Continuing our series of leaders sharing lessons learnt, a CX leader shares on an employee-centric culture.

Annette Franz is a one of our regular guest bloggers, here on Customer Insight Leader blog. Annette has shared before on her recommended (Weology) book, data strategy and becoming a leader.

In this post, she reflects on her own experience of an employee-centric culture. How she learned how important that was & the positive impression it has left on her years later.

Just before handing over to Annette, let me share that on the day of publishing this I also saw a related post on MyCustomer’s blog. In this post, Peter Dorrington shares why CX leaders need to understand their employee’s emotions. Every CX leader I’ve spoken to seems to agree now, that an employee-centric culture is a key to achieving good CX.

Over to Annette to share her experience, of an employee-centric culture…

Define Your Employee-Centric Culture

A lot is written about how to build a customer-centric culture, but I’d like to focus on an employee-centric culture in this post. Yes, employee focus is part of a customer-centric culture, but let’s zoom in on the employee experience here.

So that there’s no confusion, perhaps we should just call it people-centric? Encompassing all humans – customers and employees – as Bob Chapman suggests in Truly Human Leadership.

Usually when we write about employee-centricity, we talk about it from the company perspective. Companies should do this or companies should do that. Let’s take a look at it from a different angle. What does an employee-centric culture look like from the employee’s perspective?

My perspective on employee-centric culture

I have a lot of thoughts running through my head in terms of the approach to take with this blog post. I’ll start with something that I promised in a previous post, that I would share a personal story that created employee engagement. I think that will help explain where I come up with my thoughts on how to define an employee-centric culture.

Many years ago, I worked for an organization that I refer back to frequently when I talk to people about this very topic. I’m often asked why I liked working for this particular company, and I summed it up with the following.

Communication

The information was free-flowing from the top down and from the bottom. I always felt like I was in the know about what was happening in the company, whether it was about the product, the financials, issues, or staff. This was the poster child for transparency.

Vision, Goals, Objectives

I suppose this could fall under the broad umbrella of Communication. Everyone knew the vision and objectives of the company. We all felt really good about working together to make sure the business was successful.

Appreciation/Feeling Valued

I always say that I enjoy working for small companies because you can make a difference. Your ideas, suggestions, thoughts, and opinions matter. They get taken into consideration, and often implemented. (OK, that doesn’t happen in every start-up or every small company.) That was definitely the case with this company.

Recognition

Employees are recognized for their contributions on a regular basis. There were celebrations for achievements and for jobs well done. We all knew where we stood. We all knew how we contributed to the bigger picture. With that came a sense of pride among the employees that we were building something great and cool.

Camaraderie and Collaboration

I’ll lump the two of these together. They don’t necessarily (have to) go hand in hand. But, it’s easy to write about the two of them together for this company because we were a pretty close-knit family. We worked together, we played together.

These are all things that were important to me at the time, and they still are. And even through some rough patches, those were the kinds of things that held the company together. But I realized that there was more, which is why I ended up leaving. The following were there at some point, but eventually there was a gaping hole.

Employee-centric culture needs these holes filled

Trust

This one’s important. A lack of trust between employer and employee, manager and staff, really just results in disaster. This is a two-way street. I say, trust until you have a reason not to trust (or be trusted). Then it’s probably time to move on.

Respect

When the trust fizzled, so did the respect. Or maybe vice versa. No longer were we advocates for what we were doing and what we were building. No longer were we passionate about the cause.

Leadership

Hire the right people and let them do what they need to do. They were hired for a reason. Set the course, outline the vision and the purpose, and then set them free to execute. Sometimes the leader isn’t a (good) leader after all. And you no longer trust him/her. You no longer want to be a follower.

Customer-Centricity

Yea, this might sound a little strange, but stick with me. Companies are in business for a reason: to fulfill the needs of their customers. This is also about integrity and about doing the right thing. If the company loses sight of that, or the company no longer operates with the customers’ best interests at the core of what it’s doing. Then it’s time to move on.

The bottom line is that I was, we all were, passionate about the work we were doing, passionate about what we were building. Through a series of missteps, that culture crumbled, and ironically, that company no longer exists today.

“If you take care of the people, they’ll take care of the service, and they’ll generate a profit.” Bill Logue, President and CEO of FedEx Freight

Employee-centric culture

Many thanks to Annette for candidly sharing her experience. I’m sure many leaders and employees can relate to those points. Whether you are leading CX, Customer Insight or Analytics, how employees feel makes a huge difference to performance. For them, your customers and your bottom line.

What would you add? Think about a company you’ve worked for where you were an engaged employee because the culture was right. I know Annette and I would love to hear your experience or lessons learnt as a leader.