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The Game of LIFE

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LIFERemember how easy it was to consciously select your career, your spouse, your car, your future… in the game of LIFE? What happened to the ease of planning out your next 10 years with the confidence and self-assurance of your 13-year old self? Now, far past a decade later, you wonder why it hasn’t always proven to be quite that easy. In fact, with the internet, dating apps, and social networks, you find yourself wondering why any effort is required at all!

The reality is, selecting your dream set up—whether personal or professional—takes work, effort, and determination. The good news is, we still get to select all the things we want out of life (we’re not talking about the game anymore), and it’s still fun. It just takes some planning, careful consideration, and good choices. The trick is finding a balance that works for you, because few of us are able to completely separate our personal and professional lives. This is when calendar and discipline comes in. Here are a few tips to get you started:

•  Reserve time on your calendar for yourself and stick to the plan. If you plan to work out at 5:30pm, do it! Can you stray a bit? Sure. A meeting goes over, a call runs late, you get hit with a last minute deadline—push back your gym date, but do your best not to cancel it. Maybe you find plans post work, beyond your commute home and making dinner, don’t work for you. Switch it up, try working out in the morning instead. We can’t always predict how our days or even weeks will look, so trial and error is going to be key here.

•  Not into the gym? Fine, let’s explore a different route—relationships. All kinds of relationships from family to friends to significant others, these can be the most difficult to juggle with a career. I can’t tell you how to manage your relationships, but I can suggest a few things that may help. When you’re working long hours, trying to keep your bod in shape, attempting to eat healthy, and desperately trying to keep your fridge stocked (who has time to grocery shop, right?), don’t let the pressure of face to face with your loved ones get you bogged down. Here’s where technology comes in… wait for it… FaceTime! My niece and nephew are two of the most important people in my life, but with an hour drive to see them and my sister, I can’t always find the time to get to them. So, FaceTime is my go-to. Sure, it’s not the same as being in the flesh; but, there’s definitely something more personal and special about seeing faces when you speak. Plus, it’s nicer than a text or a phone call, which enables you to become preoccupied. So, even though you may not be able to schedule a real date, make a Skype or FaceTime date.

•  Another tip: schedule time in advance. Making last minute plans will only stress you out, but having that little reminder on your calendar gives you time to build up to it and arrange your schedule as necessary. You won’t have to scramble to shift appointments or arrange last-minute child care. With a set plan on your calendar, you are very aware that you have a hard-stop time and are more inclined to stick to it. So fight the urge to turn down plans that seem far away, if worse comes to worse, you can always reschedule—it won’t be the end of the world.

•  Last but certainly not least, set aside YOU time. Time to simply do whatever makes you happy—because let’s be honest, few of us really love going to the gym. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Many of us are in the habit of putting others first—your children, your significant other, your colleagues, your pets—don’t forget about YOU. Go to the spa, veg out for an hour (or two), read a few chapters from your book, or catch up on sleep. Do whatever you have to do to unwind and slow down.

On paper these things probably don’t seem too difficult, but actually doing it is where the struggle comes into play. Finding a balance between your personal and professional life is imperative, though. And, the struggle is part of it!

Take a moment to ask yourself this: Had you never struggled, never made mistakes, never had extreme lows, would your successes and accomplishments have felt so incredible? NO WAY! It’s called experience, and that’s exactly what you gain from life and why it isn’t always easy… and why it’s certainly not a game. Your experiences are what got you to where you are today: and you’re KICKING BUTT in your career, good for you! You should be very proud of yourself. But make sure you’re kicking but in your personal life, too!

Overall, our experiences are what make us stronger, well-rounded, enlightened individuals capable of making conscious choices, taking risks, and balancing more than we thought we ever could. The more we learn, the more we know, and the more confident we become. We start relying on others less and start taking charge of, well, anything we want to! Whether it’s your career, your relationships, or your own personal goals, the struggle is what eventually leads you to recognize the good. Once you know what feels good, balancing it all will become easier.

So throw out the board game—or keep it, it’s probably a classic—and start consciously and confidently living your BALANCED life!

 

Tara Fox is a Project Specialist at entreQuest and works closely with all eQ team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It might not be the job

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HiRes(or your boss, or your coworker, or the economy)

Let’s get right to it. YOU may be the issue. Have you considered that?

What do I mean?

Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself wondering:

  • Why can’t I find a job I love?
  • What can’t I find a career that is right for me?
  • Why can’t I get promoted?
  • Why aren’t I making more money?
  • Why do I keep working for these lousy bosses?

(I know, you probably have plenty more where those came from)

Something you may want to consider – in all of those situations, and with each and every lousy boss, and bad job, and wrong situation (this applies to our personal lives, as well, so pay attention), here is the constant: YOU. That’s right. Everywhere you’ve gone, you’ve been right there.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with you – you are likely just fine as the human you are. The opportunity, though, is likely that your perspective, or point of view, is holding you back.

How?

Consider this:

When you think about your life and path, are you thinking about what you want to DO? For example, ‘if I only got that better job, things would be so much better. I’d be more productive, I’d contribute more….’

OR

When you think about your life and path, are you thinking about what you want to HAVE? For example, ‘if I only had more money, or a better boss, or a better partner, or a bigger house, or more status, THEN, I’d be so much more fulfilled……’

Leading with either of these mindsets, in my experience, is not only not productive, but leads to a mindset of scarcity – of never having or doing enough, of not practicing gratitude, or giving – and I’ve seen it countless times, it leads to a very unfulfilled life; and, since we are always honest with each other here, those types of people usually aren’t great to be around – think about people you know who are always griping about what they don’t have, OR, griping about what others DO have. Sorry, not productive, not enriching and not what I’d recommend you seek in your peer group.

Consider, though, if your mindset led with what you want to BE – meaning, how you want to show up; how you want to contribute, what you want to give. Is this about clarity of purpose? You bet. Is it about passion? You know it. Am I saying that if one doesn’t know her core passion, that she can’t live a healthy productive life? No – not at all. For people to discover who they really want to BE, it may very well be necessary to go out and DO a bunch of different things, and that makes perfect sense. Along the way of doing, though, that person must be fully present, engaged, and not playing the victim to circumstance – rather, she must create her own circumstances and opportunities, so she CAN discover what her passions really are!

This is a very simple concept, and can also be very challenging to apply, if this is not your normal/default way of thinking. Start with step one – review the approaches and questions I ask in this post. Get oriented and honest with how you think. If you start with either of the first two scenarios, take some time to reflect on how the conversation could change if you explore the third approach.

…and remember, the only constant in the life equation is YOU. So, what are YOU going to do about it?

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Level. Set. Strengths.

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strengths-finderIf you recently applied for and landed a new job, then you know there are a series of pretty standard practices that happen between the time you apply and the job offer; you likely completed an application form, sent a copy of your resume and maybe a cover letter, and you probably attended at least one interview. However, what you may or may not have completed is an additional practice that is becoming increasingly more popular…a selection test.

At eQ, we’ve been proponents of selection testing for years. Why? Because they provide invaluable insight into whether the candidate will be able to cope with the intellectual demands of the job, but more importantly how well the candidate will work with others on a team.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read Strengths Finder 2.0, a quick read by Tom Rath, based on the research of Dr. Donald Clifton and the Gallup Organization. Rath focuses much of the book on the idea that we, as a society, spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses and trying to make them stronger, rather than recognizing our strengths and trying to capitalize on them. In an attempt to shift our focus, Rath refers to a wealth of data collected over the last 30 years (more than 2 million completed surveys) and 34 “themes of human talent” or “strengths ” as defined by Gallup.

While the goal of this book is obvious, to help readers identify their “unique” strengths and then use those strengths to improve, it got me thinking…what is a strength really? According to Rath, a strength is defined as, “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” And to take it one step further, he believes that people excel by maximizing strengths, not by fixing their weaknesses.

So…in order for something to be a strength, you have to not only execute it perfectly (or near perfectly), but you must do so on a regular, consistent basis. Sounds about right. BUT, the more I thought about it, the more I questioned the validity of this definition. If the only way to excel is to maximize your strength, what are you maximizing, or improving, if it’s already deemed as flawless? I mean, if I already perform a task perfectly, every single time, how do I get better at it?

Here’s what I mean – say, for example, you want to be proficient in blog writing so that one day you can say it’s a strength. But right now, you only write blogs on an inconsistent basis (kind of like me), but when you do write them – they’re AMAZING! You get tons of comments and link backs, and increased traffic to your site, all the wonderful things that equal a successful and strong blog. But like I said before, you don’t do it regularly…does this mean that blog writing isn’t your strength?

Well, according to Rath, it would NOT be!

However, I think that it would make it a strength – one that has room for improvement. This is the part where you can maximize your strength (make a focused effort to be more consistent) to truly excel. Similarly, the theory works if reversed – say you write 1 blog every day, but they aren’t all always home-runs… then you’d have the opportunity to become a true master by perhaps slowing down and really focusing on the content to ensure you get it right, every time.

So, in short, I agree with Rath that in order to truly excel, you must focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses, but I cannot concede that strengths are that black and white.

 

Emily Cosgrove is Project Manager at entreQuest and works closely with all team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

 

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Generation “Gap-Trap”

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Mind the gapMissing the Opportunity by Focusing on the Myth of Controversy

A couple years ago, I visited the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. There is an entire room there devoted to the Generation Gap, as it was covered in the 1960’s. A quick read of the headlines and a glance at many of the photos revealed that the desire of children to challenge their parents’ mores remains relatively unchanged 50 years later. Nevertheless, the gap between generations overall is closing, according to a new book by the Pew Research Center called The Next America. Whatever divide remains between parents and children, the gap is not reflected to nearly the same degree in the workplace despite many media and consultant-based claims to the contrary. In 2007, ASTD published an article summarizing a variety of credible research that revealed the generation gap in the workplace was only “skin deep,” and believe it or not, “all generations share the same values.” The result of the mythology and, to some extent, the excuse-making surrounding the alleged challenges of dealing with those darn kids, we’ve not taken advantage of the opportunities we have to better leverage our complementary skills and sensibilities to create even more effective teams and produce even better results.

Fortunately, the tide may be turning a bit. In the October 20, 2014 Wall Street Journal, a C-level executive of a technology company summed up her lessons learned from leading talent this way: “…you must create a culture where everyone – all generations – can prosper. When you do this successfully, you instill a sense of purpose in your employees, inspire them and help your company thrive.  Your culture becomes a competitive advantage for your company to endure and grow…” I couldn’t have said it better…so I didn’t!

The reality is that most differences of emphasis in what people value in the workplace are the result of where they are in their lives and careers. This can create some separation between people, but not in the way that you think. Younger workers without families may devote more hours to work as their empty-nester colleagues may choose and/or be able to do as well. But the same younger worker may be pursuing additional education in the evening and her older colleague may be training for a triathlon or caring for an elder parent, and so on. Guessing what people value or need is far less effective than just asking them.

Even when they intend no harm or disrespect, I’ve encountered too many leaders and even more rank-and-file managers who default to the language of division, and the assumptive thinking it suggests. “I can’t motivate her – she’s just coasting” or “these kids want me to be excited that they showed up” or “they want feedback and coaching…ALL the time!” I’m sure you can add any number of other negatively-tilted critiques. Some could be true, but the mistake is to accept any of them without actively seeking to gain a greater understanding of the person and what they’re really looking for. The technology executive mentioned earlier cites a case of a young worker who resigned unexpectedly telling the executive that her reason for leaving the company was they didn’t have enough happy hours. The executive came to realize that what she was being told was that the departing employee wanted “emotional equity” in the company through more opportunities to have meaningful social connections with her colleagues.

So how can we, as leaders, apply the knowledge that, as workers and people of all ages and career stages, we have much more in common than not? And, how can we intentionally unleash the greater potential of our organizations by providing what our people need substantively and emotionally? The cool thing is that what we should be doing as leaders isn’t affected by different generations, they’re just reminding us of what we should have been doing already. Here are a few places to start, or to do more with:

•  Know what buttons your people have and press them…it’s your job—When I led a system-wide leader development program for a large health system, I heard in nearly every session that younger workers wanted their managers to be excited to see them. This was shared with me most often with palpable exasperation. The leader would become even more exasperated when I asked them if offering a warmer greeting was too great a price to pay to help better engage a valued member of their team. Then they’d pause…and the light would come on. Just by offering an enthusiastic greeting at the beginning of a shift, they could score big in terms of the effort and attitude of their people. To be sure, some needs are more challenging to fill but seeking to understand by asking questions and exploring solutions is a heck of a start, and it tells your people that you are interested in knowing them and open to better supporting their success.

•  Positively reinforce what you value—There are two parts to this:

1.  Talk to you your most-valued people first. I am always surprised when I hear from leaders that the people they talk to the least are their best people. In business development, we say that if we’re not talking to our clients, our competitors are. Your competitors may be wooing your best people in your absence, or they may just be wondering why you spend more time with people who aren’t as valuable as they know they are…either way, you’re better off talking to them.

2.  Don’t bury the lead. If you say one thing to any of your people, tell them what you value the most. It is remarkable how many leaders begin a feedback conversation with a criticism. Working my way through college at Radio Shack, I had a manager who liked to tell me “it takes four ‘good mans’ to offset one ‘aw [shucks].’” He didn’t mean it quite this way, but I’ve adapted this to mean as leaders we should earn the right to have more effective conversations about performance deficiencies by taking every opportunity to focus on things we value.

When coaching leaders to be more effective in performance conversations, I encourage them to be attentive to the following:

•  Start by letting your associate know that the primary purpose of your conversation is to learn how you can better support their success

•  Share – in very specific terms – what they do that you value, and ask how you can support them in continuing to do this, do more of it, and/or help others do it

•  [Optional] Invite them to suggest something else they might do to be even more effective, or you might offer something you’ve observed them do but not as consistently as they might. These are development opportunities not “areas for improvement”

•  Sponsor partnerships—or be a matchmaker. As you learn more about your team, look for opportunities to put people together to take advantage of their complementary strengths.  Mix people thoughtfully and be transparent about what you see as their respective assets and how they may grow and benefit from working together. Then provide the space and the resources they need to make the collaborative magic happen. The new energy alone that’s gained through challenge and contribution is worth any perceived price of admission.

All told, the message is this: as people, we have differences based on many factors that aren’t as simplistically explained as Gen this or that. More importantly, difference is an asset if properly understood, addressed, and applied. We can throw up our hands as leaders when facing difference, or throw our arms around it. I’m a hugger, so I embrace it. Be a hugger too – it leads to great things, and it feels pretty darn good.

Jeff Lesher, Principal at entreQuest, blends his deep knowledge of organization design, human capital, and leadership with a pragmatic approach drawn from his own business experience and eQ’s philosophy to help eQ’s clients focus on their core purpose and move people effectively to action.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uplifting Change

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43CS8956You know the people in your life who just light you up in an amazing way? Whether you are with them face-to-face, on the phone, via skype, texting, or communicating via social media, they just lift your spirits and inspire you?

I’m grateful to have many of those folks in my life. Believe it or not, this is actually something I do very intentionally, and I think you might as well. Our community; our network; our peer group – we must be very deliberate in who surrounds us, as that has a massive impact on how we think, act, create, and give.

The other day, I had lunch with one of these types of people whom I’m describing; and, as I could have predicted, I found myself uplifted in so many ways (which is interesting, because I’m usually at a 10 on the scale of drive, positivity, and inspiration, as it is). We were talking about personal and professional growth, achievement, life goals – all of which are things we love sharing about, and which we noodle often. One part of our conversation stood out to me so much that I was driven to share it with you.

She said (and this is a quote from Marianne Williamson), “The only thing lacking in a given situation is what you are not giving.” I don’t know about you, but that was so powerful and totally resonated with me. With more times than I can count, I have students, clients, acquaintances, former colleagues – express what is lacking in their world. Often, this has to do with their current career. Things like:

•  Their boss doesn’t hear their input

•  They don’t receive the promotion (or, aren’t even in consideration)

•  They are left out of certain projects or strategic discussions

•  They lack visibility into how certain decisions are made

•  They have no voice when it comes to improvement in the workplace (process, team performance, leadership feedback)

Any of this sound familiar?

The counsel I typically give, and this is why my friend’s sharing this quote struck a chord with me, includes things like:

•  What have you done to change the situation or condition you describe?

•  What are you going to do to change the situation or condition you describe?

•  How have you shared your perspective or input with (fill in the blank with the key person/persons with whom interaction should occur)?

•  Have you done EVERYTHING that you possibly can to bring positive change to this person/situation?

While these questions do get people to reflect and consider things differently, I find the Williamson quote even more powerful.

Think about:

•  Sales growth

•  Operational excellence

•  Client experience

•  Leadership cohesion

•  Communication and collaboration

•  Project management excellence

Given any circumstance, outcome or situation, who are you being, and what are you giving (or not) to create positive change?

Imagine – if every person in your organization asked herself/himself this question, and then took ACTION. How much more would each individual/team/business unit/organization THRIVE in their mission and vision?

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview Prep Mode

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Dry Cleaning - Neon SignYou’re counting down the days ’till your big interview. Hopefully, you’re also considering more than the countdown. Wondering what you should be doing to prepare? Here are a few tips to help you out:  

Research! Don’t just skim the “about us” section on the company website. Really dig in! Familiarize yourself with their goals and values, incorporate their lingo into your vocabulary, and if you really want to impress—check out the company’s whereabouts in the news (think press releases or recent awards). But, don’t stop there! Get specifics—think relative stats, percentages, or known objectives that you can insert into the conversation. While you’re at it, think of how your own experience can lend itself to the company’s objectives, goals, and mission. You’re mission, after all, is to impress both on paper and in-person.

Pick out your outfit two nights before. You’re probably wondering why I said two nights versus the night before. The answer is simple: the suit you thought you picked up from the dry cleaners, isn’t in your closet! Or, maybe you didn’t notice that it no longer fits you (uh oh). Regardless, better to be over prepared than under. If you know ahead of time, you have some wiggle room to get to the cleaners, or to a retail location of choice.

Print your resume. You may be surprised by the number of people who forget, or neglect, to print out their resume and bring it to the interview. I mean, come on, this is a no-brainer! You may have already submitted it to HR, heck, you may have already emailed it to your interviewer… it doesn’t matter! Print it again—and on resume paper. This goes back to the point of being over prepared.

MapQuest your route, and account for traffic. That’s right, I said MapQuest. Don’t assume you know the way (unless, of course, you do), MapQuest a directions list. Check out alternate routes in case you encounter unexpected traffic. And for the love of God, leave early! If your directions say 24 minutes, allow 34… catching on to the ‘over prepared’ pattern? If you arrive early, great! But please, please use those few extra minutes to go over your strategy… ideally in your car or at a nearby cafe—DO NOT roll into the interview earlier than 15 minutes (and even that’s pushing it). Not only does it look overeager, but it suggests a disregard for scheduling, and will likely make the interviewer feel rushed.

Establish a professional presence the second that you walk in the door. Why? Because that’s when your interview starts. If there’s a receptionist, say “hello,” and, if it makes sense to, initiate small talk—keep it simple: a brief introduction, ask his or her name, maybe ask how his week is going. Perhaps an employee greets you, A.K.A. your potential, future colleague, be friendly and polite. Be conscious of your decisions (for example, don’t eat every single mint in the dish next to your seat) from the moment that you arrive until the moment that you exit.

Is that it? No, not by a long shot; but, it’s certainly enough to get you started and thinking. The rest is up to you. Now, prep up, suit up, and step up!

Good luck!

 

Tara Fox is a Project Support Specialist at entreQuest and works closely with all eQ team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Free Item from Kate Spade

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katespadeMy love for Kate Spade started with their classic, utilitarian, colorful handbag, but more recently I’m equally impressed with their level of customer service. I was shopping in the Queenstown, MD Outlet in search of an everyday bag. Not only was the sales executive superior in finding me exactly what I wanted (that also happened to be 40% off), 3 weeks later I received a playful, hand written, thank you note (on Kate Spade stationery). Sure, I’ve received thank you cards from a company, but typically my purchase was more than $100. I was instantly flattered by how thoughtful the follow-up was. It reminded me of the power behind branding and customer service. Here’s why:

1.  A hand written note speaks to a culture that is grateful. I’d find it hard to believe that the sales executive who sent me the note wasn’t passionate about the brand and company. Working with a team of people who are passionate about a service or product is like a ripple effect, and can send good energy to all that it touches.

2.  Free advertising for Kate Spade. I was so impressed with the gesture I gave them a shout out on Instagram with #katespade. Companies pay thousands of dollars for advertising, and here I’m doing it for them for free. Listening to what buyers are saying on media platforms can be an additional promotional tool.

3.  Word of mouth marketing. Not only do I give an online promotion, it also has me talking to friends about the company. These conversations lead to talking about the awesome product, elite customer service, oh and the huge online clearance that is happening right now. This absolutely drove people in my network to the website, and I’m guessing its resulted in at least 1 purchase. Again, free marketing.

4.  Repeat buyer. I will absolutely shop in that store again.

If companies can consistently be recognized for remarkable customer service, automatically the brand takes on positive branding. Positive branding leads to interest, and interest leads to sales. What can your company do to have a similar effect like Kate Spade?

 

s Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

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Decoding the Mystery of Delivering a High Level of Service: How Selection, Preparation and Support Enable the Success of Our Employees, Customers and Businesses

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Businesswoman and business planAlong with insisting that their people are their most important asset, organizations of all stripes tell us they offer the best, or an otherwise exceptional, level of customer service. While people are indeed the linchpin of success for most – if not all – organizations, the ability organizations have to select and support the right people doing the right things in the right way at the right time to provide a positively memorable customer experience is all too rare.

My now young adult children have been embarrassed many times by my service experience preferences, which developed through a combination of having worked a variety of retail and service jobs, my education, my consulting expertise, and my perspective as a business owner. I also value my time and money. When dining out, I like to know the names of our wait staff and to be greeted by them within moments of being seated. Similarly, I prefer that sales people know more about the product they sell, or the service they provide, than I do. I’ve noticed my children find preferences like these less curmudgeonly as they increasingly earn and spend their own money. My kids now value their time much more. It’s a pretty good bet that the service shortcomings (or failures all of us undoubtedly experience from time to time) occur most often as a result of one or a combination of two factors:

1.  Customer-facing employees are not adequately trained or supported to inform customers and act to resolve their issues, and/or

2.  Organizations have selected the wrong people to fill customer-facing roles

As an organizational leader, and someone who works everyday to support other leaders, I’m acutely interested in what we can do to better ensure that the people who represent us do so in a way that leads to the holy grail of customers. We want customers who buy from us, refer us business, and will buy from us again. There are any number of things we can, and should, do. To help get us started, and create momentum, I’ve focused on three things that I think are relatively easy or accessible.

•  Selection – this is a big area and one I highly recommend you look at critically and consider enhancing through adding candidate assessments, making sure your interview criteria map with the factors that determine success in the job/organization, and that your interview teams receive training and support to gather the information they need, and apply that information appropriately to their decision-making:

An easy enhancement to better align the interview process with effectively vetting candidates’ customer service or customer focus capabilities is making sure that your interview includes a service-oriented experiential question. This should be an open-ended question about a specific time when the person delivered a high-level of service and/or was challenged to do so. The elements of a complete answer include an address of the following components:

Situation – set up/context

Hindrance – challenge/obstacles

Action – what THEY did

Result – what happened

Evaluation – lessons learned

The number one thing to avoid is asking this question as a hypothetical – “what would you do if…?” The reason is simple – ask a hypothetical question and you get a hypothetical answer. Most people know what they SHOULD do; we need to know what they’ve actually done.

As a bonus, this same approach can be applied to incumbents – through conversation or observation – to inform your skills needs analysis and development process.

•  Preparation – the old saying that, “to assume, makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me,’” applies to any of us who send out people to represent us without ensuring they are adequately informed, educated, or trained to do so. My least favorite selection cliché is from employers who say they want someone who can “hit the ground running.” If we assume that even experienced folks can come into a new organization and know everything they need to know about how WE do things, we’re ensuring a tough road for all involved – including the customer.

Every incoming employee should have the benefit of a start-up process that includes learning, seeing, and doing. Any materials (written, online, etc.) that can be packaged and reviewed should be ready for them no later than their first day on the job. Ideally, everyone who sells a service or product has experienced it or used it before. Shadowing/observing is an invaluable way to quickly acclimate to HOW we do things. Try practicing with a colleague before meeting with clients and then taking the lead with an experienced colleague for support. By doing this you will round out a thoughtful, efficient, and effective start-up process.

•  Support – Picking and developing the right people can still fall short of what’s needed to deliver great client experiences if we fail to fully support our people. Any number of things can fall under the support heading, so let’s pick two components that are most within our control:

•  Offer only fully-baked products or solutions. Too often, businesses are so eager to start something new that we ask our people to spend their relationship capital on things that may fall short of our promises. You can always Beta a service or product and enter into an explicitly honest relationship with a client about the status of your product or solution.

•  Do everything you can to deliver on a promise already made by a team member. High levels of service often depend on high levels of autonomy. We should do everything we can to educate our team members about the parameters of their authority, but in some instances there’s a moment where a decision is required…sometimes taking all of us into a gray area. It’s much better in the nearer, and longer-term, to seek to execute on whatever promise is made, and learn from that moving forward, than it is to undercut the credibility (and confidence) of your colleague. Their insight may lead all of us to a better overall approach.

I believe – sometimes with greater effort than others – that most people I interact with in a sales or service environment mean well. The question is really about how well they DO, and the impact their ability has on their organization’s reputation and success. A little more intentional effort on the part of leaders in the areas of “selection,” “preparation,” and “support” results in a much greater likelihood that all of our customers experience what we want them to. Increased intentional effort leads customers to buy, refer us, and buy again. When we support the success of our team members, our customers succeed and so do our businesses.

Jeff Lesher, Principal at entreQuest, blends his deep knowledge of organization design, human capital, and leadership with a pragmatic approach drawn from his own business experience and eQ’s philosophy to help eQ’s clients focus on their core purpose and move people effectively to action.

 

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Communicating Properly: Parent-to-Child is for Daycare. Adult-to-Adult is for Business.

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Father Shouting At Young DaughterI was recently speaking with a client who was venting about a recent interaction he had with one of his team members (someone who reports to him). The gist of the discussion was that this account manager had cancelled a client meeting because it was raining.

As you might imagine, the manager was beside himself. He could not believe that his account manager had engaged in an active debate about how the cancellation was actually being client centered. His rationale was that it was preventing the client from having to come out in bad weather. I should also say, directly on the heels of this meeting, the account manager was supposed to lock up the client’s business for the next 12 months. Now, unless that client was the wicked witch of the west, or a gremlin, I don’t know how this cancellation could be client centered. It couldn’t be more self-serving.

My client had just spent 30 minutes in this debate, and was visibly upset, a bit shaken, and was looking for suggestions.

I’ll share them with you, in the event that you encounter a situation where this mindset and approach might help:

•  We need to have the mindset that all conversations are adult-to-adult, not parent-to-child. In a healthy work environment, we have clarity, alignment, transparency, and 100% accountability. We don’t coddle, enable in unproductive ways, make excuses, or shirk responsibility. In this case, my client needed to shift the ownership of the situation to the account manager, like this:

•  Help me understand your rationale behind cancelling the meeting.

•  Help me understand how cancelling the meeting is client centered.

•  Help me understand how what just happened deepened our relationship, and better positioned us to win the business and be a trusted advisor.

•  If the account manager does not have the self-awareness to see that the mindset and actions were inappropriate, the conversation should shift to whether the person is really in the right role. That’s right – it might be time for a graceful exit. If you have a team member who doesn’t share the cultural values and beliefs that your organization has for what it means to be an account manager or client centered, then there is NO place for that person on the team. The longer you, or your team members, dance around this reality, the more damage you are doing to your client relationships, internal culture, and personal credibility.

You are not in the business of running an adult day care of employees. Treat people like adults, and if they are the right cultural fit, they will behave that way.

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

 

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GRATITUDE

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fall morningAs you may or may not know, October 11th was a big day for me this year. It was the one-year anniversary of the day I was in a terrible car accident. As I reflected on this earlier in the month, I spoke with my friend Carrie (who was in the accident with me) about perspective. We discussed how the perspective we have, when we think about the accident, is so different than the perspective our friends, family, and co-workers (who thankfully, happen to fall in a weird friend/family bucket all their own) have. This idea of perspective also leads me to think about gratitude.

Yes, I’m grateful to be here today, and for all the people in my life who helped me recover and get to where I am today. However, I’m also really grateful for all the little things in between – things that have absolutely nothing to do with my accident: sunrises on a cool fall morning, the way my dog’s tail wags uncontrollably when I walk in the door, or just a quiet evening watching TV with my husband.  All those things existed before the accident, but I don’t think I was ever truly grateful for them.

Often, gratitude and thankfulness get confused for the same thing, but I believe them to be very different. To me, gratitude speaks to something much, much deeper than simply being thankful.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of eQ’s clients and got to know him outside of a traditional business setting. As lunch progressed we talked about fairly average things; as you would expect. We began talking about our children, and parenting in general, and then suddenly the conversation changed for me… I still think about it often:

I made a simple comment about how my son doesn’t cry very often, and never really has—I quickly followed that up with, “We got really lucky, I know! He’s a rockstar of a baby!”

As I said those words, I couldn’t help but reflect on how awesome he really is—after all my family has been through since last October, all the changes we’ve endured, he has remained a constant, and a very, very happy constant at that. I shared this personal thought out loud and explained how un-phased Henry was when he had to be dropped off and picked up from daycare by different family members, or spend the night at his grandparent’s house for the first few weeks after my accident. Even when he switched to formula out of nowhere the day of my accident, he was unshakable. And, on top of it all, what seemed like the hardest part to me, not having his mom hold him—he did it all without the tiniest bit of protest.

I remember driving home that day, reflecting on this conversation as I’ve done so many times since… and how in that moment, I referred to my son’s good behavior as my husband and I being lucky. But, the more I thought about it, I realized, this is more than luck—he is a gift—and for that I am truly grateful. I am grateful Henry is the kind of child that has such a happy demeanor, and has the ability light up a room. He has a genuine love of life—I can only hope that I do my best to continue to foster that within him as he grows.

So today, I challenge you to look at your day a bit differently, think of all the things you’d usually chalk up to luck, or maybe not even notice at all, and reflect on them – take a moment to truly be grateful for the gifts in your life.

 

Emily Cosgrove is Project Manager at entreQuest and works closely with all team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation | Leave a comment

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