Monday, June 18, 2018

Own your life today....

“Do not count the days; make the days count.”Muhammad Ali

This week officially begins the summer season: school is out and vacations begin. My wife and I are again vacationing in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, enjoying the cool nights and quiet days. Like vacationers everywhere, there’s a tendency to relax and go with the flow – but these can also be days when much needed recharging occurs: not just cleaning up but clearing out; not just taking a walk but going somewhere; not just watching the sunsets but getting up with the sunrise. I was born in this area, so returning each summer means seeing old friends, visiting familiar spots, and rediscovering what’s important. I get to drive down the roads of my youth while also seeing things through the lens of my advancing age, to remember what it was then and how it is now. Whether you’re on vacation or on alert, make the most of your time like it’s a precious commodity to be engaged, experienced, and enjoyed. Life is good, so make the most of yours today.

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): Boxer

Friday, June 15, 2018

Practice humility....

The best leaders are those who make you smarter and better. From them you learn about things you never thought existed; you learn to do things you never thought possible; and you learn to accept things you never knew you could. They show you by their words and example: the first without the second is not nearly as impactful. They mentor and coach because learning takes time and practice. They pull you up rather than push you forward, engaging you fully. Think about the best boss you ever had: they’re usually the ones who you knew were smart but didn’t make you feel like you weren’t. They’re the ones you remember and are loyal to forever. Be that kind of leader today.

Marya Mannes (1904 – 1990): American author and critic

Walk the talk....

Understand what people are going through if you want them to trust and be loyal to you: try applying this to your attendance policy. Absenteeism is a major headache and the #1 reason for discipline and termination in companies. Most attendance policies either (1) try to deal with excessive (defined or not) absenteeism, or (2) issue points for various infractions under the guise of consistency.  Since that’s apparently not working, how about applying a standard of fairness? Like: try using good listening and communication skills – managers and employees need understand each other’s needs, expectations, and circumstances. Or: defining acceptable guidelines – these need to be communicated early and often. Flexibility, an open mind, and considering everyone’s perspective set the stage for people to really understanding each other.  Walk and talk with your employees to understand their needs and expectations and create trust and loyalty today.

Harper Lee (1926 – 2016): American novelist widely known for To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Open your heart to those who open theirs....

I’ve been thinking about last week’s suicides: people who seemingly had everything decided that wasn’t enough to live for. Or maybe the demons they faced were too much to live with. Either way, it’s sad to know they felt left with no other choice. Years ago, my Type-A workaholic personality led to a breakdown and depression, something that caught me completely by surprise. I learned the hard way the importance of being frank with myself, not hiding my problems, and seeking the care that others could provide.  Family, friends, and colleagues understood and appreciated my sharing those problems. Most likely there are people you know who are affected by the pressures and challenges of their lives: be the kind of supervisor or friend who let’s others know it’s ok to open up, be sympathetic and empathetic, and give them the support and time they need to get better. Those are the kinds of things that help people recover from these kinds of problems and make them thankful for what they have every day.

 Audrey Hepburn (1929 –1993): British actress, model, dancer and humanitarian

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catch people doing things right....

At a workshop with a group of senior casino executives earlier this year, my consulting partner asked when they thought coaching was most appropriate. The general consensus was when someone does something wrong; he respectfully suggested that it might be better used to recognize and help good employees when they’re doing things right.  This concept is consistent with my own experience that catching employees doing things right is a good way to unleash positive motivation and personal performance. It’s also similar to what’s taught in child psychology: the behaviors you want repeated are those you recognize and celebrate. As a supervisor, when faced with employees who are learning right from wrong, keep them on the right path by continually reinforcing their right actions and choices; and when needed, coach them on how to improve: the practice of focusing on and only documenting bad behavior has long been proven to be less effective. Most employees, and especially millennials, respond best and are loyal to companies and supervisors who practice this positive approach every day.

Epictetus (55 – 135 AD): Greek Stoic philosopher

Monday, June 11, 2018

Good sense drives good service....

friend told me he was recently downgraded on a United flight even though he’s a 2 million-mile frequent flyer: they were oversold and, well, someone had to be moved. Isn’t this the same airline that dragged a screaming customer off the plane and then pledged to do better in the future? Seems to me that they’re relying on AI algorithms rather than common sense to deal with the myriad of problems that seem to plague the airline industry. Overbooking is a common practice that’s both non-sensical and obviously leads to problems; if companies can’t get this right they should either get out of the business or change their approach – you don’t hear this kind of stuff from Southwest Airlines.  My friend’s miles didn’t get him the kind of loyalty that their program tries to get from him; absent a personal approach and a genuine apology, he should find another carrier or take a train.  Loyalty is earned day-by-day, every day.  Design your service strategies to make sure you do what it takes to maintain customer loyalty today.

Jeffrey Gitomer (b. 1946): American author, professional speaker, and business trainer

Friday, June 8, 2018

Act with integrity....

All too often things go awry during routine service transactions: you get the wrong order at a drive-through fast food restaurant or a clerk says they have no record of something in a computer. Those workers seem to have no idea how to recognize their error or respond appropriately.  When checking into a hotel yesterday I was told they had no record of my reservation: I didn’t have the confirmation number handy and suspected the person at the front desk was going to be less than helpful. To my surprise he went ahead and checked me in without an argument, apologized for any inconvenience, and offered to figure out what, if anything, may have gone wrong.  So often companies provide little or no training on service recovery and leave customers feeling uncomfortable: this fellow showed genuine concern and did a great job discovering what turned out to be their error. He researched the problem, called me with his findings, and said and did all the right things to resolve a potentially bad situation. Teach your employees how to act and do what’s right today.

Aristotle (384–322 BC): Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist