We are truly living in a new age of service and expectation. Traffic is generally down at all physical locations and one person has the power to significantly influence your organization while you have no power to stop it from happening. We’ve seen many examples of how one person posts a comment or photo and then it gains traction with over a million likes, comments or shares online. Businesses quickly try to scramble to save face by changing policies or firing the people involved. At the same time, organizations are spending more and more just to get an opportunity with a new customer. Retail costs for a new customer avg from $10-$40, financial institutes will spend over $175 per person and phone companies will spend over $300 for a new account. With that much investment, it’s more important than ever to keep the ones that you have.
Focus on retention
A recent study showed that 44% of companies put more emphasis on acquisition and only 18% put more on retention. That means 38% aren’t really focused on either! It’s fine to focus on new customers; in fact, you should in order to grow. If you solely focus on acquisition, you may lose 5 for every 1 that you gain. Not only is this a very poor business model, it is also a self-fulfilling prophecy to your own demise. On average it costs 5 times more to get a new person than it is to keep the ones that you have. Don’t focus so much on catching the one fish that you don’t notice all the fish that you caught are leaving through the hole in the boat. Here are some good ways to focus on retention:
Reward them for their loyalty: Everyone does rewards cards these days. Offer them something of value more than just a discount every now and again.
Listen to them: Truly take in their feedback and then act on it.
Show them you are socially responsible in your community.
Show them you stand for something.
Educate, don’t sell: People appreciate when you take the time to teach them something or make an educated recommendation than trying to sell them on an item.
Don’t let them leave unhappy
When you see a customer experience start to turn south, do everything that you can do to immediately resolve the situation. Make it a priority to resolve issues that you hear about after the fact. This can be feedback from the team, customer comments you receive internally or messages you get on social media. As we saw at the top of the newsletter, one incident can turn into a crippling event for you.
Avoid generic email responses and form letters. Nothing shows them that you don’t truly care more than an unsolicited email or message response that’s not heartfelt.
Be empathetic: Most often they just want to be heard and for you to improve. Don’t defend the person or situation.
Offer more than an apology: Give me something to either meet their need or to show your good will.
Commit to improve based on their feedback.
Do your best to gain new customers while focusing on keeping the ones that you currently have. Remember that when you lose one customer, you’ve actually lost many more because you can guarantee that they will tell their families and friends about their experience. Keep your boat sealed and cast your nets wide!
One of the most undervalued types of communications is a person’s storytelling skills. I remember one year when I put storytelling skills in the areas for improvement section of my annual review. It was largely brushed off and likely taken in the context that I was not focusing on the right areas. The truth of the matter is that we all need to be better storytellers. When I travel around the country and teach leaders or consult with organizations, I often tell the same stories over and over again if it’s on the same subject matter. If you are in sales you do the same thing daily with potential clients. If you are a parent, you use stories to teach your children. We also use stories to build and grow relationships both personally and professionally.
There are three types of stories that everyone should have in their toolbox.
This is your outsider to insider story and your goal is to connect on an emotional level. Think David and Goliath or Rocky. Both great stories of overcoming the odds to win. For me, it’s starting out at an organization as a seasonal hire, after not even getting an interview the first time, to becoming a leader in that company and being responsible for over of 500 people. It doesn’t have to be extreme. Your story may be getting laid off from a job and how you bounced back, not getting into the school you wanted, not getting the dream job you applied for etc. Basically, what obstacle and personal setback have you overcome to get a win. A few months ago, I told a story of how the GA marathon destroyed me, but I was able to bounce back and do really well at the Boston Marathon weekend a month later. Large or small, have a few of these type of stories in your pocket.
This story shows your expertise in your specific field, also known as your street cred story. What gives you your credibility? Again this can be both large and small scale, depending on your experience. I have a few including turning around retention rates, stories of other leaders that have thrived under the right kind of leadership and financial gains by focusing on the right training delivery method. Yours may be your academic success, work success, or success as a parent. Another way to think about it is from the perspective of your friends/family/co-workers. They would say you are awesome at _________ because _________ . There’s one of your stories right there.
This is your story of what you do. What problem solve for other people? “I help people __________”, “I help my organization _________”. Share a problem that you currently working on for a customer, your boss, or your business. These are typically easier stories to identify and showcase your drive to improve others and work with a team. It helps people see how you can help them with their own problems and situations. People enjoy hearing how their pain points can be solved and they get that from hearing how you did it with others.
Keep in mind to tailor your stories around what people need to hear. The stories I share when speaking to business students are going to be different from the ones I share with a CEO going through a culture change initiative. In her situation, she doesn’t care that I got passed over for a seasonal job, but a college student will project themselves into the story and see how they can build future career growth.
Tips to start writing your story
Free write: Spend time weekly writing out your thoughts or experience that happened to you in the last week. We all forget our interactions and they can often be a great start to an engaging story.
Voice to text apps or voice recorders: Hate writing? Use voice recording apps, your phone, or a recorder to record your thoughts.
Be authentic: People see through fake stories or ones that are overexaggerated and insincere. People want to hear about the real you.
Try it on friends and colleagues: Use those close to you to give you honest feedback on how your story is. They can help you edit and polish your story to make it more impactful.
Don’t improv your story: I know that you’ve heard yourself tell the story a hundred times, but it’s likely a first for your audience. There is a reason why people enjoy a greatest hits album and far fewer buy the remix album. People want to hear your best!
Have an impact that they remember: If people can’t summarize and tell your story to others then it probably needs to be reworked.
Develop a skill people don’t have and then give it to them: Give them something that they can’t readily get elsewhere. That may be a service, a unique combination in skill set or life experience.
*Ryan Williams is an expert in storytelling and the writer of the Influencer Economy. He is the champion of the three types of stories everyone should have and can be found at The Influencer Economy
Family is not an important thing, it is everything.
Have you ever been somewhere where you didn’t get served well and then you observe someone in the same establishment getting great service? It’s extremely frustrating, to say the least. I’m typically very unlikely to visit the place again when this happens to me or my family. I think that we get so caught up in the daily whirlwind and routine that we forget why we are there in their first place; to serve the guests. It’s important to the success of your team that everyone feels valued and important.
Love the guests like family.
To say to an employee, “I want you to treat everyone like family,” is quite easy. We then are frustrated when we see that experience fail to come into existence. It’s either that A) They refuse to engage in that way (and they should be removed from the team) or B) They don’t understand the difference in what they are doing and what you are looking for. Storytelling is a great way for a person to remember and understand the point you are trying to make. Here we are going to let them tell their own story to drive the point home. Imagine your best friend or mom walked through the front door. How would you react? Excited, relaxed, happy….definitely more engaging. You’d probably carry on a conversation with them and then help them find what they were looking for. You’d also likely give them that little extra above and beyond service as well.
That’s the difference.
Help your team see that we interact with close friends and family differently from strangers in both obvious and subtle ways. Your ultimate goal is for your employees to treat everyone they encounter with that same joy and excitement. It doesn’t have to be crazy over the top either. It could be opening the door for someone, getting on the level of a child to give them a high-five, carrying stuff out to the car, or any number of other small loving things that you can do. Here’s the great thing for you as a leader; this level of service doesn’t cost you a thing. There is one thing that you’ll need to do as a leader though….
Love the team like family.
Yes, you can’t tell the employees to love the customers like family, without doing the same for them. I understand that we have policies and personal boundaries when it comes to the people that report to us. I’m not suggesting that you break those. I am saying show them appreciation as much as possible. Remember that we talked in the fall about how we overestimate our impact? You aren’t giving out as much appreciation as you think you are. The people that report to you will be the reason you will or won’t get a promotion. Show them how much you appreciate their contribution. Remember to respect them for who they are. You may think video games are a waste of time and you don’t understand why the guy on your team spends every other waking hour playing those things, but he’s probably very successful at it and the activity adds value to him. Don’t discount someone because of their interest or background. All employees deserve your highest respect. Lastly, be sure to encourage them in their mistakes and when they try new things.
Treat your team like family and set the expectation that they do the same with the guests. Your service level will skyrocket.
Waiting is hard. I know that it is for me. We all have times in our life when we are suddenly waiting for direction. I think of this as a waiting room. You are just stuck there and it only becomes more frustrating as you see other people come and go while you just continue to wait for your name to be called. The time doesn’t have to be wasted. In fact, it can be a very productive time for you. Let’s look at a few things you can do while you wait.
Take the time while you wait to explore around you. I don’t mean physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Remove the times and moments where you may fill stressed and replace it with personal deep dives into those three areas. It’s often like an unexplored cave. There is stuff there left waiting to be found if you are willing to go deep enough. These times have been extremely insightful when I’ve taken the time to do this. I’ve discovered that I wasn’t as passionate about an item or subject as I thought that I was, found new passions, discovered that the things that I would get hung up on actually were not that big of a deal to begin with and found new ways that I could love and serve others.
So what if you’ve done that and are still thirsting for direction and the next step? Get back in there and keep searching. Several years ago, I felt was in the waiting room and spent a large amount of time exploring my own cave. What I found were multiple tunnels that were leading somewhere. One could be labeled poor employee experiences, another a loss of friends that I enjoyed working with, another the joy of seeing someone get a promotion among others. They all lead to a beautiful cavern that was called culture and people development. The piece was in me the whole time, I just had to put all the pieces together. Once I did I left the waiting room and was off on a new mission.
Have no regrets about the time before the wait.
It would have been easy to look back at my time after the self-discovery of culture and people development and think that I had wasted a bunch of time beforehand. I certainly would have chosen a different degree in college and could have saved some people on their career path along the way. Don’t fall into this trap. Everything that you have done before today has lead to this moment. It’s all valuable in some way. Had I gotten a different degree, I wouldn’t have had the honor to serve all the leaders that I do. Even the hurtful things and regrets in our past have something to teach us. Don’t be ashamed of your story or what you missed. Use it to write that next great chapter in your life.
It could be a hint that something great is coming
Speaking of the next great thing, I have found that the waiting room is often a signal that something great is about to happen. Both of our children came out of times of being in the waiting room. My success as both an obstacle course racer and runner came from times in the waiting room. I would never have thought that would have been me before entering those times. Hold true to these times of waiting. We don’t know the length of the wait but it can be time well spent.
The caterpillar must wait to become the butterfly. So should you use the time in the waiting room to transform to a better, rejuvenated and focused you.
Make a better tomorrow. -ZH
*Listen to an expanded version of this topic including areas not discussed here in this podcast #118: Stuck in the waiting room
The importance of community, living in peace and helping one another, is a foundation piece of who we are. That can be found more so in Clarkston, GA than anywhere else in the world. Clarkston holds the crown as the most diverse city in the world. At a population of a little over 12,000, it accounts for over 200 people groups in one square mile where they speak over 60 languages.
They know what community is. Do we?
Realize what people look like
We as a collective community have forgotten what other people look like. The filter is through our misconceptions, stereotypes, misplaced fear, judgment, and prejudice. The truth is that the person you are looking at is actually you. They deserve to be treated the same as well. I think it’s important to think through the full scenario that the person or people group are in as well. It’s easy to say the people running into issues at our border have it coming to them. It’s their choice and they pay the consequences for it. I’ve been asking it to myself a different way: How bad would the situation have to be for me to pack up a toddler, leave everything behind and walk and hitchhike with strangers halfway across a continent? Most of us will never experience something that traumatic. It certainly makes me look at the situation in a new light.
The people in your community look just like you. No matter what’s on the outside, inside they are exactly the same.
Defend and help those who need it
Use your skills and talent to help those who can’t help themselves. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a bodyguard for the elderly or a suppressed people group. There was a great example last week of highschooler girls using their talent in coding to help prevent cyber attacks on others. Be an advocate for those with no voice.
I met a community worker in Clarkston who was doing a great job of identifying the unique needs of the people groups there and worked to fill those needs. For the Somali people group, it was the desire for camel’s milk. It’s a large piece of the social culture back in their homeland and it’s not exactly easy to find in America. It just so happens that the largest camel milk supplier is across town. He made the connection for them and now as part of their custom, is invited in to meet and do life with the people there.
Do you know what the most common need across all the different refugee groups in Clarkston is? It’s simply the desire to have one American citizen as their friend.
Called to community
Man and woman were never meant to live alone. We’ve seen what this does to a person on a mental, spiritual, and emotional level. Many times when people have made very violent decisions, it is rooted in their isolation from others. The TV show Alone actively explores this struggle by inserting survivors into an environment alone. The last person to quit wins. Its quite telling to see how many tap out not because of the physical struggles, but because of all the mental struggles.
We can’t reach our fullest potential by isolating ourselves. We do this out of fear, misconceptions, and in more serious cases mental disorders. We are so much better when we learn from others and gain from their insight and experience. I wish I had the chance to experience every culture in the world. Unfortunately, time is not on our side, so I find it important to actively engage others whenever I can. I consider myself a better leader and member of society for it.
How to make a difference
One of the biggest struggles I have had in seeing indecency spread to others, is “What can I do about it?” There are several ways we can fight back against uncivil acts and transgressions.
Share kindness and love with others. Refer to our newsletter and podcast from last week.
Actively educate yourself on a people group or culture that you don’t fully know.
Donate to a cause that serves others in need.
Find out what the felt need is for others and try to help them make that connection.
Here are some sites where you can volunteer in your community and how to help refugees.
A job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but your ability to use it at the right time.
I get asked fairly often, from college students to seasoned professionals, on advice for having a good interview. They range from part-time extra work to college entrance interviews to major milestone jumps in a person’s career. I get so encouraged when people are seeking help in meeting their personal and professional goals and luckily, no matter what you are interviewing for there are a few key things that will help you stand out and ace that interview.
Be a storyteller
One of the most important things that you want to get across during the interview is your story. There is only one you after all, and the interviewer wants to get to know that person. Build yourself a mental Rolodex of stories that showcase your success, drive, ambition, and values. What you’ll look for in the interview are times to insert one of these stories. Having a good library of stories to tell helps you immensely in an interview because you will not find yourself mentally scrambling to answer questions. You’ll hear the question, roll through your examples, and pull out the story that matches most. For the interviewer, it shows your quick response and attentiveness. Rehearse your stories and examples with a friend, family member or colleague then sharpen and polish those stories. One of the quickest ways to kill an interview is to come unprepared and stumble through answering the questions while showing no personality.
If you are looking for ideas to jump-start your story Rolodex, do a search for typical interview questions and begin building your stories around those.
Know your numbers and business trends
Numbers are relative to the job you are applying for. For the college student/new career, it may be your school numbers and accolades. For the person trying to move up the ladder, it’s all of their current business numbers and how you and the team impacted a positive change. To take this up another level, bake these numbers into your stories from the previous section. You are then showcasing yourself twice at one time.
For business trends, prepare to share your desire to learn and see the larger picture of the changing environment. It’s good to mention books and podcast that you are listening to. Following the news on social media is good. Great is knowing what companies are doing and testing and then being able to discuss those changes with the interviewer.
Know the position and company (But have questions)
You want to know as much as possible about both the position and the company before the interview. If its for a certain department, do research on who works there, what they are known for and what their impact is for that organization. If it involves a potential move to a new city, know things about the city beforehand. Where do you think you’d live? What would you love about the city? Do you already know someone in that area? These things show the interviewer that you are bought into the company, the job and the area that it’s located in. I will not hire someone for a position if I think that they wouldn’t enjoy it there long term as a family. I would only be setting them up for failure if I did.
You are likely going to be asked at the end if you have any questions. Always ask questions! Make sure that they are informed, educated and curious in nature. Don’t ask the interviewer if you got the job, instead ask about the culture of the team, what they see as opportunities for the job you are interviewing for, what kind of influence would you like the new person to bring in, etc. All of these show the person interviewing that you have a deeper understanding than most candidates. If you say that you don’t have any questions, you are telling the interviewer that either A) You aren’t as truly interested as the top candidates. or B) You aren’t aren’t seeing the bigger picture of the job.
Do these things and you’ll be ready to shine when the spotlight is on you.
No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing.
Finding that great local spot is an adventure that I enjoy during all of my travels. A national chain is good for consistency, but a quality local place really puts its heart into its food and experience to create a memorable time for their guests. I will take a local dive over a national chain any day. It’s not easy for that local chef. They have to create the magic by having the right amount of ingredients, cooking time and preparation. Let’s see what we can learn about leadership from food.
You have to have the right ingredients.
I’m often amazed when I see recipes that call for very small amounts of an ingredient or an off-the-wall ingredient. How many times did the creator tweak the recipe until they found the right balance to make the perfect meal item? Likely dozens to over a hundred times. They didn’t give up until they found exactly what they were looking for.
Think of your team as the ingredients for a perfect meal. (Not that you are going to eat them!) Each of them brings their own flavor or style to the group, but none can complete the recipe on their own. You are likely going to need a techie kind of person, someone with creativity, someone with empathy, someone with strong business knowledge, a future thinker, and a strategist just to name a few. No one could fill all of those roles, and if they could there would still be too much work for the one person to complete. Think about your team today. Are you missing any ingredients to make that magic happen? Identify what those things are and then make a concentrated effort to add people with those traits to your team. It could be talent based or diversity/perspective based.
You have to prepare the ingredients.
You can’t just throw in a bunch of unprepared food together and expect anything edible to come out as the outcome. An unprepared and untrained team can expect to achieve the same results; a hot mess that will go in the garbage. Ensure that your people are well prepared for what’s ahead of them. They need the right amount of communication, training, and investment in order to be effective. When cooks show up for their shift, the chef will often tell them what the special is for the day, what they are running low on and what other tasks they need to complete during their time in the kitchen. You would hate to receive your meal without a key ingredient because the cook forgot or ran out of an item. Make sure your team has everything that they need to be effective, otherwise expect to get mediocre results.
You have to cook the ingredients.
When I was in college, I cooked everything fast. Why wait when you could crank up the heat and get it done faster? I eventually learned my lesson after eating dry and bland food all of the time. You can’t treat all food the same if you expect an excellent meal. In the same way, you cannot develop your team at the same speed. Some are going to need a low and slow approach. Some will thrive under a little pressure and heat every now and then. Be mindful of your tactics when developing and pushing your team for growth. The same pressure that you apply to one person for growth can very well push someone else out the door. Change and adapt your style and tactics so that each person can be successful.
You are the chef of the kitchen no matter the size of your team. Continue to learn and grow until you perfect the right recipe for that perfect team.
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. -Warren G. Bennis
It’s a new year! It’s a time to wash away the old of the prior year and to make a fresh start for 2019. You have all the potential in the world ahead of you. The vision that you cast now for yourself and your team should be a challenge, yet attainable and you should have at least a general path how to get there.
A vision for your work or team Vision should be a unifying piece and matches throughout the layers of an organization. Here’s how it looks:
The CEO casts the vision for the company.
The VP or Division Head cast their vision for the business segment.
The Region or District Director cast the vision for the geographical area.
You cast the vision for your team.
Sounds like the potential for a lot of confusion and competing priories? It’s not if you make sure you are aligned with the vision of those above you. Every year after much thought and prayer, I get my vision for what the next year looks like. I then take that vision and present it to my leaders to make sure that I am aligned with their vision.
So what is your vision for this year?
You have been given a vision whether you know it right now or not. If you do know your vision, keep it out in front of your team. I had signs in my office that I changed out yearly where we actually tracked our vision to reality. If you aren’t quite sure what your vision is, don’t give up. Keep looking and searching for it. Partner with your leader on some guidance to help you discover what it is.
What is your business going to stand for this year? If you don’t own your business or business segment, how will your team stand out this year?
What is your team going to stand for in the community?
What would it take to get the team to the place that you dream of?
What are you going to stand for with your people?
A vision for your personal life Let’s not forget your personal life! If anything people will think they have this covered with New Years Resolutions. Often the problem with resolutions is that they are more wishes or hopes instead of a solid plan for personal growth. When you formulate your vision for yourself in the new year make sure that they have actionable points.
If you want to lose weight, how do you plan on that? Put your plan in place and then work to live it out.
Do you want to increase your education? What do you need to do to get the funding? Set a deadline for yourself or check the deadlines for scholarships.
Are you looking to take a memory making adventure or vacation? Budget out how much to save, set a deadline and have fun planning.
Discover the vision; embrace it and use strategic thinking to get there.
Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
Conflict! You have dealt with it, you currently are dealing with it at some level, and you’ll be dealing with it in the future. Conflict always comes from two groups. Those groups can be as small as one person all the way to millions of people. When two groups have conflict and begin fighting it out, it will typically fall into one of four categories.
Power: This is mine.
Data: My numbers are more legitimate.
Opinion: My opinion is more valid than yours.
Unnecessary: How I position myself and protect my area.
We’ll look at the one reason we can knock down the most and then a couple of ways to lessen the other three types of conflict.
Our language, tone, body signals and the words we choose can cause many unnecessary conflicts. If you are a student in Emotional Intelligence, this would fall under self-management. Do you raise your voice often or when you get worked up? Do you use demeaning terms or phrases that challenge others? Are you offering up solutions, answers or conclusions early in the exchange?When you offer the solution first, people will often challenge it instead of defining the problem. Be sure to pick words that are about the issue and not the person. You are likely shattering trust in your goal of getting your point across. Avoid direct blaming, instead describe the problem and how it impacts others.
Have a strong sense of Emotional Intelligence
I’m teaching a class for leaders on Emotional Intelligence as I write this letter. What we have learned is that because of the way that the brain is built, information travels through your emotional portion before it reaches the logical part of your brain. That means that emotions always get the first say in things that happen to us. This can quickly escalate a conflict if not handled properly.Our emotional responses come from personalizing the issue. Separate the personal issue from the actual problem at hand. Deal with the personal issue later if warranted.
Do certain things just push your buttons, set you off, shut you down, or generally make you lose your cool? Think about the last several times that you didn’t handle conflict well and learn what the triggers were that got you derailed. Once you discover what sets you off and what your nonverbal ticks are (face gets flush, temperature rises, etc) rehearse how you would handle it in the future…..it’s bound to pop back up again.
You cannot stop conflict from happening. It’s part of life. You can, however, learn how to minimize it and work through it in a professional and efficient manner.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
Patience. It’s the one thing people joke about to never ask for or pray for otherwise you are in for even more trouble! Some people wear impatience as a badge of honor, especially if it has to do with fixing a deficiency, issue, or problem. The problem with being impatient is that it can choke out development and cause you to over manage parts of your life.
“Get out of the way and I can fix this!”
Ever been tested because someone is taking longer (significantly longer at times) to do something that you can do very quickly? The quick answer is to just move them out of the way and do it yourself. Besides its more efficient in the moment. The long term is being sacrificed here for the short term. You weren’t always the master and lightning fast at some of the things you do really well. Patience with a moment or person gives them a chance to develop and grow. It also gives them a chance to contribute to the team and help take some load off of you. They very well may end up as a better expert at it than you are.
“I’ve got Patience. I can win a staring contest with a sloth.”
You’ve got patience? Well that’s great! Like all things in life it’s got to be a balance. Too much patience can actually be a hindrance too. It can make you wait too long and miss opportunities. You may also let issues grow from lack of action. Keep mindful of the situation, the surrounding environment and sense of urgency when balancing your patience. You can have all the patience in the world when teaching CPR. The time to teach and have patience is not when you need to actually perform CPR. Remember the balance and you’ll do well.
Patience is a virtue. Strike the balance to allow others to contribute, but be aware enough to know when to step in and execute.
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
Caring for your team (or family) is one of the most important things that you can do as a leader. When your people see how much you care for them, they are much more likely to show that same amount of care to others. Morale and effectiveness also increases. A caring leader has many advantages in their leadership. They can pick up on nuanced behavior in their team quicker. They can also rely on them more when the going gets tough, and they often form common bonds that build a deep level of trust.
Caring is more than just a smile
Caring for someone is more than just being cordial, smiling and asking how their day is going.
Caring leaders listen. (More on this in a couple of weeks)
Caring leaders truly know their people. Get to know three things about each person. Interests, hobbies, family are good places to start.
Caring leaders are curious. They ask their people their insight and opinion.
Caring leaders understand without having to agree or prove a point.
Caring leaders share information and are as transparent as possible.
Just as in just about everything else in life, balance is the key. Be mindful of the relationship level and guard yourself from going too far. You aren’t called to be someone’s councilor (unless that’s your job). For the chronic complainers, have them write down their problems and solutions so can discuss together. This puts the action of solutions in their court. For those that are angry, listen but don’t encourage the conversation. It will burn itself out quickly. Lastly, you want to handle every relationship and person with a great deal of integrity.
How are you doing as a caring leader? If polled, would your team call you a leader that truly cared for them? For many, this is easier to master once they realize there is an opportunity. Showing care to your team is a must do in today’s environment.
I saw this question recently in a leadership discussion group that I follow. The conversation was that some thought it was most important to do things right otherwise your operations fall apart. The other side said that being flexible and doing right by the guest was most important. Otherwise you will lose their business. I think if you changed one word in the question and make it a statement, it fixes everything.
Do the things right and do the right thing.
Do the Things Right
It’s very important for us to do the things right. It’s the key to a consistent positive experience with our guests. Doing things right also keeps our costs down in labor, keeps us in line with laws in the work place and helps keep morale in the right direction. Don’t recover your store for a week and see what happens to guest experience, how your team feels and how inefficient you become. Not one piece of your business will be good if you fail to do things right. Doing the right things is very scripted. There is a plan in place (or policy) to keep us consistent.
Do the Right Thing
Doing the right thing is often unscripted. A team member must feel both empowered and be instilled with a sense of purpose in order to feel comfortable here. One of our leaders in Orlando is a great example of how this looks on a larger scale. His team donated a large amount of candles to a church so that they could host a candle light vigil in the city due to the recent tragedies there. Unscripted and unexpected? You bet. Jim felt empowered to step up and he knows our purpose. The decision was easy. Empower your team to own the guest experience and instill in them our purpose
Jim’s team did the right thing by helping the church. He also did things right by partnering with his corp team and area stores to get the product in correctly and efficiently. Changing the or to an and in the question makes all the difference.
We currently live in a day where quality speaks louder than it ever has. To get an example of this, think of your favorite place to do business. It could be a shop, store, restaurant, or destination. Now expand your thought to their competition. You should be able to name six fairly easy. What makes that one place your favorite when you have so many options? It’s likely the quality of what they do/sell that helps draw you in. Lets look at some areas where quality is important.
This is typically out of many people’s control, but it is still very important to us in the bigger picture. It goes from the type of card-stock used on your business cards to ensuring products are of the best quality. You’ll hear of businesses scraping a run of books before letting an inferior product reach their guests’ hands.
Guests today don’t just purchase product, they also buy an experience. This area is very much in your control as a leader. We’ve talked before about what separates brick and mortar from their online competition. Who you hire, their level of enthusiasm, training and development all shape that experience. Your team alone makes the decision on the quality of the experience.
We live in an aesthetic era. The way someone looks in an interview can help or hurt their chances in a job interview. You may not let your children play at the neighbors because the other kid’s appearance unsettles you. The truth is visual cues help guide our decisions on the quality of the person or place. This is why so many places are starting to place such a high visual standard on recovery and merchandising.
As the world becomes more automated few things communicate excellence like a personal touch. This is another area where you have 100% influence in. How you do this is up to you, but two easy areas for this to impact is your teams and shipout areas. Your personal touch with a guest means so much more than a cart icon on a computer. A little note inside a box with an order goes a long way as well.
Follow these guidleines and your guests will notice and become even bigger fans of what you do.
People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. – John Maxwell
Everybody’s got an attitude, it’s just that some are better than others. Let’s explore what that looks like for us.
Those that you work for
How do you handle disappointment and constructive criticism? Do you push back too hard on conversations with your leader? If a meeting doesn’t go as you expected, are you deflated for days? Early on I didn’t push back, but I would definitely get myself down if I had a disappointing visit. It took me some time to grow through that. If it’s something that you deal with, know that it can be overcome. Be aware of it and try to look at it from a neutral position. Hopefully your leader is doing the same.
Those that work for you
Have you heard the saying that people are quicker to quit their boss than their job? It’s true! Your team care strategy is very important. You may have built a revolving door of employees in your business simply because your attitude doesn’t inspire anyone to follow you. Be mindful of your demeanor. Lean on a couple of trusted people close to you at work to help keep you focused and in check
Those that work with you
During your time in the workforce you likely have run into someone where you thought, “I don’t want to work on another project with _______.” It almost always comes from two things: attitude and work ethic. I would even say that the work ethic piece is grounded in their attitude as well.
Self awareness time…. Are you that person? This is a great opportunity to grow by leaning in on your inner circle so they can help you work through this. You don’t want to be the person that your peers don’t want to work with. If they aren’t excited to work with you as a peer, they won’t be motivated to follow you should you become their leader one day.
A great attitude helps give you that edge that you need as a leader. It makes you look better than you are in good times and bad. Put your best foot forward and lead in a way that energizes others.
Emotional intelligence can give you the lift to soar. A lack of it will keep you shackled to the ground.
Interpersonal skills is another area of leadership that isn’t discussed often. I think that’s because it’s difficult to think how you can develop yourself or someone else through it. How in do you make someone unawkward? Many leadership profiles describe this one as: Sensitive to the moods, feelings, and motivation of others; recognizes and encourages others through active listening, feedback, and appropriate influence; balances compassion and firmness in interpersonal relationships. Let’s jump in to this one together and have a look at a few key areas.
Momma always said manners are important and she was right! A smile and being appreciative goes a long way. If you say something like “I know it sounds like I complain all the time but….” Well you can stop right there because that means you arecomplaining all the time. This goes for work and at home. Also keep in mind your audience when it comes to manners. A store team member should not address a Nashville partner as bro or other colloquial terms. I also shouldn’t prop my feet up on my desk when having a conversation with someone. Both are tone setting points that are not interpreted well by the other party.
The majority of the what our profile says sits right here. It’s about being in tune with what’s going on with those around you. Can you tell when someone on your team is having an off day? More importantly, do you know how to approach and handle that situation with clarity and empathy? If this is an area of growth for you, look to others close to you that are skilled here. Observe how they handled it and what they picked up on. If there are things you missed, remember those indicators for the future. Sometimes just slowing down enough to see it makes all the difference.
Communicating both verbally and non-verbally are big pieces. Avoid blurting out the first thing that pops in your head if this an area you need to grow in. Remember that your communication carries weight for both good and bad. A sprinkle of humor helps. It keeps people at ease and shows a level of engagement. Avoid taking it to the extreme though. Otherwise you may be labeled as a jokester, and that will hinder you credibility. The profile nails it about active listening, feedback and a balanced approach. Those are great avenues to improving communication skills.
The great thing about emotional intelligence is that you are fully in control. It’s a little more of a hill to climb for the introvert, but they can still master the skills enough to make this a strength. Master your interpersonal skills and you’ll find many other areas of leadership become much easier to handle.
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well” -Martin Luther King
I love that quote from Martin Luther King. Often leadership profiles define calling as “Seeing the significance of the work. Has a burning desire for the leadership position.” I remember feeling that calling in my 2nd year as a part-time team member. It was a very specific call to work to become a manager and then fix and turnaround stores. The funny part was that the first store I was asked to lead was a brand new store. It wouldn’t be until later on where I got to fully live out that calling. Today my calling is to invest in and develop others. Here are a couple of self check questions about your calling.
Are you doing what you are called to do? It’s a simple question, but it really is a gut check if you take it to heart. If this is not your calling, then I would suggest moving as quickly as possible to the area that is. When you aren’t where you are called to be, you hurt the organization you work for. They don’t get the most effective person for their needs. The person suffers because they will never fully enjoy their job. When someone communicates to me that where they are is not their calling, I do everything I can to get them there. I’ve written recommendation letters, helped people find a job in a different field and been references for interviews. If you have someone on your team that is not where they need to be; do what you can to help get them there.
Are you leading like it’s your calling? So you say that what you do is your calling. Do you lead that way? Do you lead in such a passionate and inspiring way that it’s obvious that this is what you’ve been called to do? If you answer yes, then you are in a good place and you should work on expanding your knowledge so that you can lead even better where you are. If you answered no, then you need to make some changes to get yourself motivated again. Seek councilors, or mentors outside the workplace. Study what others are doing. Read a good leadership book. Take some time off. Do what you need to do to reconnect. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself unmotivated and your calling will slip right through your fingers.
Sometimes you aren’t in the specific place you are called to be, but you are working on it. That’s OK, just be the best where you are and keep working towards that goal. Being where you are called to be makes all the difference in your life and the people’s lives that you serve.