Symptoms of a Rigid Organizational Culture
Inflexible or rigid corporate cultures inhibit service excellence. In a rigid cultural environment, employees are not given the authority to directly address customer concerns, there is little communication between senior executives and staff, and extensive paperwork consumes everyone’s time.
In this kind of environment, employees turn inward to tasks they can control rather than deal with customer concerns in an open and empowered manner.
Rigid cultures can prevent a company from competing in the marketplace by destroying customer relationships. In most cases, companies with rigid cultures eventually fall into one of three categories:
1. Almost out of business
These organizations are inwardly focused. They don’t grasp what attracts their customers, and fail to generate enough the income to stay afloat. The little money they do make is typically wasted on things that are of no interest to their customers.
2. Barely mediocre
These organizations survive in spite of themselves. They have little commitment to organizational excellence or to the customer. These businesses struggle to stay afloat and are left behind when the competition arrives.
These organizations survive with the status quo. They are locked into their old ways of doing things with no particular internal inspiration. They get okay market share, but miss great opportunities.
Rigid, controlling environments fail to energize or inspire employees to achieve excellence. Without people who care about excellence, companies can’t deliver the kind of service that sets them apart and keeps their customers coming back.
Before you can counteract or avoid this kind of organizational inflexibility, you need to recognize the symptoms of rigid environments, including:
• people become preoccupied with procedures, rules, and written processes,
• the organisation loses sight of the ultimate objective, which is creating customer value,
• employees lose direction and mission focus, and
• employees just go through the motions, without considering the changing needs of their customers.
If you see these signs, it’s time to revitalize your organization and change your cultural norms before inflexibility destroys your customer service standing and, ultimately, the health and well-being of your business.
Identifying Barriers to Customer Service Excellence
Developing a cultural action plan is a multi-step process that begins with an awareness of the attitudes and behaviors that are getting in the way of great customer service. Identifying and outlining these “barriers to customer service excellence” will prepare you for the next step which involves the development of change initiatives.
To help you identify your companies barriers to service excellence, consider your answers to the following questions:
Is everyone in the organization clear about the organization’s mission? Do employees get regular feedback from their managers?
Are management practices consistent throughout the organization? Do employee behaviors indicate a high degree of company loyalty? Do employees practice what the company preaches?
Healthy companies focus their attention on customer needs but that can’t happen if company executives don’t communicate well with their staff. The company mission as well as strategic plans for success must be made clear to everyone in the organization.
Manager tactics and activities must be consistent with that mission and they must provide their employees with regular feedback. Evidence that a company doesn’t practice what it preaches and the lack of company loyalty are both signs that a company may be putting up barriers to service excellence.
Probing organizational values, attitudes, and behaviors will help you to uncover hidden barriers to service excellence and sets the stage for arriving at a solution.
Once a company has identified the values, attitudes, and behaviors that are inhibiting customer service excellence, it’s time to initiate a change.
Change is rarely easy because it means letting go of the old to embrace something new and unfamiliar. Viewing change as “opportunity” and getting involved in the change initiative can help you overcome your fears. Remember, removing barriers to service excellence begins with you. If you really want to be a provider of exceptional customer service, take action.
Develop your own customer-centered mission and apply it.
Meet with your supervisor to discuss service-related problems and ways to share this information. Suggest a team meeting to discuss ways to improve relationships in your immediate department.
Your success in initiating change depends on your willingness to explore your own actions. In reality, the only one who can change your customer service attitude is you.
Hitting the Organisational Barriers
There are many organizational issues beyond our reach. Is it worth wasting your time and energy trying to change something you can’t? It’s important to recognize where we have cultural choices and where we don’t.
You need to put your energy on organizational issues you can have influence over, not continue to waste efforts on barriers that will not change.
You should be ambitious in pushing cultural changes to improve service. However, do not take on changing something overwhelming. This advice is aimed at being sure you first go after the necessary changes in your immediate path. The difference this can make in your service mentality is amazing.
Statements about the Future
Customer-driven organizations have a clear vision and mission that is effectively and frequently communicated to the entire organization.
What is “vision”?
It is a statement that predicts where the company expects to be in the future. The statement is written in the present tense, even though it refers to the future. The reason for this is that it takes on more power when it is expressed as though it has already happened.
When an organization articulates a clear vision, all levels of the staff can focus on what the true priorities are. Getting a sense of direction and purpose increases commitment and collaboration.
What is “mission”?
The mission statement reflects the process an organization will use to achieve its vision. The mission should be developed in specific and measurable terms. Meeting the mission helps achieve the vision.
The next step is to develop vision and mission statements for each department.
The group v/m should fit in with the company’s vision and mission statements. If the company has a vision and mission statements, start working from that. If there is no v/m, the teams should brainstorm.