I love this graph and use it all the time when teaching customer service skills. It really highlights just how hard organisations need to work to keep customers satisfied. It also highlights and reinforces the old saying that “Bad news travels faster than good”. I first saw this graph many years ago as part of an article called Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work by James L. Heskett, Thomas O. Jones, Gary W. Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., and Leonard A. Schlesinger. It was published in The Harvard Business Review.
The orange line indicates where an individual might sit on the graph dependent upon their customer service experience. At either end of the line are two extremes in terms of what the individual is likely to do and act. The ‘Apostle’ is a biblical reference to ‘The Apostles’ and literally means ‘to spread good news’. A person that is highly delighted with your product/service will tell other people about their great experience. A marketing ‘Terrorist’ on the other hand is so displeased with your product/service that they will seek to destroy it. The story of Dave Carroll and his song “United Breaks Guitars” is an example of what happens when an unhappy customer becomes a ‘Terrorist’ intent on destroying your brand.
In this article I want to use the same metrics but rather than look at the relationship between client retention based on customer satisfaction, I want to look at employee loyalty and engagement based on their satisfaction of YOU as a manager!
There are three shaded zones on the graph and these are titled Affection, Indifference and Defection. Take some time to think about your team right now and which zone they might be sat in. Those in the ‘Affection’ zone have a genuine like for working for you, you are the best boss they have ever had and they tell you. You also see this in the amount of discretionary effort that they put in. Do you have people in the zone of ‘Indifference’? They are the ones that seem happy with your management style but never tell you unless you specifically ask them. Those in the zone of ‘Defection’ are the ones that just cannot wait to get away from you, you are probably the worst boss they have ever had and will leave at the earliest opportunity. They put in just enough effort to ensure their work is passable but that is all.
I believe that managing people is one of the hardest tasks we undertake in our lives. Our world is constantly changing and as we all know, most people don’t like change. Unless we are the CEO we probably have a manager above us that dictates policy. Like all policies, they can change at the drop of a hat and we are the ones that must break the news to our teams. We have the difficult decision of ‘blaming’ someone else or taking responsibility for the changes ourselves. The easier option and the one that allows us to retain our ‘high’ scores on the graph above is to blame ‘upstairs’. We deflect anger away from ourselves and pass it to someone else.
When I work with managers and ask them how important it is to them that their people genuinely like them, they nearly all say “very”. Some come out with statements like “As long as they respect me I don’t care if they like me”. So here’s the issue, to be a successful manager and breed a team of Apostles, you need to be both liked and respected. We have covered in many previous articles all the building blocks of great management so I’ll not repeat here, but the key words are ‘Trust’, ‘Integrity’, ‘Authenticity’ and ‘Empathy’.
I hope that has made you think about your management style and where your people currently are on the graph. Once you know ‘their’ starting point you can work to improve your communication and relationship with them. We spend a lot of time building a great team, so retaining top talent is key. Keeping them in the zone of ‘Affection’ is down to one person, YOU!
Head of Training
MTD Training | Image courtesy by Harvard Business Review
Originally published: 4 December, 2013