I had an exceptionally open culture at Pacific Direct. You too can develop and create to your benefit the same dedication, loyalty and long-term staff retention that all adds value to a company. Here are some guidelines.
Mistakes are truly OK. Encourage mistake-making openly, and support the action of others when making decisions. We even had a sum of money with which any member of staff could put client service mistakes right, and do so through any means deemed to be a solution. No justification was required – just an implicit understanding that if it was business progressive (client proactive or customer care) then it was fine.
No witch hunts after an event. Of course you should learn from mistakes, though. Sometimes you make bad decisions, but it’s not the end of the world – and that applies to the people who work with you as well.
Do not expect even your most loyal member of staff to be as dedicated as you are and do not get frustrated by it. People do need to be continually encouraged, but it is not their business and they do not live, breathe and suffer in the effort of continual improvement in the same way you do. It is your company – you should work smarter, harder, sometimes longer and you should continue to sweat the small stuff and make tea and coffee for all from time to time.
You don’t always need the latest, greatest piece of technology – but in our business a new member of staff always got the latest technology to show we had invested in them.
Show some emotion. I have even been known to cry my heart out when trying to describe and recount the long- term loyalty of people who had stayed in the company at their five- and ten-year celebrations. I have never heard anything so stupid as someone once telling me that crying is weak; it’s human, and people need to see your human side. Expose your own weaknesses and your staff will see you for who you really are.
Life was, of course, not always perfect. Despite giving and sharing, training and educating, things will go wrong. How you learn to deal with disheartening behaviour or setbacks may well be the difference between success and failure for your company.
We had, at great expense, developed a piece of software under Microsoft Access, which allowed us to fully record all of our sales activities by customer. This priceless record allowed efficient maximisation of the sales effort. It was valuable record-keeping for the marketplace information we owned and it had developed over the years into a powerhouse of detail on hotels which were potential customers. I found it very uncomfortable when information was stolen from the company in the shape of the database, and the situation ended up in me dismissing (with legal advice) a member of the telesales staff who was abusing her access to our sales.
This extract is taken from More balls than most © Lara Morgan, 2011 (published by Infinite Ideas). Lara is founder of Company Shortcuts – a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership.