Are You Really as Good as You Think You Are?

Man talking to himselfDo you use yourself as an example of what everyone on your team should be like? When hiring, are you trying to find more of you?  If so, stop it!

Chances are, there are some things you are pretty good at, perhaps even a whole lot of things. There may even be one or two things you are really good at. While there are some people who have been promoted past their level of competence or people skills, most people are in a supervisory or management role because they demonstrated capability. Awesome. That very probably applies to you as well.

Now for the reality check. Just because you are good in some key areas, does not mean you are good in all of them.  Just because you think and believe one way, does not make it the only right  way.

Hiring a bunch of mini-me’s serves only two purposes.

  1. It feeds your ego.
  2. It stops meaningful conversation. After all, a group of people agreeing on everything, including how amazing they are and how everyone else needs to be like them, does nothing to take your business to the next level.

If you are brave enough, identify your areas of weakness.  (Really brave supervisors and managers will ask the people around them to identify their weaknesses.)Then go and find people who are strong in those areas. Next … let them shine.  Don’t take credit for their good work by telling everyone how amazingly smart you were to have hired them. All you’re doing then is turning the spotlight back on you. (See point 1 above)

Find people brave enough to let you know when they don’t agree. Wait … let me rephrase. Create an environment where people don’t need to be brave to let you know when they disagree with you. Quite frankly, if this isn’t in place, there is no point in asking others to share their insight on areas of weakness as per the previous paragraph.  That will be an exercise in futility, unless the intent was to feed your ego and hear things like “I can’t think of a thing” or “Oh no, you are amazing.  Nothing wrong with you.”

An effective, engaged team is made up of individuals who recognize and acknowledge individual strengths and weaknesses. They are strong enough to ask for, accept and offer help when needed.  Individuals on a team agree on and work towards a common vision, but their perception of how to achieve the vision may differ greatly. Wonderful. Group think kills creativity.

Go ahead … acknowledge your areas of strength.  Then go and find people who aren’t like you, people who are good or great where you are not, people who bring new ideas to the table, who look at situations from a different perspective and who make you stop and think … “I wish I’d thought of that.”

How Will You Make Work a Better Place to Be Today?

happygrumpyeggsEarly on in my career, I worked for a boss who set the tone for the entire day based on the way he walked into the office. When he walked in with a smile and a good morning, we all breathed a sigh of relief. When he stormed in without so much as a glance at anybody and then slammed the door to his office, we knew it was going to be a long, drama-filled day.

Later on in my career, the general manager of a hotel I worked at never came to work without a smile, a jaunt in his step and a positive attitude. He started every day by walking around the hotel, meeting and greeting everyone by name.

Guess which workplace had lower turnover and higher morale? A seemingly insignificant moment like how we greet team members every day impacts our business.

Making work a better place is everyone’s responsibility.  From the time we step in the door until the time we leave, there are countless opportunities to make work positive and fun.

Walk through your day. How many opportunities do you have today to make your workplace just a little brighter, for your team members and your customers?

Why Performance Reviews Suck

thumbs-down1Ok .. it’s not really that performance reviews suck; it’s that they are very often completed poorly.  Some of my personal pet peeves when it comes to performance reviews are:

1. They are considered stand-alone tools.  Instead of coaching, mentoring, training and supporting on an on-going basis, notes are kept in the file (or even worse, in the head) as to all the things not being done well and then brought up during the review.  Years ago, my husband started a new job.  He walked into his three-month review feeling pretty good only to walk out completely deflated because his supervisor spent the entire time telling him all the things he wasn’t doing right. Why in the world would she have let him continue perfecting incorrect behaviour for three entire months instead of helping him successfully transition into a new job?  From a purely selfish perspective, a well-run department would make her look good to her bosses, right?  At the same time, waiting three months or a year to let someone know when they did something well is also not a good idea.

2. Supervisors / managers buy into the “never give more than one exceeded expectations, if any”. Really?  Why?  If someone is performing above standard, if they shine in particular areas, why in the world should that not be acknowledged? Some people subscribe to the belief that the employee will no longer care and stop working.  Who the heck are you hiring then?  If someone is rocking in a certain area, let them know. Provide examples and discuss how to get other areas up or perhaps take on more responsibility based on their particular area of amazingness.

3.  No specific examples are provided.  Not one single example provided should be news to the employee (see point one). But if you are going to indicate someone is still not meeting expectations, know why and be able to provide specific examples. Same holds true for exceeding expectations.  Providing examples brings validity to the review and demonstrates you took the time to really think about this.

4.  Nobody really knows what “meet expectations” means.  If categories are included on the performance review, at some point during orientation and training, each employee needs to know what is expected of them in order to at least receive a “meet” and what could help them get an “exceed”.

5. It’s a “listen to me” session as opposed to a discussion.  When a performance review is considered a stand-alone tool, there is really no reason to spend time discussing how to move from unmet to met or from met to exceeding.  There is no reason to ask “How can I help you?”.

Stand-alone performance reviews, completed only because it is a task on the to-do list, get stuck in a file and are never looked at again.  Everybody hates them and they are pretty much a waste of time.

I am not advocating throwing out performance reviews. I am suggesting using the performance review as a time to review successes and plan for future successes is time well spent.

What do you think?  Have you ever walked out of a performance review going “that was time sell spent”. What made it valuable for you? 



Great Service is a Team Effort

"TEAM" SKETCH NOTES (teamwork meeting strategy business ideas)The ability of a team to deliver good to great service is not the responsibility of just one or two people. It doesn’t matter if someone works front-of-house or back-of-house. It doesn’t matter if someone answers phones at front reception or sit in a corner office. Everyone plays a role in the overall customer service experience.

It takes a team of committed service providers working together to meet and exceed customer expectations and it takes a team to build a strong customer service strategy. As the leader of a service team, if you want your team members to buy into the process, don’t forget the following:

1) Identify key players on your team to help build your customer service strategy. Who has the ability to connect with other team members to get ideas and input? Who has the trust of other team members? Who has great listening skills? Those are the people you want to pull into this very important project.

2)  Demonstrate what great service looks like. Treat your team members the way you want them to treat their co-workers and your customers. Smile.  Use their name. Remember personal things about them.  Be respectful.  Don’t judge.

Creating a customer service strategy is not a one-person job. Give your team a chance to help build the plan and increase the odds of success.

Life’s Not Fair… Get Over It.

Frustrated, aggressive woman asking who caresWhen I was growing up, I HATED it when my dad’s response to my plaintive cry “but that’s not fair” was “nobody ever said life was fair.” I must admit, I still don’t like that life’s not fair, but all the wishing in the world isn’t going to change that.

There will be times, when in spite of your best efforts, an internal or external customer can’t or will refuse to be appeased. Very often their stubborn refusal to recognize and give you credit for doing the absolute best you can has absolutely nothing to do with you. Perhaps the perfect words you use to try and resolve conflict were uttered before by someone who used those words for no other reason that to buy enough time to duck and run. Perhaps they have heard and trusted so many promises or reassurances that never came true, they made the decision to never trust again.

In the service industry,we generally know only the moment in time that includes us. Some customers, internal or external, come to us with with bags full of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations and in spite of our best efforts, we are unable to connect and create the basis of a relationship that allows trust to build.

In our line of work, it’s not about fair, right or wrong.  It’s about ensuring that we are never the reason our customers become disillusioned; it’s about being honest, sincere and recognizing that we don’t deserve trust and respect .. we have to earn it.

The next time you feel an internal or external customer has treated you unfairly, take a deep breath, put yourself in their shoes and never let their sometimes unfair treatment of you impact the high level of service you provide to the next customer.