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Improving Manager Effectiveness

September 21, 2017

 “For better or for worse, people managers have the single biggest impact on an organization’s performance.” – Dave Almeda

Discussion between 2 co-workersFeeling comfortable with your manager is such an important part of your overall workplace experience. I’ve been extremely lucky in my short career thus far with three amazing managers. Fortunately, Kronos has a manta – that everyone deserves a great manager – and it’s an important one at that.

So, what makes a great leader? How is an effective manager defined? To find out, Kronos launched a Manager Effectiveness Index (MEI), a people manager assessment program delving into the depths of management at Kronos. The result? Confirmation that management, employee engagement, performance, and retention are all linked.

Dave Almeda, Kronos Chief People Officer, shared his valuable insight into improving manager effectiveness in a Great Place To Work blog post based on the MEI effort. Here are his five steps to turning good managers into great leaders:

  1. Identify the most important behaviors for great managers at your organization.
  2. Flip the traditional performance process: Employees rate their manager.
  3. Provide managers with clear benchmarking reports to help build development plans.
  4. Include employees in the manager’s growth plans.
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat – and don’t overreact.

“One size fits one” is my favorite quote from the article. It’s the honest truth. No organization or employee is the same, so what works for one might not work for another. That’s why identifying the most important behaviors for great managers at your company is such an important piece in the process.

For more, read the full article here!


September 19, 2017

After months of anticipation, I finally walked through the doors of our new home at the Cross Point Towers, not to attend a meeting, but for real! I settled in yesterday with the rest of the final wave of Kronos employees making the move from our Chelmsford headquarters to Lowell – and it feels great to be here.

Our new office is colorfully decorated, equipped with top of the line technology, and is a bright and inspiring place to be. One of my favorite things about the space is the natural light. Special care was given to create floor plans that would allow everyone to share in the sun’s rays. This means that all offices are in the center of the space rather than lining the outside edges. This might seem like a minor detail, but it speaks volumes to how Kronos executives feel about the care and comfort of their employees.

Putting customers first is the guiding philosophyDiverse team building - men and women behind everything that we do at Kronos. And what’s really neat is that I got to experience this personally throughout the span of our entire company move. All the teams involved did an amazing job providing a customer first experience for us – their internal peers – as we completed the shift to Lowell. The communication was great, we had all the packing materials we needed, we had IT help setting up our stations, and we even had gifts waiting in our cubes when we arrived…everyone loves a surprise present.

Our powerful culture of caring and remarkable employee engagement has earned us many workplace honors. Kronos has been recognized as a great place to work here in the US, and it continues to earn this title internationally as well, recently receiving a top 20 Best Place to Work raking from Great Place to Work Australia.

Maybe you’re interested in the Kronos employee experience? We currently have over 160 job openings around the globe!CrossPoint

Kronos Community for the HCM Professional

September 15, 2017

As we descended from the great monolith of music, I realized Summer was over for me after one last gasp (the altitude alone made it a gasp…) to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado to check one off the bucket list. I was looking forward to coming back to work even though it was our last week in what’s been our corporate headquarters for 17 years… Monday began with a meeting to kick off a project to further improve the experience for our 30,000 plus member Kronos Community. In case you haven’t been there, our community is a collaborative environment for Kronos customers and partners to:

  • virtually connect
  • ask and answer questions
  • open and manage support cases
  • collaborate in special interest groups
  • find knowledgebase articles
  • learn about Kronos training and services
  • suggest ideas to improve our products and services

One somewhat hidden gem sparkled a little this week when one of our project managers received a question from a customer implementing Workforce Central 8:

“Our CFO asked me to see if Kronos offered any type of service that notified its customers of upcoming minimum wage changes. Is this something that you guys happen to offer?

It seemed unlikely to me but definitely worth asking.”

Here’s the answer… Yes! In the Kronos Community, registered members (customers and partners) have free access to “HR and Payroll Answerforce,” a “research tool for HR and payroll related issues — Recruitment and Retention, JCAHO, Workplace Safety, HIPAA, and more, including in-depth information on State and Federal laws and regulations.”

There, Community members can also sign up for email alerts that will send them related news each business day. Click on the image to see a sample email, and please come visit our community. We have some short YouTube snippets to show you how.

Customer Success, Take Two

September 14, 2017

ti·ger /ˈtīɡər/ – used to refer to someone fierce, determined, or ambitious.

Or…used to define tenacious Customer Success Managers, as we described in an earlier blog post, If Customer Success had a spirit animal, what would it be?

Tenacity is typically paired with another admirable and courageous quality – the drive to succeed and to reap even better results with each new endeavor. In my experience, tackling something new can be fun because the feeling of the “unknown” is challenging and exciting. But every new attempt becomes more and more gratifying as you use what you’ve learned to improve.

Like when building up Customer Success organizations, for example – as our very own Jennifer Dearman, VP of Global Customer Success at Kronos, Catherine Blackmore, Global VP of Customer Success at Oracle, and Rachel Orston, CEO of User IQ, discussed at the 2017 Pulse Conference presented by Gainsight.

Pulse 2017

In this 30 minute session, Customer Success, Take Two – What I Learned Building My Customer Success Team Again, Jennifer, Catherine, and Rachel delve into a compelling discussion on the victories and lessons learned from their time in the world of Customer Success. Here’s a quick sneak peek at the discussion questions:

  • How has Customer Success evolved over the past couple of years?
  • How do you take what you’ve learned and craft a plan?
  • What are the data challenges when trying to get one source of truth across customers?

So – What’s the first step in building your Customer Success team?

Creating a plan and engaging the right people. The session highlights an interesting statistic, that 90% of any plan will fail without an engaged executive. It’s important to plan for the plan, so to speak. Customer Success starts with a mission – a company-wide mission to better align functional areas and transform the customer experience. And you must have the right people onboard to invest in an organization focused on a maturity model to give it life.

And what’s one of the lessons learned?

Based on her experience in the industry, Jennifer says that underfunding Success Ops teams is one of the most damaging oversights. They are the backbone, and without their full support, replicating the success process and continuing to deliver value to customers is a challenging feat.

Watch the full session recording for more insight on starting your own Customer Success organization!

We Are Social – Connect Us

September 12, 2017

Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos, dives deeper into the concept of “Customer Communities,” as the last of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

Connect your customers with others. We all want to be a part of something. A group of people with similar interests. A place to share common experiences, successes, and even challenges. I recall moving to a new city with my wife years ago. We didn’t know anyone in this town, but we both enjoyed photography and wanted to meet others who enjoyed it as well. We went onto “” – a website connecting like-minded people around the country on any topic you can imagine. We found two local photography clubs and started attending outings to take photos. I look back at how much knowledge I gained through the people we met. I learned from them, and as I talked about my photography experience, they learned from me as well.

It’s no different in the business world, and a quick search shows that there are groups for just about everything.

Helping customers make connections adds another layer of value to their experience – but, we should always remain professional and ensure both parties are comfortable before the introduction is made.  Connecting customers with similar project needs or business challenges allows them to learn from others’ missteps and hear success stories relating to areas where they might be having trouble.

Think back to the last professional conference you attended. You sat through sessions, and they were useful and informative, but wasn’t networking the part that excited you the most? Wasn’t it meeting over coffee and gaining great insight from that person in your same role at another company? These valuable interactions don’t have to wait until the next conference. As Customer Success Managers, it’s our job to help customers build their network in ways that will improve their outcomes every day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts expanding on the 5 Commandments of Customer Success. If this topic is of interest to you, feel free to share it with others or leave a comment below.

Wishing you much success,

Gil Lhotka

Partnering for Success – The Multigenerational Workforce

September 8, 2017

I think of today’s workplaces as multigenerational playgrounds. We’ve got Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and now Generation Z all playing the same Four Square game – and each has their own modified rule book! But there’s nothing wrong with these unique preferences. We just need to work a little harder to understand and respect every black jack, bottle cap, and bus stop out there. There’s more than one strategy to win the game and each perspective is valued.

CV-engaged workforce 2It’s not particularly surprising that developing and retaining a multigenerational workforce is one of the greatest challenges for businesses and organizations. It isn’t easy. The Kronos Services: Partnering for Success video for Logistics, Service Sector, and Financial Services highlights the changing face of the workforce (and how to manage it) as a common challenge among Kronos customers. Us younger workers tend to want everything at our fingertips and often have completely different expectations than those of the older, more traditional workforce.

The good news is Kronos can help referee that Four Square match. When it comes to managing employees, customers want partners, not simply technology providers. They want to know that they’re supported every step of the way with the tools, contacts, and resources they need to be successful. Kronos Services professionals leverage their in-depth knowledge from many years of experience on the playground…aka working in industry landscapes…to help customers approach their challenges from the most functional angle for their organization.

Learn more about Advisory Services here!

It’s All About the Customer’s Outcome

September 5, 2017

More thoughts from Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos! Gil expands on the concept of “serving your customer” as the fourth of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

clock_iconPut your customers first. Every job requires employees to make choices about how they balance their time – being a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is no different. There are internal requirements, paperwork, reports, and the myriad of non-customer facing tasks that are part of the daily routine. But despite these responsibilities, when we’re working with customers, it’s all about them, and we must stay focused on successfully guiding them toward their desired business outcomes. How? Uncover the most efficient and effective way to get them what they need.

We all want to do our best for our customers, but being helpful doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers yourself. As Customer Success Managers, it’s important to recognize when to act on customer issues and when to connect customers with others who can help them reach their goals. This is a lesson I’ve learned throughout my career. I used to feel like I should know the answer to every question that came my way. But think of Customer Success Managers as playmakers – we’re not always responsible for the direct delivery; however, we play a role in initiating that outcome. And that’s equally critical in helping customers achieve their desired results.

Team meeting with iPadA classic example of this in a software company is when a customer asks a Customer Success Manager a highly technical question. For simple questions, seeking out the answer is the way to go. If the need is complex or requires further discussion, the best approach is to facilitate a conversation between the customer and a technical expert to efficiently gain the answers they need. The CSM’s role is to introduce the discussion, set the stage, and then confirm that the result brings the customer to a positive business outcome. This is an excellent way to provide value to your customer – and even though you might not have personally delivered the good news, you are the reason they now have it.

A Cautionary Tale – While this is a great tactic to drive results, there is a fine line between facilitation and avoidance. If CSMs facilitate or redirect every question, need, or interaction, customers will lose confidence in them as trusted advisors. How do you know if you are adding value? If your customers want you to be involved in their meetings, discussions, and planning sessions, you are adding value. If they don’t, it’s a sign that there is more work to be done to show how you can better deliver value to their experience.

Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.

  • Ask yourself “Am I the right person to respond to this request?” If not, seek guidance.
  • Once you have made that choice the next question to ask is, “Will this issue likely come up again?” If the answer to that is yes, the best tactic might be facilitation for the first interaction but not for future conversations regarding the same topic.

As you gain more knowledge through these discussions, you not only serve your customers well, but you increase your knowledge to continue serving them even better in the future.

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