Articles Tagged with management

Ilfracombe courteous town week 4 focus

What do my staff think of me? Is it important? It is if they forget what we see as soon as we are out of sight.

A courteous and mature management style can improve performance and increase buy-in from employees, especially when a business has to achieve tough targets in the present economic climate. And not just employees. How courteous we are to suppliers and associates is important too.

In week 4 we’re reviewing management styles for bosses and managers.

Is courtesy from customers important?

We often hear stories about rude shop assistants and poor service, but how polite are customers? And does it matter?

If a shop assistant is rude to customers, there’s a number of problems that could be the cause. If that’s how they normally act, there must be a management problem or they would have resolved the situation.

But what if customers are rude? Should sales assistants and other customer service staff have to put up with it?

Customers can become impatient and dissatisfied if they have to wait a long time in a queue, if service is slow or a shop doesn’t have required items in stock, but these are no reasons to abuse staff. If there is a problem, it isn’t necessarily the fault of the sales assistant, so why should they get the blame?

From a sales assistant’s point of view, they have to deal with possibly hundreds of people every day. Their job could be repetitive or tedious, but that doesn’t prevent them trying to give good service.

Customers saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, making eye contact and being helpful can make shop assistants’ working life more enjoyable. This behaviour also acknowledges the value of the person’s role: we want to buy something from the shop and they make the transaction possible.

In shops with busy check-outs it’s not always possible to have a conversation, but in some shops it is possible and it tends to make shopping a more enjoyable experience for us.

If we are really annoyed in a shop, being rude achieves nothing. If we think if makes us more important or gives us more authority, we’re wrong. If we’re rude to staff in a big shop, they have very little opportunity to act outside the shop’s processes, so they probably become more frustrated and upset than we do. If we have a gripe, it’s best to take it up, firmly but politely, with the management. If we don’t get a fair resolution, we can exercise the ultimate sanction: take our custom to a competitor.

It costs nothing but a few seconds to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it’s just as important whether we are the customer or the supplier.

Applying more energy to increase productivity

When originally setting up please and thanks, we met the late Albert Humphrey, or Humph as he liked to be called. We discussed what we were doing and he told us about the research project he had led at Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s into why businesses fail.

The research confirmed that the average employee performs at an energy input of about 30% to 35%. If properly motivated in an atmosphere of ‘fair play’, an employee can increase the amount of energy they apply to 50%. If replicated throughout an organisation, productivity gains of some 35% are possible.

The concept of ‘fair play’ struck a chord with us and we recognised the relevance of courtesy. While courtesy won’t necessarily improve productivity by itself, it can play a big part in improving the culture of an organisation, its management and its processes. It can be a starting point for improving many aspects of a business.

That is why we believe it is important, especially at a time when many businesses need to assess their entire operations to meet the challenges we now face.