A dirty word today is “accountability,” especially when it is used in conjunction with business. And yet, a business cannot be successful if workers are not held to their responsibilities. Creating a company culture of accountability is the secret sauce of high-performing teams. At a minimum, it fosters an atmosphere of trust and eliminates the potential of bottlenecks disrupting long-term goals. So, what makes it such a contentious word? More often than not, it is associated with discipline. When something goes wrong, someone should get the blame, and no one wants to step up and take ownership.
Case in point, think of a situation where you experienced shoddy customer service. To jog your memory, reflect on one or all of these examples.
- A customer service representative placed you on hold for too long.
- A customer service representative constantly transfers you to one department after another.
- A customer service representative had you repeat your issue with each new transfer.
- A customer service representative was not able to help you and did not convince you that they would investigate further to resolve your issue.
- A customer service representative referred you to the company website rather than resolve the issue themselves and they did it rudely.
A large portion of the situations I referenced could be resolved with interpersonal skills, like empathy. In fact, when I search on words like empathy or interpersonal or “emotional intelligence” on Indeed, I find thousands of jobs across various experience levels. Companies who desire high-performing teams, especially those who interact with customers, should place soft skills at a premium when interviewing; and much more emphasis should be made on existing staff. But how do you train for soft skills?
There are training solutions online for soft skill development and they are easy to find. However, if you are a business with limited budgets coupled with a willingness to experiment, I have a few innovative recommendations for you.
- Customer Service and Sales Personnel – Have your customer service and business development teams spend time in soup kitchens, assisting the homeless and feeding the hungry. This will a) reveal the level of empathy they possess, b) reveal how closely they can retain their professionalism with any customer and c) strengthen their patience. At the end of their soup kitchen duties, have the customers give feedback on who treated them the best and reward them generously. This will incentivize the rest of your workers to follow suit.
- Technical Support Staff – Have your technical support team visit a Senior Living facility and instruct them on how to program their DVR, become a content creator and/or perform online research using advance research stratagems (ie. boolean searches) This will a) reveal the level of empathy they possess, b) reveal how closely they can retain their professionalism with any customer and c) strengthen their patience. At the end of their tech support duties, have the customers give feedback on who treated them the best and reward them generously. This will incentivize the rest of your workers to follow suit.
- Mid-Level Managers and Executive Teams – Have your managers and executives create and give a presentation to an audience of kindergartners. It should be a complex topic like how to manage supply-chain logistics for an international delivery company. This will, as you guessed by now, a) reveal the level of empathy they possess, b) reveal how closely they can retain their professionalism with any customer and c) strengthen their patience. Once each presentation is done, your managers should leave the room as the kids are quizzed on what you taught them. If they are able to relate what was shared by your managers then, reward them well.
Of course, this is something you would do with your existing team. How can you spot empathy during the interview process? One way is to leverage a tool like – Predictive Index. The Predictive Index provides a behavioral assessment of candidates (and employees) that provides an overview of how an individual is likely to interact with people and their work. The tool looks at a combination of factors across motivations, communication and work styles, as well as behaviors to help hiring managers understand how well someone may navigate different situations in a given role. Additionally, the PI platform offers tools for leaders to take a more empathetic approach to coaching and developing the members of their team based on the outcomes of the assessment. To be noted, like any assessment, The Predictive Index shouldn’t be the sole piece of data collected when making hiring decisions. But with 60+ years of data and research behind the platform, the Predictive Index can help pull back the layers of a person’s natural behavioral tendencies in a deeper, more actionable way than a typical interview likely would produce.
Just FYI, if you want the Predictive Index assessment for free to try it out, click here. Of course, if you have any questions concerning these matters, please do reach out to us today. Operators are standing by.