Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Respect for internal customers goes far

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Not surprisingly, this study reveals that hospitals with understaffed ICU units have higher incidences of infection and patient mortality. What a perfect metaphor for businesses of all kinds–when you overwork your employees to the point of stress, the results for your customers suffer. The Deming quality studies from decades ago confirmed this understanding, yet we continue to disregard it in our organizational imperatives.

Why is there such a severe nursing shortage? No doubt lots of factors count, but clearly these are biggies: nurses are consistently overworked and, compared to medical doctors, underpaid, and women now have other options where they can count on receiving a) similar or better money, b) far less stressful working conditions, c) get more respect from employers and have more opportunities for pleasant interactions with coworkers (being around disease and illness is taxing), and d) not have to work excessive overtime.

So it seems reasonable to conclude that we don’t necessarily have fewer people who care about nursing. Seems more like the practitioners don’t get the respect they deserve. And it’s the patients–that’s you and me–who pay the price. And nursing is one industry that can’t be outsourced.

If you treat your employees with the respect they deserve–fair pay, benefits as reasonable as you can afford, opportunities to learn and advance–that kind of thing is worth bragging about on your corporate blog. So go ahead–point out the good things you do for your employees. Not only will your customers respect you for it–they’ll also get better service.  Because in the area of treating people with respect, what goes around, comes around. Even when some of them work overseas…

Are you a leader? A trend setter?

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Oddly enough, the U.S. government seems to be slightly ahead of the private sector in setting people up to work from home. A recent study says that 44% of federal employees who responded to a survey have the option to telecommute. While those numbers could be skewed because if you don’t have the option, maybe the survey doesn’t look very interesting to you, that same situation probably holds true for government and private employees surveyed. 

That seems surprising…that the government is ahead of the capitalist system on any single item.  But when you consider the benefits of telecommuting to the organization, it’s maybe not so surprising.  They include: 1) significantly decrease traffic and pollution in congested cities, 2) improving employee recruitment and retention by enabling a better work-life balance, and 3) help ensure continuity of government operations during snowstorms and other minor events as well as after catastrophes. (Hmmm. The Homeland Security people may be having a hand in this.)

At any rate, if your company is enlightened–in any way–or is a leader at doing something new and better, whether for employees or customers or vendors, you get big-time brag rights on your business blog. Take ‘em.

Be true to yourself–and leverage the power of the many

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Saw a documentary last night on the then-20-year-old woman who designed the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Inspiring story of a girl whose parents emigrated from China and became professors, both at Ohio University. She, Maya Lin, grew up with a strong example and internalized commitment to doing what not only what is right, but also what is important.  She stuck to it through all struggles she had to face as various factions fought over the appropriateness of the memorial, including facing angry Vietnam vets who intially felt the design was not only wrong but insulting.

Some of the most powerful images from the film were watching that young girl’s eyes as that angry vet reviled her design, and later watching her calm, quiet, and humble figure walk away from the 10th anniversary celebration of the memorial–attended by tens of hundreds of vets and families, almost all in tears.

She believed in what she was doing. Her vision won over the most prestigious and powerful competitors. She stood firm against opposition. And she remains true to herself today, having designed a moving memorial to the civil rights movement in addition to unique museums and even homes.

Perhaps the most moving of all the images were those of the fingers and the hands of the visitors/viewers who come to draw on the energy of those designs, fingers tracing the names of loved ones or breaking little pathways in the water flows. When people participate, a project gains far greater power.

And that is the principle behind social networking and the power of the Internet–as new technology makes it possible for more and more people to participate. Your project can gain greater power. And if you, like Maya Lin, keep always the highest ideal in mind as you work, your work will always remain meaningful and your decisions intelligent.

What's really going on with your customers?

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

You can always write about the positive happenings at your company or in your professional life as part of your business/corporate blog. But sometimes it pays to talk openly about what’s missing–like what customers are unhappy about in your industry.

A couple of guys writing in the Harvard Business review have done a wonderful job of examining that elusive thing called customer satisfaction. They posit that CRM (customer relationship management) software is actually hurting levels of customer satisfaction. They’ve invented a new term for an old concept–CEM (Customer Experience Management)–which means actually asking the customer how s/he feels about each experience with your company. Wrote my monthly GetMoreCustomers newsletter on specific ways CEM differs from CRM  

Now writing in your blog about that sort of thing takes courage–but believe me, it’s the kind of thing that will get you more attention than almost anything. And more loyalty from customers who feel you’re truly working to make a difference in their experience. So take the bullet between your teeth and go for it–the HBR guys promise that, done right, it improves your bottom line.