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Customer experience mismanagement: Three steps to a cynical company culture

10th May 2012
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Cynicism kills performance, morale, engagement, innovation and profits. Are you trying to kill it or encourage it?

Cynicism requires a great deal of negligence to emerge in organisations. For a cynical culture to be created, it only takes one employee to start following the proven rules that will ensure cynicism will spread into the hearts and minds of each and every employee. 
Unlike other corporate initiatives, cynicism does not require sponsorship from top executives. It does not require consensus and acceptance by all. All it takes are a few woeful leaders who will neglect their role, fail to engage employees and cynicism, and who will quickly become an essential host citizen in your corporate hallways to spread the epidemic.
Here are three ways to start spreading cynicism:

1. Hopelessness is key

To spread cynicism, make sure your employees have no vision of the future. Narrow their focus on short-term profit generation and stockholders value. Such approach will kill any hope for creating a better future and making an impact on the world. Instead it will reduce your employees to slaves for making greedy people richer. A lack of vision and hope is a proven method to promote an effective cynical organisation.

2. Helplessness is mandatory

Take away your employees decision making power. Reduce their authority to a minimum and require three signatures on every expense over $50. Be sure to fire employees who take initiatives and make certain that every decision gets reviewed by you and all top executives. If you do that, you will place your employees on the fast track to acute cynicism. The less power they have to do their job, the faster they will become cynical. Top this reduction in authority with a seminar on employee empowerment and you just sealed the deal. They will laugh so much there will be nothing to stop them from becoming inescapably cynical.

3. Trustlessness everywhere

Make sure your employees know you do not care about them. Ensure that all employees understand that everyone‘s top priority is to take care of themselves; that all leaders and coworkers have their own best interest at heart and they too should follow suit. Reduce trust to zero and you’ve just cleared the runway for a fast departure into cynicism land where your employees will adapt their behavior accordingly.

Serious, hopeful view at cynicism
Many executives treat cynicism as a mystery. They view it as phenomena they have no control, over. They are surprised as they confront the fact their employees are cynical. Worse, they view cynicism as phenomena they cannot do anything about. They are wrong on both accounts.
They were the creators of it and they have the power to remove it. By understanding the three pillars of cynicism, they can address them immediately and change their organisational fate.
It is a lack of vision combined with an evaporation of employees’ authority with which cynicism is cultivated within an organisation. Reversing the trend will reduce and potentially remove cynicism.
Create powerful world-changing vision. Inspire your people with the impact their work makes on the world and express how customers benefit from the value employees deliver. Do not focus on stockholders. Focus on customers.
Provide employees with tools and the authority to get their job done. Give them the power to freely decide how to deliver on the vision. If you do not trust a potential hire, don’t hire them. If you hire a person, give them the tools to get the job done. Don’t belittle them into order-followers. This is not how companies make an impact on the world.
Demonstrate generosity. Do something for them. Develop trust through acts of generosity towards your employees. Make them realise they are not alone. Your generosity will inspire their liberality and all of the sudden cynicism will be replaced by positive attitudes and collaboration.
Cynicism is not a mystery. It is a result of negligence. It is an outcome of policies that ignore and reduce the employee into a tiny screw in the big machine. Reverse those policies, instill clear vision, and demonstrate generosity so that you will effectively uproot cynicism from your core.
Cynicism kills performance, morale, engagement, innovation and profits. Do something about it. Do it fast. Every day that your customers are engaged with cynical employees is a day you lose profits, business, and customers. Not only is cynicism not a mystery, it comes with a clear and real price tag. It’s time to kill cynicism before it kills you.
Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group a global customer experience research and consulting firm. Arussy is the author of five books including Customer Experience Strategy – The Complete Guide From Innovation To Execution (4i, 2010). Follow Lior on Twitter @LiorStrativity

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