Regardless of our roles, we all have customers. Those customers have experiences with each of us and, more broadly, our organizations. What does that have to do with culture and employee experience? More than you think.
When Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @ Work was first published, the target audience was primarily company decision makers and culture practitioners, regardless of industry. To my surprise and delight, the CX community enthusiastically embraced the book and its framework, Design of Work Experience. The connection between employee experience and customer experience makes total sense when you think about it. Here are some reasons why:
1. Your employees are also your first customers. As a company’s external interface, they are the ones who communicate and reflect the quality of an organization through their words and actions (for better or worse). Few leaders fully understand this or behave as if they do. Those that "get it" have great proof of their success. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, said:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
I quoted Angela Ahrendts (former CEO of Burberry and SVP Retail at Apple) on page 19 in Culture Your Culture:
“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”
So if your company has customers and employees, you should be treating them as if they are important to the success of your business—because they are.
2. CX & EX are inextricably linked and co-dependent. Employees are also consumers themselves. They have purchasing power and thanks to social media the ability to promote or disparage brands. According to Accenture:
“…as the lines between professional and personal life blur, employees increasingly want the relevant, convenient and engaging experiences they have outside of work to be replicated on the job.”
Tools for EX and CX can be used to help each other. Consider one step farther: intentionally designing and implementing CX & EX together—for continuity, consistency, alignment, and IMPACT.
3. Progress is limited or enhanced by company culture. Here’s what Forrester predicts for 2020 when it comes to CX:
“We expect innovative, customer-delighting experiences to come to market that combine technology, creativity, and deep customer understanding.”
If you are in the business of serving internal or external customers (and I know you are), what happens when these new offerings are introduced to your company? Will your culture embrace, resist, or even ignore them? What happens after that? Chances are you have the foresight to answer these questions.
Whether good, bad, or just ok, get a handle on your culture. Understand its complexities and how you should manage its strengths and shortcomings to ensure it becomes a business asset, not a liability. Your CX, EX, and the success of your company depends on it.
If framing CX and EX together is new to you or just something you haven’t thought about recently, whet your appetite on my conversations with these Customer Experience gurus:
Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken
Crack the Customer Code with Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walters
CX Conversations with Vivek Jaiswal
RARE Business with Adrian Swinscoe
It's the Goodreads Giveaway! From May 1 - May 31, 2019, click below for a chance to win one of 10 copies of Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @ Work. Every organization needs this!
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It was a privilege to be a guest on Carolyn Kiel's Beyond 6 Seconds podcast recently, and not just because it was a personal milestone (my 20th podcast!). Experience showed me how truly different every conversation can be, even if the premise is to talk about about my favorite topic of company culture. Between her wonderful radio voice, curious mind, engaging questions and our easy rapport with one another, we talked well beyond our scheduled time. We covered so much territory that it necessitated a second bonus episode about Culture Your Culture's journey to publication. My hope is that our fun translates to your enjoyment as listeners. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!
Culture Your Culture appeared on Small Biz Daily's Business Books for the Holidays List! I always felt the red on my book's cover was festive.
Makes for a great Christmas gift or birthday, or anytime gift for that matter! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I'll see you in the New Year!
"One good turn deserves another" as they say. That was true in this case. We had such a good time talking back in September that we decided to do it again in December. Being a radio show first and a podcast second, time allotments are limited. I was happy to return for another conversation on Sharon Kay's What's the 411? Sharon is a generous and inquisitive host, and it was great to provide perspective on recent headlines related to GM's plant closures and the scandals plaguing the tech industry (especially Facebook at the moment). Check it out!
This article originally appeared on the SHRM Executive Network HR People + Strategy Journal Blog.
What does it mean when “culture” is a part of your job title or role description? Can one person (or even a whole functional area) alone be totally in charge of and wield its power?
Culture is not about amenities, employee appreciation days, company picnics, or community service events. It is “a construct reflected in all things that have the power to influence behaviors, interactions, and perception within a socially defined entity or institution…[delineating] the boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable. [It] is manifested in how people behave, interact, react, and perceive reality. Culture is created, reinforced, and experienced by people.” Because it’s shared, no one can control culture, and yet it is accessible enough that a single person can make a difference. There are a number of roles for HR to play when it comes to culture:
Educator. The topic of culture can be intimidating to some because they don’t understand it. This might lead them to push it aside or ignore it when they really shouldn’t. Who will enlighten them? If this describes HR, corrective action is needed if they truly want to be the conscience of the organization. The educator must first be educated, and there’s nothing like having to learn something in order to teach it. As attributed to William Glasser, we learn 95% of what we teach others. People have to learn the importance of culture, how it impacts behaviors (like decision-making), and influences outcomes (for better or worse). Leaders have to understand that culture is more than a liability--it can also be a business asset.
Facilitator. Culture change gets that extra boost and attention as a designated initiative, but it must also be continually managed as part of “business as usual.” In either scenario, the CEO should be the ultimate culture champion. In partnership with or in the absence of that leadership, HR must step up to make it happen. Either empower others, or lead yourself.
Evangelist. When it comes to culture, be visible, communicate frequently, and consistently demonstrate by example. Recruit other evangelists across the organization regardless of role, level, background, or responsibilities. Make culture the backbone of how your company operates and integrate awareness of culture into daily work life. Compel people to take active roles in supporting and experiencing a healthy culture. You’ll know how successful you are based on how well the aspirational culture sticks.
Sponsor. A sponsor doesn’t just endorse. Sponsorship means you are willing to stick your neck out for it and be an active advocate. If you believe in the aspirational culture the company is promoting, there should be no hesitation. I don’t mean that you sacrifice yourself for the cause (without champions of culture, things will be worse off). Influence as much as you can for the intended outcomes.
Connector. Should you and your HR function assume these other roles, you become a nexus point in the organization, one that knows what’s going on, who’s who, and what’s to come. This enables you to connect people and create the platform where new connections uncover possibilities and catalyze results.
Notice advisor is not on this list. That’s because assuming this role could lead to the misconception that you “own culture,” which isn’t true and won’t help your cause. Advising also promotes a certain emotional distance and separates you from being a part of the shared community. Leave advising to the external consultants. Remember that within the company, culture is accessible to all as “consumers of the work experience,” and “everyone is prequalified to contribute.” Avoid being known as the culture advisor.
HR is by no means restricted to these roles, and there are certainly connection points and overlaps. Resist the temptation to see these as a checklist—instead, treat it as a collective state of mind that influences actions on a perpetual basis. If fulfilled, HR will have an amazing impact when it comes to culture, for it creates a virtuous cycle of positivity when done well. Healthy culture = trusted HR function.
Where to start? First, there are things you can do right away in your of daily life. Look for and pay attention to culture and how it is revealed day-to-day—in meetings, interactions, written communications, decisions, etc. Ask yourself: How is our culture influencing our perceptions or actions? What anomalies or individual circumstances might create an undesirable long-term impact on the culture? Are we reinforcing a desirable or undesirable pattern or norm? Are we building up our culture or eroding it? Do our words match our actions? What are the cultural consequences of my behaviors as a leader?
Adopt language that indicates your understanding and priorities when it comes to culture. Point out what you are paying attention to and observing. This reminds people of culture’s pervasive influence and encourage others to follow suit.
Make employee engagement a priority--not just in task or operationally--but strategically. Start with a deep dive into the current state to uncover and understand its complexities and mechanisms. Answer: Do values, brand, and intentions match lived experience? Are cultural norms intentional and positive? Are other experiences compromising the integrity of the culture? What strengths enhance the organization? Where are the unmet needs when it comes to culture?
With that knowledge, the excuse of ignorance is no longer valid. That’s a good thing, because now you can take informed action. Design of Work Experience can guide your organization through the process of understanding your current state, designing for change, implementing for the future, and sustaining it. Don’t wait to leverage culture for the better, because you could be heading off a brewing firestorm without even knowing it. A better, stronger future awaits.
All quotes from Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @Work by Karen Jaw-Madson (Emerald Group Publishing, 2018)
Thank goodness a friend of mine received a copy of this magazine and snapped a photo for me. I otherwise would not have known that CYC was included in the Best issue of TD Magazines under the Best of HR Books. What an honor to mentioned next to titles like Amy Radin's The Change Maker's Playbook and Marc Effron's 8 Steps to High Performance. I am awestruck seeing my baby in print every time, and it never gets old.
We sometimes are our own worst enemies when we practice self-limitation, especially with either-or thinking. The Looking For And podcast seeks to make the shift to "yes, and," a principle popularized by improv to open ourselves to the possibilities and make connections. So much of practicing Design of Work Experience is about Yes And, but you can find the specific shout out to it on p. 113 of the book. Check out the interview!
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