Berger Leadership Blog

Jun 10, 2022

How to go from Zero to Hero

As leaders, it’s necessary to recognize how your employees respond to crises, and how they react when a customer or member have an issue they can fix. Do they work to see if the customer’s problem can be solved? Or do they act on it to ensure the customer’s problem is well-managed and completely solved?

In a recent post on his leadership blog, Mark Sanborn discusses a time where he had a computer issue and needed to call a representative to help him out. After speaking with eight different representatives on the phone, everyone tried to help him but could not fix the broken computer. He ultimately hired a consultant to help fix his computer, which cost him more money and more time.

In Sanborn’s opinion, every employee at any company has the opportunity to be a “hero” or settle to be a “zero.”

“Zeros hide behind action. Heroes take responsibility.”

Sanborn characterized the employees at the software company as zeros. Even though they took the action to help him, they still failed to solve the problem.

Sanborn notes that the representatives did nothing wrong. They went through the normal process and followed all the correct steps, but when the steps didn’t automatically fix his computer – no one followed through. If any one of the representatives had taken responsibility and personally worked with Sanborn to get the computer fixed, the outcome would have been entirely different. He specifically states that he “probably would have written about it and told the story dozens of times, mentioning the individual and the company by name.”

Reflecting on this incident, Sanborn shared two action plans for both Heroes and Zeros:

1. Take responsibility for results.
2. Fix problems even if you didn’t create them.
3. Think ownership, not avoidance.
4. Do more than necessary.
5. Be willing to extend yourself.
6. Coordinate the expertise of others.

1. Take only the action necessary to stay out of trouble.
2. Let others fix the problems you created.
3. Think avoidance, not ownership.
4. Do just enough to get by.
5. Blame other people and circumstances for lack of results.
6. Pass the buck to others.

NAFCU prides itself on extreme member service, so it’s critical we teach our employees that if plan A, B or even C doesn’t work, with a little bit of creativity and innovation there will always be a plan Z.

As leaders, it’s important to recognize when employees are becoming complacent and find areas where they can become Heroes. Everyone has the power to do more when faced with a problem and recognizing and rewarding their efforts will help them naturally grow to become a Hero.

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