Leadership Lessons – Fluent in Friendliness? Apply Within

Fluent in Friendliness? Apply Within. Hats off to Lowe’s who posted that sign outside of their newest location under construction. I spent 30 years in the retail business both as a general manager and business owner –  so that sign naturally caught my attention. The one-on-one service that you provide to your customer is the only competitive advantage that you have. It’s not your product or service. It’s not your selection or price. The only competitive advantage that you have to set yourself apart from your competition is the level of customer service you provide.

Every time you come in contact with a perspective client it’s a moment of truth. Every time you come in contact with a perspective client they get to decide if they want to continue to do business with you or not. And most often that decision is based upon the way they feel they have been treated. When was the last time you had “Wow” customer service? When was the last time you got “So-So” customer service? I’ll bet the “So-So” out numbered the “Wow” ten to one. (Ten so-so to one wow)

You don’t need to like everyone you come in contact with – But if you want to get repeat business you need to learn how to get along with them. The same holds true with the people you work with.  You don’t have to like them or socialize with them – But you do need to learn how to interact and collaborate with them. If you’re the one who gets to pick who is on your team you need to make sure you’ve surrounded yourself with people who like being around people. Managers and business owners need  to make sure they hire people who like  helping people. You can’t afford to have someone on your team who is turned off and have tuned out. You need to be just like Lowe’s and hire people who are “Fluent in Friendliness” and get rid of the ones who aren’t.  🙂

 

If You Think They’re Listening – Best Think Again

Do you feel at times that your staff are turned off and have tuned out? Are you finding it difficult to motivate others? How challenging is it for you to attract or retain talent? Well you are not alone. Results of a semi-annual employment engagement index published by the Gallup Management Journal suggested that only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed admitted that they where not engaged – while 17% said that they where actively disengaged. These disengaged employees where busy acting out their unhappiness, undermining what their engaged co-workers where trying to accomplish.

In his book , “Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty” author Tim Rutledge explains that an engaged employee is an employee who is willing to invest their time and energy to insure that the organization succeeds. He surmised that truly engaged employees are attracted to, and inspired by, their work. They are loyal to each other – committed to doing what ever it takes to accomplish individual and team goals. Engaged employees understand that if the company wins – they all win.

Worth Remembering … “Drop the idea that you are Atlas carrying the World on your shoulders. The World would go on even without you. Don’t take yourself too seriously” – Norman Vincent Peale

Meaningful change is top down never bottom up. If you want to engage your employee’s heads, hearts and hands it must start with you. You need to invert the triangle and put your people at the top. The phrase “Our employees are our most important asset” must mean something. People hear what they see – not what  you say. You can start the process by applying the three “C’s”

Connect: Managers must show they value their employees. Trust and respect don’t come automatically just because you’ve been given the title of manager. You need to earn both – one employee at a time. Get to know your people for more than the work that they do. You need to establish rapport – in order to build a relationship – that eventually leads to mutual respect. People like to work with people they like. How much fun are you to be around? Would you work for you?

Contribute: Employees want to know that their input matters. That what they are doing is contributing to the organizations success in a meaningful way. You and I both know that there is a number of ways to accomplish the same thing. Solicit their input. People like to put their own personal stamp on things. It doesn’t have to be just your way to get the same result. Resist the urge to micro-manage. Delegate, delegate, delegate. You must give up control to get control.

Collaborate: Great managers and leaders are team builders. Together Everyone Achieves More is not just a fancy sound bite.  Studies show that those teams that are committed to each other out perform individuals and teams who are not.  Good teams don’t happen by chance. You can’t expect to throw people together – call them a team – and expect them to perform that way. Let everyone know what is expected of them. The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing – so tear down those cyloe’s , eliminate the individual sandboxes and build collaborative teams – one team player at a time.

For the first time in our life time we have the potential of working with four different generations in the same workplace. Each generation communicates and interacts differently. Each generation have their own set of values and are motivated differently. But the one thing that will never change is that people are people – and they all want to be treated as people. EQ (Emotional Intelligence) – often referred to as soft-skills – is now considered a more valuable commodity than IQ. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be the most successful manager or business leader in the room.  You just need to get everyone on side. Applying the 3 C’s is a great start.

Nature vs. Nurture – Does it Really Matter?

You’ve heard it said thousands of times. It’s nature over nurture. But – after the final analysis – does it really matter? You may have been born a certain style – but I’m convinced you don’t have to end up that way. Dr. Phil suggests that your past behavior is a great predictor or indicator of your future behavior – which is true – unless – and it’s a big unless – you change the here and now. You can rewire your brain. You can learn to “behave” a different way.

Worth Remembering … “Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgement sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire” – Isabel Briggs Myers – MBTI

Are we creatures of habit? Do we get accustomed to doing things a certain way – natures way – and generally stick with what we know? However, if we discovered a different way of doing something and decided to change how we where doing it to get a different result – a better result – could we do it? The answer to both questions is yes. (It’s nature vs. nurture) The greatest discovery of human nature is that we have the ability to change. We have the ability to change the way we do things in order to get a different result.  We can develop new habits. (Just stop doing one thing – and start doing another – and if we do it often enough – it will become us)

Worth Remembering … “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves” – Carl Jung.

Understanding yourself well – and studying the behavior of others allows you to improve your performance in relationships, both at work and at home. Results of a study conducted by the HayGroup, a leading authority on emotional intelligence, revealed that sixty-seven per cent (67%) of the competencies needed to communicate and interact more effectively with others is emotionally based. You can learn to communicate better, listen more intently, be empathetic, patient, flexible and open-minded. You can learn to manage your time more effectively, to deal with difficult people and challenging situations better. You can become a different and better version of yourself.

Worth Remembering … “The more you keep doing what you’re doing – the more you’ll get of what you got. When you change the behavior – you change the result”

I know from my own experiences that changing habits is not easy to do. But you can do it – it just depends on how willing you are to change. The canned phrase “I can’t help it – this is just the way I am” no longer cuts it. You are the way you are because either you like being that way – or – you aren’t willing to change. (Which one is it?) The truth of the matter is that you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort that it will take to change. But if you are convinced that you need to change. That you need to learn how to get along with people, to become a better listener and communicator – to be more patient – to control your temper – then you will learn how. You will do what ever it takes and take as much time as it takes to develop better habits and get better results. Any time is a good time to start a new beginning. So why not now? Nature vs. Nurture doesn’t really matter because you are the boss of you.  🙂

Copyright (c) 2012. Brian Smith – May not be reproduced without written permission. – briansmithpld@gmail.com

Life Lessons – Slow Down But Hurry Up

Most of us seem to be in such a hurry to get to where we think we need to be – that we miss a great deal along the way. You have 168 hours in the course of a week – no more – or no less. Are you accomplishing all you set out to do? We all face the daily dilemma of having too much to do and not enough time to do it. The problem is not that you have too much to do – the problem is you are trying to do too much. The secret to good time management is good self-management. Time is not spinning out of control – we are out of control. Good self-management is about deciding and choosing how we are going to spend our time and on what. Make sure you are spending it on those things that are most important to you.

Worth Remembering … “Besides the noble are of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of eliminating the non-essentials” – Chinese Proverb 

If you where to write down the 3 most important things in your life – what would you jot down on your list? Of those 3 things that you’ve written down – how much time out of those 168 hours do you spend on each one? Where did you put yourself on that list? If you aren’t number one – you need to rethink that. I want you to think carefully about what priorities mean to you and about how you decide what is really important. Remember, you will never have enough time to accomplish everything on your list. You will never have enough time in the course of a day, week, month or year to stroke the last item off your list. But you do have the time to do what is important to you first.

Worth Remembering … “Just because something is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important. What we need is the wisdom, courage, and discipline to do the important things first.” – Stephen Covey

We all seek a balance in our lives. Pretend for a moment that you are juggling six rocks: Health, Wealth, Relationships, Volunteerism, Career and Hobby. Each rock is important to our well-being. Some rocks may be more important than others at times but the secret to a balanced life-style is to make sure we spend some of our time nurturing each rock. You can’t spend too much time on one rock at the expense of ignoring another because that may have a negative impact on you in the future. Your challenge is to schedule your time effectively in order to spend some of your time on each rock. You don’t need to spend an equal amount of time on each rock but you do need to spend some time on each every week. (Remember you only have 168 hours so spend it wisely)

Worth Remembering … “The more we believe we can control, the more we will try to control, and the more we will control” – Author Unknown. 

Urgent things like wealth, career and relationships have short-term consequences. They may or may not relate to your long-term goals, but urgent things demand your immediate attention. (Play the “what-if” game and if the consequence of not doing something is too great – then you’ve identified an urgent thing) It’s urgent you have a job so you have enough money coming in to pay the bills, keep food on your table and a roof over your head. However, you can’t ignore an urgent thing at the expense of something that is important like health, volunteerism and hobbies. Good self-management is finding a balance between important and urgent things. Good self-management is making sure we schedule time for both. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2012 Brian Smith – Not to be copied or reproduced without written permission. http://briansmithpld.com