For a while now, progressive service organizations have been focusing on the customer experience. It's well-established that the way customers perceive the total experience is crucial to getting their loyalty—and at the end of the day, loyalty is the magic path to profits and growth.
But only the most advanced companies are looking at the logical consequence of that thinking: How are you managing the employee experience? If you're familiar with the Service Profit Chain, this line of thought won't come as a surprise to you.
At the end of the day, the customer experience is a reflection of the employee experiences. It then makes perfect sense to start looking much more closely at how you're managing your employee experiences.
There are different ways you could approach that. You could look at a classic journey map over the life span of employment. What is the pre-employment experience, such as recruiting, among others? How does the on-boarding flow? What is the developmental path proposed? Finally, what happens when people, for one reason or another, move on? Who does the exit interview? (You do have exit interviews, don’t you?) How are you using the exit interviews to feedback into improving the current system?
Personally, I think that any HR department worth its salt should insist that you create that map. Once it's created, do some research on what the emotional highs and lows are on the path.
But as the manager—the immediate supervisor of those all-important front line employees—there's possibly an even more important perspective to take on the employee experience. How does each day begin? How does the day then unfold? How does the day end?
When you leave your work every day, you tell yourself a story about how the day went. It's not a factual and objectively recorded version of the day, but the story of your day.
What shapes your story is basically three things: changes, significant moments, and endings. These constitute the highs and lows of the day. Then, you string them together and create a story from that.
When something changes for the better compared to what was expected, you have positive emotions. When something turns out to be worse, you have negative emotions. Positive or negative emotions trigger corresponding positive or negative thoughts respectively in your brain.
Depending on whether they're positive or negative, they influence your performance and relationships—as you probably well know. If you're aware of this, you can try and manage the day to the best of your ability to minimize unpleasant surprises. This is often a question of taking the time to communicate with the team so that everyone understands what’s going to happen.
Significant moments are somehow in the same category. They're either positive or negative. If they're neutral, they wouldn't be significant. What are your opportunities for building in positive significant moments? It can be anything from getting doughnuts for everyone on a tricky day, to having that important conversation with a key team member. Significant moments are largely within your control if you want them to.
Finally, psychological studies have shown time and again that the ending is the most influential factor in how you evaluate an experience. A visit to the dentist that ends with sharp pain is remembered vastly different from the same visit extended with a 5-minute empathetic soothing talk and hug.
How does a day end on your team? Have you ever given that any thought?
There's a nice process that you can incorporate into your team leader’s toolkit for wrapping up the day in a constructive way. It's called the Goals Grid reflection. It’s a 5–10-minute process you can do at the end of the day with your team.
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