“The Second Key: Define the Right Outcomes” (Chapter 4)
The focus of this week’s reflection is on the importance of defining the right outcomes for your employees. In “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, the authors state, “The hardest thing about being a manager is realizing that your people will not do things the way that you would. But get used to it. Because if you try to force them to, then two things happen. They become resentful – they don’t want to do it. And they become dependent – they can’t do it.”
It is important to find a balance between providing guidance and allowing your employees enough freedom to be comfortable in their environment and to work to their strengths. Buckingham and Coffman state, “Define the right outcomes and then let each person find his own route toward these outcomes.” They go on to say that the most efficient way to turn someone’s talent into performance is to help him find his own path of least resistance toward the desired outcome.
Don’t try to mold or perfect someone’s role for them. The majority of the time, employees will take responsibility of their performance when they are trusted with the work they are doing. Of course, there will always be instances when you face someone who breaks this trust, but if you go into every work relationship with a lack of trust, then it becomes difficult to achieve long term success. It should also make you question why you’ve decided to hire this individual in the first place if you aren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Forcing someone to follow a script more than likely will result in them coming off as disingenuous to potential clients. If that’s the case, the customer will not be satisfied, and the desired outcome will not be achieved. A great example of this would be the different closing strategies of a salesman. Some salesmen work best by building relationships, some by showcasing their expertise and belief in the product or service they are selling, and others who are masters of being persuasive. All are different approaches one could take to achieving the same outcome, a sale. Don’t put your employees in a box where they feel uncomfortable. Let your employees work in a way that they can be genuine in their approach.
Now while it is important to avoid a completely scripted culture and to allow your employees some freedom in their approach to achieving a desired outcome, there still must be rules and regulations in place in order to maintain a company or industry standard. Buckingham and Coffman define four “Rules of Thumb” that managers should make sure their employees are abiding by:
- “Employees must follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role that deal with accuracy and safety.” Quality control and minimizing risks are essential to having a successful business.
- “Employees must follow certain required steps when those steps are part of a company or industry standard.” Standards enhance things such as communication, learning, creativity and development within an industry.
- “Required steps are useful only if they do not obscure the desired outcome.” If the ultimate desired outcome is customer satisfaction, you have to allow employees to read various situations and act in appropriate manners. If you force them to stick to specific scripts, then customers lose faith in whether you truly have their best interest at heart.
- “Required steps only prevent dissatisfaction. They cannot drive customer satisfaction.” Ultimately, desired outcomes boil down to customer satisfaction. If the customer is happy, they will return for more business and will likely refer other to your business as well. If they are not happy, you won’t hear from them again and your reputation gets tarnished. This is where the earlier point of allowing employees to be genuine in their approach to achieving a desired outcome becomes relevant. Allow them to find a way to connect with the customer. If you want to turn a customer into an advocate, you must meet these four expectations of the customer: accuracy, availability, partnership, and advice.