20 tough questions
you should be asking about YOUR workplace
More and more these
days, managers are concerned with worker morale. After more than a
decade of mergers, acquisitions, restructuring and downsizing, we're
finally beginning to notice that stressed-out, burned-out employees are
not exactly able to provide world-class continuous improvement and
dazzle 'em-with-delight customer care. As customer loyalty (a highly
profitable strategy) becomes harder to capture, we need to start paying a
great deal of attention to the work environment we provide for our
Businesses all over
America are waking up to the notion that in order for employees to
provide the level of "caring" they want the customers to experience,
companies had better start caring more about providing a work experience
that is rewarding and even fun.
Little by little,
as we dismantle the hierarchical "institutional" environments of
business past, and managers get closer to their workers as well as their
customers, the workplace is becoming more humane. And empathy begets
empathy. When workers feel their needs are met, the easier it is and
more willing they are to meet the needs of the customer.
I say, "If you want
to create more value in the marketplace, you need to create more value
in the workplace." So here are 20 Tough Questions for you to take to
your next management meeting to raise the issues and raise the
consciousness of your organization.
Pick one or two or
ten and use them provocatively to stimulate thought and even a little
conflict -- get the blood going. Remember, a "21st century mind"
questions old assumptions and models and looks for ways to continuously
improve. The questions:
1. Is the level of trust in our
organization high or low?
2. How do we help individuals
cultivate a feeling of pride in their work?
3. When we delegate
responsibility, do we also delegate authority along with it?
4. Is a participative process in
place that encourages employees' input in matters that affect their
5. Knowing that creativity and
innovation are critical in a globally competitive economy, is
training and development an important part of our strategic
6. What methods do we use to show
people we appreciate them and their work?
7. What mechanisms are in place
to reward the kinds of customer-caring behavior we want to see
8. Do employees really believe
that open and honest communication on their part will not damage
their careers here?
9. What are we doing to encourage
people to constantly think "continuous improvement"?
10. What flexible work practices
are in place to accommodate workers' growing need for family
balance? Are people able to use these options without fear of
recrimination? Are people who believe balance is important still
considered serious candidates for advancement?
11. What are the five most
important values in our organization? How do they get demonstrated
by our management and staff every day?
12. On a scale of 1-10, how much
real, honest-to-goodness fun are people having in your
13. What five things do we have in
place to support wellness in our organization?
What are we doing to foster
"emotional literacy" in our management team?
14. If we ask our employees to
take risks, are we wholeheartedly accepting their failures (learning
experiences) as well as their successes?
15. Do we really believe our
employees are capable of being fully empowered? If not, what's
16. Are there negative
consequences when someone makes the decision to please the customer
rather than please the boss?
17. Have we changed our corporate
definitions of success to encompass the non-monetary things like job
satisfaction and individual growth? How do we measure it?
18. Have we recently surveyed the
staff to find out how they really feel about working here and
whether or not they really have what they need to take "exquisite"
care of the customers?
19. And here is one more
question to upset your next management meeting: Many changes have
occurred over the past few years, both reactive and proactive. What
are we doing to support the people who will be upset by the changes?
What system do we have in place to help people through the change
The challenge of leadership is to ask the right questions
rather than have the right answers. This should give you a good
start. Remember, if you want to create more value in the
marketplace, you need to create more value in the workplace. Go to
. . . . .
Brandi is Publisher of the Customer Care Coach ™ a weekly training
program on mastering "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care."
She is the author of "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em
Happy, Keep 'em Loyal and Keep 'em Coming Back" and "Building Customer
Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in ACTION". She writes a free email tip
on customer caring. You can sign up at