CX Fallacy #8: Middle Managers Are Obstacles

10CXFallacies4I recently discussed how organizations that want to improve their customer experience will need to evolve from superficial changes (fluff) to operational transformation (tough). As part of making this shift from fluff to tough, companies will need to shed some of popular myths and fallacies about CX. These myths may hold true in early stage of maturity, but they fall flat as organizations expand their CX efforts. To help in the process, I’ve assembled the top 10 CX Fallacies.

CX Fallacy #8: Middle Managers Are Obstacles

When we ask executives about which groups of employees are the toughest to change, they almost always point to middle managers. Front-line employees are willing to shift their activities when they see that it will help customers, and executives are often pretty easy to entice on to the CX bandwagon. So it’s easy to view middle managers as a problem.

But middle managers aren’t obstacles, they’re the the backbone to stability within an organization. If you want to create sustainable change, then they are a critical building block. Rather than viewing this employee group as a problem, treat them as the guardians of your success and activate them as part of your efforts.

Here are some recommendations for shedding this fallacy:

  • View your success through the eyes of middle managers. When you’re rolling out changes, don’t consider these efforts as being successful until your middle managers are fully on board. This may take some extra work, but the initial investment in time and effort will pay dividends in the speed and consistency of the ultimate roll out of the change.
  • Create group of middle manager ambassadors. identify a set of influential middle managers to provide guidance on company efforts and to promote new ideas with their peers. They may recommend slowing down some efforts, but those activities weren’t likely to succeed anyway.
  • Actively gather feedback from middle managers. Look for ways to collect feedback from middle managers, whether its analyzing their responses in employee-wide surveys or by targeting this group directly.
  • Track engagement levels of middle managers. All companies should understand the engagement levels of employees. If you use a measurement such as Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Index, then segment the results to identify the engagement level of middle managers compared with other groups. This can be a great leading indicator for the company.
  • Train middle managers to support change efforts. Whenever you are driving change in your organization, make sure to put together specific training to help middle managers support the efforts.

The bottom line: Don’t complain about middle managers, activate them.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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