My last blog post (The Why Generation) argued for investing much more time and effort in getting today’s younger generations of workers to understand and buy-in to why changes are needed in the programs, products, or services they support or provide. Strong and continuous education and communications is critical. 

If you’re leading efforts to improve your team’s internal or external service/quality levels, here are seven common pitfalls and traps to your vital education and communication efforts:

Mixed Messages – internal and external marketing must be tied together. Frontline staff need to hear the same message your customers are hearing. Too often servers are the last to hear about the wonderful service/quality they’re being committed to provide.

Not Walking Your Talk – you and your management team must behave in a manner consistent with the messages being broadcast to everyone. You do the strongest internal marketing (or blocking) of the true value and priority of service/quality with your tiny, seemingly insignificant daily actions. Nothing else will convince (or turn off) today’s younger generations of workers than perceived hypocrisy.

Stale and Stalling – managers trying to build higher service/quality cultures are often frustrated with how long it takes to get the  message through to those who make or break the effort.  Too often – just as managers are getting tired of repeating the same messages – people on the front line are beginning to think, “Just maybe, quite possibly, they might be serious this time.” The watchwords are consistency and repetition, repetition, repetition …

Educated but Unskilled – you can give people plenty of education, information, inspiration, and awareness but if servers and support staff don’t have the skills to improve service/quality they will become frustrated and disengaged. Awareness and empowerment are useless without enablement. Everyone needs to know how to make improvements.

Bypassing Team Leaders – you can get frontline teams excited and committed to improving service/quality but their enthusiasm will be short-lived if their supervisor or team leader isn’t first brought on board and given the skills to introduce, support, coach and lead the team’s efforts. Very few service errors come from lack of motivation. Most of them are a result of the system, process, structure, or practices. These are controlled by management.

Once (or Maybe Twice) is Enough – you can’t repeat your core service/quality messages too often or in too many ways. As one manager put it, “I’ve learned that just because you think it, write it, or say it doesn’t mean employees hear it or believe it.” A CEO adds her experience; “I vastly underestimated the job. On the first go-round, all I got were glassy-eyed stares, open mouths, and sometimes passionate disagreement…establishing our new brand took a year, and even then it was not a lasting vaccination. It required booster shots.”  Just like continuous improvement, education and communication is never finished.