Taking responsibility for our work

iStock_000011891859XSmall bored womanA couple of weeks ago my Dad had to go to the local hospital for some tests; three of them in total. I took him in, and understood that it would all take around three hours. Dad assured me that he would let me know when it was all over and I should go back to my parents’ home and collect him later. I assumed he would be looked after properly.

Instead my Dad, who is ninety, had to dress after the second test and walk on his own to the other end of the hospital for the last test. That was hundreds of yards and he is really not very good at walking. Why did no one think to call a porter with a wheelchair? Why was there no joined up thinking by anyone? Why did no one take responsibility?

That is the trouble with many large organisations and businesses. They think only of process, and not about the needs and feelings of their customers and people in their care. It is down to poor management and not giving middle management and individual staff freedom to make their own decisions without running their ideas past many levels in the hierarchy.

In small businesses, we have the advantage of being close to our clients, but also taking care of their needs is part of keeping their business, quite apart from our not wanting to let them down or suffer any inconvenience.

We owe it to our customers to make sure they have the best possible experience. Wouldn’t it be great if we could impress this culture on our hospitals, telecoms providers and other large businesses in which customer service is an alien concept?

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Management should not involve dictatorship

HM Revenue and Customs seen from Parliament Sq...
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I have had my difficulties recently dealing with a Government department, HMRC. A current trend in an era of cuts is to sweep away those employees who are regarded as expensive, which means the loss of many middle-management jobs. Now, I would not argue that there can be a problem in having lots of people overseeing rather than doing, but an efficient management structure requires communication; that is the cornerstone of an efficient business.

If there is just an elite of senior management that means that those at the coal face doing the work, whether it is in manufacturing or services, have to just follow instructions to the letter. There will be no conduit to report problems and to suggest better ways of doing things.

At one time it seemed we had moved away from the feudalist “them and us” environment which existed into the seventies, and even in very large businesses there did seem to be an era of listening to the grass roots in a business, feeding information up and making changes. Now many of the cuts we are seeing in the Civil Service and in the Banks for example are again sweeping away the middle management and the good communicators along with the dead wood. These changes are not just those coming in the era of a new Government; the process has been going on for several years. It seems to be the theory that the human communicators can be replaced by technology. However, unless the middle management can be entirely substituted with sentient androids it is a strategy which will lead to failure.

In small business we understand better that we should give ownership of their jobs to our employees because in that way our businesses will be more successful as well as encouraging loyalty of our employees in particular, all the staff to each other, and of course and most importantly, the loyalty of our clients and customers to our business and our brand. We are all in it together. To me, responsibility plus loyalty equals efficiency and success, and success equals prosperity. It is all rooted in our relationships within the business.

What do you think?


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