Have you found your sales results dropping or your market share falling away?
Have you had a greater number of customer complaints recently or are your online reviews more negative than normal?
Is your absenteeism or staff turnover higher than previous years?
For all these problems, it’s likely your business is struggling as a result of poor levels of team alignment and team engagement.
But, before you reach for the phone to call HR and tell them they need to find new members for the team, it might be more pertinent to work on the team itself.
Perhaps it’s not so much because of the individual players you’ve recruited along the way but the way the team has been allowed to evolve.
So, does your team need to be re-trained or replaced?
Here are several points for consideration to help you make the right decision.
Arguably, the most significant element in delivering exceptional Customer Experience is the stability of your team.
I often say, “Consistent faces create happy places”. Happy for your customers and happy for the members of your team too.
We can all relate to the sense of confidence you get when you walk in to a business where you’ve been well served in the past and see the same familiar faces of those who looked after you so well last time.
It’s the reason behind the suggestion that “People buy from people” and prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust.
They don’t have to repeat the process of getting to know one another. How we tick, what we like, what we want/need and any special requirements are all factors that, once known, make dealing with that person easier and enhance the likelihood of achieving a win:win outcome.
Perhaps the bigger issue here though, is not the confidence that those familiar faces offer the customers who frequent your business but the sense of knowing, confidence and belonging it provides the very people who are those familiar faces.
When you look at most lists on the top causes of stress, relationship breakdown or divorce is consistently one of the top items listed.
Given that we spend so much time with our colleagues, it makes complete sense that the shift in dynamic that occurs whenever there’s a change in the line-up will create at least some uncertainty within the team.
Whether it be due to a lack of respect or trust for one another, a lack of appreciation and contribution for and by our team mates or on a fundamental level there’s a clash of personalities, the relationships we have with those we work with and for are a critical element for success.
Healthy working relationships exist on many levels. Some of the relationships to be mindful of are those between:
The question is, what impact will a change of personnel have on each of these?
Because relationships take time to develop, in most cases it makes more sense to improve the relationships within the team than to dismiss those who are not seen as team players.
It’s widely suggested that people rarely leave a job, they leave the relationships they have in the job. Perhaps the same reason can stand for why certain people aren’t performing at an acceptable level. Because of the relationships that exist.
In 2016 the Gallup Q12 study considered the responses from nearly 2 Million employees from 49 industries in 73 countries and found that the #1 factor that will improve pretty much any metric you care to measure is Employee Engagement. And the #1 factor that improved engagement was the quality of relationships in the workplace.
Business relationships are no different to any other form of relationship. When taken for granted, over time they inevitably fade, particularly in high pressure environments, and the spirit of the team is compromised. This Team Spirit is effectively the essence of the business and needs to be carefully nurtured.
My recommendation is to keep your finger on the pulse of the team by watching the relationships. Observe and be mindful of the level of regard being shown and if it appears there is need for a change, make that the last resort not the first.
One of the most important elements of a thriving culture is to ensure there is a healthy level of open communication.
One where each member of the team is completely aware of not only what information is required of them in their role but also how they’re expected to deliver it.
Individual communication styles and preferences also play a part in establishing and maintaining the flow of information and the quality of the personal interactions that need to happen in and around the workplace. So too does the level of knowing and trust amongst the team.
Any introduction of a new player or players to the team, will likely have at the very least, a short-term impact on the effectiveness of the communication flow while they learn the ropes and the rest of the established team learns how best to communicate with them.
Therefore, the communication protocols and the contributions of each member of the team need to be considered as part of the decision to re-train or recruit.
Just as with relationships, knowledge takes time to establish. The finer details of how the role is to be executed and the specific role requirements need time to be bedded in with anyone new to the team.
Knowing who to contact and where to find required information inside or external to the organisation is again something that comes with time.
Workplace support groups, accountability buddies and mentoring programs need the benefit of longer term engagements to really work well.
Having an understanding of each other’s roles to provide contingency plans for extra busy periods or when staff are absent or on leave is impossible in an environment with high turnover.
New hires are required to learn how to do their own role as quickly as possible but cannot always be relied upon to step sideways into another role to cover for another.
All these issues again tend to support the notion that it makes more sense to minimise turnover as much as possible.
In terms of the associated costs, the first consideration is obviously the recruitment process itself. Whether you choose to advertise yourself or engage an agency, it’s difficult to put an exact price on what the costs for either will be because it’s impossible to know how long it will take and how many people will need to be screened and interviewed until you find the right person.
Once you’ve appointed someone there will be the initial onboarding costs along with the cost to provide any services and equipment required for them to perform the role they’ve been hired to do.
However, while these costs are the more quantifiable, the less immediately obvious costs that still need to be considered relate to the losses in productivity.
Firstly, there’s the drop in productivity that can be attributed to the person vacating a role.
Secondly, there’s likely to be a noticeable drop in the overall productivity of the team. As other members cover for the missing team member they’re unlikely to perform own roles nor the role they are covering at maximum capacity.
And finally, there will almost always be a ramp up period while the new hire settles into their new role. Until they do, this is another way productivity will suffer as a result of a change to the team line-up.
There’s a reason Human Capital should be considered an asset to the business.
Having a fully engaged & aligned team is the cornerstone to your ability to offer your customers the type of experience that will help you establish long term relationships and win them as customers for life.
Whilst I accept I have only briefly covered the topics included in this article and that there may be circumstances when the removal of non-productive or toxic staff or the introduction of new expertise by bringing in new team members makes sense, on the whole I believe it is a far better option to retain and retrain than to having to recruit and start again.
My suggestion... don’t rush the decision, consider all aspects and impacts of changing staff and if it remains unclear, seek advice from a HR expert.