Employees are being prevented from doing what’s right for customers, despite it being vital for future business success, according to research from culture change consultancy The Storytellers.
Storyteller’s report revealed that many companies fail to trust and empower employees to deliver exceptional experiences expected by today’s customers. 76 percent of HR professionals worry their company is customer complacent and nearly 90 percent believe that more needs to be done to put customers at the heart of their organisation.
While 33 percent of leaders admit they do not trust their people to do the right thing by customers, the vast majority (88 percent) of leaders claim improving how they treat customers is ‘fundamental’ to their business’s future success. Three-quarters (76 percent) admit that if they do not focus on customers, their company will not survive beyond the next two years.
A report by The Storytellers on Two Years’ Warning found that two-fifths (44 percent) of employees go as far as to say that they feel ‘powerless’ to solve recurring customer issues because managers are unwilling to make changes. Fewer than half (43 percent) are confident they would not be reprimanded if they contradicted policy to make a decision in a customer’s interest.
Two Year’s Warning is based on the views of more than 150 CEOs, C-suite members, functional heads and Managing Directors in the world’s 500 most successful companies. It also takes into account the views of 400 of their staff.
Some businesses simply do not realise the value that frontline employees can bring to organisation success. Instead, senior managers (86 percent) are far more likely to be asked to share their insights on customers than their junior colleagues (56 percent) who are often dealing with customers every day.
Co-founder and Director at The Storytellers Alison Esse commented, “Leaders need to lift their heads out of the sand and realise that this is a critical juncture, at which there are just two options: become more customer-centric or face the prospect of imminent extinction. Every day of paralysis is an opportunity for more nimble competitors to offer customers the experiences they demand.”
Alison emphasised that employees are the key differentiators that will drive competitive advantage, but many companies are failing to trust and tap into these unique resources. Many leaders also failed to inspire, engage, and empower their people to do the right thing for the customer. These issues must be solved at a rate of knots by senior leaders and HR teams in order for their businesses to survive.
Employee empowerment is vital. But how important is it and how does it affect employee’s overall job satisfaction and wellbeing? Empowering Leadership demonstrated that when employees feel empowered at work, they will perform better, receive better job satisfaction, and have a higher commitment to the organisations.
Empowering Leadership was conducted by examining the results of 105 studies, which include data from more than 30,000 employees from 30 countries. Researchers on Empowering Leadership examined whether an empowering leadership style was linked to improved job performance or not; and whether empowerment could improve different types of performance, such as routine task performance, organisational citizenship behaviour, and creativity.
The results of Empowering Leadership research were as follows:
Empowering Leadership cited that leaders perceived as more empowering were more likely to delegate authority to their employees, ask their input, and encourage autonomous decision-making. These leaders also tended to have employees who were rated, by either other leaders or colleagues, as being highly creative and good organisational citizenship.
Generally, empowered employees can generate novel ideas and think of new ways of doing things. These staff also become more helpful to others in the workplace – they volunteer more for extra assignments and are willing to support their organisation outside of an official capacity.
Even though empowerment is good to build better performance and a trusted relationship between leaders and employees, Cheong et al. found that leaders might increase employee’s stress levels and burdens if they give too much empowerment by giving additional responsibilities and challenges at work. The empowering leaders who saw positive results were those who developed a good relationship with employees and more trusted; whereas a key to empowerment that yields good results should be based on understanding employee’s expectations.
Leaders should always remember that empowering employees is a culture – it takes an increase in trust, clear communications, and strategic decisions. Here are some effective ways to empower employees successfully:
A company can achieve a greater result when there is enough empowerment from leadership and direct management, because true and sustainable company growth takes capable and empowered employees.