The process for garnering staff buy-in for your vision can be daunting; moreover, the larger your organization and the greater the delta between where you are, and where you want to be, the greater your challenge. It starts with your core beliefs, your vision, mission, and values. For now, let’s assume that your beliefs about being in business have to do with taking care of people and that your personal standard about customer care sets the bar high. Let’s also assume that you struggle with getting your market-facing people to “imprint” to the level of service for which you strive.
An effective way to get buy-in is to let your staff write your service standards for you. They will come up with better standards, they will be specific, and they will likely insist that you hold people to those standards.
At my health clubs here is what the process looked like. We moved through each department, engaged every employee within that department and had them define “perfect customer service.” If you have a large operation, you can do this with your key staff members or with the staff from one gym. When finished, you codify their input into a “service charter” for their department.
For example; ask your personal trainers to respond to a question – “How would you define ‘perfect customer service’ for a personal training department from the customer’s perspective?” Once you begin to get answers, you aren’t done. You may get a response that reads “the trainer is on-time, prepared, and dressed appropriately.” This is a great opportunity for you to dig deeper – “Great input. Tell me what you mean by ‘prepared and dressed appropriately?’” With each new answer you are looking for questions you can ask to get crystal clear definitions.
Once every trainer has responded, draft a document that lists their input in bullet-point fashion. Circulate the document to all trainers and ask them to review it closely and respond whether they agree or disagree with every bullet-point. Your objective at this stage is to find disagreements and bring the debate out into the open in order to get consensus. This can be a long process but once finalized, your new “service charter” will be powerful and will have the full buy-in of its creators – your staff.
We took four months to finish this process for personal training, group exercise, daycare, and front desk. Once we had their input and finalized the documents, we socialized them as fast as possible. Each “service charter” now had the power of being created and endorsed by the very staff that were expected to deliver on the promise. Moreover, each charter represented a bullet-point list of crystal clear training topics for on-boarding new employees.
The hidden benefits and the greater effect is staff attitude and the team building that occurs. Delivering great service is much easier when all employees have a “we” agenda as opposed to a “me” agenda. The “service charter” process creates the “we” agenda. It also uncovers those with a “me” agenda. Pay attention to their input, how timely they respond, their seriousness about the process, and how involved they are in the final approval of the charter and you will know who is going to support and who is going to be a detriment to your team and consequently to your vision and goals.
Once created, these documents should not sit on the shelf and collect dust. Every staff member should sign the charter, new staff members should be taught the charter, and the charter topics should be used to create deeper training.
Once you learn to utilize your staff for creating policies, procedures, and standards, you unleash a tremendous amount of loyalty and involvement. Recently a few staff members pointed out inconsistencies in our staff membership and daycare benefits. They formed a committee, we gave them a brief outline of things to consider then we left them alone to create a recommendation. We got back a thorough, recommendation that was fair, easy to manage, and aligned to our values. We now have the additional benefit of releasing a policy created by the very people that it will affect. That is powerful. That creates teams that care thus creating tremendous customer experience!
What steps have you taken to get buy-in from you team? Does your team actually care about what your company is all about? How would you know?