Liberating people to do what is required of them is the most effective and humane way possible. Thus, the leader is the servant of his followers in that he removes the obstacles that prevent them from doing their jobs. In short, the true leader enables his or her followers to realize their full potential. (Max DePree, Leadership is an Art, p. xx).
At the bank I love to hate, employees might be engaged, but they are not enabled. They are very friendly, and they smile real big, but their ability to really impress me is constrained by crappy systems over which they have no control.
For example, every time I visit my neighborhood branch of this bank to give them some of the money I worked hard for, they ask me to do more work. The first thing they do after I say “I’d like to make a deposit” is to slide me a slip of paper to fill out. Do you have your account number memorized or written somewhere in your wallet? I don’t! When I ask for help, and I always to, I often get the lecture about their policies. Their employees can never really impress me because the process pisses me off. It irritates me because I know they could do better.
One of my previous banks taught me to expect more. At that bank, all I had to do was walk in, show my identification (only until the teller learned my name) and tell them what I wanted. Then the teller did all the work for me. With a deposit, I would just give them my money. They would look up my account number, fill out all the paperwork, and hand me a receipt at the end. And once they learned your name, they could do all this VERY fast. As I approached the counter, they had already typed in my name, retrieved my account, and were prepared to serve. The process enabled the employees to consistently impress me.
Are your processes and policies enabling or disabling your employees from impressing the socks off your customers? How do you know? What system do you have to address both the issue of improving the process and the issue of improving how you know what you know?
Partner with your employees to remove the obstacles that prevent them from doing their jobs.