ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Recommended Steps to Providing World Class Service.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Tuesday, 22nd January 2008
Let's face it. The bridge between you and your customer is your employees.

Your employees are in the trenches, creating success, communicating with your customers and building relationship equity. They are your point men and women. Make no mistake; they are the ones that create world class service. They can and will create competitive advantage by being world class service providers.

Easier Said than Done

Of course it's easy to write about world class service and preach about that being the mantra of success and growth. But how do you really create a team that can become world class service providers? The answer, simply put, is to first figure out exactly what you have to start with. Are they right for their position? Who are the best at what they do and how do you create more of them?

A common opinion often published is that only 20% of your employees are effectively using their personal talent and skill in their respective positions. They are happy in their job and willingly release their discretionary energy when they see the need to excel to meet the demands of the job itself. They themselves believe in providing world class service. But it takes a team to accomplish that objective as a company.

So, why aren't all employees like that? That's a complex question that has yet to be answered effectively. At least it has never been answered to my satisfaction. Maybe we would be better served by focusing on how to create that same attitude; that same level of competence and that same skill set in all of our employees.

The First Step ---- Assess the talent that lies within

Before you go off the deep end and figure the answer is to fire 80% of your employees and hire new, consider what it would take to develop that 80% and make them more effective. To do that you have to know what you have to work with. I mentioned in one of my earlier articles that utilizing the "Winslow System" was one of the most effective ways to really figure out if your employees are in the right position and just what jobs they are really suited for. You can e-mail me at rick@ceostrategist.com for more information on this assessment tool or just click on the link at the bottom of this article.

The Second Step --- Consider reassignments

Once you have a better understanding of what your employees are best suited for you can do some rearranging to better utilize individual talents. This is not an easy task and it will take some soul searching decision making. Additionally, an assessment should eliminate hiding places and you will recognize that there are certain employees that you may need to throw off the bus.

The Third Step – Identify your most precious assets

Once you identified those employees that are truly your most precious asset you must act accordingly.

Listen carefully, if you don't treat your employees like your most important asset --- Then they certainly will not act nor will they perform like your most important asset. And that means you are missing the greatest opportunity in the world to leverage talent and create world class service and competitive advantage. Make no mistake, it is your employees that create core competencies and core competencies create world class service.

The Fourth Step --- Start at the beginning

Start at the beginning, always is on the lookout for your next employee. Develop a profile of your ideal candidate - attitude, communication, skill, drive and experience. Examine your hiring practice. The first thirty days of employment are critical. Create a buddy sponsor and pay the buddy $X to guide the new employee the first month. Let the new employee choose his buddy after two weeks.

Can you imagine the cooperation and help the new person will get that first week. Make sure you have a legitimate documented employee orientation program. Sign up for "The Howl" newsletter and get The Lead Wolf Hiring and Interview Guide as a free download @ www.ceostrategist.com .

The Fifth Step --- Identify training needs.

Identify training needs throughout the organization. Create a training matrix. Allocate funds. Develop an intern program for candidates that show exceptional promise. Create mentoring programs. Train your managers on coaching and mentoring. Don't forget education. Reimburse tuition; create specific educational curriculums for specific management level and service employees. Create a company university program.

The Sixth Step --- Encourage coaching and mentoring

Burn the annual appraisal forms. They are worthless. Create an obligation for all managers to spend a minimum of thirty minutes a month discussing performance and opportunity with their direct reports. Record it on a 4 x 6 card. This will make annual performance reviews meaningful because you now have data for the entire year, twelve mini reviews. I can provide a sample of this card via e-mail or you can download it if you are a Howl subscriber.

The Seventh Step --- Create a culture of fairness

Fairness---- Employees want fairness in all their dealings. This starts with fair pay. Is it your goal as a company to pay at or above market? This includes base pay, benefits, recognition and other non monetary rewards. Fair and consistent treatment is a must. Award and recognize with extra paid days off in conjunction with a weekend. Buy the book 1001 ways to make it fun to come to work or check out Schaefer Recognition @ www.vocationalshrink.com .

The Eight Step --- Hold them accountable

Accountability ---- Employees want to be held accountable. They want to be empowered. They want to contribute. Make sure they understand what their job really entails. What are their responsibilities?  Job descriptions, if you have them, are often vague or incomplete. Give them the tools and provide the resources necessary for them to reach a standard of excellence.

The Ninth Step --- Communicate effectively

Communication is the first spark in leadership. It will hold the company together. Nothing else is so crucial to survival and solidarity. It is especially important that the message is consistent throughout the management team. No single factor plays a more precious role in building and preserving trust amongst the employees than communication. It is a make or break issue.

Miscommunication, rumors and garbled messages cause conflict and distrust. Don't settle for second-rate communication, it's too critical to success. Avoiding informing all employees, specifically on matters that affect their lives, is like playing with fire. This kind of action breeds resentment, distrust and paranoia.

The Tenth and Most Important Step --- Trust and Respect

Statistics and surveys prove that the majority of employees that leave their employers do not leave due to pay. Employees want to be treated like people. They want respect and trust. Employees will not start respecting their leaders until their leaders start respecting them. They will not start trusting their leaders until their leaders start trusting them. Ask yourself how you would want your managers to treat your son or your daughter if they worked for them?

It's not impossible

Creating world class service is not impossible if employee development is a priority.

Every employee wants to feel that they have a voice and can be heard. They want to know that management knows they exist and what their contribution is. They want the satisfaction of doing a good job. They want to prove their talent to achieve the desired results. If they are challenged, they will become self- motivated. Recognition and praise raises self-esteem. Positive feedback and ample communication allow employees gratification and a newfound confidence in the organization.

Organizations in the 21st century that provide world class service have characteristics that often create a large and incredibly complex set of independent relationships between highly diverse groups of people. They recognize the value of their employees. Organizations experiencing problems with staffing and retention may find it extremely valuable to perform assessments not only on potential new hires but on all their existing employees as well.

If you are currently not providing the level of service that meets your expectations, consider following the ten steps listed in this article.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.  Don't forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.

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