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Observations on a Tightening Labor Market

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week caught my attention (“Top Fund Managers Want Better HR.”)  The story discusses how large funds are beginning to engage boards and senior managers about what they are doing to effectively manage their human resources, an interesting change.  When did you last see a line item for employee development/training in an annual report?

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Revisiting the Importance of Employee Engagement

I have written several blogs on employee engagement and its strong linkage to the customer experience.  Over the weekend, I was catching up on some reading and I ran across an article that was conducted by the Harvard Business Review Analytics Service.  The study was conducted in 2013 and covered a variety of industries and countries.  I want to share some of the key findings as I found them both interesting and helpful.

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Customer Service: Enough Already!

A few days ago I searched on the words “customer service” in Google and had 956,000,000 hits.  I did the same search on “employee engagement” and got 21,000,000 hits.  This result is not too surprising as managers tend to focus on improving customer service without truly addressing the service delivery process more holistically.  For me, this means not only a focus on the customer but a focus on the employees and the culture in which they deliver a company’s service each and every day.  Why?

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True Grit: What Does It Take to be Successful

True Grit

This topic may seem a little unusual for me to be blogging about.  Perhaps it is but we are increasingly looking at the connection between how engaged employees are and how this impacts the quality of service an organization delivers and, ultimately, its financial success.  I personally think that those people who feel successful at what they do are far more likely to be engaged with their life’s work.  But just what contributes to one being successful?

There have been many studies done over the years to answer this question.  Some studies point to the importance of going to a prestigious university.  Other studies highlight the connection between life success and material status of your family.  Perhaps the most interesting and insightful research I have seen comes from Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research has to do with the impact of what she calls “grit” and its impact on a person’s success or failure.

Professor Duckworth defines grit as that “ability to be resilient in the face of failure or adversity and having a compelling passion in your life.”  One of the most interesting research projects she did was at the West Point Military Academy.  Admission to West Point is based on academic performance, SAT scores, class rank, leadership ability and physical aptitude.  The US Army has combined these factors into a Whole Candidate Score to determine admission.  However, 1 in 20 cadets drop out during the physical training that occurs over the summer prior to the first year.  Professor Duckworth administered her “grit” test to several entering classes.  What she discovered is that the results from her test were a far better predictor of whether or not a student would drop out compared to the whole candidate score.

She has replicated this test in a number of other situations with similar results.  In fact, you can take her online test and see how much “grit” you have (https://sasupenn.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_06f6QSOS2pZW9qR).

What does this have to do with customer service, business, or engaged employees?  I would say plenty.  There are plenty of organizations where a job is a job.  How do you make that job special?  How do you create an organization with the kinds of attributes that provide an opportunity for people to be passionate about their work and demonstrate grit in the face of the daily ups and downs of taking care of customers and others?

I will have some additional thoughts about this last question in next week’s blog.  In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Professor Duckworth’s fascinating research, click on any of the links below.

https://sites.sas.upenn.edu/duckworth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H14bBuluwB8

Lynn

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Part 3. Engaging Your Employees = Working on Your Company’s Engine

This week, I’ll cover the last in a series of three posts related to the connection between customer satisfaction and employee engagement. As we discussed in Part 2, a growing body of research suggests that engaged employees can boost customer satisfaction and contribute to better business performance. The next obvious question, then, and the subject of this week’s entry, is: “So, how do I get employees more engaged?”

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Part 2: Stronger than Advil®: The Effect of Employee Engagement on Customer Satisfaction

Last week, I began a three-part blog series about the connection between customer satisfaction and employee engagement by comparing two memorable travel experiences.  As you may recall, one of my experiences was excellent and began with a smile from the company representative and the other left much room for improvement and began with a sigh.

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Part I: A Smile or a Sigh? Employee Engagement from a Customer’s Perspective

My name is Doug Fowler and I am the new Chief Operating Officer at The Daniel Group.  I am honored to join a company with such an uncommonly high level of commitment to serving both its clients and employees.  I hope that my passion for serving customers and teammates and my experience in a variety of management roles in B2B services will help me make a positive contribution to The Daniel Group’s continued growth and success.