What Can You Learn From Your Staff?
The new season of Undercover Boss premiers this Sunday. When the show first started I didn’t watch… seemed goofy. Then I caught an episode and was impressed.
Granted it is TV. But there are real lessons there.
Each time I am able to watch — I learn something. I see what could be learned by business leaders IF they were connecting with their front line staff. It really is about “walking the floor”, so to speak. Being in touch and really communicating.
Frontline staff KNOW what is happening within your organization. They know what works and they are frustrated by what doesn’t work. Often they are more frustrated that their input is not asked for or taken seriously.
Frontline staff can most often save organizations thousands of dollars… and in big companies probably millions.
In one episode the boss learned that the online reservation software didn’t communicate with the front desk software. Customers that had made their reservation online had to wait up to a half hour to checkin while desk staff worked on getting the online information and inputting into their front desk software. Now, I know you can see some problems here — customers are frustrated; staff are frustrated and efficiency is totally undermined. Fixing this problem — improves the flow of checkin, saves tremendous time, makes customers happier and front desk staff are smiling. That is just good for business!
So, how can you get this information if you aren’t one of the chosen to be on Undercover Boss?
1. Create a safe environment for staff to give you input. It is valuable information. Creative, learning organizations should always be evaluating how they operate and do business to improve. If staff feel threatened if they give feedback then you will never hear it.
2. Get your head out of it: Some organizations have leaders that have so much EGO in the game that they cannot hear anything from staff. This is extremely detrimental the overall operation of the organization. Staffs have such valuable information. They have great ideas on how to streamline operations. They see what is coming down the pike and can be helpful in planning or project management. And most often they are also very loyal — even when they are treated poorly — not appreciated — and not empowered.
How Would Your Organization Change?
If you empowered people? If you asked for input and took it? If leaders weren’t control freaks?
3. Empower your staff to be leaders. Many organizations are seeing incredible results when staff are empowered to take personal responsibility for their job.
4. Talk to people. Walk the floor. Let people know who you are. Listen more than talk and hear what their ideas are and give them credit for them. DO NOT be so small that you take ideas and credit. Your staff will continuously improve your operations when you value their input and opinions.
Being a leader is challenging, no doubt. But being a leader that stands all alone and doesn’t include a team creates an environment that will not produce the results that he/she is truly going for!