Functional Excellence and Service Quality

Functional Excellence and Service Quality

One of the biggest contradictions that I encounter in the HR profession and function is the perennial gap between what is perceived as functional excellence from within and what is perceived as service excellence from without.

When I meet HR professionals they are all excited about the great innovations that they are bringing about in their functional processes and products. They are ever busy rolling out one new initiative after the other all of which according to them holds great promise for the business and its people. When you listen to them you are completely convinced that we in HR are scaling great heights. We are convinced that the function is constantly striving towards higher level of excellence.

When I meet employees across levels in large numbers, I often get a completely contrarian view. To them all our internal efforts to conceptualise, design and implement great products is of little value. Their view about HR is completely influenced by their experience of some of the moments of truth. Many of their complaints, grievances, problems and wishes are very basic and devoid of all the technical mumbo-jumbo. They find something unfair, they find something not working, they see lack of transparency, lack of care and sensitivity, lack of efficiency, lack of responsiveness and of course lack of understanding of their needs. While many do have some positive moments of truth, for a large number, some of the critical moments of truth are negative.

So, as you can see there are two worlds. I often wonder how often these two worlds meet. I am convinced that the great workplaces are the ones where functional excellence is translated into a great service experience as seen by employees. In other organisations the gap between functional excellence and service quality only breeds cynicism. The only way we can bridge this is by ensuring that HR leaders and others responsible for functional excellence have a first-hand experience of the moments of truth and use this experience to shape their efforts.

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