When navel-gazing can be healthy

As a young manager it was drummed into me that I focus on my customers and the services or products I provided to the customer.  It didn’t occur to me to question the philosophy in those days, after all the most senior people in the business advocated it and I certainly cared a lot about customers.

If you are outcome focused and performance manage your people against customer service, company standards, results, targets and outcomes, for example, you are practicing the key behaviours which should lead to success.

I don’t know about you, but as I matured as a leader and a manager I often found even when the company was doing well, a constant thread of discontent existed amongst the team or even across the whole organisation.  For a long time I put this down to human nature.  You know “you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and you can only please some of the people some of the time” syndrome.

I even found times when team and organisational results were high, and leaders were celebrating their successes, employee engagement indicators showed there wasn’t a corresponding “high” in the way employees were buying in or not to the success of the business. In one scenario, one organisation won accolades for leadership excellence when the engagement index for staff was actually sweeping the bottom of the industry league tables.  Obviously the criteria for leadership excellence didn’t include engaging employees.

If you’ve come across a similar situation, have you wondered if even greater achievements, results, customer service and profits could have been made if employees had been engaged?

I certainly did, but I also realised that an absence of engagement wasn’t the only problem.  For me the real problem was threefold:

a)      The organisational culture was resistant to operating outside of the established comfort zone, which would have been forced had results been disappointing.  Results which were “good enough” didn’t leverage sufficient motivation to change and achieve even better results.

b)      A general belief in the mediocre ability of a large percentage of their employees existed which resulted in a self-fulfilling prophesy, i.e. they produced mediocrity in the main.

c)       A lack of “internal customer service” existed. This meant that insufficient attention was paid to the internal relationships, contribution, innovation, values, ethos and helpfulness within the organisation.

If your business is operating on any of the three premises outlined then you have some great opportunities to leverage better engagement and better results.  You need to undergo a little healthy navel-gazing.

Including some healthy, purposeful navel-gazing in your organisational strategy can help you out of your comfort zone, foster self-belief in your people and get your internal customer service to work brilliantly.  If positioned effectively, you will create the right environment to develop the capability to achieve even greater results and consistently go the extra mile for your external customers.

Do you think that internal development is important for an organisation, or is there a danger of losing focus on results?  Either comment below, or drop me an email,  Christina@peoplediscovery.co.uk.  I’d love to hear from you.

Why not grab a free copy of my first publication “The 6 Secrets of Great Emotional intelligence – For Inspirational Leaders and Managers” It’s completely free and you can access it in PDF format on my website www.peoplediscovery.co.uk

This great article is from the People Discovery blog, associated with The e.MILE People Development Magazine: the Magazine is currently running a series for the 6 months April to September 2014 based on the challenges identified by The Centre For Creative Leaderships report 2013 Don't Miss Out!  Sign up here to be notified of our subsequent issues and posts

About Christina Lattimer

Christina has managed people for twenty seven years and led hugely successful teams. She has worked with people at all levels in various organisations to help them achieve their potential, and she has been actively involved in the learning and development field in a number of different roles. In latter years she worked as an HR Strategist. She has a range of management qualifications, is a learning professional with a BA Hons in Education, and is a Chartered Fellow of Chartered Institute of Personnel Development. She is passionate about people and believes everyone counts to make a great team.
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