Posts tagged ‘management’

Sailing to Engagement through Communication

Just as “a rising tide lifts all boats”, good communication lifts all “ships”…including effective leadership, courtship, and friendship. In the long run, each of these is buoyed up by frequent, and positive, communication. For the purposes of THIS discussion, we’ll focus on leadership, however the same principles certainly apply to effectively maintaining and sailing any kind of “ship”!

Great leaders know that the wind that fills their employees’ sails, and moves the [engagement] ”ship” forward is clear and thoughtful communication from the leader. Communication answering the questions “Where are we headed?” “Why are we making the journey?” “What’s my role and how does it fit in?” Without these, the ship flounders.

Moreover, timely, specific and sincere feedback regarding employee performance, progress, and accomplishment puts your inspired leader-“ship” in full sail! Add to these, the many additional opportunities available to all, but utilized only by the most effective, leaders in engaging their teams, including:

  1. Simple greetings! “Good morning”, “How was your weekend?”, “Have a good evening”. Daily interactions provide simple, but effective opportunities to connect and acknowledge others. Sometimes just not doing this can leave employees thinking “what did I do?” or “why’s he upset?” A pleasant greeting truly lifts morale and increases trust.
  2. When giving instructions or making an assignment, ensure full communication by asking questions. Until you hear your intended thoughts coming out of their mouths, you have not effectively communicated…and they know that!
  3. Listen! Remember, Habit 5 – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. You can only understand what you truly hear, and EVERYONE wants and needs to be understood.
  4. Thanks!” Never, ever, ever let an opportunity to express sincere thanks for any and all (even the simplest) act of kindness, assistance, or help of any kind. You may think it doesn’t matter and maybe it doesn’t, but to many a simple “thank you” is gold!
  5. Look beyond your team! Kindness, respectful recognition, and friendliness expressed to everyone in your path raises the overall engagement level of everyone within the organization.
  6. Compliments, when issued spontaneously and sincerely lift spirits, show recognition and awareness, and demonstrably increase trust and communication, while reducing barriers of skepticism, fear, or introversion.

Put the wind back in your team’s sails by increasing the quality, frequency, and sincerity of communication to and with them! It is the surest way to increase employee engagement…and have FUN doing it!

Lead on!

Cliff

 

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April 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Eat Your Peas!

“Eat your peas!” 

“But I don’t like peas!” 

“Yes you do……at least you should!”

“Why?”

“Well…because they’re good for you……and they taste good!”

“They don’t taste good to me!”

“We’ll…..they should!  Eat your peas!”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve been a parent…or a child (who hasn’t) it probably does.  Removed from the situation, it also probably sounds a little ridiculous.  Sometimes we sound just as ridiculous to our employees, our coworkers, and unfortunately our customers when we tell them what they should do, try, or like.  Remember the old Alka Seltzer commercial… “Try it, you’ll like it!”?  Pretty presumptuous isn’t it?

Habit 5 of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is… “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Before you can even hope to sell, convince, or recruit others to your proposal you have to understand their perspective – their way of seeing things.  My mom used to say “Never judge an Indian until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”.  To presume what others should think, do, or like is in reality, projecting our views on others as if they were mindless drones waiting for someone to connect the remote control.

So how can you know…what others want or how they see things?  Simple – ASK!  Then…LISTEN…really listen…empathically…to understand.   Then, and only if it still makes sense, you can sell, convince, or recruit…to their needs…and not to YOUR presumptions!

Try it, you’ll like the results!  🙂

Lead on!

Cliff

November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Always Begin With the “WHY”!

It’s 3:00 Friday afternoon, and your best customer calls.  He’s in a real jam and needs a simple and inexpensive part to complete a job and quickly fills you in on all the details.  Oddly enough, you are completely out of the item, but fortunately any of your surrounding stores has plenty on hand.  You ask Bill, the only one in your branch not doing anything terribly important at the time, to run and pick up the part and deliver it to the job site as quickly as he can.  Then you return to your work.

In the mean time, Bill who’d had to skip lunch earlier during a rush of customers, stops on his way to grab a sandwich and soda.  He’s not really dragging, but he’s also in no big hurry.  He chats it up a bit with the guys at your sister store, and then heads to the job site.  He arrives just in time to see your biggest customer getting locked out of the property for the weekend, due to a conflict with a major event being held there.  He looks completely depressed…because he is!

You see, just as he’d told you on the phone, this job needed to be completed by close of business TODAY, or he’d be facing $25,000 in late penalties!  The 6 month project was all but done, except for the  $6 part.  When you took the call you didn’t think twice about not getting your customer what he needed, as it seemed like a slam dunk…IF…everyone involved knew what was at stake!  Remember, you only told Bill that your customer needed a simple part.  To Bill there was NO urgency…and being relatively new he really didn’t even know how important the customer was to your branch…and the company!

Communication is the lifeblood of an organization, a project, a relationship!  Without it any of these will suffer at least, and possibly die.  In communication, the “what”, the “when”, the “where”, the “how”, and the “who” are all important elements, but the “WHY” is king!  The “what” informs, but the “WHY” inspires!  The “how” instructs, but the “WHY” transforms!

When you communicate with others…especially with employees, and most certainly when giving instructions, go back, way back, to the very beginning and explain the “WHY” behind everything!  Don’t sell your employees, your children, or anyone else short.  Not only CAN they handle the details – the big picture…they NEED them if they are to become engaged!  And we all know the difference between the engaged and disengaged performer!

To get the very most out of people you have to reach their hearts because the heart is where the “WHY” lives!  Always begin with the “WHY”!

Lead on…

Cliff

October 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

It’s All in Your Head

Performance follows attitude!  It’s that simple!  Let me illustrate with a personal example with one of my passions – waterskiing…  A while back on an early morning ski outing with friends I took a bad fall injuring my back – a bad thing for a skiier!  For the next ten days I nursed my back hoping against hope that I would be back in the water in less than two weeks.  It gradually felt better, but I could still feel it.  Then, the day before our next early-morning outing, I woke to the same pain as the day after the injury.  I was VERY disappointed, but resolved that I’d still go the next morning if only to drive the boat for my ski pals.  The next morning, I actually felt a little better, but the pain was still there.  Long story short, I did ski. 

On my first run, I was very tentative, certain I was REALLY going to strain my back further.  I got up, expecting the worst, did a couple of turns, testing both sides, and while things seemed to be holding together I didn’t ski at all well as I was consumed with worry and feared that things wouldn’t go well…

I rested while my mates each skied a run, and then I got back in the water.  This time, I refframed my thinking, and EXPECTED that I’d be ok, and focused on the fundamentals.  Unhampered by worry and fear, I ran off 14 of the best turns I’d carved all summer, rested a minute and then laid down 8 more great turns to the hoots and hollers of my mates.

So, what was the difference between my first and second rides?  I didn’t ski well when I was pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly protective.  But then later, optimistic, confident, and released from the fear of failure or injury, I nailed it!  The difference was…All in My Head!

And so it is in business.  When we’re pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious we often lose our edge.  But when we are optimistic, relaxed, and confident EVERYTHING changes!  Let me give some examples:

Consider two salesmen.  Salesman A is often known to say:

“Price is the only thing customers care about.”

“This is the cheapest market in the industry.”

“Our market is all bid there’s no loyalty”

“If we’re not the lowest price, we can’t win”

“Forget service and support…all they want is price”

“It’s a waste of time to try to convince someone to pay more for something”

“A widget’s a widget.  I feel guilty selling at a higher price”

“Times are too tough to sell “value”.”

Pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious statements?  You bet!  Also very real (all ACTUAL quotes)!  So how do you suppose salesman A ski’s through the [sales] day?  Probably, not very well! 

Contrast Salesman A’s negative thinking [and speech] with that of a different cat, Salesman B: 

“There are buyers who’ll pay more for better.  I’ve seen ‘em and sold ‘em.”

“Price is only one of many considerations in the decision-making process.”

“We’re selling a whole lot more than parts.”

“The price isn’t too high, unless the customer under-desires your product.”

“My success is a direct result of my preparation and attitude.”

“The more value I build in on the front end, the less important is price at the close.”

“The more I learn, about my products and service the more passionate I am.”

“I have 15% market share, which means I have an 85% share to pursue.”

“I am worth it!”

Optimistic, confident, proactive, and aggressive?  You bet!  Also real quotes.  Salesman B can’t be held back.  He ski’s through the day with power, finesse, and relative ease. 

Which salesman do you most closely relate to…especially when times get tough?  Do you become reactive, tentative, fearful, or sloppy?  Or are you more like Salesman B, Proactive, confident, sure.  The good news is that you can be either, because…….It’s All in Your Head!

 Lead on…

Cliff

April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am 2 comments

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you meet are also the first to say “thank you”, and that the most frustrated, selfish, and cynical rarely acknowledge or express gratitude?  Why is that?  Is it because happy people have more to be thankful for?  I don’t think so.   I believe theirs is an attitude of gratitude that is born out of a unique perspective of wonder and contentment.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of all Americans don’t expect to receive a thank-you card or note after giving a gift.  Unfortunately the age-old custom of sending thank-you notes and cards has nearly been forgotten.  The survey, commissioned by the Society of American Florists found that most people don’t even expect an in-person [verbal] “thank you”, a phone call or even an email “thanks”.  How sad! 

Now, don’t misunderstand…I’m not suggesting that we as doers and givers should be seeking recognition and gratitude from others; that’s not the point.  The point is that we as a people are gradually drifting into a state of thanklessnessIt is a problem, especially in a country where prosperity and plenty have given Americans more material blessings than any people, at any time, in history.  People who don’t show gratitude are less likely to treat others with respect.  They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and show a lack of regard for everyone but themselves.  They are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal…and to complain that they are “entitled” to what others have.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day – the one day of the year when many pause to consider all that they have been given.  Some even call this time of year “the season for giving thanks”.  But gratitudereal thanksgiving – knows no season.  It is not an event that we “do” and then set aside for the rest of the year.  Real gratitude is a character trait of people with real characterGratitude indicates an attitude of humility (the opposite of Pride–the first “deadly sin”) and acknowledges one’s dependence upon others.  I cringe when I hear people say “he’s a self-made-man”, and worse when I hear of people who they themselves think that of themselves.  None of us are self-made.  None of us are successful by our own merits…no matter how challenging our lives may be.  There is always a friend, a parent, an advisor, an author, an employee, a customer, a teacher, an inspiration, or an artist that leads us to achievement.  I work for a guy who understands this.  He’s the CEO of one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country.  Yet every day as people leave work and he hears the “goodbyes”, he calls from his corner office “thanks for the help”.

The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of gratitude at all times and under all conditions.  To look for and recognize the blessings and gifts that just come to us.  To always thank others for help, for things, for ideas, for anything we can find an excuse to express gratitude for.

At a time when people are “thanking” less, what an opportunity to set ourselves apart.  Commit to sending one thank-you card a day to a customer, or looking for one thing to thank an employee for each day. As we do, wonderful things will happen to us as individuals, to those we thank…just watch…

Lead on………..    Cliff

November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

What’s Your Motivation?

Why do you do the things you do?  Why do you perform at the level you do?  What about your employees; What’s their motivation for what they do and how they perform?  

In a speech by author and lecturer Hyrum Smith, he said that there are three basic emotions behind everything we do.  These emotions cause us to act upon, or react to, the various events and opportunities that make up our lives. These emotions are…Fear, Responsibility, and Love.   

Everything we do, every choice we make…is the result of one of these emotions – fear, responsibility, or love.  When you jump out of bed in the morning, it’s because you’re afraid if you don’t you’ll lose your job, or because you’re driven by a strong sense of responsibility to those who count on you, or…because you love what you do and you love those you serve…and you can’t wait to get to it!  One way or another, everything you (and your employees) do links back to one (or more) of these emotions. 

Why does it matter?  Consider the following: 

  1. The emotion of fear relates to “I have to thinking…  “I have to go to work or I’ll starve”.  I have to help that person or I may lose my job.”  “I have to stretch the truth or I’ll lose the sale.” 
  2. The emotion of responsibility relates to I ought to thinking…  “I ought to be on time because that’s right thing to do.”  “I ought to sweep the floors because the place should look presentable.”  “I ought to call the customer back because that’s she’d expect.”
  3. The emotion of love relates to I want to thinking…  “I want to get up and get to work because I love what I do.”  I want to serve my customers well because I genuinely like and care about them.”  “I want to do exactly what the boss asked – even when he’s not looking – because he’s a good guy and I like working for him.”  I want to spend the extra time training this employee because I love his enthusiasm and potential.”

Clearly, there’s a difference…a BIG difference between the depth of motivation…from fear…to responsibility…to love!  Which would you rather have working for you?  I’ll take ”I want to” every time!  It stems from the love of a job, love of an organization, a customer, an idea, a vision…  Imagine the difference over the life of a career between an employee that is motivated by love (“I want to”) versus one motivated by fear (“I have to”). 

The example you set and work environment you create can make all the difference in how your employees are motivated.  Model the actions, emotions, and care that you desire from your employees and you’re far more likely to see them respond in a similar fashion.  If they know you “want to” carry out the mission, and love doing what you do, your influence will spread and your team’s results will skyrocket!   

Lead on…

Cliff

October 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Great Expectations

You’ve heard the advice… “Over promise, then under deliver…and you’re sure to disappoint”.  Few things can break trust or weaken relationships more.  Making a habit of it can be “fatal”…especially in trust-based relationships.  Conversely, sound customer service is built upon “under promising and over delivering”, thereby creating situations and results that thrill and excite customers.  The interesting thing is, that while the actual quantity, quality, or degree of what is being “delivered” COULD be exactly the same in every case, it’s the relative expectations that determine the level of satisfaction…and trust.  If you expect a half glass of juice and receive a half glass, you’re satisfied.  If you expect a full glass and receive the same half glass, you’re unsatisfied.  If, on the other hand you expect only a sip of a juice and you receive a half glass, you’re elated!  Again, it all depends on expectations.  The following illustrates well this relationship between expectations, “delivery”, and trust!

I once heard a man talk about his life growing up on a ranch where he worked with his father and brothers raising cattle and horses in southern Utah and northern Arizona.  He was taught as a boy that when he wanted to catch one of the horses to ride, all he had to do was to put a handful of grain into a bucket and shake it for several seconds.  It didn’t matter if the horses were in a corral or a large field; they would come running to get the grain.  As a horse would eat, the young rancher would gently slip a bridle over its head, and prepare the horse for riding.  He was always amazed at how well this simple process worked.  Occasionally though, when he was a little lazy, and didn’t want to take the time to get the grain from the barn, he put dirt in the bucket and shook it, attempting to trick the horses into thinking that he had grain for them to eat.  When the horses discovered they had been deceived, some of them would stay, but most would run away and be nearly impossible to catch.  He said it would then take several days to regain the horses’ trust.

And so it is with service…no matter where it is given…whether it’s at a sales counter, or to your employee, co-worker, boss, or family….anyone that relies on your service, your promise, your “delivery” to them.  Do you over promise…then under deliver? Do you say what you think they “want” to hear, knowing full well you won’t be able to “deliver”?  Do you falsely build expectations by not telling the whole story?  Do you stretch the truth, exaggerate the benefit, or say whatever it takes in order to get what you want…now?  If you’re a manager, a professional, or a parent, your “customers”, those you serve and whom depend on you, expect a higher standard; Anything less is a disappointment!  Think about your “customers” and ask yourself, “what do they expect from me?” Then with that as a minimum, decide what you’ll do today, next week, or next year to exceed their “expectations”… Keep it interesting…keep ‘em guessing…and keep delighting them… They won’t just be “customers”…..they’ll be raving fans!

Lead on…

Cliff

June 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

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