Is Your Trusting Cup Half Full or Half Empty?

Why Believing Your Employees Fuels Your Prosperity Engine

New York City is facing a major pest problem this summer. Sightings (or bitings!) have been reported at movie theaters, office buildings, retail stores and more. Earlier this summer, Hollister’s flagship 40,000 square foot store (a.k.a. Epic Hollister) in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo closed “for maintenance.” As it turns out, the place was crawling with bedbugs.  Apparently, management ignored the itching and irritated employees who “cried BUG” for over a month.

What About the Decision to DECIDE TO BELIEVE … In the Employees?

By not honoring its employees and doing something about what their folks were seeing (and feeling –yikes) Hollister alienated scores of employees.  One employee found that she had been bitten, and even found a live bedbug in her borrowed Hollister outfit without any action being taken.  All employees were forced to continue working even though more and more bugs were being discovered. Click here to read article. 

Beloved Companies – Bugs or No Bugs – Trust Their Employees

I believe you. Those three words show trust, honor and respect. Beloved companies decide to believe. Trust and belief are cornerstones of the best cultures. Having the ability to trust is the foundation for building the kind of company that employees love and want to work for. And that shows when they interact with customers.

Believing, the act of honoring and trusting is a unique and special characteristic that sets beloved companies apart. It makes them human. A decision to believe employees says how fearless a company is in suspending cynicism. What you decide to believe defines the spirit of an organization.

One company that has been heralded as a beacon of what it means to trust is Wegmans Foods. But this isn’t blind belief. Wegmans trusts their employees because they select them with diligence and with clear success factors in mind.  Then they prepare them for success – so that they can trust both their judgement and the skills that Wegmans has to develop. To enable employee belief, Wegmans invests up to 40 hours a year per person in training and career development.  This enables this company to “throw out the rule book” and believe in employees’ ability to make judgement calls that are right for each customized customer situation.  The only “rule” there:  “No customer can walk away unhappy.” By throwing out the rule book and enabling belief in employees, they have established a sustainable culture of trust. The staff knows they can use their creativity and understanding of the business and its products to make customers happy as they see fit.    

The Results

Employees love this kind of environment—and their numbers show it. Within their industry,Wegmans has dramatically lower employee turnover rates, higher operating margins and 50% higher sales per square foot.

What Do Employees Say About Your Ability to Believe? 

Here’s your challenge questions from my book, “I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.”

Look at your policies and procedures. Which ones get in the way of allowing employees to use their training (from you) and their best judgment to create an amazing customer experience that fuels your business growth?

Show employees you trust them by removing the barriers of policies and procedures that keep them from helping customers and growing the value of your assets (your customers). Plus, trust them to share what they know about customer needs, product feedback and more. They are a critical part of your overall customer experiencemake sure you are listening!

Do your employees have the flexibility to make things right with a customer when problems arise? Do they have to get permission to immediately respond and repair customer relationships? Do you put tight financial constraints on the remedy? When you allow employees to make the decision to make things right with customers it can foster even more loyalty from customers than before the hiccup occurred.

Customers can tell when your business rules create an obstacle to good customer service, so trust your employees and grow a healthy business from the inside out.

1 comment to " Is Your Trusting Cup Half Full or Half Empty? "

  • Great read. You really raised my eyebrow when you suggested looking into our HR policies to see if they limit our employees’ judgement. I’ll have to think about that one, but on first glance, I think we are able to encourage that culture due to our small size. I imagine that gets harder as companies grow.

    I especially like the posed question, “Do your employees have the flexibility to make things right with a customer when problems arise?” Often times employees are not given the authority to directly affect the customer’s satisfaction. They are the face of the company to that customer, so they should be the one to make it right. I recently read a that discussed this specific issue, but for customer service professionals. Forewarning: I work for LiveLogic and although I didn’t write this blog, I do also write for this company’s blog. Again, thanks for writing. Interesting thoughts!

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