3 Ways to Reduce a Big ‘But’: And Yes, Big ‘Buts’ Are Very Common in Small Businesses


3 Ways to Reduce a Big ‘But’: And Yes, Big ‘Buts’ Are Very Common in Small Businesses

It happened again today.  A Small Business owner rang me and after some polite introductions, I asked how I could help. The response I received is easily the most common sentence I hear from business owners…

“I have this one staff member who is really good at his/her job and I really like him/her BUT…”

The big BUT is commonly followed by one of these statements;

  1. “They are causing problems within the team.”
  2. “Customers often complain about his/her poor behaviour.”
  3. “They don’t understand how their behaviour has a negative impact on others.”

At this point, the frustrated business owner usually gives me 3, 4 or even more examples of incidences that have left them astounded as to why the particular staff member doesn’t understand the consequences of their behaviour. They tell me they have spoken to them, but their improvement suggestions seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Behaviour. That’s the word that tells me there is a training or coaching opportunity, BUT it’s not required solely for the individual concerned. Customer service and workplace behaviours are a team responsibility and like all successful teams, everyone can benefit from training together.

Often the person causing the problem is inadvertently doing so because they have a natural behavioural style that although in some situations is a strength, in other situations it can come across as rude or uncaring.

The person concerned is often confused or may take offence when told they are not meeting the expected behavioural standards of the workplace. It makes no sense to them; they are treating people how they like to be treated, how can that be wrong?

Expecting staff to change their behaviour because you asked them to, rarely works. Even if they manage to do so, it can be difficult for them to sustain the new behaviour long term.

For staff to adjust their behaviour long-term, they need to develop their emotional intelligence (EQ) and their understanding of the four human behaviours.

If you have a big BUT in your team, here’s three tips to help you, help them;

1. Regular catch ups are a must

No employees like to be surprised with a “come to my office’ directive, and your high performing customer service staff don’t appreciate their excellent service skills being taken for granted. Schedule regular one to one Service Excellence Conversations where you can praise and share ideas on how they could do more, better, different or less.

2. Stay on track

Make your Service Excellence Conversations productive by keeping note of specific interactions that you witness and consider as examples of excellent as well as unsatisfactory service behaviours. Discuss these examples with the employee and allow them to ask questions and share if they disagree with your opinion. This allows you to confirm your expectations and identify any specific training needs.

3. Inspect what you expect

Include Service Excellence as a topic on your Team Meeting agendas. Service Excellence is a team responsibility and should be viewed by everyone as a “work in progress” and never off the agenda.

Every business has two types of customers – internal and external, and both types of customers deserve and expect professional standards of behaviour. The time it takes for you to have regular Service Excellence Conversations with your employees, will greatly reduce the chances of you having to deal with a big BUT.

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