We often hear leaders say, “We want our people to have a better service mindset.”
What is a mindset?
Here is one example. People often describe other people as either ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’. What they are referring to is a mindset, a fundamental way to view the world.
Mindset includes a person’s attitudes and assumptions, values, beliefs, preferences, standards, and judgments. These are the family points-of-view that filter our perceptions and create meaning in our lives. These familiar reference points are learned throughout our lives, and may not be easily changed.
So how can we foster a better service mindset, at home, in the community, and at work? Many leaders made the mistake of simply sending people for training and hoping to see some magical result, only to realize that the change – if any – is short lived.
If you want a better service mindset to permeate your organization’s culture, then much more than training is needed; a total and enduring commitment is required.
Because changing mindset means showing people another point of view, sharing a different perspective, a teaching them a better way of thinking and behaving. You need to show people what a service mindset looks like, hear what it sounds like, and help them discover what this new way of thinking and behaving feels like. This requires teaching, demonstrating, encouraging, and reinforcing with an eco-system to support these attitudes, beliefs and behaviors consistently over time.
Over many years of working with leaders and organizations, I have found the following 4 Es to be paramount in cultivating better service mindset: Empathy, Education, Eco-system, and Encouragement.
First seek to understand the current situation. Conduct conversations with employees to find out what are their fears, concerns, and frustrations at work.
Listen carefully. Show genuinely interest in what they’ve got to say, try to appreciate and enter into their world. To quote Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” When people know you truly care, and feel they are being understood, they will then be more open to listen to your point to view.
Educate your people with a common service language that everyone understands. Show them a new way of thinking and responding to customers. Invite them to a world of superior service. Help them experience what superior service looks, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels like.
Educate not just one person, one department, but the whole organization. Why do you need to educate the whole organization? Because of the ‘herd mentality’ phenomenon.
People can be influenced by peers to adopt certain behaviors and trends. You can use this phenomenon to your advantage by ensuring that all employees learn the same fundamental principles of service excellence – and appreciate how each principle can be brought to action for internal and external service situations.
When all employees are equipped with the same set of service principles and aligned in their thinking as a team, they will more naturally choose effective behaviors in a wide variety of service situations. Each positive behavior will reinforce the others, with the herd mentality working in everyone’s favor.
Educate your employees is not enough. You must also provide an eco-system for service mindset to take root, ensuring that your systems, processes, and culture-building activities are aligned and reinforce one another. This includes the way your company hires, orientates, communicates, rewards, measures, listens, recovers from mistakes, and benchmarks other organizations.
How often do employees get trained and excited, only to go back to their workplace and face the brutal fact of reality that nothing else has changed, and that little support is in place to recognize or encourage their efforts? How often do employees lament on how leaders jump on their first mistakes as they attempt to do something different? How often do employees express their confusion when they make an extra effort to serve a customer, only to be penalized for missing a target on efficiency or speed-of-service?
Leaders play a critical role in ensuring the eco-system is conducive for service mindset to be nurtured and service behaviors encouraged. The “12 Building Blocks of Service Culture” can be used like scaffolding to create an eco-system that allows service oriented mindset to flourish.
How do you encourage your people?
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, most well known for her work on “fixed mindset and growth mindset”, suggests that organizations can learn and progress by encouraging productive effort. Instead of only celebrating employee achievements, you can celebrate intention and endeavor by saying, ‘Thank you for your effort.”
You want to encourage people to put in continuous effort to try new tactics, develop new strategies, seek input from others, and capitalize on setbacks to keep moving forward effectively.
Remember, when you recognize effort, learning and progress, you are sending a strong message to all staff that everyone is constantly in the making, improving, and becoming together. After all, building a better service mindset and providing excellent service is a journey, not a destination. And it is a journey we are all on together.
Which of the 4 Es do you appreciate most? Which do you help develop in your organization?