If you could choose your work colleagues, who would you keep? And who would you lose?

“I don’t like John, he never pulls his weight.”

 “Me neither. And Sarah, she’s always so distracted – she never finishes anything.

“I wish we didn’t have to work with them, it would be so much better without them around.”

The reality is that we are rarely in a position to choose our team members. But this is a good thing: if we were, the temptation would be to lose the difficult people, or the less productive.

In doing so, we would also lose the rich diversity of opinions and perspectives that reveal the differences in how people experience the world.

So how do we get great performance out of diverse teams?

Get People Involved

Improving team performance involves understanding how to motivate each member of our team in a way that encourages authentic, meaningful engagement. Although we all have feelings and emotions, we are often required to leave these at the door when we get to work. But these feelings and emotions contain the keys to unlocking world-class customer experiences.

So how do we do this? First and foremost, we must create the conditions in which employees feel able to speak candidly. Unless people feel comfortable in sharing their whole worldview, they will never reveal the root cause of their unhappiness or disengagement.

If people fear that their opinions will be judged or not be taken seriously, they are unlikely to share anything other than the company line.

Secondly, we must give people a reason to participate. Make the meeting about them. Take the time to identify the topics and issues that really interest them, and about which they will feel confident in sharing their experiences. Bring together a diverse group of people who have a mutual interest in the topic, and who are likely to learn from observing and discussing with each other. Keep the discussion focused, relevant, and invigorating.

Thirdly, we must allow time for reflection. So many businesses move too quickly to action, and fail to learn invaluable lessons from customer and employee experiences. How often do we skip ‘post-implementation reviews’ and ‘lessons learned’ in order to get started on the next project? Undervaluing the time to review and reflect on experiences denies people the opportunity to learn and change their behaviour, and causes organisations to stagnate.

Encourage Perpetual Thinking

The good news is that all of this can be achieved by simply changing how we bring people together. Perpetual thinking groups are an authentic, experience-focused mechanism for stimulating teams at every level of an organisation.

By creating the conditions for an authentic, non-judgmental exploration of an issue, these groups reveal the real-world knowledge and skills of those involved.

Enabling employees to share their personal views and experiences stimulates questions and drives engagement, as they feel valued and respected.

Perpetual thinking groups enable us to transcend the question of whether we have the right people in our team. They provide a way of revealing both the root causes of disengagement, and valuable untapped skills and knowledge.

Benefit from Authentic Engagement

Lastly, we need to remember that customer experience is not just about customers.

Delivering excellent customer experience involves extending customer journeys deep into an organisation to understand the experiences of everyone involved.

These ‘people experience journeys’ enable employees to share the context-specific problems that affect their day-to-day work. But the key to this is authenticity: if employees are permitted to engage in authentic, meaningful discussion, they will reveal the innovative work-arounds they have developed to cope with these problems.

By listening to employees and scaling up these work-arounds, organisations can access an untapped reserve of knowledge and skills that can turbo-charge customer experience.

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About The Author

Managing Director of The QoE

Carl Lyon is a thought leader in customer experience and the author of the book Perpetual Experience™, which tackles some of the key mysteries of customer experience in its wider context. Recognising the unique challenges faced by large organisations, Carl founded The QoE in 2005. Over the last twelve years, The QoE has given Carl the opportunity to work with senior executives from large organisations and explore all aspects of customer and people experience. In the process, he has acquired a unique insight and knowledge that forms the core of his work in helping others drive improvement in customer and people experience. Carl’s communication skills, combined with an analytical approach, are key to The QoE and the consultancy that it now offers. Using the Perpetual Experience methodology, Carl helps organisations challenge their worldview by questioning different standpoints and embracing multiple perspectives. By learning from a wide breadth of issues, Carl helps individuals to develop thoughts and solutions in the context of their own working environment.