Working with an amazing org on bringing emotional intelligence more fully into their culture in order to create a better customer experience.
They offer a mission-critical, expensive, serious service and they have long-term customers: Relationship is lifeblood for this business. They want customers to have a fabulous experience, even when there are issues. We know that emotions are a central factor in customer experience — so it’s time to ensure every agent, supervisor, and manager is actively using emotional intelligence skills as they focus on customers.
Perfect so far! One important ingredient missing:
What are the employees experiencing each day?
Consider: What if your customer experience is a direct reflection of your employee experience? What if the employee’s attitude toward customers is a mirror of the manager’s attitude toward employees?
We know that manager emotional intelligence is a key driver of employee engagement (for example, see the Amadori Case). High-EQ managers “get it.” They connect with their employees; they make the connections that are essential for stand-out leaders (see this research on what makes great leaders great). So building these skills is a winning strategy. What else can an organization do to create a great employee experience?
At the core, employee experience is about relationships, alignment, and purpose. Get the right people in the right seats doing the work that matters. That’s the cake. Now let’s talk about the icing: celebration.
Companies often let celebrations, fun, rituals, and play become “mechanical.” The employee-of-the-minute becomes meaningless. Or those parties at The Office where the boss has to force people to attend. Effective celebration needs some spontaneity and creativity and authenticity.
I asked our network: What are some creative ways to show employees they matter — and to reinforce key ideas, values and initiatives? An easy one: Give an employee $50 and 2 hours off to plan something fun for the team in celebration of X (e.g., a great week of customer feedback).
Or, early one morning, have managers come and inflate balloons, onto which they tie appreciative notes from customers.
Here are several ideas from members of The Emotional Intelligence Network – please add more ideas in the comments!
It’s common in the tech industry to dedicate two or three days where the entire company works on solving problems of their choice.
How it works:
- In the days leading up to the ‘Hack days’ employees submit pet projects they’d love to work on. It can be anything as long as it relates to the company (i.e., making it a better place to work and/or making it a better company/product).
- A short list of projects is approved by a committee of employees
- Each employee chooses what team they want to be on
- Then the competition begins – two days to completely solve a challenge or create a new initiative.
- Catering, video of the event, final presentations and funny awards all add to the fun.
- Employees are empowered to make a difference on something they really care about
- Competitive spirit makes it fun and adds intensity
- Great sense of accomplishment and contribution after only two days
- Great inspiration for what’s possible
- Boost in energy and respect for the talent in the company
- New friendships and bonds are created
- new thinking ideas and initiatives launched
Any company can do this. it doesn’t have to be a technology solution.
Carolyn Meacher, Canada
Innovation & Leadership Coach
- Microsoft India does a great job with Bring Your Child to Work Day. It’s a fun filled day packed with kids activities, special buffet lunch, and a child gets to see & experience his/her father/mother’s workplace. This initiative brings people together as one big family and develops a deeper connect with the company.
- Share great customer success stories. Acknowledge an employee and/team by sharing a brief “case” via company-wide email.
- Reach out to employee’s families to come forth with innovative ideas and ways to enrich the companies products | profitability. The best innovative ideas win a prize & get published in the company newsletter/ website. (This was introduced at Glaxo India).
Ramona Miranda, India
MD, PotenciaMentis Global Consulting
One of my favorite ways to recognize employees and celebrate success was to use what I call “Pride Letters.” The original idea came from a VP of operations years ago when he sent a Pride Letter to a member of my family. It was during a tough time at the company and we were working an excessive amount of hours, which meant of course, we were not spending very much time at home with our families.
This VP had looked at my emergency contact screen to find the name and address of my family member. Then, without my knowing, he sent a letter to this person thanking them for being patient and allowing me to be available for the company during this trying time. The letter was very personalized and heartfelt. It was a nice touch during a trying time, and the genuine appreciation and extra effort stuck with me.
I continued to use this idea over the years to say thank you to family members of my employees.
One caveat, make sure all contact info is up to date and this person isn’t an “ex”…
Jimmy Daniel, USA
Consultant, Six Seconds
Important Birthday Lunches
In a recent leadership training, I asked participants what they liked most about their leader. One participant shared that she liked the way her team leader always took the whole team out to lunch when it was someone’s birthday. She further explained that it wasn’t the treat itself that was the “icing”. As they were a team of about 15, often some birthdays fell very close to one another. Most leaders would have used that as an excuse to celebrate multiple birthdays in one go by grouping lunches. But her leader insisted that they celebrate each birthday separately even if it meant a few treats in a given month. This made the team truly believe in the sincerity of his gesture because each member was celebrated individually. In addition, he never talked shop at the lunches. Just like creativity and spontaneity go a long way in providing the icing, I think introducing authenticity to even the simplest of celebration ideas can also achieve the intended impact of employee engagement.
Khyati Kapai, Singapore
Yzer Solutions Pte Ltd
Models of Engagement
Using blocks as the medium, I have asked nonprofits to work in groups to represent an EQ infused community with fully engaged members.. What elements of the community can we celebrate that we already display? What would it take to create more of that type of community?
- In small groups the members brainstorm the most important elements of a fully engaged, EQ community.
- Using the materials on the table, represent the ideas from step 1.
- Each group shares their creation and explains the idea that is important to them.
Finally, the full group decides three important changes that would empower the organization to become a fully engaged, EQ community.
This activity is fun, empowering, and enables members of the organizations to show what matters to them. Their voices are heard!
Deborah Havert, Network Leader, Pennsylvania/USA
Emotions of Positive Interaction
This is a very simple activity which I actually did at a parent training session, the feedback I was getting from these parents was very encouraging so I decided I would try it with my own staff.
Once a week the team gets together and a couple of them share a pleasant encounter that had taken place in the past week.
Some of the things they had to include in their sharing sessions were:
- Who were involved in the experience, and what emotions were present & why?
- How did the the people in the situation use their emotions effectively?
- What could the staff member do to help make such encounters and such positive feelings more frequent?
In the discussions, I helped the group see one of Six Seconds’ emotional intelligence competencies that were displayed. The sharing also created a chance to recognize & celebrate each other’s contribution to the team.
The staff really enjoys the activity, and that it helps them become aware of emotions as a driver. They report it’s helping them be more mindful, appreciative & understanding of the emotions and actions of the people they encounter.
Eileen Pisula, USA/Singapore
The Forgotten Intelligence
Leadership Goes First!
The first question I’d ask if we wanted to create a culture where people feel authentically valued would be: How does the leadership team respond to the success of others?
- Do they get excited and demonstrate appreciation for the success of their peers when it has nothing to do with them?
- Do they openly support each other?
- Do they express genuine appreciation for their own team? for each team member?
- Are they generous with their appreciation for employees on other teams?
- Are they curious about people in general? What’s makes them tick? What’s important to them?
Bottom line, does the leadership team set a tone of genuine, authentic appreciation?
Carolyn Meacher, Canada
Innovation & Leadership Coach
High & Low EQ Behaviors
I did two different workshops with group of Team Leaders for a Contact Centre recently using the Six Seconds model. This has raised their EQ awareness and their EQ competencies to lead. I asked how they can go back to their workplace to improve their employee experience (These are the contact centre agents). They liked the exercise I did with them on the High and Low EQ Behaviours. Sometimes, we often forget about the emotions we handle each day where Customer Service skills had become a technical skill in the contact centre. Here is what they propose to do:
At the end of each day during a huddle session: ask agents to list call out a range of emotions they had encountered during the day, both theirs and customers’. Then ask for behaviors, “What did people do with the feelings?” Split these into high and low EQ behaviours. Ask them what they would like to do more of? This exercise definitely bring them to enhance emotional literacy. it works. Try that.
Aaron Yong, Malaysia
Renewing Minds Consulting
Understand Customer’s Emotions
How about designing customer service experience with engagement and optimism? and empathy and heart? It helps because that uncovers customers hidden needs.
According to Jack Welch, “There are two sources of competitive advantage. Learning about your customer faster and putting into action faster than your competitors.”
Check out this video about the customer experience at Westpac Bank in Australia; it’s obviously an advertisement for SAS, but it’s an interesting point: How can we know our customers from the customer’s perspective, not just our own?
Another ad is TMI; they explain how customer service with heart can help businesses flourish. The key point: the customer’s emotional experience drives loyalty.
Can we take these same kinds of insights about customers and apply them to employees? If it’s important to know customers, let’s know employees. If it’s important to pay attention to customers’ emotions, let’s do the same for employees. I tested this with a bank; we implemented training on “Positive+Effective Communication” to really focus on optimism. That bank is now opening more branches, so it works!
Arati Suryawanshi, Mumbai, India
Consultancy with MIndful Heart
Time for Passion
Inspired by Google’s strategy: Each week each member of the organization has two hours that are theirs to use as they would like. A member may want to take a long walk or work a painting they are completing. Another member may want to read for two hours or visit with a friend. Knowing that each member of the organization has two hours completely for themselves to work on something of their own, honors each member to have an individual celebration each week!
Deborah Havert, Network Leader, Pennsylvania/USA
Beyond the Break Room
Do you have a garden ? A meditation room or a just “sit quietly room”? A place to rest once a day actually improves performance. Especially if workers have to stay late – a break is important. If you don’t have a garden people could make one as a community… if you do .. add a water element. At the very least — live flowers brought into the office cheers everybody up.
Lee Guerette, USA
“The celebration was something that meant a lot to me, it was tailored for me and that’s what made it so very special!” – Raymond John
The force of life is the drive for fulfillment; we all have a need to experience a life of meaning. An organization that “gets it” will appreciate the fact that each employee is unique and will tailor employee celebrations according to the need of the employee and maximize mutual fulfillment.
Each one of us have different needs that we look to be gratified- some employees like to be recognized in a group, some like cash cards- they are a single income family, some would like a quiet holiday with family that they have not had in years. And for someone else, it could be the need for growth and contribution. There could be no better celebration of employee achievement than gifting them with something they desire the most at this phase of their lives and is special to them.
Organizations can build resources towards understanding and discovering their employees. It is an ongoing process. Informal chats or games could help know 2-3 ways in which this employee likes her / his celebrations. Exploring celebration options that the employee would like; helps the organization to budget them.
Shaily Bindra Bir, Bangalore, India
Founder at Swayambhav