A common frustration with team is that they just don’t “get it”.
They are good at what they do but they just miss those almost intangible extra steps that are so crucial to make sure clients are taken care of. They don’t realize their tone with clients on a stressful day. They don’t go that extra step to make sure all the bases are covered. They are nice, but how do you make them “get it” and go to the next level?
“Getting it” isn’t a skill set or a task you can be trained on. “Getting it” is awareness that once you experience and see the impact on the other person, you can’t turn off. And to truly be aware, it has to matter and mean something on an emotional level. The hardest working, most qualified team member cannot “get it” if they haven’t experienced a heightened awareness through connection on an emotional level to what you do and what it means to clients.
Laney remembers the EXACT moment she “got it”, fifteen years ago. At the time, she was the receptionist for a small estate planning law firm. She was a 21 years young and very smart and hard working. Her boss saw a lot of potential in her and was trying to support her in defining the necessary skills to grow the firm. Of all the skills, and there are many, she learned, the absolute biggest was her boss allowing her to “get it”.
Early one Monday morning, in late November, she was asked to come into a meeting to discuss their process for answering the phone. She realizes now, after hiring and training tons of receptionists, that this was a nice way of setting up a discussion with her to talk about her lack of phone skills. Rather than scolding her, or giving her a written script for answering the phone, he instead told her what the firm did for clients and why it mattered. He explained that often clients were calling because they had a loved one who had passed away or was ill. He explained that she was the FIRST person they were talking to about this very hard experience and how it might land for the caller if she sounded rushed, or stressed, or was abrupt. He helped paint the picture of a scared, intimidated, alone prospective client calling into the office and being greeted by an abrupt receptionist after just losing her husband of 50 years.
Laney literally lost her breath. She was horrified of the thought of treating someone like that, especially someone like her grandmother. Laney was very close to her grandmother, and in fact was living with her at the time. Laney remembered losing her grandfather and was stunned at the idea that her grandmother could have called a law firm and been dropped into voicemail or talked to by someone who was “busy and just trying to take a message and get off the phone” like she had been on many days.
She got it. Everyone who called the firm was someone’s grandmother or mother, or husband, or child. They were worried, or sad, or overwhelmed, just like her family had been at one time.
And she was the person they were talking to, the very first person they were talking to.
This made such an impression on Laney that her boss never again had to mention how she sounded on the phone. In fact, it made such a lasting impression; she has tears in her eyes as she types this.
After that, of course they created scripts for how to handle certain types of phone calls and systems to make sure the process was followed and the client was served. All very necessary tools, but none of which mean a hill of beans if the team member doesn’t “get it”. Until then, it’s just a to-do item in their busy day and the client loses their humanity and becomes a check list item. After they “get it”, it’s a way of being and your team members will become your biggest advocates of making sure the client is served and honored.
Helping your team members “get it” is very easy. Simply explain to them what you do, how it impacts your clients, who you serve and why they really write you checks. Everyone has a grandmother, a mother, a husband, a child or someone they love and care about that has been or could be impacted by the problems you help clients solve. Once they see your client as their loved one, they “get it”.
And that is the most powerful training you can ever provide your team member.
Champions of Your Continued Success,
Molly and Laney
Lovely to read this. The two things I can see that helped that 21 year old Laney to “get it” were the chance to reverse roles with the clients and the clear light of sight to the company’s bigger picture (the “why”) she was able to get. Both of these things open up people’s awareness and change their worldviews forever. Once seen, they can’t un-see them or un-learn the impact of these things. I, too, have many moments of “getting” something and knowing how it changed my world (and others). Excellent stuff!