If you got hit by a bus …

Flatline Heart MonitorIf you got hit by a bus on your way to work one day, could your team, department or business run without you? How easy would it be for someone to step in and assume your responsibilities until you were able to return to work? Would the disruption and inconvenience to your internal and external customers be extreme or would it be a recoverable blip?

I believe we need to hope we never get hit by a bus, but put a plan in place in case we do. That means if you are responsible for payroll, someone else knows what needs to be done in case you are not there. That means a list of who to call for what needs to written down and shared with your team, instead of keeping that knowledge in your head. That means all that information that you ‘just know’ and share when training a new team member is documented and incorporated into a training document.

Hoarding knowledge and information may make us feel indispensable, but in the world of business, being indispensable is not a good thing. If we truly care about our internal and external customers, we need to ensure that the service they expect from our business will continue with or without us.

So … if you are the only person who knows how to (fill in the blank), go in to work today and identify one or two other people who have the ability to take that role or task on in the event you can’t. Train them, support them and then watch out for buses!

Get Off Your High Horse

In the many customer service workshops I facilitate, I’ve discovered that the human tendency to judge others based on personal moral standards or guidelines is by far the biggest hurdle in a person’s ability to provide great service.

Customer profiling is not limited to policing and security.  A customer that doesn’t look quite right, whose clothes and mannerisms don’t match a preconceived notion of what a customer should look like, very often receive lower grade service. They may not be treated with outright rudeness (although that does happen) but the smile, the offers to help and quality checks are not done as quickly or with as much enthusiasm.

Moral judgments and biases really come into play when a customer is unhappy about a policy or a procedure.  The tendency to blame customers for their dissatisfaction or unhappiness is common.

  • “Why should I care if a customer is unhappy because he has to go outside to smoke? Smoking is a disgusting habit. He should just quit and then his problem is solved.”
  • “If she’d read the information, she’d have seen there was a fee for that.”
  • “He’s just like all the others; a scammer out to get something for free.”
  • “Wow, I can’t believe how rude she was.  What a b*#@h!”
  • “She was late.  If she’d been here on time, she wouldn’t have had to wait as long.”
  • “Everyone knows hotel check-in times are not that early.  Why is she so mad because she can’t get into her room early?”

Customers have foibles, bad habits, idiosyncrasies. They are just like us, imperfect.   Excellent service providers have learned to get off their high horse, their pedestal of moral judgment and insider information.  Instead, they join the customer at ground level to look at the situation from his or her point of view; they try to find common ground.  Excellent service providers may not always agree, but they are never disagreeable.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please feel free to share. 


Five Traits of Effective Coaches

Leaders wear a lot of hats. Leaders of teams are responsible for the overall performance of the team. One of the hats that strong leaders wear is the coaching hat.

Effective coaching benefits both the leader and their team members.  Teams that perform to standard are much more likely to achieve their goals.  That makes the entire team look good.  Coaching team members to develop new skills and take on additional responsibility provides opportunities for career advancement. That’s a positive for the team member and for the leader, as some tasks can be delegated to others.

Here are five traits that effective coaches / leaders share. They are:

1.    Tough, but fair

You know what the performance expectations are and you need your team to meet those expectations.  Coaches who are too nice, who are afraid to identify when expectations are not being met, won’t see the results they need.  Push your team to do well, but in such a way that recognizes individual strengths and weaknesses.

2.    Respectful

Don’t bring down anyone’s self-esteem.  Focus on self-development and improvement, not on punishment.

3.    Coach Everyone

Don’t just focus on under-performers.  Help all team members become better at what they do.  Coach high performers to learn new, career development skills.

4.    Find Time for Fun

People learn better when they are having fun.  Ask the question “What can I do to make routine, dull tasks less boring, especially during the learning process?”

5.    Consistent

Consistency gives team members a sense of certainty. They know what is expected of them and they know those expectations won’t change depending on whether their coach is having a good day or a bad day.

When you think back on some of the best coaches / leaders you’ve had, what are some traits they demonstrated? 

The Difference Between Lording and Leading

In spite of the countless leadership books, blogs and articles available, there are still an amazingly high number of bad leaders out there, wreaking havoc in the lives of the people they come into contact with.

Some leaders believe their title and the power they wield bestows on them the privileges of lordship or ladyship in their kingdom.  These leaders equate fearful compliance with a united front.  Dissenting opinions are regarded as insurrection and betrayal.

People who lord instead of lead:

  1. Talk badly, and loudly, about people behind their back.
  2. Rely on threats and intimidation to keep people in line.
  3. Surround themselves with people who think the same way they do.
  4. If they can’t find those people, they find people who are more concerned about staying in their good favour than doing what is right.
  5. Blame their serfs for failures and accept accolades for successes.

Leaders on the other hand:

  1. Deal with issues head on.
  2. Rely on kindness and respect to build relationships.
  3. Encourage dissenting opinions.
  4. Look for people who are strong in areas they are weak.
  5. Accept responsibility for failure and share accolades for success.
Some people lord, instead of lead, due to arrogance.  Some lord, instead of lead, to hide insecurity. Whatever the reason, lording is not an effective leadership strategy. Employee engagement suffers, customer service suffers, reputation suffers …. lead, don’t lord.
What do you think? Are there other examples you can share?  I’d love to hear them.

Wednesday Wisdom from Others

Here are three blog posts that when I read them, I paused, reflected and then read again.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

  • Broc Edwards at fool with a plan takes a no holds barred approach to HR.  Be prepared .. this blog post, That’s Why They Pay You, is an in your face challenge to many a company’s perception on why people should show up for work.
  • Dan Rockwell’s post Death to Bobble Head Leaders challenges leaders to look for disruption, to ask for new ideas, to go against the status quo.  And for those that refuse, don’t complain about status quo results.
  • In his blog post, Set Employees Up to Win – Not Fail, Neil Ducoff’s takes a look at many of the reasons (excuses) we pull out of our back pockets when employees don’t perform to standard.  Very often it’s us … not them.

Do you have some great ideas, questions to share?  You can do so here or on Facebook.