Whether you’re coaching a team at a soccer practice, or discussing a proposal in a meeting, there are times when you are expected to take control. Compare two presenters reviewing a project with her team. First presenter: “Ok, that’s if for page 5. Would you kindly turn to page 6 please?” Second presenter: “Ok, that’s it for page 5. Please turn to page 6.” The second presenter, while still being polite, sounds more decisive, in control, and instills more confidence. I believe most of the time, we should ask – not tell. However, on those occasions when you are expected to, go ahead and take command.
If you’ve ever watched a great leader in a meeting you may notice a subtle technique that runs contrary to common behavior. Rather than dominating the discussion on each agenda item (a temptation for ego-driven, insecure people with a title), the savvy leader merely introduces a subject, then listens for input. She observes how each member of her team contributes, debates, reasons and interacts. Then, she announces her decision; acknowledging the comments and arguments of those who’ve contributed. She’s thereby perceived to be decisive, inclusive and a powerful leader. When it comes to meetings, smart leaders have the last word.
I think my former neighbor, Judge Peter Leveque had the right attitude about humor at work. Though he passed a few years ago, he once told me that as family court judge, at Easter time every year he would don a bunny outfit and hop into the staff’s offices delivering chocolate eggs. You can imagine the staff’s belly-laughs echoing in chambers at seeing Judge Peter transformed into Peter Rabbit. And they were devoted to him. As a leader trying to strengthen staff loyalty and enhance team spirit, do you use self-effacing humor? It is a risk requiring humility, security, and courage. Those are strong character traits. Maybe that’s why, ironically, at an almost subconscious level we have more respect for those people who take themselves less seriously.
My Dad taught me a business lesson that continues to annoy me; especially when I get complacent about running my company. Incidentally, Dad founded and led an oil & gas service company and was nominated by the Royal Bank in Calgary as being one of the most successful entrepreneurs they did business with. When I started JC Mowatt Seminars Inc. over 20 years ago, Dad gave me a single word job description that would determine whether my company would prosper over the long term. The single word, “Creator”. In today’s intensely competitive economy, I see this role of creator becoming more relevant for businesses than ever. I have to admit, when I’m not creating in my job, I’m coasting. Sometimes I’m too busy or lazy to create. That’s the annoying part. How about you… are you creating in your job?
Perhaps one of the toughest challenges in relationships is giving corrective feedback to people you care about. As a supervisor, husband, and father, I’ve made my share of mistakes when confronting others – less so since discovering this tip. Focus your feedback on behavior – not attitude. Instead of saying, “You need to be friendlier to customers.” (Friendliness is an attitude), focus on behavior with, “Within 5 seconds of the customer’s arrival, you are expected to smile, show teeth, and greet them.” Avoiding confrontation doesn’t help anyone. Focus on observable behavior. As for ‘correcting’ the other person’s attitude – what they think, believe, and feel – forever hold your peace.
"Our site managers are hurting us more than helping us when they put-off resolving customer complaints.” This was a client, a senior operations manager, I interviewed for a seminar I was doing for his managers. As an example he explained, “If a customer bangs their knee on our job site, we need the local site superintendent to immediately offer to reimburse for rehab expenses. If we force customers to contact head office, they are just as apt to contact a lawyer. And with our insurance deductible being 25k, we ALWAYS pay more by delaying than we would have by just resolving the complaint immediately.” I’ve found with other clients this same strategy applies to the likelihood of customers posting negative comments online. When we train frontline employees how to resolve customer concerns instantly, they not only strengthen customer loyalty; they also improve their company’s rankings on customer review websites.
You’re a manager who has paid your dues. Over a lifetime you’ve learned how to honour your commitments, interact with others, and make a positive contribution on the job. To you it seems like common sense. That’s the problem. Those high performing habits that are second nature to you can be completely foreign to today’s younger employees. Here are three reasons managers are becoming increasingly frustrated with younger workers, and how you can motivate them to provide exceptional service for internal and external customers…
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Chances are your customers and co-workers don't really want to interact with you. Yes, they want the benefits of your service, but the actual process of interacting with you is often just a means to that end. That's why, if all you do is focus on the customer or coworker request itself, your service will be quickly forgotten by customers and marginalized by co-workers. They may remember the transaction but they'll forget you. Fortunately, you can rise above the noise of transactions by using empathy and explaining that you understand their CONTEXT; what they're really looking to achieve. Maybe it means stating to a coworker that you'll send the information right away; so they can take care of those external customers who pay everyone's wages. Perhaps it's explaining to a project manager your goal is to help keep the project on time, within budget and without foul-ups. People remember professionals who get them