Is your organization suffering from negative employee energy? I can just imagine some CEOs, senior managers and supervisors shaking their heads in agreement with this opening question. We know the deal. We walk into a business place and ask for assistance and yes, we receive the information from an employee, but it lacks lustre. Shall we say, that he or she does not generate enough “employee positive” energy to create a “great moment of glory” for us. The transaction is done, but the emotional connection is absent. Many customers will only return to that business if it’s absolutely necessary.
Why are customers so loyal to business brands that connect “emotionally” with them? Because of how those businesses make them “feel.” This feeling of “oh my goodness, they actually took the time to think about me” is what drives patronage decisions. When a business creates real depth to this “feeling,” patronage evolves into brand loyalty, customer retention and ultimately, massive share of wallet.
I assisted a shopper at the supermarket recently by reaching for an item on a high shelf and she was lamenting the fact that this was the story of her life. No step ladders. (We won’t talk about the inherent public liability risk involved). Can you imagine the emotional connection that could have been made with that shopper if in-store service ambassadors were provided to assist shoppers with these challenges? Actually one local supermarket initiated this service some years ago and it made a huge difference to the shopping experience. Sephora the giant retailer now has colour coded handbaskets for shoppers to communicate silently if they need assistance or if they want to be left alone to browse. Small actions make big emotional impact.
REMOVING BLOCKAGES SO YOUR ORGANIZATION CAN BREATHE
One of the biggest blocks to making an emotional connection with customers is negative employee energy. Three drainers that are guaranteed to suppress internal energy are employee discontent, toxic departmental cultures and a lethargic business climate. These drainers produce emotional fatigue, mental health degeneration, inefficiency, interpersonal disharmony and toxic business energy. A business like this will become starved for positive energy and will soon assume a dull, melancholy vibe.
Service excellence needs oxygen if it is to create healthy, refreshing experiences for customers and one of these drainers on its own can wreak havoc if left unresolved. So if a diagnostic check yields the presence of more than one drainer in your business, it’s time to act urgently to correct the malaise.
Employee discontent can cripple a business when left unchecked, unmanaged and unresolved. Employees experience discontent for many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the work and some of which have everything to do with the business climate.
CREATING A CULTURE WHERE EXCELLENT SERVICE CAN THRIVE
Does your business generate a sense of belonging, sense of pride, or real meaning for your employees? Is there an energy about your business that creates an uplift for healthy relationships, good mental health and a departure from the drudgery of repetitive transactional processes? Employee approval ratings on these issues influence their level of engagement.
A toxic culture is characterized by toxic energy. You know the kind of energy that establishes a department as a psychologically unsafe site. This energy sustains gossip, lack of trust amongst team mates, undermining of projects and tasks, creates divisive cliques, inconsistent performance and multitudinous errors of a fundamental nature. Also included here would be the big sin; a divide and conquer managerial style of running the department, that props up vanity and officialdom.
A third drainer of employee energy is brand lethargy. Is your business engaging the hearts, minds and willing involvement of employees? Of course any business can argue that employees should come to work already motivated and of course, that would be the thinking of a business that may be out of touch with the constantly evolving dimensions of a multi-generational workforce. There is a booming generation that wants to work for businesses that care about employees’ interests “beyond the work.” If your business hasn’t noticed, this is a generation that connects with world causes like recycling, climate change and mental health.
FIXING THE ISSUES
1 . LEADERSHIP NOBILITY
Fixing these imbalances is not rocket science. There’s hope. Three opportunities for fixes come to mind. Firstly, there’s leadership nobility. Leaders need to recognize that they are the conscience of the business and represent the ethics, values and behaviours that need to be emulated. A major focus should be on cementing a culture at the top that is characterized by dignity, authenticity and respect for all.
2 . CONSTANTLY REFRESHING THE BUSINESS
Secondly, there’s the need for refreshing the personality of your business. If your business is feeling a little stale, re-activate the energy. Create some fun activities that engage all staff, get the executives moving, shake up the management meetings and engage employees, your major internal constituency, in meaningful brainstorming retreats. Act on every decision taken to show commitment.
3 . RECOGNIZING THE EFFORTS OF THE TEAM
Thirdly, celebrate small wins as an organization and become a culture that is known for recognizing and celebrating employee effort. When the underperformer, the performer and the over performer sit side by side, they must know that someone is taking note of the difference in effort.
As a business extracts negative and toxic energy from itself, it creates a space to be filled with healthy and refreshing emotions that channel into positive emotional connections with its customers. It can begin to focus on being efficient, delivering what is promised, improving the lives of its customers and the most powerful payoff, making the customer feel good.
So if your business is thinking seriously about landing on this positive energy sweet spot, please remember that employees laugh in a genuine way when the business is energized, when it has personality and when leaders are congruent with their walk and their talk.
The field is wide open for a start in the right direction.