Posted by: Ron Loza | July 30, 2010

Empower Your Staff

I talked about hiring the right people last week. Without the right people you cannot provide great customer service. There are many books and articles written about providing great customer service but most fall short when it comes to implementation.

One of the best suggestions I’ve read about is to “empower” your staff to solve problems but it often fails because it is hard for a supervisor (I’ve been guilty also) to let go, or even worse, find fault in the decision an employee made.

It took me a couple of years to realize that, 1) the age of an employee directly affects how they resolve a problem, and 2) almost every employee tries to do the right thing.

There is no debate that the older you are, the more life experiences you have and the more information you obtain which gives you a leg up in resolving issues. This is true in business and personal relationships. Compare how you would handle a situation with a girl friend or boy friend in high school verses what you would do today. How many of us have said to ourselves, “boy if I knew then what I know now…” The older you are, the more tools you have at your disposal for making decisions. So when it comes to empowering an 18 year old you need to remember that he or she will make an 18 year old decision, right or wrong.

One of the more facinating things I’ve learned by observation is that most people want to do the right thing. It’s like a major league baseball player, they often strikeout, some more than others, but they are all trying to hit the ball. I don’t believe any player is trying to strikeout. Also, none of these players have reached this elite level without great coaching. This is true of employees, they want to make things right, they may not have had enough life experience or great coaching. I have yet run into a single employee who wants to make a situation worse.

One of the things I try very hard to practice is to empower my staff AND allow mistakes in a safe environment. They might handle something poorly but it is a teaching moment not a time to punish. If I punish I create a fear to make decisions going foward.

I have had to work with a customer, now and then, who was dissatisfied on how something was handled by our staff and in almost every case, when I explain that, “I am trying to contribute to society, a group of ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’.” the customer has thanked me and became even more loyal.

On a sidenote, this is of special interest to me. I see a very different way parents are raising their children. Known as the “hoverer” these parents are not allowing their children to experience failure or disappointment in any form. They fight to get more playing time for their child on a team or they complain to their child’s teacher if their child receives an “A-.” These kids are dropping out of college after only a semester because they are illequiped to handle an form of failure. This does not bode well for our future leaders. But this is for a later discussion.

Empowering also works wonders on a sports team. Someday soon I will talk about how this has allowed me to coach several groups of average athletes to undefeated seasons.

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