Our Customer pays our salary – every employee needs to understand this reality. This a bitter truth that many of us do not realise as the organisation grows and our brand matures in the market. We had a similar experience and hence launched a Customer first programme in our organisation. The objective of the programme was to keep our “Customers” in the centre of everything we do within the organisation.
We evolved five modules in this organisational intervention. They were Customer Intimacy, Customer First Culture, Reliable Execution, Service Excellence & Lean Processes. Each of the modules was led by a leadership team member and supported by a team. This led to our Customer Engagement scores more than trebling in 3 years. We focussed back on the customer within the organisation.
Now that the customer centricity was established, we shifted our focus to employees. We realised that while it is critical to focus on customers, it is equally important to keep employees highly engaged. It is true that if we treat employees well, they in turn would ensure that customers are happy always.
We launched an intervention and called it “People Matter”. We had a long tradition of training and certifying our project managers using global processes and standards. We took a leaf out of this experience and decided that we will train all our people managers and then certify them through a three stage process.
We identified a professional external partner and then trained more than 800 people managers and certified them. All of them went through a two day class room training. They they had to work out an action plan in three people management areas impacting their team and submit it. Then they had to implement their ideas and a feedback was taken from their team on their leadership style. This was followed by implementation and a follow up feedback from their team members to measure impact of their actions.
We found a cultural transformation permeating the entire organisation. I got phone calls, emails and personal feedback whenever I visited locations from team members. Many of them were positively surprised at the changes in their manager’s behaviour. It appeared that the program was making a impact in changing leadership behaviours.
We shared the best practices of various people managers across the organisation through newsletters and other communication channels. We invited the best people managers, who scored the highest to our annual business conference and enabled them to share their experience with the rest of the people managers.
The journey has just begun. We have supported this initiative by empowering people managers to decide the increments and promotions of their team members. We encouraged them to reward and recognise their team members in innovative ways. All new initiatives in the organisation were channelled through these people managers.
Great companies believe that if they take care of their employees, they will take care of their customers as in the photo above.
Hence, customer first, employee always.
S Ramesh Shankar
25th August 2018