Keep them Engaged Through Leadership

OK, I think this is the last post in this “Delightful” mini-series so a quick recap is in order.

First I posted about the importance of Delighting your way to Success and how critical it is to improve upon the customer experience every time you deal with them. I gave some recommendations for implementation in your business to improve the customer experience and more closely align everyone at your company with your customer experiences. My Dairy Queen example was a simple illustration of the impact a positive experience has.
I followed up that post with a related one on a new role that we are seeing more of in the market and is that of a “Community Manager“, which I am a proponent of and would suggest you consider for your organization. I used AideRSS and Akoha as examples.
Next I followed up with a piece on how critical it is to hire smart AND engaged employees right from the start rather than hiring just for smarts, and gave my thoughts on how to successful hire employees that will delight your customer. This is important for all organizations but especially for young startups. You do not have the luxury of being able to make mistakes against a really tight budget and very few staff. Take your time and get it right.
The last piece will be some simple thoughts on leadership that I think are important to keeping engaged employees in the game and on your team. Hiring the right people is absolutely critical to an engaged workforce but keeping them engaged and growing is all on you. There are so many leadership books out there by people who have forgotten more theory on leadership than I will ever know but here are my simple guidelines that I follow.
  1. Give direction – in the absence of being given direction by a leader employees will make up their own direction. This is hugely problematic because if you have 10 employees who are all engaged and acting in the best interests of the company but are pulling in different directions it will make the very difficult journey from point A to point B way harder than it already is. For small companies, you don’t want to get meetinged (is that a word?) to death and a meeting schedule is a completely separate post so to start I would recommend the following. For 15 minutes at the start or end of every day huddle with your team. I posted some details earlier on the agenda.
  2. Open, focused and frequent communication – understanding the big picture and the strategic path the company is on is critical. Every chance you get reiterate the “elevator pitch” with your employees. Explain why you are doing what you are doing organizationally and strategically and how they fit in to that. What is their role in achieving this success and how can they impact total company success. Again, in a small organization it is much easier to see how you fit in and what your contribution means. Just make sure everyone knows the strategy and what success is so they are engaged as part of the solution.
  3. Lead by Example – BE FULLY ENGAGED! Engaged employees WANT to be inspired and look to you to be the rock through all the ups and downs you will face. Constantly reinforce your words in point #1 and #2 above with your actions. Your behaviour shows people what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour for others…when you don’t think anyone is watching…they are. Don’t give them reason through your actions to become disengaged.
  4. Measure Success and Reward Proper Behaviour – make sure any and all measurements or metrics you put in place for the business are aligned with the strategy you are implementing and base all rewards around those. Rewards do not need to be purely financial especially for highly engaged people. These employees want the company to win and want to be part of it. Non-monetary rewards like GH3 nights out and pool and beer nights on the company to acknowledge great work are great motivators and team builders at the same time. I am a big believer in that which is measured is improved. Put the right measures and rewards in place and they will drive behaviour and engagement that is consistent with the strategy and keep everyone in synch rowing the same direction.

By Hiring Delightful Employee’s and Keeping them Engaged you will Have Delighted Customers!

There are so many things in business that are uncontrollable that have a material impact on your businesses success or failure. Who you hire and how you motivate them as the leader and how they interact with your customers are all controllable. Nail the stuff you can nail and this is one area that everyone can control….get at it.

Follow Up to "Delight" Post

More and more you are starting to see super exciting roles for “Community Manager’s” at exciting young tech companies. In most cases I view these roles as the Chief Delightment Officer at a company who engages with, support and befriends the community and makes the product, brand and company real to users. As my prior post mentioned the responsibility for delighting customers lies with everyone but making someone accountable for care and feeding of the community in the early days is a great move. A great example of how this can work is Melanie Baker at AideRSS. She is a great cheerleader, access point to development, PR person, etc that people who are engaging with AideRSS can interact with to reinforce the product experience. Great product + great human interface = successful brand building and customer engagement.
There is no shortage of debate on this topic with an article being written by ReadWriteWeb , commentary about online community at the WSJ and new positions opening up with much more regularity than ever before.
I am all for this role and believe that managing your online brand, marrying the human experience with the product experience and Delighting your customers is critical to a startup.
If you are interested in what I think is a fantastic role in any organization Austin Hill, who has a startup called Akoha, is currently looking for a “Community Gardener“, check it out. Even if you aren’t interested in the role check out the job description as it does a fantastic job of giving you insight into the type, style and culture that Austin is building at Akoha. Even job description are part of the customer experience!

Weekend Reads

Some great stuff out there this week that I plan to either start reading or finish reading this weekend. Hope you find some of these interesting:
Seth Godin wrote a fantastic piece (all his stuff is great) on Scarcity which outlines ways Apple could dealth with the IPhone roll out better to further “Delight” (a theme for me this week) their customers.
I also really enjoy reading Fred Wilson, (NY based VC) who always offers a frank perspective on what’s going on and is currently wrapping up a one month road trip across Europe (Based in Paris) meeting entreprenears and startups. He links to a piece on Failure which is particularly topical given FailCamp was last night in TO.
Every week Jevon over at StartupNorth has at least a couple great posts, this week was no exception. If you weren’t able to make DemoCamp this week you missed a great time but one of the highlights was Jevon’s “rant” on VC’s and a call to action for entreprenears to save the VC’s. He followed up with a blog post and lots of comments which you will find here.
Another site I found was doing a little work on Customer Experience is a site by Bruce Temkin who writes on all things customer loyalty related. Not going to highlight a specific article here but I would definitely recommend that you spend some time here researching how you improve the customer experience and build loyalty for your Company….enjoy and try to put some of this in practice.
Lastly but importantly there were several launches in the couple weeks and as my earlier blog challenges, try to go and check these out and provide feedback and commentary to the entrepreneurs. It is only through users trials and feedback that we can make product truly delightful for customers. Congrats to all mentioned below and readers please try these and provide your feedback:
  • AideRSS realeased several new products which I covered in an earlier post
  • Spreed:News presented at DemoCamp and has launched a version
  • PlanetEye released a travel service that I will be checking out as I approach my family Griswold vacation to Myrtle Beach that is upcoming
  • Praized also launched a local search platform designed specifically for social media sites

If I missed any please comment and add

Happy reading!!!!!

AideRSS

I have added a Top Posts widget to my blog courtesy of AideRSS. This allows you the reader to quickly have a look and see which posts have been the most active and are MORE worth reading, because clearly all of them are worth reading…right!
Lot’s of valuable products launched recently at AideRSS including one for Googlereader that allows you set criteria around the news and posts that you get to your reader. Everyone is getting overwhelmed with data through the online media this product allows you to set filters allowing you to get only the information that is really important vto you so you don’t waste your time reading material not relevant to your needs or interest. Please go check them out!
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