It’s a simple enough premise. If your customers, supporters or volunteers ‘speak’ with you about their needs, wants or a complaint, pay attention! It’s about having good internal communications and this means putting in place both the means for your people to communicate as well as nurturing the will for your colleagues to communicate with each other for everyone’s benefit.
This month (November 23rd) the UK celebrates National Freelancers’ Day and I hear there are even parties planned. Since 1998, the number of freelancers in the UK has risen from 1.25 million to 1.4 million today and I suspect this trend will continue.
There is a Little Britain TV sketch showing the funny side of what passes as customer/supporter service in modern Britain. Basically, it parodies the fact that many front line staff appear to have been totally disempowered when it comes to dealing with the public. 'I can't do anything as it's a system-generated decision...' is heard from call -centres all too frequently. This provokes two questions:
1. Do organisations think that supporters and customers care in any way shape or form that THEIR system is the problem? 2. Do the same organisations think customers and supporters can be placated by hearing that it's the computer's fault?!?
Watching the international match between South Africa's Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks this week, it struck me just how many similarities there are between charities and rugby teams. I'll avoid the obvious comparison between boisterous team meetings and a scrum but here are a few observations that I think we could learn from. What do you think? I'm stating the completely obvious but neither rugby nor being an effective charity is an individual sport. The best single player is wasted if their team mates aren't getting the ball to them. The effectiveness of an award-wining fundraising director can easily be hampered by demotivated staff who don't deliver to their potential.
Last week, I came across an interesting article written by Suzanne Lucas on the BNET site entitled "9 signs your HR manager is terrible". In a nutshell, it's about how a commercial HR function doesn't always help the business achieve it's goals.
If you take a look you will immediately notice that it's fairly commercial and yes, a little USA-centric but there's a lot here other sectors and cultures can learn from. I'm no HR expert but like many, I've led and managed plenty of people and worked in lots of teams across commercial and non-profit sectors.
Consequently, the article got me to thinking about how some of the organisations I've been exposed to over the last 20 years have maybe missed the 'people' point. Here's my top five tangible things we don't always seem to do to focus on our people as the best way of helping us to meet our bottom line objectives, whatever they are. (Incidentally, by "HR", I mean the people in your organisation who are responsible for HR-type tasks - I know we don't all have a dedicated HR department)