Congruence Blog

It’s only when we dig a little deeper, perhaps at the exit interview, that we discover that the key employee who is leaving you, still loves the company and their colleagues, enjoys the work and is sorry to be leaving. They’re leaving because they could no longer take the manner in which they were being managed.

This is not an uncommon scenario. According to DDI  57% of employees quit because of their boss — and 37% reported that they’ve considered leaving because of their manager.

Experienced managers sometimes find it increasingly difficult to understand why their tried & tested traditional management methods are no longer effective. Developing an awareness that your management style can be a help or a hindrance to your crew is your first introspection step.

How is your management style affecting individual confidence and ultimately employee performance?

Our personal backgrounds & experience have an impact on how we function as managers. For instance our reference point is often our own previous boss. Managers entering a new environment without specific management training will simply do what they’ve previously learned. Your customary style could soon hamper your relationship with your new team members creating unwanted tension & communication barriers. Team members each have specific skills and responsibilities. Since their personality traits and styles are also individualistic, the new workplace demands that each one is managed differently.  The new manager also discovers that accessibility is critical to team performance. So time spent communicating with team members becomes part of every work day rather than managing from behind a desk.

According to an Accelerating Excellence Newsletter by Cornerstone Services, an estimated 40% of all managers “fail” within the first 18 months on the job. This means they will be demoted, terminated or resign. The remaining 60% may be successful in varying degrees while many perform well below expectation. Not failing does not equal success. Failure has a dramatic impact on self-esteem, confidence & future success. When leaders fail, business fails.

While people leave bosses, not companies, the costs are multi-edged. Replacing an employee could cost more than double their annual salary. The training and mentorship they received is lost with their immediate future productivity.

So what should you, the manager do?

  1. Ask for outside help. Understanding how you need to adapt your management style to a new culture will benefit both you and individuals in your team. You could enlist the help of a coach to break destructive habits.
  2. Ask your team for feedback. Prepare for a humbling but essential experience in turning the work environment & culture around. Invite feedback & expect comments like: this is an unhealthy work environment because of ineffective communication, lack of recognition and / or micromanagement.
  3. All small improvements are steps towards significant personal growth & a more effective leadership approach. Do it in bite-sized chunks. Be consistent. Seeing it through is essential if you want to retain key employees.

By adjusting your management style you can expects these benefits:

  • Your crew will be more involved & engaged.
  • Their self management grows as they become more trusting of you.
  • You are more likely to retain your key people for longer.
  • Productivity is sure to improve (your boss will be happier too!)
  • Deserving parties (you included) are recognised and opportunities created for promotion.
  • The organisation saves significantly on recruitment fees.
  • Experience and intellectual wealth is retained.

Adapting a well grooved management style is not plain sailing and there are bound to be obstacles and frustrations along the way. But for the sake of everyone in the team it’s worth doing. As you improve as a manager, you create the opportunity for your team members to grow, thrive and be increasingly more productive. Being prepared to learn from them will enhance trust ensuring that you keep more of the people you value the most.

Trudi du Toit.


Our interactive workshop Empowering Managers equips managers to:

  • identify destructive patterns of behaviour
  • develop a strategy to enlist the willing cooperation of their team
  • create a high performance culture to take their team / organisation into the future & post some impressive results.

You’ll be amazed by what your profile will reveal. Come prepared for self-analysis & understand how your :

  • personality style
  • communication style
  • management style
  • conflict resolution style

impacts the people around you. Learn how to break old patterns, implement new strategies, achieve tangible business results & grow your leadership skills.

Relationship selling (as opposed to transactional selling) seeks to build trust with chosen customers in order to lock in loyalty. Our very best endeavours don’t always work perfectly. Products need servicing, things break and advice given today can be outdated in weeks or months as markets continually adjust. But customers are astute – they seek consistency for which they will reward you with annuity income.

So how does relationship selling work? It’s when your offering consistently matches the promise thereby cementing trust. It also involves the promise being achievable almost all the time. And that takes planning and consistent effort. It means that on the few occasions that things don’t go as planned that there are processes in place to deal with this efficiently providing the same level of service enjoyed at point of sale.

Established organisations automate much of the after-sales process thus providing a place to go when products need servicing or fixing. So far so good. But what happens when the after sales service does not match the promise? The trust built up in the initial phase of acquiring the client can be eroded fast.

Relationship selling can only be effective when all the players along the service line and supporting systems play their role in upholding the promise thus retaining customer trust thereby maintaining brand authenticity.

Any organisation seeking to make relationship selling the sole responsibility of the customer facing employee or key account manager is making a grave mistake. The result could be that the painstaking work done at the front end is undone at the back end.

Typically the front end involves doing your homework on the customer’s needs and difficulties and their barriers to success. Effective communication with the client involves maintaining momentum and interest until something concrete happens and beyond. In the process, particularly as you demonstrate understanding an adaptability, trust is gradually built. Credibility takes a longer as reputation translates into action and a dependable track record of interactions.

Once your efforts provide your customer results in the form of cost / time savings, increasing profitability or workplace efficiency the focus moves to maintaining the relationship in the face of changing needs (adaptability) and support.

Customer loyalty is earned. If you strive for Relationship Integrity where the benefits to both parties form the basis of an ongoing relationship, your will most valued customers will stick around. As the relationship strengthens and grows over time, you earn the right to expand your offerings and request referrals.

An often overlooked tool in your armoury is requesting regular customer feedback on what you’re doing using strategically well appointed questions. That way you not only hear what needs improving, but it might lead to new ideas or suggestions on what can be done differently. There are also massive benefits to be had from educating your client on your procedures in order to get the most from your services and products in better time.

In essence, Relationship Integrity is not a sprint – it’s an ultra marathon with a difference. That difference is that the goal is not to complete the race, but to keep it going continually.

A staggering number of Post Covid reports refer to tired and burned-out employees. 

What will make people want to return to the work place? How do we put:

    • the zing back into workplaces? 
    • the excitement back into employees? 
    • the fulfilment back into jobs?

                Start by making your work place inclusive!

What is an inclusive workplace?

Inclusivity caters for, welcomes and supports the different ways people process information, interact with others and achieve goals. The goal is to make employees feel comfortable. It’s a culture (behaviour) that encourages employees to feel valued for their unique qualities and experience a sense of belonging. In simple terms, inclusion is getting the mix to work together.

In an inclusive organisation, one sees diversity at every level. Many cultures, traditions, beliefs, languages and lifestyles are prevalent in both the workforce as well as the customer populations. These differences are respected without judgment. Instead of spending time on conflict, time is spent on bringing out the best in each other and finding ways to celebrate differences. Yes – it’s easier said than done and requires deliberate action! However, it makes a huge difference – to much more than just the bottom line – when you do get it to work.

Just how do you create an inclusive work place?

  1. Start at leadership level. Inclusive workplaces start with authentic, empathetic leaders who make inclusivity a top priority by embracing the input of employees whose backgrounds or expertise differs from their own. They foster collaboration among diverse staff members, which eliminates bias and sets the right example. 
  2. Customise company policies, vision and culture to support all aspects of diversity, address harassment and protect minority groups. 
  3. Redefine recruitment strategies and train people managers on how to select, manage, evaluate and retain diverse employees. Not all skills are developed at work. There are many talented candidates whose CV’s reflect a lack of experience or other large gaps. You may need to provide alternative ways for an applicant to demonstrate their capabilities – such as a competency-based application form, a covering letter or even video submissions (where appropriate). Provide options that allow people to shine. What could you do to allow more people to thrive? You may need to adjust the application, interview or assessment process. Get expert help if necessary.
  4. Provide leadership development opportunities, coaching, mentoring, team building and diversity training.
  5. Connect with employees (be sensitive). Allowing employees multiple ways to provide feedback fosters a healthy work environment, makes employees feel valued  and provides a safe space for employees to be themselves. ‘Psychological safety’ enables team members to share their thoughts and opinions freely, so everyone feels heard. All ideas are on the table – not just those of a select few. 

Why does inclusivity make good business sense?

75% of large companies with 250+ workers currently report problems with recruiting skilled workers – indicating a significant “talent shortage”. ( 

Research shows that some of the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace include:

    • increased employee engagement, loyalty and commitment;
    • greater readiness to innovate due to a sense of safety and security;
    • increased sense of belonging, team cohesion and participation; 
    • increased motivation, willingness and happier employees;

These all ultimately lead to increased revenue, et voila – problem solved! Seeing these changes in the organisations and individuals we work with, is by far the most rewarding experience. We specialise in creating “positive” work environments where people learn how to create shared purpose, values, trust, cooperation, safety, risk-taking, support, accountability and equity and look forward to seeing many more companies take up this challenge.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to create and maintain a fully inclusive workplace?

About the author: Trudi du Toit has worked with various organisations, individuals & teams, at different levels & from different industries. She is an experienced & accomplished facilitator – flexible & versatile – able to deal with diverse audiences. As the project manager for Supervisory, Management & Leadership Empowerment, she develops teams and leaders by facilitating  processes that work –  because they change lives and transform businesses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Before going into the reasons why a customer satisfaction audit (CSA) can be very useful to find out what customers think and feel, it’s worth stating the obvious up front:

If it’s for information purposes only, then it amounts to a time consuming and possibly expensive luxury. 

If it’s part of a strategy with clearly defined steps and a commitment to re-measure at specific intervals, then this should be a very worthwhile exercise with significant benefits.  The competitive motor industry has been doing these for years and takes them very seriously indeed, as they should.

Apart from providing invaluable customer insights and feedback, they reveal customer preferences, expectations and pain points. When this information is analysed, informed decisions can be made to improve not only products, design and services, but overall customer experience.

Audits identify where an organisation excels and where it falls short, guiding resource allocation and strategy. Strengths can be maintained and leveraged, whilst addressing areas of weakness reduce customer attrition.

But there’s something else. When CSA’s are periodically scheduled employees receive the clear message that the organisation cares about what external customers feel and think, fostering a continuous improvement ethic. 

On the other hand it tells customers that their opinions and feelings are valued. It can catch dissatisfaction that did not appear in reviews by asking the right questions and becomes a critical tool in reputation management.  This fosters increased brand loyalty leading to repeat business.

Sharing the results with both customers and employees creates transparency and shows an intent to maintain high standards and admit when the organisation is not getting it right.

Then there is risk mitigation. It’s a bit like going for a medical check up now and again. Sometime these check-ups help to identify problems at an early stage preventing serious problems down the line. A well conducted CSA serves a similar purpose.

Once the results of the CSA are in, design a strategy with time frames to address issues and leverage strengths. Then leave sufficient time for the changes to start working before redoing the CSA. 

Of course whether you’re making key decisions or tracking progress once initiatives have been undertaken, isn’t it better to do so with the data at your disposal?

You can find more about perception auditors here

It often takes a disaster before we stop and ask: “How could that have been prevented?” And: “How do we prevent this from happening again?”

As our country struggles with so many challenges – including state capture, we contemplate how we got to this place. Would you have the courage to be a whistle blower?  When whistle blowers are victimised and murdered, the perpetrators are allowed to continue unhindered. When whistle blowers are not protected, there is no incentive to report fraud and corruption. There is no line drawn in the sand to say: “Stop! Enough!” And the consequences …….? The same applies to organisations.

What company policies do we need to make it possible for an employee to report irregularities without retribution or ridicule? How do we deal with instances of sexual harassment? Why does it take so long for victims of sexual offences to come forward? Why do offenders get away with so much for so long? How does one prevent a state capture? 

These 9 tips will help you draw that line in the sand and prevent disaster.

1. Say “No”

People-pleasing may seem like a good trait to have, but it leads to burnout and resentment and in extreme cases the bad guys just continue doing what they do. It’s okay to say, No,” in a calm and positive manner & there’s no need to explain your refusal. Having taken a stand, keep to your decision. If you crumble under pressure, others will learn you can be swayed – so be firm.

2. Be decisive

Being decisive is part of assertiveness.  It ensures others take you seriously. Not knowing what you really want, comes across as uncertainty. Avoid over-thinking and flip-flopping on decisions. It opens you up to being taken advantage of by a manipulative partner, family member, superior or friend. Say what you mean and mean what you say by acting in ways that confirm the stance you have taken.

3. Communicate directly

Articulate your needs positively and proactively. Avoid being passive (submissive) or aggressive. People tend to take a passive approach as a way of avoiding conflict. Address the matter head-on. Talking around the issue can lead to confusion and disregard for your needs, feelings and expectations.

4. Speak up about misconduct

You cannot control the behaviour of others and there will be times they will do things that will make you feel violated. It could be anything from deception and stealing to cheating and abuse. If you say nothing, the behaviour will continue. What follows may be years of regret – a rot that festers in the soul.

Millions of people live in abusive situations or experience sexual harassment but remain silent. It doesn’t mean they like it. Perhaps they feel their opinions and feelings are not important. Perhaps they haven’t learned to be assertive. In many cases, people are fearful of the consequences, whether it’s losing a relationship, their children, job, a connection, or a certain lifestyle. Teach others how to treat you. Recognize your value, how you want to be treated and love yourself enough to say, “STOP” and speak up – report misconduct.

5. Assert your rights

This is especially valuable for establishing legal and ethical boundaries. Knowing and asserting your rights as an employee helps protect you from things like discrimination and sexual harassment. Some important rights / laws include the right to fair pay, paid overtime, leave to recover from illness and protection against retaliation.

Letting your employer know you’re familiar with your rights may educate them at the same time – they may not be familiar with employee rights. Approach them calmly and respectfully; avoid accusations when discussing any potential violation of your rights. Stating your rights can lead to positive changes in workplace policies and a better working environment for all. Policies need to be revisited regularly & be part of a positive performance management process.

6. Be confident

When you are confident, you’re able to stand up for yourself, your loved ones and for what is right – with ease. When you’re confident, you’ll also know when to back off. 

Confidence is a state of being self-assured and an essential requirement for a successful, happy life. Your beliefs about yourself influence how the world interacts with you. Confident people typically have healthy self-esteem. They know their worth and believe in themselves and their capabilities. Cockiness and arrogance are not signs of confidence.

Your confidence when expressing a need or asserting a right makes people listen to you. Confidence enables you to take criticism with ease, means you’re willing to acknowledge your mistakes and work on self-improvement.

7. Choose positive communication

Words are better received when they are conveyed in a positive, non-judgmental way. The right choice of words and a calm, friendly tone of voice encourage others to value what you say. Some call it being “tactful”. It should be balanced with directness. Choosing the appropriate time and setting & using positive language to communicate shows that you’re considerate of the other person’s feelings. Remember that silence is also an answer – sometimes the better answer. 

8. Be proactive – avoid being aggressive or submissive

Assertiveness allows you to pre-empt a situation and take steps to positively influence the outcome. There is no need to behave aggressively toward the other person when stating your rights, setting a boundary or attempting to get your needs met. Being submissive also won’t get you the results you seek. The best way to become proactive, is to shut up & listen actively before responding.

9. Set practical boundaries

Staying silent when you should speak up, set, or enforce a boundary may earn you the reputation of being a “nice guy”. Meanwhile, you’re furious and resentful inside because people take your kindness for weakness and walk all over you. Note that standing up for yourself isn’t a one-sided affair. While you’re focused on articulating your wants and needs, it’s fair to balance them with the needs and expectations of others.  

Drawing a line in the sand between you and others improves your self-esteem and relationships at work, home and in the community.

Your employees may need help dealing with interpersonal relationships, communicating assertively, handing conflict constructively, positive performance management, supervisory, management and leadership skills.

Trudi du Toit

“A customer is someone with whom you have dealings.” – Congruence Training

This definition of a customer, which we coined in November 1996 when we started our customer centric journey, is important. Because if you’re human, you’re a customer to many brands and people every day. Chances are you also have multiple customers whether or not you sell products. 

This means you not only receive service, you also deliver it. 

Customer Expectations

The word “service” has a positive connotation, but service can also be poor, or in the case of 0 out of 10, non-existent. It can also be negative, in which case a minus 3 out of 10 could apply.

So how does one understand each individual’s service expectations?

The easiest starting point is to consider your personal expectations of adequate service. If you instinctively deliver that same level to others, you should be in positive territory and that could be sufficient.

Let’s say you order a home delivery pizza and it arrives by bike in 25 minutes, hot and with the right change if you’re paying cash. The rider is polite. What was expected was delivered in terms of product, speed and politeness. If the pizza tasted great that’s a useful bonus.  

If your objective is for things to remain as they are, then all good. But what if you have a higher objective? For instance:

  • You wish to make others feel better
  • You want to increase your popularity
  • You want to find a partner
  • You want an increase of customers through the door
  • You want to increase sales
  • You want to recruit a high calibre of person
  • You’re seeking promotion
  • You want to persuade
  • You’d like people to order from you again.

In any of these cases you will want to provide a level of interaction that is better than what you regard as adequate.

Meet Bernice

This year I’ve worked with an organisation that has an extraordinary receptionist. Her name is Bernice. Bernice is always friendly, engaging and helpful to me – and this was since the first time I arrived as a stranger. 

Because she is also responsible for the venue I’ve been using I’ve interacted with her frequently and something has struck me. Bernice treats everyone exactly the same as she treats me – and I mean everyone, regardless of position. 

With Bernice there is no preferential treatment for rank, only for emergencies. Her tone of voice is consistently friendly. She smiles a lot. Her pace of service is brisk but not frantic. She uses her initiative and caries out small, thoughtful acts of kindness. 

Bernice sets the tone for the entire organisation because her attitude rubs off on everyone who enters the building.

Now, there must be a gap between what Bernice regards as adequate service received and the high level that she herself gives. How could she possibly expect her own service standards from some of the grumpy folk she encounters (as we all do)? But for many of us it’s the other way around. We have lofty expectations of what we expect, but sometimes we fall short on delivery.

So what makes Bernice, and the other Bernices in our world different to the rest of us mortals? Perhaps it’s this: Sometime in her life she made a decision that regardless of how her day started or what she’s dealing with – she’ll treat everyone with kindness and consideration. A key word here is “decision”. And decisions foster habits. Once installed, habits becomes instinctive.

Making The Decision

People’s expectations are also instinctive. They’re seldom consciously created. So by deliberately learning to treat others with kindness and flexing the smiling muscles frequently it’s not that hard 

to install a great service habit. But it takes a decision, follow through and consistency. 

The benefit is quite staggering. When you are kind, friendly and helpful other’s will start feeling better and they’ll treat you better. Just by being kinder you feel a whole lot better about yourself, and about each day that comes. This affects your health, your sleep and your enjoyment of life. And perhaps best of all, this great attitude comes to you free of charge.

Imagine if every person in your organisation could do that?

Not surprisingly Bernice’s company has a number of customer centric people. I wonder if she played a part in that? 

Paul du Toit, CSP is the Founder of Congruence Training and author of its best selling course “Customer Relationship Skills” 

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