The manager’s role in service education
By Ron Kaufman
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Managers are the essential link between service education programs and the results your organization wants to achieve.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure educational courses create value for your team members, and your team members create even more value for your customers and each other.
These five action steps can help you make this happen:
1. Build a powerful partnership with the Course Leaders and facilitators
- Course Leaders must understand your organization’s processes, concerns, goals and objectives. You can help by nominating new Course Leaders from within your operations and business process teams. Effective service education is not a function of the Training Department only!)
- Help the Course Leaders prepare and customize exercises for your team. Provide specific and relevant examples that can be discussed during the educational programs. Invite Course Leaders to attend your meetings and understand your metrics before they conduct a course for your team members.
- During the course, Course Leaders will focus discussions on the key issues you have identified. Your team members will candidly address the difficulties they face at work and often come up with new ideas. Ask the Course Leaders to discuss these with you so you can take appropriate follow-up actions.
2. Brief your team members before they attend a course
Before your team members attend a course, make sure they understand:
- Why they have been chosen to attend, and why they should participate actively
- What you expect them to learn and why this is essential for your organization’s success
- Topics for service improvement they can focus on during the course
- Areas for personal improvement they can work on during the course
- Specific action steps you want them to consider or develop during the course
- Action plans you look forward to reviewing with them after the course
- Your personal willingness to support their success in every way, before, during and after the course.
3. Meet with your team members after they complete a course
Meet to discuss and debrief with your team members after they complete a course:
- Ask for their feedback on the effectiveness of the course and any suggestions they may have to make it even better. (Share these ideas with the Course Leaders.)
- Discuss each team member’s Personal Action Plan and help guide their initial new action steps.
- Meet with your team periodically to help them implement Personal Action Plans, track progress, achieve results and celebrate success.
4. Demonstrate your support during the service education process
- When a course is being conducted, you can visit to share examples, provide recognition for participants and encouragement for the Course Leaders.
- When your team members attend a course, allow them to focus and participate fully. Don’t distract them with calls, messages or last minute meetings and requests.
- Remind your team of the service principles and learning points taught in service education courses. Use these terms often in your meetings and encourage your team members to use them, too. This “Common Service Language” is the foundation for clear communication, continuous service improvement and a powerful service culture.
5. Demonstrate your support for new ideas and actions
- Your team members will be educated, uplifted and energized by their participation in a course. They will return to work with new ideas and action steps. Recognize their enthusiasm, reward their new actions, provide public platforms in meetings, blogs and discussion forums to continuously generate and share new ideas.
- Work with your team to prioritize the actions that are most aligned with your service vision and key areas for service improvement. Put special emphasis into action plans that require support or collaboration from other departments. Work with other managers to provide resources and remove roadblocks as required.
- Enable, encourage and empower your team to take new actions. People will make mistakes when they try something new. Use these as opportunities to provide support and further education. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to keep your team members stepping UP!
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