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Archive for February, 2018


Your Team Needs a Customer-First Mindset

You know that customer loyalty is a major factor in realizing long-term business profitability and growth. It’s less expensive to sell to an existing customer than to land a new one. Plus, loyal customers refer your business to others who can become more loyal customers.

Building and cultivating customer loyalty can be challenging, but it is made easier when your team has a customer-first mindset. Here are some tools to help you and your team.

  • Focus on the customer. This seems straight-forward, but it can be difficult in execution. When you focus on the customer—either on the phone, in person, or via e-mail—you must step into that customer’s space and leave your biases, opinions, and judgments behind. For the time you are interacting with the customer, you are totally with them and are giving them your full attention. Nothing else matters except for delivering excellent customer care and cementing a positive relationship with them.
  • View customer interactions as opportunities. Customer loyalty is built up over time and comes from consistent, excellent service. Every time a customer contacts an employee, that employee has a chance to build a new, positive relationship or foster an existing one. Give your employees the authority to offer solutions without having to get approval, teach them to communicate in a friendly, conversational, professional manner, and avoid canned responses.
  • Cultivate a win-win mindset. When a customer contacts you with a problem, immediately focus on possible win-win resolutions. This doesn’t mean that you always give the customer what they want; sometimes you can’t. Show empathy and use good questioning techniques to reveal alternatives that might satisfy the customer. Reach for a positive outcome!

Help your team develop a customer-first mindset with my program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.


Overwhelm Can Kill Your Productivity

Sometimes we have so much to do, we feel like we are being buried alive, our stress level soars, and our ability to get things done plummets. What do you do if you can’t get out from under overwhelm?

  • Stop and regroup. Step back and take a deep breath—or several! Make a list of everything you must do. Don’t prioritize it right now; just put it on paper in no order. Sometimes this alone helps relieve the stress. Call this the Task List.
  • Create a Priorities List. Setting priorities can be challenging when you are in overwhelm because it is difficult to differentiate among activities. One easy way is using paired comparison. Number your Task List using the alphabet and then prioritize by looking at pairs of tasks. Here’s how:
    • Which is more important, A or B? You decide B.
    • What’s more important B or C? You decide B.
    • What’s more important B or D? You decide D.
    • Now you compare D to every item still on the list, one at a time.
    • Let’s say you end up with Q as the most important action. It becomes #1 on your Priorities List.
    • Now start again and apply paired comparison to all items on the Task List. When you are done, you will have easily created your Priorities List.
  • Apply the Pareto Principle to your Priorities List. The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your actions will deliver 80% of the results you need. Take your Priorities List and identify the top 20%.
  • Go to your calendar. Use your calendar to set aside to time to focus on the top 20% of your Priorities List. Fill in your time doing the 80% when you can.

When you feel threatened by overwhelm, take these easy steps to regain a feeling of control and to refocus on your top priorities. See my post How to Use the Pareto Principle for Productivity at Work for more information.


Build Effective Relationships at Work

Managers often become so focused on getting daily work accomplished that they lose sight of the people skills part of the job of leadership. Here are some tips to help build more effective relationships at work.

  • Think first, then act. Exercise consideration and thoughtfulness when speaking or acting and understand the effect of what you are going to do before you do it. You are less likely to offend others and are more likely to improve your professional image.
  • Listen, then speak. This is difficult for many of us! Attention wanders no matter how hard we try to stay focused on a speaker. Don’t multitask when listening and respond to the speaker in ways that show you are paying attention. For example, repeat key words and phrases the speaker used and ask questions that show you heard them.
  • Be positive, not negative. Research from Harvard University suggests that a positive attitude is a critical factor in how productive and happy your team is. The more positive you are, the more others want to work for and with you. One easy way of demonstrating a positive attitude is to notice the little things that people do, show gratitude for them, and give praise for a job well done.
  • Relate to people one-on-one. Know everyone on your team and treat them as individuals, but go beyond your department. Network within your company to build relationships that will nurture your career and make the workplace more interesting. Be willing to share information and offer help if you see someone struggling.

Building effective workplace relationships enhances your leadership and professionalism and creates a work environment that is more enriching and productive.

Need help cultivating a positive, productive workplace? Check out my Lead4Results program.


Strengthen Your Team’s Productivity

Your team relies on you to keep them headed in the right direction—toward meeting departmental goals. Your success in doing this depends on your ability to build and nurture a positively productive workplace. Here are five tips I teach in my GO System and Lead4Results programs to help you.

  1. Make sure everyone on your team understands the goals that the entire team is striving to reach and their part in accomplishing them. When each person appreciates their contributions to the entire team, they are more motivated to excel.
  2. When hiring, consider how well the person will fit within your team’s existing dynamics. You want candidates that will strengthen cooperation and collaboration among team members.
  3. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Play to their strengths, and strengthen their weaknesses when making assignments. Provide opportunities for your employees to stretch through training and coaching and use delegation strategically. See my blog post Successful Delegation for more information.
  4. Make sure the work environment minimizes distractions, is ergonomically sound and safe, and is a neat and pleasant place to work in.
  5. Ask your team to recommend improvements that make their work more efficient, listen to what they say, and make changes, as appropriate. If a change cannot be made, explain why; otherwise, the denial may seem arbitrary and could shut down further productive suggestions.

A strong leader helps their team focus on raising the bar and grooms them to achieve more than they think is possible. Encourage them like a coach would before the team takes the field! See my blog post Coaching Employees for Performance Excellence for more tips.