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What is Symmetry of Attention and How Can You Apply it to your Company?

What is Symmetry of Attention and How Can You Apply it to your Company?

Marine Aubagna September 10 2021

What is Symmetry of Attention and How Can You Apply it to your Company?

September 10, 2021

What is Symmetry of Attention and How Can You Apply it to your Company?

September 10, 2021

The quality of the customer relationship has become a major concern for many companies. It generates customer satisfaction, which is in turn generates customer loyalty.
The concept of symmetry of attention is based on the idea that the quality of the customer relationship mirrors the quality of the company-employee relationship.
What is symmetry of attention? Why is this concept so important? And how can you implement it in your organisation?

 

What is Symmetry of Attention?

Symmetry of attention is a concept that first appeared at the end of the 2000s in the French book, Du management au marketing des services, by Charles Ditandy and Benoît Meyronin.

The concept emits the hypothesis that the quality of a company’s relationship with its customers directly mirrors the quality of its relationship with its employees. Symmetry of attention demonstrates the close link between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.A company that treats its employees well is a company that treats its customers well (and vice-versa). The quality of the customer relationship is directly linked to the quality of management. Do you want to re-enchant your customer relationship to enrich their experience? Then strengthen the relationship between your company and employees, transform your management style! For a company to take care of its customers, it must take care of its employees.

Why is this idea so important? The customer relationship has become a major issue for companies over the last fifteen years or so. The quality of the customer relationship has never been as important to companies as it is now.

The reason for this is simple:

  1. A quality customer relationship improves the customer experience.
  2. A quality customer experience generates customer satisfaction.
  3. Customer satisfaction generates customer loyalty, recommendations, a stronger brand image, etc.

Building loyalty is of utmost importance in an increasingly crowded market with volatile customers. The underlying principle of symmetry of attention is therefore economic.

 

How to Implement Symmetry of Attention in your Company

The concept of symmetry of attention highlights the importance of managerial issues and their impact on the customer relationship. A poor work environment leads to less employee involvement and motivation, which ultimately reduces the quality of customer service.

It is therefore important to look after your employees’ wellbeing, to improve the quality of your customer relationship in the long-term. To be customer-centric, you also need to be employee-centric. You need to listen to the employee voice. It is important to implement a management system based on listening to your employees.

So, how can you implement symmetry of attention ? By developing employee listening skills.

There are two main methods to do so:

  • Direct listening. Managers are in direct and permanent contact with company employees. Whether during a meeting, or by the coffee machine, they can gather their aspirations, criticisms, feelings and suggestions for improving the quality of the work environment.
  • Anonymous and free listening via surveys. Some employees don’t dare admit that they are unhappy at work, share their disagreements, or say what they think, for fear of negative repercussions. Not to mention that it is not always easy to speak to your manager when you have an issue with their management methods… Which is why it can be helpful to put in place an internal survey system, to encourage people to speak freely.

What Survey Should be Used for a Symmetry of Attention Project?

The Conditions for Deploying Surveys to Employees

The surveys need to be completely anonymous. It is important that employees have no doubts about this, or your response rate is likely to be very low. Using a third party Feedback Management platform with anonymisation and encryption, such as MyFeelBack, is essential.

The surveys should be sent out regularly, so that you can measure how the quality of the company-employee relationship changes over time. We recommend implementing a quality monitoring system. When compared with your customer satisfaction monitoring system, this will enable you to measure the impact of management on the quality of your customer relationship in a very concrete way.

Which Questions Should you ask your Employees to be Considerate?

To identify which questions to add to your internal surveys, start by making a list of all the factors that impact the quality of your company-employee relationship. You can then turn each of these factors into a question.

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of factors, as well as examples of questions to assess them:

The physical work environment

  • How would you rate your work environment?
  • Do you think the available equipment is sufficient to meet your objectives?
  • What do you think of your work environment?

Stress

  • How stressed do you feel at work?
  • Do you feel like you have to check your emails over the weekend?

The work relationship between managers and colleagues:

Is it based on trust, reciprocity, respect and emulation, or competition, indifference and disdain? We recommend using two questions, one for the relationship with managers and one for the relationship with colleagues.

  • How would you qualify your work relationship with your direct manager? (use adjectives for answer options or leave the question open).
  • How would you qualify your work relationship with colleagues / team members?

The level of employee autonomy. The autonomy given to employees develops their self-esteem and makes them feel good about their work. It should be promoted.

  • How do you judge the degree of autonomy you are given by management?
    You can also use the Net Promoter Score, by asking this question:
  • How likely would you be to recommend working at [Company name] to others?

This question allows to indirectly measure employee satisfaction with their company. Monitoring its evolution over time will enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of any changes you make to management.

Symmetry of attention is an intellectually appealing idea. It draws attention to an intuitive link that some companies have forgotten about. Understanding the concept is one thing, implementing it is another. It involves an evolution, or transformation of managerial methods. It is a long-term project but implementing a system to listen to your employees will help steer you in the right direction.