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The C.L.E.A.R.™ Mindset - an inspiring case study

Disagreements and conflicts are not necessarily problems that we need to remove; they are also opportunities to learn from each other.

The C.L.E.A.R. ™ Mindset Method is a revolutionary approach that helps us build the skills necessary to do just that: transform conflicts into positive change. Here we share an example of its application.

Those of you who have followed my newsletter have seen several articles about the C.L.E.A.R. ™ Mindset Model and Method. Let me quickly recap the key points and leave it to you to check our dedicated website (www.theclearmindset.com) for more info.

The C.L.E.A.R. ™ Mindset is an innovative method designed for international business leaders and HR managers, who wish to develop greater confidence and effectiveness in dealing with differences of opinions, complaints and disagreements. The method is based on a unique model that combines insights from cognitive neuroscience, effective communication techniques, high performance practices and behavioral psychology. The Method is structured in 5 Modules:

Clear your heads of worries, anxieties and assumptions
Lead with confidence, courage, and a smile
Encourage and invite different opinions and perspectives
Align on common intentions and accept differences
Recognize the opportunity and create a positive change

Case Study

This is an example of how the method has been successfully applied to a critical situation that had started to escalate to total chaos, but was transformed into revamped engagement, innovative ideas, more collaboration and increased productivity (Note: to protect the Client confidentiality, we have actually “merged” two very similar cases and removed any specific details and references)

CLIENT

French Subsidiary of a “Fortune 50” FMCG Company (Headquartered in the US)

Specific Subjects: Customer Service Operations

CLIENT CHALLENGE

Implement the Third Round of Quality Improvements as per Global Strategy (Coherent Consumer Experience and Customer-First)

CURRENT SITUATION

The French Customer Service (CS) is a key function in the commercial structure and it has recently received a lot of management attention. Two rounds of global quality improvement initiatives have strengthened the CS organization: Systemized Customer Feedback (in collaboration with IT and Sales) and Improved Customer Understanding (in collaboration with Sales, Supply and Market Research)

A third round of improvement projects is now being implemented, which have left several employees puzzled about their role and responsibilities, and has ignited numerous negative reactions, doubts and complaints.

Specifically, the new initiatives calls for a double shift:

  1. Ensure a consistent and coherent customer experience across all channels - which requires increased internal and cross-department collaboration and exchanges
  2. Implement a customer-first approach that requires a big shift to go the extra mile for each customer even if it impacts the speed or volume of response

Some senior employees, used to measure their contribution in terms of individual efficiency, start to feel “provoked” by the need to exchange best practices, discuss with others and go the extra mile with key customer demands. They have the impression to be wasting too much time on each case, whereas at the same missing the comfort of efficiently handling large volumes of simpler cases. Now that technology takes care of repetitive tasks, they are left with fewer yet more complex and time-consuming tasks.

PROBLEM

Dissatisfaction mounts and we are asked by the management to help. We recognize that the situation has degenerated into a number of personal clashes: jalousies and unproductive confrontations have exploded and several employees are demanding “justice”. The management are overwhelmed and confused, start to feel responsible to bring about a solution and start to crunch numbers to calculate the most “fair” distribution of work loads, hoping to find THE miraculous answer that will re-establish peace.

How The C.L.E.A.R. ™ Mindset Method works and helps:

At this point, by applying the CLEAR Method we are able to swiftly help:

  1. Clear your heads of worries, anxieties and assumptions

    The first step is encouraging people to speak up about their worries and assumptions, challenge the assumptions based on implications and business consequences and help them overcome their limiting beliefs. For example, by challenging the need of “fair workload” we uncover the lingering assumption that all tasks are similar and that it is only their number that counts, whereas today we have moved to quality vs. quantity. However, we also learn that the incentives have not been changed to reflect the quality vs. volume strategy. The managers realize that, in the eagerness to help, they are actually micromanaging, trying to “solve” the perceived problem of “unfair distribution of workload” whereas their attention is better spent in reworking the incentives, to be coherent with the expectations. After this step, the employees start to see their role under a different light and begin to collaborate rather than compete, while the managers stop micromanaging.

  2. Lead with confidence, courage, and a smile

    With the second step we open the door to talking about emotions and let people vent; fears and anxieties need to come out into the open and everybody needs to feel seen, heard and validated. This allows to quickly turning the page, feeling that it is OK to be stressed, but also appreciating the togetherness of learning together; the “collective rumination” stops.

  3. Encourage and invite different opinions and perspectives

    With the third step we introduce Active Listening, to ensure that the learning is sustainable and that the team continues to communicate and collaborate at best. Employees start to apply “checking understanding” and “use of open questions” which helps them collaborate, but also improves their communication with customers.

  4. Align on common intentions and accept differences

    With the fourth step we help the team bring up the “Why”: why are we here, why are we doing what we are doing, what we are proud of, etc. By using their own words andtrying to exchange on the subject of why it is important to go for quality, they start to “own” the new strategy and realize that they have seen themselves as simple producers of completed files, rather than contributors to the customer satisfaction and experience; they feel bigger and more empowered. They realize they were making themselves “small”.

  5. Recognize the opportunity and create a positive change

    The final step is to stimulate more curiosity; as we go into these exercises, there is suddenly a novel proposal: to liaise with another European subsidiary who has recently implemented the same changes; an innovative useful cross-country approach has emerged.

In net, the challenge of change and the initial resistance and disagreement with the “new way” has been transformed into a useful and constructive dialogue where everybody has learnt and grown.

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