When your nose is to the grindstone, all you see is the grindstone.

It’s too easy to get caught up on all the things we need to do or all the things making us unhappy.  But when we focus only on work or only on the negative, we miss making connections with the people around us.  We miss seeing new opportunities.  So look up. Look into someone eyes.  Start a conversation.  Enjoy a moment of silence. Take time to reflect and refocus.  You’ll be glad you did.

Make the most of this long weekend … rain or shine!

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?

Watch Out for Customers!

  • Breaking News: Customer tries to get freebie AGAIN!vintage newsboy
  • This just in: Reports say number of cranky customers on the rise.
  • Business Bulletin: Customers are clueless.
  • In the News:  Customers the highest cause of stress in service professionals.

As humans, we tend to focus on the ‘bad stuff and forget about the good stuff or the normal stuff.  When an anomaly happens, it makes the headlines. Big, bold letters and dramatic language sell papers, encourage clicks and create huddles around water coolers.  Just think of all the headlines and intense media coverage last month regarding the safety of air travel.  The loss of life is tragic.  I cannot begin to imagine the depths of pain and suffering felt around the globe because of that. Too often though, that’s where we get stuck. We forget about the millions of people who got on a plane and arrived safely at their final destination.

I see this same perspective in the service industry.  Sharing stories about unreasonable, cranky customers is common.  Some people go on and on about the cranky, rude, or “out to get a freebie” customer. After a while, they start to perceive all customers as cranky, rude and out-to-get something.  Their attitude towards customers tends to bring on more stress than the actual customer.

Yes some customers will lie to get freebies from you. Some are crankier than others.  As for clueless – the customer isn’t the expert. They’re not supposed to be, so don’t expect them to be.

Here’s an idea.  Instead of sharing stories about the “bad’ customers, share stories about the good to great ones. Count how many good to great customers you serve in a day instead of how many ‘bad’ customers.  Focus on the many positive customer interactions, instead of on the small percentage of cranky, rude and out-to-get something people.  You’ll be happier, and when you’re happier, your customers are happier.

Do this on a regular basis and in no time, you’ll be watching for the customer instead of watching out for the customer.


An Example of Above and Beyond Service

Woman shopping at the supermarketThe last time my mom went for groceries, she was having trouble finding an item. One of the employees saw her and asked her if she needed help finding something. She said yes, told him what it was and he led her to the aisle he believed the item was in. My mom had been there already but knew it was possible she had just missed it. Turns out it wasn’t there.  The product wasn’t a make or break item on her list, so she thanked him for trying, found the rest of her items and went to stand in the check-out line.

She had been in line for just a few minutes when the same employee tapped her on the shoulder.  He had found what he thought she was looking for and then took the time to look for her and bring it to her.  It wasn’t exactly, but was a close enough substitute that she said yes. He then went one step further and asked if she needed more than one, because if she did, he would quickly run and get some more.

This service professional went way above and beyond what my mom expected.  But the story doesn’t end there.  According to my mom, she has yet to be served by anyone in that store who is not professional, friendly and focused on the customer. That kind of consistency does not happen by chance.  That kind of consistency happens when there is a strong service culture in place, instead of a culture of apathy and doing just enough to get by.

I would venture to guess that the people responsible for leading the entire team have been known to go above and beyond with their internal customers. They have created service standards and provided their team members the tools, resources, support and personal example to live up to those standards. Their laser sharp focus on service and on their customers, both internal and external, create an environment where service flourishes.

Each and every service individual needs to own their own role in the customer experience.  Bad management and lack of support is not an excuse to perform at a lower standard. At the same time, management needs to own their role.  When service levels are low or inconsistent, everyone needs to look in the mirror and ask “What do I need to do to change our environment from a culture of apathy to a culture of service?”

Oh YES You Can!

Just a few weeks ago, I met someone who has overcome obstacles and challenges  that many of us will never have to face. As I got to know this inspiring young man better, I thought back to an “I can’t” phone conversation I had about a year ago.

That “I can’t” conversation lasted 45 minutes.  Every question as to why a timeline had not been met or a task completed, was met with a plaintive “I can’t”, “I don’t have time” or “It’s too hard.”  When asked “What can you do?”, “Is there another way to achieve this goal?” or “When will you complete this?” she was unable to come up with any ideas, suggestions or revised timelines.

What a difference.  

Sometimes the challenges and obstacles put in our way force us to change direction.  Sometimes our future ends up looking different than we originally planned.

We choose our focus.  We can choose to focus on what we can’t do or on what we can do.  That choice dramatically impacts our ability to overcome obstacles.

Successful people and successful businesses focus on what can be done. Whatever your insurmountable wall, your challenge, or your difficult situation is, focus on what you can do and then do it.