Is task mania holding your global operations back?
“Wait a minute, I just need to speak to…” When you hear those words on a helpline, you’re in for a longer call than expected. Get a cup of tea, get comfortable, put your “patience head” on. You’ll need it.
So it was a nice surprise when I phoned my global bank, HSBC, to change accounts and clarify my security details. The woman listened, gave me three clear options, and helped me decide.
We were finished in 15 minutes, half the time I thought it would take. She didn’t pass me between HSBC’s internal teams – making me repeat the story two or three times. The bank’s internal processes give her full access to my information, and we decide immediately. That saves time. I get on with my day; she gets on to the next call.
Global companies, like HSBC have to split processes across different functions. It can get over-complicated, quickly. But behind the screens of standardization and simplification, they fall into the trap of global task mania. The trap is easy to spot: employees waste hours on processes which have no or low value for customers. Customers satisfaction falls because they end up jumping hurdle after hurdle just to get the simplest solution.
The best global companies build a culture of global processes that are integrated for customers and that avoids task mania. So how do they do it?
Here are the five dimensions those companies use to get to the pinnacle of performance.
Dimension 1: Build global processes around customer success, not product perfection.
It may seem obvious to put customers first, but too many global processes don’t. They prioritise internal management control, global reporting and standardization. Ask your customers: how easy is it to get information about our products and services? How easy is it to buy? Then re-design any process which makes it difficult for the customers to do what they want to do.
Dimension 2: Nurture relationships, locally and across boundaries
Nurture the relationship environment, particularly the relationships between close colleagues and their boss. Teams and groups that are close to each other, work harder for each other. This make it easy to suggest improvements and get them implemented.
In global companies, business unit managers need to encourage relationships across functional and geographical boundaries by having people work on projects that cross these boundaries.
Dimension 3: Relevant resources
All too often, employees wanting to serve their customers can’t, because they don’t have the resources at their fingertips. This forces them to pass the customer on to another department, which is time-wasting and frustrating for everyone. It’s less about physical tools and equipment. Increasingly, the relevant resources are in the realms of access to data, software, IT systems, and other non-physical resources. That’s good news because access is easier. It’s a case of reducing internal bureaucracy across your organisation.
Dimension 4: Competence – give people the skills
The best companies are continuously developing everyone in the company. These investments payoff in the quality of work, in innovation, in efficiency, in motivation, and in talent retention. All of those make sure that people perform to their full potential and delight their customers.
Dimension 5: Encourage responsible autonomy
Weak global managers secretly worry about justifying their big salary or high status. They do it by over-complicating processes and creating a culture of control – in short, micro-management.
Good global managers give people the resources and skills to serve their customers, and then get out of the way. Employees and managers are the same: everyone loves a challenge. An essential ingredient is the freedom to use your skills, knowledge, and expertise to get things done for the customers. In global companies, this means trusting people on the ground to get the job done in the way their local customers need it doing. Above all, it requires flexibility and zero micro-management from global managers.
Most people in companies believe in their work. They work hard, They’re loyal to their boss and their colleagues. They want to learn and want to use that knowledge with their skills to make customers happy – like the HSBC service representative. The best global managers know that, live it, and use these five positive dimensions to raise growth to even higher levels.