Ask the experts: Simon Hayward from Cirrus advises FT readers on how leaders can engage their people with a new customer base.
Simon’s advice forms part of a wider article looking at how public sector cuts and a difficult financial climate are causing many organisations to rethink their customer base.
“For any organisation, a change in their customer base is a major challenge. For leaders, the challenge is really twofold. First, how do they strategically engage people across the organisation with the new aims? And second, do they have the skills and experience to effectively engage with a new customer base?
Targeting a new customer base almost always involves recruiting new people into the organisation to bring in new skills and experience. The entire organisation really needs to understand the new customer base. Leaders can help integrate new and existing skills and behaviours across the organisation by encouraging open communication and the development of shared understanding, purpose and values.
Leaders need to strategically engage people with a new mission. They need to explain the reasons why a new customer base is necessary. If people understand this, they will be more willing to accept it. Ultimately you want your people to take ownership of your strategy and take responsibility for making it a reality.
Leaders need to engage in active, two-way communication, taking the views of employees on board. They also need to be open and honest about the need for changing the customer base. People appreciate authentic leadership and are more willing to accept difficult decisions if they are openly and honestly communicated. If people feel trusted and valued, they are more likely to go the extra mile.”
©The Financial Times 2011