Happy Team, happy customers. Why a healthy company culture is essential for successful business

Source: https://www.armatic.com/
Reading Time: 22 minutes

One of my stop words is “Human”, just because of the fact, that the “factor” human is essential in our, ever changing, society. This is not only a fact in a private and offline field, this is equally important in digital and professional business areas. 

Companies are doing business to earn money. That money comes from customers who buy the products or use the  service(s) which are offered. Customers decide to buy a product, or to make use of a service, because they like the product or the service. But this is not the only and single reason.

They also must like the company because of the way the company is intereacting whith the customers and how a customer is treated. A customer needs the feeling, that his orher pains and needs are taken really seriously. That is is the most important purpose of a company: to help their customers, and the customers succes makes them happy.

This THE approach, to offer a great customer experience.

Of course companies are happy, when a customer is satisfied, because the customer generates revenue. But money should never be the first reason and goal of a company. The only purpose of a company is to make customers happy by fullfilling their needs. If a company acts this way, the money will flow automatically. 

Making your customers fans. I have written about making customers fans before.

Source: GettyImages

It is also very important, that the customer has the possibility to get a personal contact with a company. I am not talking about the huge call centers like the ones from DHL or Telekom. The people who are working there, have absolutely no conncetion with the company and they really can’t be bothered about the customers. They’re just doing a job.

I am sure, that we all have our experiences.

A bad service is, very often, due to a bad or not even exsisting comany culture. Call center agents, to name an example, are in general not coached, not supported and paidy badly. Furthermore, they are pressurized. I have no Idea aboit how it works, but I am thinking about an approach like “20 Calls must be performed in one hour” or something like that.

And that’s the reason, that many of those agents are quite indifferent and sometimes even blunt and unfriendly. Because they have no time to take really care of his or her counterpart at the phone and they don’t receive neither support nor esteem from the supervisors. No wonder, that they are not motivated to be friendly and go that famous extra mile.

If a company would pay more attention on the well-being of their teams (employee experience), they  would also enhance the experience of their customers.

If the employee is esteemed, the employee is motivated

It’s is a proven fact, that team members, who live in a healthy environment, in which respect, trust, enabling and a open communication is lived, are willing to go the famous extra mile. Because they indentify themselves with the company and they like to go to work. Of course not every day 🙂 Everyone know that special day, one would like to stay in his or her cuddly bed 😉 ) But that’s okay!

Back to seriousity 🙂

Here an article about the importance of a safe working environment:

Everyone enjoys receiving praise for a job well done, but did you know that they would prefer this even more than money? It’s true, in fact 78% of employees would rather be recognized for their efforts when it comes to keeping them motivated, and they say money is everything, clearly not in the workforce.

Of course, making the appropriate amount of money for the role you are in is ideal but it is not the key of keeping you there. In order for brands to stay connected with their front-of-the-line advocates they need to learn how to motivate their employees.

Source: https://www.business2community.com/infographics/employees-prefer-recognition-in-the-workplace-over-making-money-0263447

People who love their job, their colleagues and the company, are proud to be a part of it and are also proud about the products and/or the services whch are provided to the customers. They are relaxed and this gives more motivation to give a good experience to the customer. Being friendly and helpful, is much easier when there is no pressure or an unempthic supervisor and or C-whatever-O.

And guess what… Customers are extermely sensitive. They notice intuitive, when things are wrong in a company. I have experienced that myself, when I was working as an eventmanager in luxury hotels. When there were frictions in the service team, in the restaurant or during and event, the guests would notice. One could see that by the way the guests were, subconsciously, reacting.

They were less laid-back, less relaxed and happy. Some guest would even ask me, if there was some internal problem, because the staff was so “different” and they didn’t feel happy about it.

Of course the waiting staff was friendly, attentive and acting normal towards the guests. But still, the people at the tables would sense the difference. And this is valid for all fields in which employees are interacing with customers.  Stress and being not satisfied as an employee, is poission for customer experience and therefore for the company.

Customers are much more likely to spread bad experiences than good ones. It’shuman nature to complain instead of praising.

Personally, I comment both, good & bad, experiences quite extensively. When I had a great experience, I find it important to tell a story about it, as a sort of customer generated marketing and support for the company. If my experience has been bad, especially when I was treated unfriendly, my comment become as long as the good ones. I am a local guide at Google

People who received a good feedback, normally thank me. People who didn’t keep silent. This is a bad customer care. If a customer was not happy, the entrepreneur should react by appologizing and offering some kind of solution. If there is no reaction, he creates an impression of “I can’t be bothered, mate”. Well, I can’t be bothered by going there again. And this is the reaction of many disappointed customers.

I like to follow a different approach.

When a regular guest would stay away for  a noticeable amount of time, I used to call them and to ask if something had been wrong in the resaurant. When they would tell the reason, I used to invite them for dinner and I would ask them if they would be so kind and helpfull, to give us feedback in the future to enable us to improve our services and to make things better.

If the reason was one of the waiters/waitresses, I would talk to this particular employee privately. Sometimes it was not the fault of the employee, but just a bad and unconscious connection between the guests and the waiter/waitress. Nobody’s fault. The next time I would take care, that the  waiter got another station where those guests wouldn’t be placed. It was important for me, to ensure the employee, that it was not his fault and that my future action had nothing to do with his skills or personality.

Both guests and waiter/waitress were happy. And, best of all, I was happy as well 🙂

Therefore it is of utmost importance, that the people, who have customer contact are relaxed and satisfied with their job.

Managers should become leaders, by supporting their teams

Just to make thungs clear: This graphic was bought by me at https://graphicriver.net/

Company Culture has gained importance during the last few years and this importance is still increasing.

The whole world is talking about digitization. Deep learning software, artificial intelligence. We’re talking about automated marketing and marketing intelligence. Our devices and also our hardware (dishwasher, refrigerator, TV and cars, just to name a few) are continuously getting smarter. Even application files are thrown in an intelligent system and evaluated by some algorithms and keywords. I truelly hate this latter approach, becaue HUMAN ressources Management (I prefer Human Capital) is about interacting with HUMANS.

And humans are the ones who lead the companies into the new era, by dong the work.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

All the terms and fields, which I named above, are great. I love the new world and all the exciting things that come with it. But if a company wants to become up to date and to be resillient against a changing world, by being able to adopt changes and adapt the new requirements,  the company has to do one thing before starting digitization. 

A digital transformation

Source by: medium.com

A digital transformation is essential to a company nowadays, to survive in a complex environment. Our society is changing, markets are changing and customers are changing. Startups come with exciting new ideas and products and are even disrupting established companies by bringing innovative products, which offer better, more comfortable and improvementsto the products than the “old guard” is offering.

As you can see on the graphic above, the human factor is on top. And this is in no way a coincidence. The people in a company are the ones, who make a company thrive to make/keep the company successful. Let’s explore what is needed to achieve a successful digital transformation.

A good Managers is an enabler, a motivator and supporter

The days of top-down management are gone. Still a lot of companies are not aware of that. A lot of managers think in old patterns. “I am the boss, you shut up and you do the job for which you are paid. I do the thinking because I am the expert and it is is not your job to develop ideas”. Like Mr. Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ novel “A christmas carrol” 🙂

Still a lot of Managers are fetishists. And their fetishes are their position, their title and their bonuses. This is a mediaeval mindset. I get the slight impression, that also fear and a lack of self-confidence is the true reason that they are clinging to old “signs of power”, which are no longer valid. Also because fear of change and the fact that employees can also have ideas, which might even be better.

This attitude and mindset are very dangerous for business success! Especially German managers are celebrating this behaviour.

So what are the advantages of a happy team? Let’s first explore some effects on your business, when your team is unhappy:

Businesses are bound to crash once their customers are repeatedly turned off by their experiences with the employees to the point they seek alternatives. In order for your company to grow, you have to ensure positive customer experiences are the norm with your staff – not the exception, because happy employees create happy customers.

Employee unhappiness is, unfortunately, one of the most unrelenting problems in the corporate world. Many companies are dealing with unhappy, unengaged employees. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report showed that just 33% of employees are engaged at work (and even the world’s best organisations reached only 70%). Gallup also found that negative employees scare off your customers.

Furthermore, the cost of workers who do not commit to their work fully is very high for companies. Disengaged employees cost American companies around $450 to $550 billion a year. Kansas State University found that 100 unhappy employees cost $390,000 per year due to lost productivity.

What should be done, to avoid unhappy customers (the source of our income and our standard of living, to bring it to the point)?

Notice the problem, while staying cool

The first step, deal with disengaged employees is to become aware of the problem. To be aware of it doesn’t require direct communication or action. Become aware that there is a problem, stay calm and then proceed to deal with it.

Engage in conversation, cut the small talk but show concern

Created by me 🙂

It’s important to speak to the employee who you believe to be disengaged, just do it discretely and one on one. Exchange pleasantries, mostly avoid small talk, it’s rarely helpful. Small talk allows one another to not fully address the issue, but instead dance around it.

Show you’re concerned, just try not to assume anything. It’s possible they’re just having an off day. Still, ask them if everything is alright and then let them do the speaking.

Sometimes, the reason forbeing unmotivated is not clear. In this case, I like to use communication tools like clean language.

Clean language aims to support clients in discovering and developing their own symbols and metaphors, rather than the therapist/coach/interviewer suggesting or contributing their own framing of a topic. In other words, instead of “supporting” the client by offering them ready-made metaphors, when the counselor senses that a metaphor would be useful or that a metaphor is conspicuously absent, the counselor asks the client, “And that’s like what?” The client is invited to invent their own metaphor.

Clean language was devised by David Grove in the 1980s as a result of his work on clinical methods for resolving clients’ traumatic memories. Grove realized many clients were describing their symptoms in metaphors drawn from the words of previous therapists, instead of from their own experience.

Clean language also is the basis for symbolic modeling, a stand-alone method and process for psychotherapy and coaching developed by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins; for clean space; and for systemic modelling, applied in organisational development. Clean language can also be used in addition to a therapist or coach’s existing approach.

Source: Wikipedia

Find out what they actually want

If you can do this through the conversation then that’s great. If not, then ask them what they really want out of their work and other aspects of their life. Take into consideration the issue they’re having. Then ask them “if the problem were to disappear tomorrow, would everything be alright”?

By asking this, you can gain a better understanding of the situation and the possibility of their future within the organization. This isn’t a bad thing. If you feel their days are potentially numbered within your company, that’s ok. Sometimes people just need a move and you can help them with it in a healthy way.

Provide some kind of action

Source: https://impactbank.ca/

To deal with disengaged employees, if you feel you can help, then do it. If you can help them get back into the swing of things, do it. If you need to suggest some time off, a day off, someone to talk to or anything else.

Do it. Do what you can. Be a coach. Be empathic and try to slip in the shoes of your counterpartand listen actively.

Support them

Whatever their decision, support them. Just let them know that you’re there if they need you again. Often people just need someone to speak to or bounce words and ideas off of. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s your job to help them and support them in a healthy way. Depending on the situation.

Send them a report of the conversation

Take notes of the conversation. Ensure to contain a summary of the conversation, an action plan and any consequences of failing to meet the action plan. This let’s your employees know that you’re hearing them and taking it seriously. To get them reengaged and productive again, this must happen.

Report back after this process

After you’ve completed these steps, check in every now and again. This doesn’t always mean to speak to them, although it can. It could mean looking over their work, walking past or watching from a far.

What you want is your employees being happy and reengaged at work. You can suggest ways to improve if more serious queries arise.

The benefits for a company, when a team is a happy team

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Albert Schweitzer

Happy employees give a damn more

Happy employees are typically the ones who care about the company and are driven to make it achieve its goals, they are the only ones who even bother to find out these goals in the first place. When employees are happy, they feel invested in the organisation’s goals and are more compelled to work.

Happiness increases productivity because it leads to higher engagement so happy employees are also more present. They pay more attention to the needs of customers and they are more alert of the company’s processes and systems. All these factors come together to bring organisations increased productivity and profitability.

Happy employees are more loyal

Happy employees are more also resilient and according to Gallup, are more likely to stay with their employers for the long term. A lowered turnover means less time and money spent on hiring and training new employees as well as fewer breaks or slowdowns in productivity to induct them.

Furthermore, happy employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work. They find it easier to go above and beyond what is expected of them and put in those precious overtime hours.

Keep in mind that appreciation breeds loyalty. A recent survey from Boston Consulting Group has found that most people want just one simple thing from their jobs: appreciation for their work. Who bothers looking for another job when they enjoy the one they have and are appreciated there?

Happy employees are healthier

Work-related mental disorders (also known as psychological injuries) not only negatively affect the immune systems of individual employees, but also bleed out the company with costs associated with the frequent and/or long periods away from work that such employees typically have to take.

According to statistics released by workers’ health regulatory body Safe Work Australia, 7,500 Australians claim compensation for work-related mental disorders each year and this sums up to approximately $480 million which is roughly 6% of the total workers’ compensation claims.

Furthermore, workers with severe depression take 20 times more sick days per month. Therefore whereas the health of stressed out employees drains your organisation, happier employees are healthier and thus in turn keep the company in good health and great shape.

Happiness breeds like rabbits

Happiness is of a multiplying nature – when watered it can grow all over the entire company. More happy employees means more happy bosses means more happy employees, and the cycle continues.

Employees who find joy in their work easily become shining role models for their co-workers and encourage them to also take joy in their work. Managers who find joy in their jobs also encourage the workers under them to enjoy their work and are less likely to be stereotypically tyrannical.

Happiness increases productivity, because happy employees support one other. When employees have positive attitudes they are more willing to support fellow workers in achieving the company’s goals especially in group projects. Happy employees are also more likely to ask for help when they need it and this is very important for productivity because many employees feel ashamed to ask for support when they need it.

Happy Employees Are More Creative

Creativity and happiness at work might be strongly linked. Author Shawn Anchor argues the brain is much more efficient and creative when a person is feeling positive. As a result, happy employees are better able to think outside the box and arrive at novel solutions that frustrated, less positive employees might not consider. This opinion is seconded by Forbes contributor William Craig, who writes that employees who aren’t happy with their work environments are likely to put in less effort at work.

Happy Employees Are More Collaborative

Every manager wants to build a collaborative workforce. While many leaders look to employee performance management tools to help in this endeavor, the key to effective collaboration might be far simpler than all that. Research suggests that happy employees are more collaborative and more driven to work with their colleagues toward common goals. The reason for this may be that content, sociable employees are far more comfortable with one another and are therefore more comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.

How to Cultivate Employee Happiness

The benefits of employee happiness are obvious and varied – but where do you begin when it comes to fostering a happier workforce? It can be overwhelming when you consider how many changes you need to make, but all the effort will pay off in the form of a stronger, more productive organization.

First of all, consider bringing in an employee experience officer (EEO), a new role with which a number of companies have been experimenting recently. According to CMS Wire, the role of an employee experience officer is to “ensure your organization is building a compelling employee experience that’s culture and career driven.” In essence, the EEO will make sure that all workplace processes and structures help employees feel more confident, more capable, and happier in their roles.

Second, consider implementing regular one-on-one meetings with your employees. Managers and employees should be encouraged to develop meaningful and honest relationships. This will go a long way toward improving both employee morale and employee engagement levels throughout the company.

Why diversity is important for company success

Source: https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/

I am a dutch guy, and for me intercultural and international communities are the most common thing in the world. In Amsteram, 52% of the inhabitants is not native dutch. And this has always been the case, due to our infamous history of conquering countries and forcing them into colonies.

My class mates were truely intercultural. People from Indonesia, Afrika, Surinam, St. Maarten and… Belgians 😉

All the cultures and nationalities mingled 100% naturally by visiting each other, doing homework and playing and, of course, staying for dinner. For me, it was normal to eat african or indoesian food and my buddies were familiar with durch food. We all used to say to our moms, that the food from the other moms was way better 😉 And every mother, no matter what nationality, would give the same answer:

“Well then just go and eat there, it saves me the cooking” 🙂

When they were waiting at school, to pick the children up, they would talk about household and exchanging recipes. In those moments one could notice, that the subjects were global and that the differences were minial.

I loved to go to a toko (the indonesian word for shop), to buy delicious snacks during school breaks, instead of the sandwiches or food (foreign moms) our mothers always prepared. 

The shopkeeper was a lady who was always dressed in a kemben. She would tell about her youth in Indonesia. As she called it “tempo doeloe” (those good old days) and we woud eat rolls of rice with sweet chicken in the center or pastry bags with spicy shrimps. Much better than dull bread 😉

We dutch are open minded and curious. One of the reasons, that we are one of the countries which are progressive when it comes to digitization and new work, which means way more than remote working! Here an excerpt from an article about our mindset about remote working at Medium:

“With the Netherlands displaying an admirable level of trust in its employees and an understanding of the digital frameworks needed to support remote work, other countries may now be looking towards the Dutch as they plan a post-Covid future.

Many countries struggle with a culture of presentism, with 83% of UK employees reporting having observed pressure within their workplace to ‘show up’ regardless of whether their mental or physical health allows it. In the US, around 15% of homes do not have broadband, and one in five employees report feeling guilty about taking time away from the office, worrying that this might make them seem less committed to their job.

While the Netherlands displays a combination of attuned infrastructure, investment in a digital future, and culture of trust that makes it an aspirational archetype of a well-oiled remote world, companies in other countries still have much to understand and adapt to as Covid-19 ushers in a less office-based future.”

We are a different 🙂

“The obvious inclination to homeoffice can be explained by an individualistic mentality, which is much stronger than in the neighbouring countries of Belgium and Germany, for example. The same applies to the corporate culture in many companies, which is more characterised by trust and flat hierarchies. “

Source: Taz.de (German Language)

Something that, unfortunately,  is not exsisting in many German companies, yet.

I was very lucky, to grow up in such an environment, because it had a large impect and has provided me with an open and curious mindset. I am open to diverse cultures, traditions and habits and I am curious to discover new fields. This helped me a lot, when I started to working different countries. I have learned an aweful lot thanks to my intercultural environment. Why am I telling about my youth and my home country? 

Because our world and society is becoming more ad more global. Customer and employees. Peopleare travelling more than ever and enyone can work, where he, she or * wants to work. Employees are changing like customers are. They have new expectations and new demands, like customers.

The gig economy is a  great example.

“The term “gig economy” was first coined by journalist Tina Brown in 2009. She wrote about the trend of workers pursuing “a bunch of free-floating projects, consultancies and part-time bits and pieces while they transacted in a digital marketplace.” To sum up, Gigs are either skill-based assignments or need-based tasks.

Source: Medium.com

Like I wrote before, I learned a lot by living in a diverse world and living a diverse life. I am agile, which means no more or less than being flexible and open for change and being able to react on unexpected situations,  and I am creative. Also due to some, less positive situations in which I had to find a solution.

In a company, in which a large diversity is lived, creative and innovative products/services can be created and delivered. Many companies think that diversity means M/W/D. But diversity is way more than Man/Woman/Gay/Transgender/Pansexual and other Identities.

Diversity  goes a lot further. Beside interculturalism, different mindsets, opinions and points of view are as important. The customers are very diverse as well and therfore, the team must be diverse, to have a deep understanding of the diverse world outside the company.

But also different backgrounds are important. I often wonder, when I see german job-ads. For example: They are looking for a Scrum Master, a Project Owner or Project Manager and they demand explicit expertise and experience in the field where the new team member will work .

I assume, that all members in the team will have exactly the same background and therfore, the same mindset and aligned ideas. This is not an up to date approach. And, just my personal perception, not empathic and open. It is not inclusive. This shows that this kind of companies are not curious, brave and therefore not agile. And they don’t build a reslience.

A statement, which can be read quite often in the web, says “Wir haben es immer schon so gemacht” which means: “We have always done it this way”. Continuing doing what has been done for many years, means stagnation. A saying says “if you rest you rust”. 

Companies need to work on their way of thinking in order to remain sustainable and to build a stable resilience against competition, such as young and innovative start-ups.

The same goes for my personal impediment in Germany.: The holy grail of having a degree in economics (BWL in German), as my tutor duringmyScrum courses said when I was asking him why every single job requires BWL.

His Answer: “Ah! The german holy grail BWL. This is another field, in which Germany lags behind, because they don’t understand the new world and agility”. By the way, he is German.

When I have a look at job-ads in other countries, 99% of the companies don’t require a degree in economics.They are more fokussing on softskillslike being teamfokussed, communicative, creative et al. Here the getoffon a piece of paper, because it is an official document. Germans love authorities.One can notice thatby the way managers act, as I wrote before.

Germany and german companies have a lot to learn and a lot to do, to keep up with the world!

Sourc: medium.com

I am quite an unusual individual for many Germans 🙂 I think different and I often wonder about certain things here. I often recall a song of Sting. An Englishman in New York. The corus goes as follows:

“Oh, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien  | I’m an Englishman in New York”

In certain situation, I like to sing:

“Oh, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien | I’m a Dutchman in Germany” 🙂 😉 

And I am not the only person, who is thinking this way. The internet is full of articles from experts which are wrtitng about the fact, that a once leading country doesn’t keep up with modern digital and agile times.

I have found an article about not exsisiting agility in Germany, which is written by a guy from Portugal named Luís Gonçalves. I won’t copy all the content, but I will insert the headlines here. The title of the article goes as follows:

5 REASONS WHY AGILE DOES NOT WORK IN GERMANY

I’ve lived in Germany for about 9 years, worked, travelled and lived in several different countries so I know the differences. Like everywhere else, culture, mindset and even history plays an important part in the work environment of Germany.

However, it is time for change and Germany seems to be finding it difficult to adapt. The following reasons are my personal opinion on why I think the Agile development won’t be fully implemented into Germany within the next few years.

HIERARCHY IS TOO ADAMANT FOR AGILE TO BE UTILIZED PROPERLY

Remember my passus about Mr. Scrooge 🙂 Many managers act like a BOSS and not as a leader.

THE SOCIETY IS STRUCTURED IN SILOS

In many companies, the departments are working as separate companies and one depaertment often has no idea about the work if the oter ones. This blocks empathy.

INFINITE AMOUNT OF PLANNING

Germans love to plan and they need facts and numbers. Otherwise they feel insecure. They pee their pants,when you tell them, that an agile project means that ist can be possible to have no 100% insight about costs and final results. Germans need toplan the complete world in advance.

EVERYTHING MUST BE PERFECT

Agile says embrace and welcome change and thus acknowledges that nothing will ever be perfect. There will always be room for improvement in (almost) every direction!

This is also something, Germans don’t understand because they alwaay fear about loosing control.

They have no idea, about what the principles of the Agile Manifesto really mean. They’re still often thinkingin a Prussian manner.

MISTAKES ARE BAD

In many companie, mistakes are regarded as something awful. One doesn’tmake mistakes. They still don’tunderstand, that mistakes are  a source of information. A source, from which can be learned and which enables improvement. Learning by doing.

Like Thomas Edison once said “Failoften, fail fast” Well… Not too often 😉

TRADITIONAL SOCIETY

Remember my quote before “Wir haben es immer schon so gemacht” (We have always done it this way)?

In The Netherlands, processes in life are simple, fast and easy. When you move or leave the country, it takes a day to organize the paperwork but in Germany, it takes 3 months!

Although there is a difference in the size and population of both countries, it isn’t an excuse. Changes should be made in small incremental amounts and the reason why these changes are not seen in Germany is due to the traditional culture that they have.

When I ask around why processes are so tedious and why there is no change, the replies I get are: “This is how we work here, things are great and we don’t need change!”

Source: https://luis-goncalves.com/why-agile-does-not-work/

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