Field Notes: Making every connection matter

By Dana Simone

Annual Leadership Conference

PEx Practitioners own the stage at Saratoga Springs

Editor’s note: From time to time, Dean Seavers will tear a page from his notebook and share what he’s learned from customers, stakeholders, and employees across National Grid’s U.S. footprint.

February 16, 2016: The photo to the right is from our recent Annual Leadership Conference – Elevate 2018 – in Saratoga, NY. On the stage are many of our Performance Excellence (PEx) Practitioners. They were on hand to guide leaders through an exercise using Creative Problem Solving (CPS). In other words, identifying root cause to help solve a problem, and using the collective talents of our teams to come up with creative solutions. CPS defines our Process and PEx (PPEx) approach.

There were a lot of “Aha” moments during the exercise when people connected the CPS steps: Problem, Causes, Options, Solutions, Implement, and Results. Most of us instinctively want to jump directly from problem to solution. Yet as seen in the exercise, when we take the time to teach people PEx methodology – show them the connection between root cause and “problem solved” – we begin to change the way we work.

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s conference was “Making every connection matter.”  And, while we were talking in broader terms than CPS (which is just one aspect of PEx), I was not surprised by the feedback that areas where we’ve integrated PEx are connecting more strongly with employees and customers.

Take the New England Customer Call Center, for example, where four PEx Hubs are up and running. Hub participants acknowledge feeling more encouraged to think of new ways to do their jobs effectively, and regularly discussing how to improve the way the center does things. Here’s how one employee explains the PEx connection: “It has shown the (Customer Service) reps accountability with regards to KPIs and helps them understand the business better.”

You can bet the connection doesn’t end there. Every day that our employees feel more engaged, means that connection extends to our customers. Especially in the moments that really matter to them. Consider these situations and customer expectations: (1) I’m moving and I need it to be simple; (2) My power is out, and I need assurance; and (3) I’m concerned with my bill, and I need to feel in control.

Every moment we connect with our customers is a chance to make our brand promise come alive, and frankly, they trust us to make it happen. Like the gas customers in Upstate New York who were safe and warm this past weekend, despite temps of -37 degrees. How? Because a smart thermostat kicked off a gas heating system in their home, which in turn alerted a gas well in the Gulf of Mexico to deliver our product directly to their home. That’s a safe, reliable, and affordable connection we worked hard to make happen.

Don’t underestimate that all 14,000 of us, each with roles that ultimately connect with our customers, can continuously improve the way we work. Execution breeds trust. So don’t wait. Invite yourself to a hub. Learn how to apply CPS. Above all, make every connection matter.

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