Are you familiar with “secret shoppers?” Organizations ask people to secretly “shop” their establishment, pretending to be customers, and report back the good, the bad, and the ugly. Wouldn’t that be fun to do?
What would happen if your direct reports “secretly shopped” you as a leader? What would they report back? Here’s an exercise to help you find out. You are going to “meta-cognate” or watch yourself by designing a personal secret shopper scorecard.
Identify your ideal self
First, take a few minutes and think of your vision of yourself as a leader. On your best day—the one you would like to be recorded for the nightly news as a model for leaders everywhere—what do you see yourself doing? In interactions, are you focused on the other person? Are you listening to their world and trying to help them succeed in the important work they are doing? Do you recognize their effort and courage? Do you help your people gain clarity around their purpose and goals? What exactly is your vision of YOU at your best?
Create your secret shopper questions
Second, reframe a few of your observations (no more than three) into your own secret shopper questions, such as:
- To what degree did the leader use the word you versus the word I?
- Were listening strategies used to enhance communication?
- Was specific praise or recognition used to build the relationship?
- Did the leader make the individual feel important?
- Did the individual leave the interaction ready to act?
Create your scorecard
Third, create a small, written assessment that you can use to remind and assess how close you are behaving to your ideal self in your interactions with people. This self-assessment should include four items—the top three things you intend to do, your self-assessment of your success, the level of care the individual felt as a result, and the chances that they will come back again for a similar experience. Here’s mine so you can see an example:
My Secret Shopper Leadership Scorecard
Upcoming interaction: Discussing goals with Lisa
Three things I want to observe myself doing:
- Taking some time at the beginning of the meeting to reconnect
- Keeping the conversation focused on goals, tasks, and the work we need to accomplish
- Reviewing agreements and letting Lisa know that I am available for direction and support
Self assessment of this interaction: (on a scale of 1 to 10)
Level of CARE the individual felt: (on a scale of 1 to 10)
Chance s/he will want to come back for a similar experience: (on a scale of 1 to 10)
Being your own secret shopper is a great way to begin the task of creating and becoming the leader you want to be. Use this scorecard to purposely plan and notice yourself in action. Self-reflect on each interaction with an employee. Ask yourself the questions you generated and strive toward higher and higher ratings. With a little bit of practice, you’ll soon notice the impact that being “customer focused” can have on your performance as a serving leader.
About the author:
Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program. Their other-focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.