Ways to solve staffing problems

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Oluwafemi Oyefeso, [email protected]

What is one of the biggest challenges facing business owners? In any interview or discussion with business owners on issues and challenges confronting them in business, after reeling out a list usually starting with infrastructure, one thing they all always mention is manpower. Getting the right people to work with and high turnover of staff is a challenge. This is in spite of the fact that there are millions of ‘paper-qualified’ candidates. Some are book savvy and educationally qualified but emotionally unintelligent and service deficient. Despite these fundamental challenges, a lot of organisations spend millions on advertisements, marketing and sales, leaving their employee-customer interactions to chance.

In the course of the week, I went to make inquiries at different banks about a particular service and there was a common denominator — the worker were emotionally disengaged. Apart from the scant product knowledge they had, their attitude to work was repulsive. I asked myself, “How did these people make the cut? Is this how customers are attended to everyday?”

Any organisation that takes its growth seriously will have to ensure it has the right people manning its touch points. The mistake most organisations make is putting qualifications ahead of attitude. Paper qualifications alone may appear good in the short run in terms of acquiring good talent, however, what happens when people who are emotionally disengaged and cold to customers are left to attend to these customers? In today’s fast-paced and competitive landscape, also with the rise of social media, is it wise to leave customers who know their rights now more than ever with these employees?

According to Esteban Kolsky, “67 per cent of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only one out of 26 unhappy customers complains.”

So, how can organisations get their staffing right and get the right people in the right places? How can the wheat be separated from the chaff?

Culture

Culture simply defined is “how we do things around here”. Promoting the customer experience is creating a culture whereby the customer is at the heart of all decisions that are made.

Every organisation has a culture it thrives on. To get the best out of its manpower, it is wise to hire people that align with the organisational culture. No matter how intelligent prospective workers may appear, if their attitudes are not aligned, their attitudes will seep into the organisation and gradually affect others. The organisation needs to stick with what it states in its mission and vision statement. That should be the constitution of the organisation, which everyone will be judged by — from hiring, promoting, firing and all decision-making in the organisation.

It is also wise to build a customer experience component into all employee job descriptions, align company rewards and recognise achievement of customer experience strategy and goals.

Hire for attitude, train for skill

Any organisation that is serious on scaling has to take a conscious and dedicated look at its recruiting process, all those who will work in the organisation, especially its front line staff. This is important because the business owner will not always be there, hence, it is important to be able to get people who can maintain quality regardless.

Anyone can learn on the job, with the proper training attitude and skill set, however, how do you train a grown-up man or woman to have the right attitude, especially when one is not always there to monitor?  This is why though skill is good, attitude is more important. Get people who have the right attitude and train them for skill, after all no one brought skills from heaven. We all learnt and developed them here on earth.

Group interviews

Group interviews are a great way of knowing how a candidate can perform; it involves bringing in people competing for the same position and interviewing them at the same time, then carefully watching how they respond to questions and how they react to other candidates. It can be used to assess soft skills, problem solving skills, temperament and how they get along with others. This method will also help to prune down the numbers and get the best.

Role plays for a week/volunteers

There is an African saying that goes thus; “Human behaviour is like smoke: it can only be suppressed for so long, it will eventually come out.”

Role plays and getting people to work in an establishment or volunteer for a day or two will also help weed out unfits before a long-term commitment has been made. After proving themselves at an interview, they can be invited to work for a day or two to test their competencies or who they claim they are. Once it is noticed there is a misalignment, it is easier to separate from them without any hard feelings whatsoever.

Listen to them

Customers can point out the problems, however it will take the employees to know what the solutions are, as the employees know the system inside out. After getting the right staff, it is wise to listen to them and give the necessary tools and support needed to do a good job and hand over the reins for them to function optimally.

Also giving them a vision they can buy into and a purpose with constant reinforcement will give them more fire, when the day to day mundane tasks set in and they begin to settle into routines. For instance an airline whose job is just to take passengers from point A to point B, can have as its purpose-bringing happiness and strengthening relationships hence all staff irrespective of job role know the purpose of the airline to be broader than just issuing tickets and carrying luggage but ensuring that the passengers arrive safely and are able to meet up with their meetings and families happily at the other end. This kind of thinking will remove the tunnel vision usually associated with the drudgery of daily tasks.

These five simple steps will help any organisation solve a lot of problems and help them focus more on their core areas.

Follow me on twitter:@oluwafemioyefes

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