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Archive for January, 2013


Make Boring, Repetitive Tasks Interesting

In even the most exciting career, boring and repetitive tasks are an unfortunate reality that everyone will face at some point. Whether these tasks entail entering data, returning phone calls or filing paperwork, there are several ways to make even the most tediously detailed work more interesting. Here are the top four ways to increase productivity while injecting some fun into otherwise mundane activities.

  • Set Small Goals

When faced with a large workload that involves multiple repetitive assignments, try breaking them up into small chunks.  Focusing on completing small tasks will make it seem as if there is less work for you to accomplish.

  • Celebrate Achievements

As each small goal is met, try a mini-celebration to mark the achievement. When celebrating, it is important to keep the reward small, so that the flow of work is not interrupted. Try eating a bite-size piece of candy, taking a five-minute stretch break or getting a cup of tea or coffee. This can help to reinforce the idea that work is fun, even when it is tedious.

  • Use Positive Reinforcement

Everyone has a motivation for going to work each day. Maybe you are planning a vacation or hoping to purchase a surprise for your children. By posting a picture of your motivator at your work desk, you can keep your eye on the prize while plugging away at work.

  • Get Active

In an open office, this one might get you a few crazy looks, but a little exercise can go a long way toward increasing productivity. After accomplishing a set number of tasks, do a quick walk-in-place or a few pumps of hand-weights. If you work in a small cubicle, toss in a few small stretches to help get your body energized for finishing the task.

When attempting to complete a repetitive task, it is important to find a way to make things interesting. By finding a rhythm and keeping it going through the use of a motivator and small breaks, even the most daunting task can be finished efficiently.


Bridge the Generation Gap

There are four generations in your customer base, and each prefers a different way of communication. Understanding each can help you bridge the customer service generation gap.

Traditionals: These customers were born between 1922 and 1943/1946. They are high-touch customers who want a lot of personalized attention. When dealing with them in person, be very polite and courteous and use active listening skills. Show how much you value their business with customer loyalty programs that are communicated via snail mail letter, not email.

Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They like both in-person communication and email. They like being treated as individuals, but also want to feel part of a tribe. Ask for their opinion about products and services and give them feedback on what you learn from them. Acknowledge them with special offerings that feel custom-made.

Gen X: Gen X came along approximately between 1964 and 1980. They are high-tech customers who want fast, easy communication. Keep messages and choices simple. Gen X is very interested in work/life balance, so tie messages to both work and lifestyle for maximum impact. Flexibility and credibility are the keys to customer loyalty. Use reputable, real testimonials to overcome this generation’s tendency toward skepticism.

Gen Y: This is the youngest generation, born between 1980 and 2000. They are young, hip and all high tech. Communication must be fast, fun and visual. Use colorful graphics and short videos to get your messages across. Involve Gen Y on social media using various outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. This generation has a short attention span, so keep them engaged.

Want to know more about multi-generations? Check out my new ebook Leading 4 Generations


Toughen Up

Resilience keeps you going when the going gets tough. It allows you to accept and adapt to changes without letting them derail you. As a leader, you need to be resilient and help your team develop resilience. Here are some tools that can help:

  • Create a support system.

Mountain climbers do not reach the summit alone. They have a team supporting them every step up. You too need a team of people you trust, people with whom you can talk honestly and openly. Your support team can give you advice, guidance and a different perspective. Likewise, your team needs to know you are their support! Offer guidance and encouragement if you see someone struggling and help him or her reframe the situation.

  • Reframe for positive results.

Reframing is a tool that lets you see a situation or issue from a new perspective. Just as a new frame can completely change how a painting looks, so can a reframe change how you view a situation. The key to successful reframing is asking yourself what you can learn from this. For example, let’s say a customer complains that your service was not up to par. You can dismiss the customer as wrong, beat yourself up or review the service to see if it can be improved. The reframe is the third option—viewing the complaint as an opportunity to improve customer service.

  • Focus on accomplishments.

Focusing on accomplishments gives you hope—you solved other problems in the past and you will solve this one, too. Start an accomplishment journal. This can be a paper document, a Word document or a note on Outlook or your phone. Every Friday, take a few minutes to jot down what you accomplished the past week and how you did it. This record boosts your morale and offers a ready resource of successful actions you can refer to. Encourage your employees to keep their own accomplishment log and to share their success stories with you.

Resilience is the power to keep going up the mountain. Eventually, you will reach the summit and reap the rewards resilience brings.


See the Big Picture, But Take Smaller Steps to Reach It

Managers keep their teams focused on the day-to-day work; leaders help their teams see the bigger picture and the contribution of daily activities to success. Here are some tools to help you lead your team to success:

Model past successes.
Ask your team to describe past successes and identify the steps they took to achieve them. This is called “modeling.” Identify specific behaviors that contributed to the outcome and decide how you can use these behaviors to create processes and systems. Modeling is a powerful tool to help you replicate an accomplishment.

Present goals as manageable steps.
Your team can be overwhelmed and intimidated when faced with large goals that must be met. Often, they question whether they have the resources, skills and ability to achieve the goal. Break major goals down into smaller steps that are less challenging. Show them how these smaller goals move them toward the larger goal. When the team focuses on the actions they need to take now, the larger goal seems doable.

Recognize milestones.
A milestone occurs when a major part of a large goal is accomplished. For example, a milestone occurs when the subject matter experts sign off the final draft of a policy manual. Recognize team members when they realize major milestones to keep enthusiasm and motivation high.

Keep the big picture in front of your team, but make it easy for them to see how they can achieve it.