, that is clear and meaningful. However, while businesses and organizations can have what they believe to be meaningful missions, purposes, or “Whys”, there is a fundamental, often forgotten “Why” that exists for every business or organization, and getting an understanding of that “Why” is critical to getting clear on how your business matters, however, many businesses or organizations, in fact most it seems, don’t appear to remember or know this “Why” or don’t look as if they care about it.
Answer this question, “Why does any business or organization exist at the most fundamental level?” Some would say it is to make money but money is actually only a byproduct, a lag measure if you will. The fundamental purpose of business, the only reason any business exists really, is quite simply to help people, to help them achieve or do something. This is at the heart of every enterprise, in fact, it is at the very heart of being human. Helping each other is critical to how we have survived as a species. We’re not the strongest or the fastest and we never could have been able to survive our ancient beginnings without working together for mutual benefit.
Think about this concept. At the most fundamental level, why do we really need businesses? We need them to help us to do things we either don’t know how to do, don’t want to do, or both. When a person needs a shirt, they go to the shirt store because shirt stores help people find the right shirt. If they need a desk, they go to a store that helps people get desks. If they need a computer, you guessed it, they go to a place that helps people get a computer to fit their needs. Think about it, doctors, lawyers, teachers, car salespeople, retail stores, manufacturing companies, every one of them are in the business of trying to help people do something they can’t do or don’t want to do themselves…and helping people, to me, is the definition of service. Thus, serving others is at the heart of business. It’s at the heart of every organization. They are all in the service business. In fact, we could think of service as the true business of business.
But if this is true, why is it that so many organizations make so many other missions lie at their center? If helping people is the business of business, why aren’t organizations totally focused on that mission? Why aren’t they totally committed to helping people, customers and employees alike?
This is what Wellness for Business is all about, repairing this problem and then maintaining the focus. And much like physical wellness and health, the journey to business wellness begins on the inside so it can be seen and felt on the outside. Consider when an individual works on personal wellness, it is an inside-out proposition. A person works on things like diet, exercise, and sleep to keep themselves healthy internally so they can perform better externally. Wellness for business works the same way. You have to work on the inside, the employee experience, in order to perform better on the outside, the customer experience. It is about alignment to the fundamental “Why” – helping people – and then acting in accordance with that purpose to make things better for customers and employees. It is the big idea, and the big crusade.
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Once we understand the fundamental “Why” of business, helping people, and want to get back to it being the focus of our enterprise, we must commit to a change in mindset from “me” to “we,” from self-focus to service-focus. This means moving the conversation from “how can others help us?” to “how can we best help others?” This shift means focusing on what the business helps people do and then having everybody in the organization help each other do just that. It mandates that the products and services that are sold and delivered be in the interests of making people successful (“we” mentality) rather than simply making the organization profitable (“me” mentality).
This shift means rethinking how people perform their roles. Sales people, for example, must focus on consulting with customers to help them achieve their goals (“we” focus) instead of pushing them to buy products (“me” focus). Departments must collaborate (“we”) rather than compete (“me”) because the formula is clear; the better we help those next to us, the better they can help those next to them, and the better they can help our customers. This shift results in an organization moving in step and aligned to shared success rather than siloed departments and individuals working for their own success. With a ‘helping people,’ “we” mindset, we maximize our true human inclination to work together unselfishly rather than alone selfishly, and this service-focus is the launch pad for making positive changes that will drive a healthy workplace.
“A culture is strong when people work with each other for each other. A culture is weak when people work against each other for themselves.”
Too many workplaces have managers who manage but don’t lead, employees who are uninspired, and customers who are indifferent. To improve this requires the development of a culture where leaders inspire, employees are engaged and serve each other to best serve customers, and all work as a team in unison to continuously improve in pursuit of that common goal we’ve been talking about, one centered on each other’s and customers’ success.
To begin, we have to go to the center and make critical changes at the leadership and management level so that removing obstacles to performance and helping employees succeed become a chief focus. This means committing to giving employees the tools they need to serve consistently and empowering them to make decisions in customers’ favor.
Thus, Leaders must be people their team members want to follow who guide the fulfillment of the mission by maximizing the potential of the team. This is leadership that listens to customers and employees to connect with them and learn from them about the strengths of the business as well as the weaknesses so that they can influence improvement. It is leadership that empowers employees to use their knowledge, experience, and talents, and coaches them when weaknesses are uncovered. It is leadership that acknowledges people’s value and recognizes the contributions of team members. And it is leadership that demonstrates the expectations they have of others, it walks its talk.
Next, there are enthusiastic Employees inspired and committed to helping each other best help customers achieve the results they desire. These are team members that engage with leadership and challenge them on ways to continuously improve. They demonstrate passion, attention to detail, ownership, and pride in their work because they are valued and feel safe to voice their opinions and are encouraged to communicate and explore their ideas.
Finally, wellness requires a Team approach where everyone from C-suite to management to front line employee is unified around a common purpose (a.k.a. what the organization helps people do), has clarity about each person’s role and how they contribute, is accountable for results, and engages consistently in communication to celebrate success and collaborate on solving problems and improving performance.
THE TEAMWORK CYCLE
ALIGN to a common purpose
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically—to say no to other things.”
-Stephen R. Covey
What does your organization help people do? Business wellness cultures are ones where everyone can clearly answer this question and where everyone understands the importance of serving each other internally in order to best serve customers externally. This creates an aligned organization committed to service from the C level to the managers to the front line to the customers.
DEFINE the expectations for all involved
“People can’t live up to the expectations they don’t know have been set for them.”
Leading service organizations ensure their people understand how what they do connects to the purpose of helping their customers. In other words, answering the question, “how do you help the organization help customers?” The answer clarifies what’s expected of them and how their role is necessary in creating a world-class experience for the customer. Ultimately, every employee is clear on their role and how they contribute to success.
MEASURE progress to drive accountability
“You can’t win if you don’t keep score.”
The old adage that what gets measured gets done is apt. How do you measure the performance of and quality of your key indicators, most importantly your service performance? Are there gaps between what you promise and what you deliver? You must know how you are performing and continually measure if you‘re improving or deteriorating so that adjustments can be made. This is how the organization holds itself accountable for delivering on the promises they make.
COMMUNICATE to engage the team
“Open, frank communication is the linchpin to teamwork.”
Engaging employees is critical to long lasting success, and communication is the key to this engagement. This regular cadence of communication needs to consistently update team members on the status of the measurements they are accountable for, celebrate successes and recognize outstanding performance, and provide a forum for collaboration in solving problems and determining ways to improve.
These are the key ideas behind Wellness for Business, inside the organization there is a heartbeat of benevolent, nurturing leadership, a body of inspired, engaged employees, and a spirit of teamwork that is focused on teammates helping teammates so the organization can best help customers. The result outside the organization is an army of customer advocates who defend the organization and make it more successful. This is the prescription for wellness and a mission for the future of better workplace experiences and better customer experiences.