Book Summary: Human Sigma – Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter By John Fleming and Jim Asplund

Jim Clifton, the chairman of Gallup wrote a great book called the Coming Jobs War. In the book, he describes that one thing moves a society forward and that is people’s willingness to work and the creation of jobs. There are 7 billion people in the world today and the economy is global. This is a huge competitive stage. I am an Entrepreneur at heart and my job is to start and grow companies that create jobs. I really want to understand and harness human performance.

One thing that grows companies is employee and customer engagement. Human Sigma talks about this interaction specifically.

Why is this important to me?

I am not doing this summary to waste your time. It is my vision to provide concise action steps that you can adopt right now to enhance your life. According to Gallup, 9% of employees are ENGAGED, 71% are DISENGAGED and 20% are ACTIVELY DISENGAGED. To put this into perspective, let’s do some simple math. Let’s suppose your company does $50 million in revenue per year and there are 5 million impressions. Impressions are calls, emails, website hits or anything where your people touch a customer, lead or prospect. Each impression in this example is worth $10. Remember that 20% of your people are ACTIVELY disengaged which means the impressions will be negative. The lost business potential of the 20% negative impressions is $10 million in lost revenue per year. The math looks like this: 5 million impressions x 20% Negative x $10.

As you can see there is a real need to improve these stats and smart companies are doing just that. If you want to have some laughs then watch the movie Office Space. The movie is funny in a painful sort of way because plenty of the actions really happen in the corporate world.

Human Sigma is broken down into 15 plus chapters and is packed with detailed information. Since there is so much information and limited time, I would like to outline the What, Why and How for improving customer and employee engagement based on the research in this book.

1. What – Terminator Management- What is the problem? Human Sigma talks about the Terminator School of Management. If you consider the industrial revolution then you will understand the problem that transcends from left brain repetitive tasks and right brain creative work. Henry Ford mastered MASS Production. He needed physical labor. At the time this called for tight management control and reduction in freedom for the workers. I can attest to this because I worked in a car factor for 4 months and it is NOT easy work. The shift starts at 6am; you get two 10 minute breaks and a lunch. This work is highly repetitive and left brained in nature.

2. Six Sigma – This is a process to improve processes. This has worked magic in manufacturing because you are dealing with machines, tolerances and supply chain. The improvements garnered in the last 25 years have been staggering but this does not work for human engineering.

3. Right Brain – Information Age work is creative by nature. According to Gallup, 89% of the Fortune 500 value consists of intangible assets. This means things like talented people, intellectual property, good will and customers. These things cannot be managed the old way. Have you ever wondered why Van Halen or Guns and Roses had problems? Managing creative talent with old school management tactics does not work.

Let’s dive into the Why and look at four impacts.

1. Why – Let’s now dive into more detail and why this needs to change and why customer-employee engagement is crucial for competitive advantage. An important factor is the fact that companies with more engaged team members grow 2.6 times faster than their counterparts. This advantage overtime compounds to staggering results. Every organization needs to master this if they want to be alive in the future.

2. Why – It’s impossible to legislate genuine human interaction. Have you ever called a company to have an overseas representative answer? They proceed to tell you their name is John which you know is not true. This simple act puts the customer in a dis-trust mode right from the beginning. How about being stuck in voicemail hell for the first 10 minutes of your call not counting hold time. Once you do encounter an agent to help, they are so scripted that the help does not leave you feeling good about the company.

3. Why – Cost Centers. I never understood why companies that generate billions of dollars would view the front line team members as a necessary evil. These people interact with customers. Customer service call centers are still notoriously bad after all these years. They should be given tools, autonomy and directional freedom.

4. Why – Financial Impact. As stated above, improving and focusing on employee-customers engagement together is positively correlated to impact the bottom line. Increase engagement and organizations grow faster and are more profitable.

Let’s examine four things you can do right now.

1. How – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Customers and employees have the same hierarchy of needs. Companies that tap into this can transform engagement. Human beings have a need for self-actualization. Achieving this from a company perspective is doable once the frontline is given the freedoms and the training to do it.

2. How – Do unto others. Treat customers and employees the way you want to be treated. Here is a simply test you can use to magnify problems. It is called the Grandma test. Compare these two statements: “I’m sorry but that is our policy, no refunds after 10 days” to “I’m sorry but this is our policy, no refunds after 10 days Grandma.” Using Grandma at the end of your company policies shine light to how stupid they really are.

3. How – Customers want relationships. Customer satisfaction is not enough. To build true engagement you need customer loyalty and for that you have to build relationships. People do not want relationships with actively disengaged employees so you need to empower your people for engagement.

4. How – Hire Right. This really is the staple move for any organization. If you are staffing for customer facing people then you need to find bubbly, friendly, nice and smart people. If you take the time to hire right then the how becomes more of an organization change instead of trying to change people.

Human Sigma is a great book that really sheds light on the customer-employee engagement model. This needs to be required reading for organizations that want to scale and grow.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is performance is tied to engagement. Focus on employee and customer’s engagement and make it your mission to improve it. If you do this then the money, growth and company success will follow. You will see results like more customer advocates, less employee turnover and more referral business.

Managers in Higher Education Must Harness Power, Politics

Competition for resources – internal and external – means power and politics become even greater issues for managers in higher education today.

Add to that the closer scrutiny of performance, both academic and administrative, and managers in higher education face some real challenges.

From an educational perspective, the changes over the last decade in the way learning is facilitated (e.g. the move to such strategies as distance learning, e-learning and blended learning), mean the challenges for managers become twofold – content, what is done and process, the way it is done.

In such an environment, the calls for the higher education manager to add the “leadership” string to his or her management bow are long and loud. This is irrespective of whether the manager has arrived via the academic or administrative stream to their current position.

But, just what is meant by “leadership”? Does it differ from “management”? And most importantly, how does one “do leadership”?

Let’s start with management. Management is what one gets paid to do, i.e. to achieve certain tasks using the available resources. Management success is seen through the eyes of the organisation. Management is therefore mandatory (probably under pain of death!).

Leadership on the other hand, is only seen through the eyes of others – peers, colleagues, staff and other key stakeholders – those whom we need to influence without authority. Leadership is optional, but obviously highly desirable. Leadership within the group or team is evident when people are highly motivated, working co-operatively and performing at their best.

One further factor distinguishes leadership. Unlike management, it does not reside in one person – it is more a condition or function rather than a role. As Charles Handy once described it – leadership is “distributed” throughout the manager’s group or team. Although leadership may start with the manager, it’s the conditions that the manager establishes and maintains that decide whether the leadership function flourishes.

Just what are these conditions and how does the manager establish them? Four conditions are evident when leadership exists:

* A shared understanding of the environment. i.e., people have a very clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses within their group or team together with the opportunities and threats. There is a collective understanding of “We know what we face.”

* A shared sense of direction. i.e., people know (collectively) what they are trying to achieve. People can say “We know where we are going.”

* A shared set of values, i.e. people will say “We really enjoy working in this team with these people.”

* A shared feeling of power. There is a feeling of “We can do this.”

Establishing these conditions can commence with a series of workshops to encourage the sharing and distributive nature of leadership.

Then of course there is the external focus of leadership – influencing those outside the team or group to adequately manage power and politics. This can start with a thorough stakeholder analysis such as:

* Who are my key stakeholders? i.e., by name and / or position – customers, suppliers, owners, staff, community, industry.

* What is the effectiveness of each of these relationships? Give each a rating from +3 to -3 to give a clearer indication of effectiveness.

* How important is each relationship? Rank each on the basis of “high”, “medium” or “low”.

* Select those with a high degree of importance and a low rate of relationship effectiveness

* Ask – What are their sources of power and influence? How might I best use these?

* Discuss your analysis with a trusted colleague or friend (perhaps from outside H.E.). Develop a plan for managing each of these important stakeholders. Then review these relationships again in three months time.

Managing power and politics is a challenge for managers in higher education, but it can be mastered. As managers, too often we are so tied up in the moment of trying to achieve results that we do not take the time to reflect and plan an effective leadership strategy.

Hopefully the approach discussed here will generate a structure where distributed leadership copes with the day-to-day processes, freeing you up to focus on important management content issues. Great when our people can say, “Yep, we know the challenges facing us, the direction we have to go and that we will support one another. We can really make a difference here.”

Hospitality Management Career Training Programs and Coursework

Opportunities for obtaining the educational training that is necessary for a hospitality management career can be found through various schools and colleges. You can look forward to learning the skills that will be used in the workforce by enrolling in an accredited program. Selections can be made at various certificate and degree levels as well as specialized areas of study. Enrollment in an accredited school or college will help you to prepare for entrance into the career of your dreams. You can learn more about the options available to you prior to enrollment.

When looking to pursue a career in hospitality management, you can expect to find a number of paths to choose from. Training options include earning a certificate or degree in a specialized area of study, in order to prepare for the career you wish to enter into. Training is available at the certificate level as well as the associate, bachelor, and master degree levels. Training will last anywhere from several months up to six years based on the educational training you require. The level of training that is received will help to decide on the careers that can be pursued as well as the coursework that will need to be completed.

Various types of careers are available once an accredited education in hospitality management is obtained. With enrollment in an accredited school or college, you can prepare for the profession that is right for you. Opportunities include becoming a:

  • Hotel manager
  • Travel Agent
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Reservations Specialist
  • Shift Supervisor
  • Front Office Manager

…and a variety of other related professions in this field. By pursuing any of these careers you can enter into the employment you dream of. Coursework will vary but can cover all necessary topics to help you succeed.

Enrollment in an accredited educational training program will help you to obtain the knowledge that is needed fro entrance into the workforce. You can learn a number of exciting skills that will help you to carry out the needed tasks for your desired career. Topics covered will help you to learn travel and tourism, accounting, purchasing, safety, communication, and much more. Accredited hospitality management schools and colleges are available to provide you with the chance to study marketing and sales, service management, economics, culinary arts, and many other related subjects. With training in these areas you will be ready to seek employment and begin the path to an exciting future.

Accredited hospitality management programs are designed to offer the best quality educational training that is available to you. Various agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( can fully accredited schools and colleges that meet all requirements and provide you with the career preparation that is needed to become a successful professional. You can research available programs and request more information in order to better prepare and find the training program that fits your individual needs and goals. Start the path to an exciting future by enrolling today.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by