Monday, February 24, 2003

Motivation Lessons from the Boston Philharmonic

There's a neat little article in the back pages of Optimize Magazine about bringing out the passion in employees. The author is not refering to the kind of passion that is every HR Manager's nightmare, but is talking about the kind of passion that encourages a person to give their very best toward a job well done. What makes this article so interesting is that it's written not by a business manager but by an orchestra conductor, Benjamin Zander of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.

I never really thought of an orchestra conductor in terms of business management but when you stop and think about, what more does a conductor do than manage a team to greatness? As conductor Zander puts it, "The conductor's job is to awaken possibilities in others." If that's not the job of every manager, than I don't know what is.

Zander suggests treating all employees as if they are "A" employees...and letting them know they are "A" employees. He then suggests that you encourage your employees to earn and maintain that "A" rating. Zander's concepts work by focusing on each employee's possibility rather than on his or her limitations. He also encourages extensive feedback. Anything that can be used to help employees become more effective is welcomed. For example Zander puts a white sheet of paper on each of his musician's music stand. He invites the musicians to write about anything they think will improve their personal performance including the music, the overall performance and even Zander's conducting.

Feedback can be a powerful tool for bringing an orchestra or an organization to greatness. The one cautionary note to remember is that asking for feedback creates responsibility to resond . See the article titled "Be Prepared to Act once you Ask" in the Nobscot employee retention article library.

Unlike an orchestra conductor, in business we can't just place a sheet of paper on a music stand but HR practioners do have two effective feedback tools to work with: the employee survey and the exit interview. Employee surveys are used to survey current employees and can tell you a great deal about what is needed to help employees succeed. Exit interviews are another often overlooked area for employee feedback. Employees that are leaving can be a tremendous source of information on exactly what a company needs to do in order to speak to the passion for success that resides buried in every individual. These exiting employees may be leaving, but they hold the key to motivating the remaining and future employees to make beautiful music. For more information on using surveys and exit interviews see Nobscot's WebExit, exit interview management system and Nobscot's EE*Trends employee turnover prediction system.

The Benjamin Zander article is called The Silent Conductor from the January issue of Optimize. It is located online at:
The Silent Conductor

Beth C.

Nobscot Corporation
Employee Retention Management and Metrics

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Saturday, February 01, 2003

You Can't Automate Your Way Out of Training

Unclear on the Training Concept.

Information Week, Jan 6 issue, had a newsbyte on a CRM system that said the following:

"Three-year old Experion offers hosted software that provides real-time customer data and analysis to let call center reps and bank tellers offer quick answers and sales pitches. Because information is provided on-screen in an easily readable format, reps don't need as much training for each new product a bank offers, Experion says."

Maybe it's just me, but as a customer, when I get a sales pitch or answer to a question, I would like the person to have some underlying understanding of what they are talking about. If it's from a frontline person like a teller or call center rep I don't expect them to have detailed knowledge but at least something that shows they understand the basic concept of what they are talking about. Can you imagine what it's going to be like with tellers reading automoton-like off their screen?

Will this technology allow for less training of tellers or will it in fact require more and varied training? If the salespitch is constantly changing (in real time) based on the customer, the tellers or service reps are going to have to have a broader array of training so that they can respond to whatever offer pops up on their screen to pitch to the customer. They will need to be able to think quickly and be able to change their train of thought in a moment's notice.

From a training perspective, this kind of technology requires us to rethink how and on what we train our front-line employees. If not, we are going to have a lot of both frustrated customers and frustrated tellers and service reps.

Beth C.

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