Always giving advice, never listening. It is often easier for managers to provide input, feedback or sage advice than to listen to those they are managing for much needed answers to day-to-day strategic or business issues. Management should never assume they have all the answers. More likely than not, a wealth of valuable strategic input can be gained from frontline staff who have direct member interaction. After all, the needs of the members come first, and the best way to understand their needs is to hear it directly from the frontline staff or members.
Managers do not observe employees' interaction. Just as important as listening to frontline staff, observing carries equal weight. Nothing can take the place of real-life experience. Observing employees with members will demonstrate to management exactly how the staff is implementing the training they have received. It will show management what procedures are being utilized, how effective they are and how members react to the implemented procedures. In fact, through observation and participation, management has the opportunity to hear feedback directly from the member.
Saying one thing but doing another. Management must walk the talk and be able to demonstrate what they say to the employees. The employees must believe that management believes in the processes and procedures it recommends. A sure way to create doubt is to say one thing and do another.
Assuming employees get it. Never assume. Seek employee feedback and have them demonstrate concepts so that you know they understand. Management cannot know if the employees are implementing the proper processes and procedures unless it assess the employees and seek feedback. Role playing is an effective method that can be used to both train and assess employees.
Never participating in training. Management must take an active role in the training process along with the employees. Your presence alone will raise employee appreciation and confidence. However, nothing replaces the first-hand knowledge you as management receives by participating in your own training.
Assuming training is a panacea. Training alone cannot be considered a cure-all. Management must ensure employees are provided the proper tools and atmosphere to deliver optimal member service that lives up to management's expectations. This may include processes, technology, feedback mechanisms and recurrent training. An integrated process must be developed in order for the desired outcomes to be achieved.
Not discussing strategies or following up. Training is not a one-time event. If the training employees receive is only delivered once, without periodic reinforcement, the strategies and lessons learned are bound to be forgotten. And management needs to discuss the strategies for which training is being provided. Why is the training taking place? What are the desired outcomes? How will members benefit?
Waiting until the fourth quarter to assess progress. Often management assessment of programs and performance is relegated to a one-time, end-of-year exercise. It is impossible to make an accurate assessment in this manner. Assessment needs to be a continuous process throughout the year. Incremental adjustments and fine-tuning need to occur in real-time throughout the year. This is the only way management can maintain the pulse of the business and review and adjust as necessary to maximize the operation and ultimately member service. Of course, coaching and accountability are key elements of the assessment process. Coaching and accountability should be a continuous process throughout the year to ensure employees maintain their new skills and do no revert back to their old comfort zone.
Having a one pep talk. This goes hand-in-glove with the idea that one should not assess progress only once-a-year. Likewise, management should go much further than a once-a-year pep talk and expect that to be enough to motivate and drive employees to properly implement your programs. First, motivating employees should be a top-of-mind business process within your company. This may even include formal reward and recognition programs to keep employees motivated and on-track in delivering your desired outcomes. In addition to motivation, ongoing training should be a part of your program.
Running the same strategic planning sessions. Management should never assume that all the answers can be found by looking inward. While management can certainly add perspective, it more than likely cannot add the fresh perspective that an outside party can offer. Nevertheless, management should observe and participate during the strategic planning process so that it can provide a guiding voice throughout the process from both a manager's perspective as well as from the perspective of the team.