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How to build a progressive business through your people: Part II

We’ve all heard that a business is only as good as its people. But as we look ahead to 2014, what does it take to build a happy, high-performing team to drive your business forward?

Deven Billimoria, CEO of SmartGroup Investments shares advice and insights that any business can implement.

Co-building careers: extending tenure

One of our recent initiatives has been to increase our focus on co-building careers with all of our employees. Aside from ensuring that opportunities for growth and progression are part of the fabric of our company we also help staff to build their resumes and put them on LinkedIn.

Taking the view that your organisation is a collective of like-minded individuals who all bring something valuable to the table – including their own strengths, interests and networks – is the kind of progressive thinking that will reap you rewards. If you’re afraid that you might lose your best people to the competition if you help them develop their personal employment brand then you need to change your thinking and your attitude. After, if people do not think that your company is the best place for them to build their resumes, then surely you will lose them.

Customer loyalty: the only measure

Satisfied customers are key to a well-performing business but it’s customer loyalty that determines the likelihood that the customer will buy again, talk up your company and resist market pressure to defect to your competitors.

The Net Promoter Score is an excellent way of measuring customer loyalty to your brand or company and has a richer purpose than simply evaluating customer satisfaction with a particular product or transaction.

NPS works on a straightforward premise but sets the bar high. After interaction with our staff customers are asked the following question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? They are asked to respond using a 0-10 rating scale, which sounds easy enough – but unlike other customer satisfaction surveys, scoring highly according to the rules of NPS is tough work.

Where most satisfaction surveys would consider a rating of 7 or higher as satisfied, under the customer loyalty framework, you actually need a 9 or 10 to be counted as promoters. Not only that, any score 6 or less counts as a detractor, and will cancel out a positive 9 or 10.

NPS is a simple concept that links to profitable growth – if your customers are more likely to refer your business, then surely it is likely to propel growth. Also, employees at all levels of your business can understand NPS and get behind customer centric change that is sure to improve business performance from every corner of your company.

Rich communication: the social network

Communications within an organisation should never be solely top down The people within your organisation that are closest to your clients or customers are likely to have the most workable solutions – so collaboration is key. To do this they must have the room to experiment and access to the tools that allow them to communicate up, down and across the organisation as freely as possible.

Social networks within organisations allow for sharing of ideas, cross-pollination of projects and help employees to extend their areas of interest throughout the business. We use an internal social media tool called Chatter. In essence it’s a company-wide Facebook-style wall where employees can share news, plan events and even report on sales statistics – all in an informal and collaborative manner. High levels of discussion and information sharing also create a space for diversity in the workforce to play a positive role and individuality to flourish.

This has the dual benefit of creating a rich matrix of ideas from which the business can pull in order to innovate and encourages each employee to be themselves and bring their whole ‘self’ to work, which is great for engagement levels.

Working with ZEST

No matter how good your recruitment processes and people strategies, sometimes employees just aren’t engaged. We’ve implemented an idea that we borrowed from Zappos, the online shoe retailer. If, after the first three months, an employee is not completely engaged with their work we offer a financial incentive to leave. The program is called ZEST – we want our employees to come to work every day with Zeal and Engagement, and leave work feeling a sense of Satisfaction with their work, and Trust in us.

We give every new employee a fortnight after the three month mark to decide whether their job gives them ZEST and if we’re the right fit for them. If not, the financial incentive is designed to allow them to leave with grace and ‘no hard feelings’ and allows us to continue to build a happy workplace full of productivity, motivation and innovation.

About the Author

Deven Billimoria is the CEO SmartGroup Investments, an Aon Hewitt Best Employer 2013. SmartGroup Investments is a group of companies offering salary packaging, vehicle leasing, fleet management and related services across the country. In 2013 SmartGroup was named in the BRW Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in Australia list and in 2012 was the Customer Service Institute of Australia’s National Medium Business Australian Service Excellence Award winner.

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