4 factors reshaping the relationship between leaders and employees

22nd Apr 2016

More and more evidence supports the link between employee engagement, good customer service and how well a business performs. 

Customers increasingly judge organisations not just on the quality of products and services, but also on the ease of the transaction and how the relationship with an organisation makes them feel. 

Employees who understand and believe in an organisation’s purpose can make a big difference to the customer service experience. However, the drivers behind good employee engagement are shifting. 

In its Leading by example report, the Institute of Customer Service has identified four factors that have reshaped the relationship between organisations’ leaders and their employees:

1. The end of deference

People in the workplace are now not only more likely to question those in leadership positions, but access to technology and information means they are more knowledgeable and therefore better equipped to challenge those in senior positions. Though asserting authority is important, today’s leaders need to be able to listen and respond to employees, engaging with queries and concerns as they arise. 

2. Diversity

Greater cultural, generational and gender diversity in the workforce means emotional intelligence is now a vital attribute for an effective leader. Leaders need to be able to judge the mood of the people they are trying to motivate and understand people with different points of view. This will help leaders adapt to different situations and connect with employees at both a rational and emotional level. 

3. Transparency

Applications such as Glassdoor, which allow individuals to rate what it is like to work in an organisation, are promoting greater openness about organisational culture. Some of these review sites let employees rate their satisfaction with chief executives or management teams – an added incentive, perhaps, for leaders to ensure that each and every employee feels valued. However, this engagement needs to be consistent and authentic or it will be seen as artificial.

4. Rising customer expectations

Customers have become more powerful, savvier and less tolerant of experiences that don’t live up to expectations around speed, convenience, ease of doing business and complaint handling. As a result, they are selective about where and if they buy. Customer service plays a key role in these decisions, with customers wanting to be treated as individuals, not as just part of a transaction. 

The need to respond to rising customer expectations is a clear business reason for cultivating engaged employees who care more about the customer experience and demonstrate more creativity and innovation in solving problems.

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