Mike Somers

Protect Your Team, Increase Client Happiness

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ­1 Corinthians 13:7

What role does love play in business?

One part often overlooked in the most quoted “love verse” from the Bible is the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13:7: “it always protects”. Sound counsel for those wishing to lead. A wise business man once taught me a lesson in the importance of intangibles in business. Protection, one of them, I learned is very important.

Have you ever asked for something you thought quite reasonable at an establishment only to have an employee say something of the sort “There is nothing I can do for you.”? I’ve asked this question of several people and most agree that they have. It may vary a bit, “that is the policy” or “the rules keep me from….” but all the same, it is there. I have come to believe that the root of the issue is a lack of protection. I think it illuminates a lack of leadership. Leaders are called to love. And as we have learned; love protects.

Protect

Lack of protection effects level of service

When we hear these responses, and often see the frustration on their faces, I have come to believe what they are saying is “I am not protected.” They go on, “you see we have these rules, and if I step outside them, I am not protected. So, therefore, I cannot help you.” It is a shame is it not? When someone on the front line of the team cannot get 100% focused on the customer they are called to serve. Seemingly because their leadership is missing a fundamental and intangible characteristic of leadership: leaders protect their team.

People want protection and they will fabricate it when it is not provided to them. What other forms of protection have our teammates created to rely on when we do not protect them? Collecting a string of emails, when what was needed was a hard conversation with a client. Or holding back their experiences, when what was really needed was the truth. Do your teammates feel protected? If not, what is it costing everyone you are leading?

A quick stop on leadership

Leaders who have authority are more effective leaders.

Still, I do not believe that you need authority to lead. Is there a lack of protection on your team? Step in and provide it. Lead.

A unique and impactful example is the wolf pack. There is no committee. No vote is taken to determine the alpha. The alpha is, or perhaps became the alpha, unless I am mistaken, because when danger arose, they went and dealt with it. They provided protection.

But what of the rules, the policies?

How will we get on? Policies and rules seem to be created when there is a lack of trust.

When a leader cannot trust a team member, they place their trust in a set of rules. Let us think about what that is costing us. I once heard the founder of Redbox talk about having this very experience in a Blockbuster long before the idea for Redbox ever crossed his mind. “I am sorry but I am not authorized to help you” was how he described his experience. At that moment, a spark lit, he thought to himself ‘there has to be a better way’. A few weeks later he was in an airport waiting on a flight and watched satisfied customer after satisfied customer interacting with an ATM. Interesting. That seemed to cost blockbuster the lot.

Trust enables service

It empowers service. Rules and policies of the variety we are talking seem to do the opposite. They seem to create robot employees that leave our customers frustrated as though they were dealing with a sort of automated phone tree that does not work. By the way, the very next part of verse 7: “[love] always trusts”… interesting.

What policies have you lobbied, even put in place? Do you think this is the best way to protect your teammates or could it be that it is your way of protecting yourself? Is it really working, or is it costing you? Verse 5 “it is not self­seeking”…

Does your business, does your team, need a big dose of love, of protection?

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