I was recently asked if I would give some pointers to someone who had taken a new management position. He was looking to get feedback on how to increase his departments negative reputation amongst other departments as well as increasing their overall level of customer service.
I knew little about the department and am used to experiencing the environment in person before giving any feedback. However, this time I was given a small description about the department and was asked to give some quick pointers on what I thought the first steps should be to fix their poor reputation of customer service and interacting with other departments.
Immediately this is what came to mind:
- Good Management: I firmly believe that any staff (or person) is a product of their manager. If the staff is poor or performing poorly then it’s the fault of management and they aren’t doing their job to properly motivate, train or staff the department. I would start with the lead person (or supervisor) and get an idea on how they have managed the staff. Be prepared that the issue may lie with the person directly in charge of the staff. If you are the person in charge then try to get feedback on how the old boss ran things.
- Setup for Success: Does the staff have documented policies and procedures on how to do their job? Do they have easy access to help and support if they have a question or issue come up or are they expected to work on their own? When a team has the right tools and support to do their job they will feel more secure about how to perform their job and produce better service.
- Leave the Drama at the Door: I have 0% tolerance for any type of drama or negativity on my staff and department. I have fired people on the spot if I sensed any type of attitude or disrespect. You shouldn’t have to teach people how to communicate in a respectful manner..you should only employ the people who possess those skills. I don’t deal with it and make it known that everyone treats each other with respect or you’re out.
- Team Work! Build a strong team and they will perform strongly. I build my staff with unique people that can learn from each other and want to be part of a team rather than be isolated. I address my staff as a team more than I address them individually. My first focus is always building the team environment and weeding out the people who don’t believe in working together to succeed. Once you have a strong team then they will thrive together and help each other to push the department to succeed, not only because it’s their job, but because they want to.
- Know Who You Are Working With : Hear what they have to say and listen to their feedback. I spent my first month or so at one job meeting w/ all 20 of my staff members and listening to their experiences individually. It helped me see where the problems really were.
I honestly feel like communication is the key to succeeding in anything that you do. I find myself learning on a daily basis the best way to get my points across in my professional and personal life. If I am having issues reaching my goals with my staff or even with my family, I take a step back and look at how I am communicating my points. I ask myself if it’s the best way to accomplish what I need to get done. In doing this, I am able to see how I am affecting my own ability to succeed as well as others. I can then quickly adjust my communication style to be more effective to the people (or team) that surround me.
Do you feel like your communication skills have played a big role in what you have succeeded or failed at in your life? Have you used positive communication skills to improve a negative experience that you had to overcome? If so, what skills worked best for you and what was the outcome?