I had an interesting discussion with a colleague who manages an internal service department for a medium-sized organization. She’s a supportive manager whose team takes pride in providing quality service to internal clients. However, she finds it a challenge to keep her employees at the top of their game when some internal clients are unappreciative of their efforts. Part of her dilemma is rooted in an organizational culture where administrative support is taken for granted.
She and her team acknowledge the situation and focus on how to work effectively within – and despite – the culture. She also encourages employees to rise to the challenge of working with unappreciative clients. Yet there are still occasions when team members find it hard to muster enthusiasm to serve such clients.
You can’t fake it and other important tips
How does she continue to motivate her team? She knows she can’t fake her own engagement, so she starts by staying positive. She also focuses on how she can best support her team and internal clients with the following actions:
- Keep the “big picture” front and center by reminding employees how they support the department’s mission and contribute to the organization’s mission in the process.
- Engage employees in sharing what works to keep them motivated, such as providing peer support and finding the humor in their experiences and ways to safely blow off steam. This is done regularly in staff meetings and when difficult situations arise.
- Share and reinforce client service success stories with the manager’s boss as well as with the team itself.
- Acknowledge those clients who are appreciative of staff efforts, while also diplomatically standing up for employees dealing with difficult clients.
- Maintain a positive culture within the department that values both clients AND team members.
- Continue to acknowledge and recognize employee efforts with little gifts, food, and ongoing professional development.
“We are what we serve to others. It is our signature that sums us up each time a customer is on the receiving end of our efforts. And your customers remember how you served long after they have forgotten what you served! How can you deliver service in a fashion that says, ‘This is me, and it is my very best gift to you?'”