Leaders: Get in the Trenches and Connect!

By Colette Carlson

 

Do’s and Don’ts for a Human and Humane Holiday Experience

by Joseph Michelli

Over twenty-five years ago I used to speak about managing the stress of the holidays. Those speeches were loosely based on the book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. In it the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli, essentially focused on four main themes:

  • Prioritize gift-giving to those who truly need your gifts.
  • Engage in activities (across a well-paced holiday season – not just a day) that connect with your deepest personal values.
  • Seek to be a peacemaker among friends and family.
  • Commit to spiritual growth.

Over time, I’ve come to believe we don’t need to, and quite frankly can’t “Unplug the Christmas Machine” – that machine will run even if you or I were to find a way to unplug it.

I suspect our efforts would be better spent focusing on how to create humanity-rich experiences this time of year. To that end, I offer some thoughts which I’ll lovingly call “do’s and don’ts” for the season. These thoughts are targeted in the context of both business and personal life, as they relate to each of these relationships:

Customers

Team Members

Family and Friends

Customer Do’s and Don’ts:

Do: Smile. During the holiday crunch a smile and genuine graciousness can stand out and comfort customers.

Don’t: Confuse this Customer With the Last One. When the pace picks up, it’s easy to get into a groove where people blur into “transactions.” You may be doing your 50th identical transaction of the day, but that transaction involves a person and for that person, this is likely their only interaction with you today. Honor people – their visits and their business.

 

Continue reading Do’s and Don’ts for a Human and Humane Holiday Experience

Five Reasons to Take Massive Action: Making Busyness Your Business

by Laura Stack

“Do not wait to strike until the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”—William Buell Sprague, 19th Century American clergyman.

Five Reasons to Take Massive Action: Making Busyness Your Business

One theme I’ve emphasized repeatedly in my writings is that “busy” doesn’t necessarily mean “productive.” Just because you’re staying busy doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing anything important. Checking 30 tiny tasks off your to-do list may not prove nearly as significant (or as profitable) as completing one high-priority project.

To boost your productivity, work hard and constantly on the high-priority tasks that matter the most.  Multilevel marketers are fond of the term “massive action.” I find this a handy synonym for good, productive work, though some observers disparage the term, assuming it refers only to staying busy, rather than staying busy with intent. I see this as an over-simplification based on false assumptions.

The naysayers seem to assume you take massive action without planning ahead. That’s like assuming a traveler will just take off on a long trip without planning the route, putting gas in the car, and checking the oil and tire pressure. While some people really are this spontaneous, smart travelers always take a few moments to prepare before they start driving. Action should take place only after you’ve decided what target to hit and how. You do have to take action, though; sitting around and expecting the universe to reward you for happy thoughts won’t work.

Of course, you still have daily “housekeeping” tasks that must be done, including handling email and attending meetings, especially if you can’t delegate everything else at this point in your career. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take massive action on what’s most important once you get the small tasks out of the way or even in between.

Here are five reasons to take massive action in your work life:

1. To forestall the paralysis of analysis. Despite the old saying, knowledge isn’t power until it’s ignited with action. Sit and think too long, and you’ll never complete anything. Once you decide to do something and have enough ducks in a row, just do it. Handle the details on the fly. Even if they seem a bit sketchy when you begin, you can flesh them out as you go. The final result may not be perfect, but at least it will be done. If necessary, you can fix it later.

Continue reading Five Reasons to Take Massive Action: Making Busyness Your Business

Improved Communication: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

by Laura Stack

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” –Peter F. Drucker, Austrian-American father of management theory.

One of the things separating us from the animals is our ability to communicate easily and clearly. If fact, communication has helped us greatly widen that gap in the millennia since the first meaningful words left a human throat.Improving-Communication-carrier-pigeon

We’ve even adapted to speech biologically, with a special bone (the hyoid) that exists mostly just to support the tongue. If a clear communication method had never come about, we might never have invented writing, and our culture would have stalled in the Neolithic—if not earlier.

Every day, communication methods continue to improve, in ways both cultural and technological.  In this blog, I’ll suggest three basic ways to improve your ability to get your point across with increasing precision.

1. Hone Your Team Communications Skills

I can’t overstate the importance of open communication with your team. Unless you work for a corporation where client confidentiality requires compartmentalization, keep all team goals, imperatives, initiatives, and strategic alignments as transparent as possible. This helps your teammates find reasons to own their jobs and increase their engagement and discretionary effort. Learning which communication methods work best for each team member; using simple, clear language; listening to what others have to say; creating and maintaining a receptive atmosphere; and avoiding repetition will all save time and ensure productivity.

Encourage all these concepts among your team members, as well; and needless to say, act as a role model. Along the way, focus tightly on what you’re trying to say, say what you mean—and never let your body language undermine your verbal message. If you have a nervous habit or tic someone might construe as negative body language, get it under control. Continue reading Improved Communication: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-why-you-must-morpWhen visiting my parents recently to celebrate Dad’s 90th, I watched as he carefully pushed the phone buttons with his oversized, arthritic fingers to re-order his medicine from the VA. I smiled and told him what a rock star he was for adapting to technology. A Baby Boomer friend, who reluctantly learned to use her bank’s mobile app, is thrilled with how convenient and time-saving it is – far fewer bank visits. Yet she avoided the technology for a long time, telling herself and anyone who would listen, “I’m not tech-savvy.” To that, I say, “It’s time to step up and get in the game.”

It’s what we all must do, not only in our personal lives, but most especially on our career path.

It’s imperative that we be willing to #morph – or risk becoming irrelevant.

Just because something is not part of your current skillset, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. If your company is transitioning to a new software application or implementing new systems, you can balk and complain about the change – we’ve all seen colleagues choose that behavior – or you can get on board with your company’s evolution and take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new. Besides, it’s good for the neural pathways in your brain!

Continue reading Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

Four Training Tips: Maintaining Your Team’s Competitive Edge

by Laura Stack

computer-libraryRegular training for your employees is integral to productivity and profitability, meaning it’s something you should never take for granted. Among other things, training:

1. Improves Confidence and, Therefore, Performance. When people know they’ve been equipped to do their jobs properly, it boosts their spirits and reassures them they can achieve levels of competency and productivity they haven’t realized in the past. Further, when employees understand why their work matters and how to do it, they’re more likely to hit the mark or go above and beyond.

2. Saves the Company Money. Well-trained employees make fewer errors and require less direct supervision. Furthermore, they spend less time thinking about problem solving, because they already know what to do. Consistent training also decreases employee turnover—a big drain on corporate costs.

3. Earns the Company Money.
While money saved is equivalent to money earned, directly fattening the bottom line makes people sit up and take notice. A few years ago, Nations Hotel Company invested heavily in coaching and saw an ROI of 221 percent.

4. Increases Employee Productivity. Motorola long since realized that every dollar invested in training can yield as much as a 30% gain in productivity within three years. That let the company cut costs by $3 billion and increase profits by 47 percent in 2000 alone. According to another report—”The 2001 Global Training and Certification Study” by testing firms CompTIA and Prometric—as little as a 2% increase in productivity can result in a 100% increase in training ROI.

Researchers have consistently observed this effect over the years since. For example, Dillon Consulting, an inter¬national consulting firm, quadrupled its profits by 2009, after instituting a Project Management Training Program four years previously. Similarly, in 2013, BSkyB, a pay TV service in the UK and Ireland offering broadband and telephone services, reported a significant ROI after delivering 850,000 hours of training to its customer service representatives over a twelve-month period.

Big-Time Payoff

Good, consistent training more than pays for itself in terms of employee confidence, performance, productivity, reduced turnover, and dollars earned on the bottom line. Rather than view it as a necessary evil, treat it as a positive expense—just as you would any initiative that promises to increase profits and benefit everyone all the way down the line.

Stand-Up Guys: The Virtues of Standing Meetings

By Laura Stack

Stand-Up Guys: The Virtues of Standing Meetings by Laura StackIn the white-collar world, sitting down all day is both a blessing and a curse. Sitting makes it a lot easier to focus our intellects, since we’re basically in a resting but erect position; this also allows us to work interrupted for longer periods of time. But there can be side effects; too little physical exercise (as opposed to the mental exercise we enjoy daily) worsens the natural tendency toward “middle-aged spread” and makes us more sedentary. This results in less energy, slowing our productivity. Sitting too much can also interfere with or damage the circulatory process in our legs.

This is doubtless the reason why stand-up desks have become common (I love mine from Ikea). But who wants to stand all day? At some point, you tire of standing, your feet and ankles hurt, and you still have to stretch your legs frequently. Ultimately, a mixture of standing and sitting throughout the course of the day may prove most advantageous, though the jury remains out on this issue.

Be that as it may, some things you can do standing definitely boost your productivity. One is the stand-up meeting. Attendees ignore chairs, huddle together almost like football players, and talk as they would in a normal sitting meeting. Studies show standing meetings average 33% shorter than sitting meetings on the same subjects, proceed more efficiently, and usually end early or on time. And here’s the kicker: they burn 50% more calories, and actually have other positive health effects, including increased alertness. No wonder speakers and performers are always much more likely to stand than sit, above and beyond the need to be seen by everyone!

It’s no surprise that stand-up meetings run shorter than sit-down ones. After all, who really wants to stand in one place for an hour in even the most comfortable heels or loafers? There’s a good reason the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body, right? If nothing else, physical discomfort forces us to confront and deal with our concerns more directly in a stand-up meeting.

Continue reading Stand-Up Guys: The Virtues of Standing Meetings

Enjoy a New Book by Joseph Michelli

What makes the customer experience in some companies stand out from all the rest?  You should read Joseph Michelli’s newest book Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way.

D2D final book cover 82515His newest book was released Tuesday, December 8, and is the latest in his series of business books about quality customer experience companies, following his books about The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Starbucks, Zappos, UCLA Health System, and the Pike Place Fish Market.  Driven to Delight chronicles the Mercedes-Benz USA journey to elevate the company’s customer experience to be on par with the excellence of its vehicles.

Through his business, The Michelli Experience, Dr. Michelli has spent his career helping front-line employees, managers, and senior leaders deliver relevant and engaging service experiences.  His presentations and consulting focus on corporate culture, balance, customer service, and success with his own humorous touch.  Dr. Michelli presents on Driven to Delight, but also offers a range of programs on service excellence and customer experience.

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience.  If you would like read more about Dr. Michelli, please view his biography at: Joseph Michelli 

If you would be interested in booking Dr. Michelli for your next event, please contact us at: Capitol City Speakers Bureau

Five Great Things about Screwing Up

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-5-great-things-about-screwing-upWhat was your latest, greatest mistake? Was it when you attached the wrong client proposal, or maybe your idea for that leads campaign that went over budget and ended in record-low quarterly sales…? Or maybe you can’t even talk about it because it’s too embarrassing!

Understandable, but think about this for a moment: isn’t the shame you feel over your error, whatever it was, worse than simply admitting you were wrong and moving on? Shame causes us to try and hide our slip-ups, but keeping them locked in our heads actually feeds their power. The resulting anxiety drags us down by forcing us to cover up or overcompensate. Fear increases because, as most of us know, a cover up nearly always comes back to bite us…and usually at the most inopportune time possible.In truth, every mistake – big, small, or in-between – is actually a precious gift (even if its wrapping is revolting). Changing your attitude toward failure can help you face it and grow stronger as a result.

  • Making mistakes is a sign that we’re taking risks. People who don’t take risks trade learning and progress for safety. Feel good about trying and failing rather than doing nothing. In fact, sit down and create your own personal resume of flops. Be as detailed and thorough as possible. Now, think about what each item on your tally of turkeys taught you, or how something positive came from it. You may find that some of those on-the-job mishaps actually furthered your career.

Continue reading Five Great Things about Screwing Up

7 Thoughtful Ways to Stress Less

How many of you want to grow old faster? What, not takers?!
Stress blog
Well, did you know you accelerate your aging when you regularly experience stress or anxiety? Seriously, if you’re too tired or too wired, take note of the seven strategies here to help you stress a little less:
  1. Give up the daily guilt.

Let’s get some perspective. Too many of us waste time feeling guilty that our life is out of balance, but you’ll never feel balanced as long as you have goals and dreams. Why? There’s always way too much to do, to learn, to accomplish. If you’re like me and have passion for your work, it’s easy to lose yourself in your tasks and projects since they bring you joy. At a certain point, however, I have to consciously ditch work to spend time with friends and family (minus my phone).Quit thinking you need to “touch” everything each day and look at how “balanced” your life is over a period of time, not a specific day of the week. Take this one step farther and realize that it’s about being balanced over your lifetime. It all evens out.

  1. Realize good is good enough.

Any other recovering perfectionists out there? Stop wasting time creating the “perfect” proposal, letter or marketing brochure, seeking the ideal gift for your nephew, the best comforter for your bedroom, or the supremely clean house. Stop at 80 percent and move on to the next task. Otherwise, hours of your life are wasted and nobody notices the difference but you. Get over yourself and take a step closer to acceptance.

Continue reading 7 Thoughtful Ways to Stress Less