In my online Master of Business Administration (MBA) Strategic Management Class, MBA 671 we discuss what it takes to be a successful strategic leader. Common responses include the need to have a solid understanding of the financial results as well as strong interpersonal skills. I include in this discussion the value a great strategic leader should place upon the “voice of the customer” or VoC.
After all VoC is a great way to determine how the firm is currently performing. VoC also enables a firm to formulate future design of goods and services that will sell and possibly create a competitive advantage.
As I share with my students, equally important as VoC is the “voice of the employee” or VoE. Various studies have shown a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. After all, a firm’s employees directly engage customers on a daily basis. A customer’s perception of the firm is squarely in the employee’s hands.
So how does a firm determine if their employees are satisfied with their jobs and the current management? Most firms use a third party to administer a survey and evaluate the results. Questions focus on how engaged employees are within the firm. The higher employees are engaged the more likely the firm will meet its annual objectives. Future MBA leaders should include, as part of their strategic plan, how to improve employee engagement using VoE as input.
Too often managers get distracted and abandon the learning the VoE provides. After all, improvement in employee engagement is behavioral in nature. Unlike our financial metrics, measuring employee engagement improvement is not so clear. For some managers this is outside their comfort zone. Too often managers will simply wait until the next employee survey cycle to determine if there is improvement. In all cases that is too late.
So what should a manger do? The best approach is to return to the VoE and review the results with all associates. Determining the “why you answered the question this way” is the best first step. Use this output to formulate an action plan. Stick to the plan. Share progress with all associates on a regular basis. If possible, conduct “straw polls” throughout the year to gauge progress. Stay committed to improving employee engagement even if the financial results are behind plan for the year. Do not abandon your action plan in favor of other priorities. Hard as this may seem, success will provide long term sustainable benefits. Benefits a firm cannot afford to ignore.
Related Benedictine Programs
If you are interested in learning more about how a Master’s program in Business Administration can help you prepare to be a successful strategic leader, check out Benedictine’s online MBA – also available in an one year Accelerated format.
About the Author
Pete Papantos is an operations director at a Fortune 500 company. He is responsible for the global execution of their strategic plan and driving operational excellence using lean methods. In addition, Pete is a graduate instructor with emphasis in operations and strategic management — both in traditional and online settings.