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Archive for May, 2018


Yes? No? Maybe?

Decision-making is a key skill that most employers and managers value in their staff. Some people, however, have a hard time deciding—they’re afraid to make a mistake or don’t feel confident enough to commit. If an employee has a hard time with decision-making, here are some tips to help them take the leap.

  • Fear of making decisions can be a sign of a closed or fixed mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset feels limited and often believes that no matter what they do, things will not change. Decisions are futile since they don’t affect the outcome. Work on helping the employee move toward a more open mindset by providing time for them to explore alternatives and options and perform some research. This begins to open them up to more flexible thinking.
  • Show the employee how to weigh the alternatives objectively and evaluate the risks associated with each. Often people imagine that the worst possible outcome is the only outcome when the odds of a worst-case happening are usually low. Instead of focusing solely on the negative, have the employee compile a list of positives about each option to weigh against the negatives.
  • Have the employee narrow the options to just one by evaluating objectively the information from the previous steps. It can help to have them also choose a second option as a Plan B.

Leadership requires you to develop your employees and cultivate their professional skills, so create an environment where employees feel safe taking risks and view mistakes as learning opportunities. Check out my Lead4Results program for more information.


Showcase Your Skills

If you want to advance in your career, people need to know what you can do and how well you can do it. If you are a good writer, you must be able to demonstrate this skill so that others know you have it. When a job opportunity arises that requires strong writing skills, you want people to think of you.

How can you showcase your skills without bragging and putting people off? Here are some tips.

  • Start by choosing a skill you want to demonstrate, such as written or oral communication, time management, organization, conflict resolution, negotiation, project management, creativity, leadership, problem solving, and so on. You want others to know you have leadership skills.
  • Look for opportunities to showcase this skill. For example, you can offer to lead a team that is researching a way to streamline procedures. If that’s not possible, show initiative, which is part of leadership. Suggest improvements or ask insightful questions at meetings, offer to coach or mentor a new employee, and take on additional assignments eagerly and with enthusiasm.
  • Discuss your skills with your manager during your performance review. Since we often forget what we achieved, I suggest you start keeping 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, so you have a resource of successful achievements you can refer to.

Being able to demonstrate your skills without bragging requires you to take actions that highlight your expertise. You don’t have to tell people how good you are; you can show them!


Handle a Rude Customer with CARE

Having a customer service job requires patience and empathy, which can be challenging when you are faced with a rude customer. In this situation, it is doubly important for you to remain calm and professional, so you can resolve the customer’s problem without getting caught up in their drama. Here are some tips to make that task easier.

  • Just breathe. When you are confronted by an angry or rude person, the natural tendency is to tense up. This tightens your breathing and can elevate your blood pressure. The key is to take a long breath—not a huge sigh! You don’t want the customer to know you are doing it, so just take a long, slow, soft breath and smile genuinely while you do it. You may also take one small step back, putting a bit of distance between you and the customer.
  • Let the customer be angry.They need an opportunity to get out their frustration. They may make hurtful comments and while it’s almost impossible to not take what they say personally, you need to look past the outbursts and acknowledge that they just want to be heard. Approach them with an open willingness to let them vent.
  • Stay calm and respectful. Eventually your calm demeanor will calm down the customer! At this point, rude, angry customers can be reasoned with. Reassure them that you want to help resolve the issue and begin asking questions to find out the facts.

What about a customer who uses abusive language or expletives? Stay professional and politely tell them that you will not tolerate that kind of language. Reinforce that you want to help them, but you can’t do so if their language is offensive. If necessary, you may have to involve your manager or even security if you feel threatened.

Check out my workshop, Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience for strategies and techniques to improve customer service.


Get Out of Your Own Way!

Do you complain that other people get in your way and prevent you from doing your job? Do they interrupt you, distract you, and derail your efforts to be positively productive? Do you sometimes feel like a helpless victim? If so, stop! You’re not a victim. In many cases, you are getting in your own way.

Let’s look at three areas where you might be sabotaging yourself.

Interruptions.It can take up to 20 minutes to regain your focus when you are interrupted, so you must take control of them. This requires you to be selfish about your time and how you are using it. When someone tries to interrupt you, explain that you’re on a deadline and will call them back later; make sure you do! Set your out-of-office message to tell people when you are available to answer questions and be firm about it. Close your door if you can. Remove your visitor’s chair or pile papers and books on it. Unless it’s your job to answer questions, start referring people to either online or print resources.

Perfectionism.Your work needs to be accurate and precise, not perfect. I’m not saying it’s okay to make mistakes, but spending an inordinate amount of time tinkering and tinkering with something to make it perfect is counter-productive. Accept the fact that sometimes you will make mistakes despite your best efforts. Acknowledge that you can improve, will learn from any mistakes, and make it okay to be wrong!

Procrastination.Often this is the heart of not getting things done. For some reason, you just don’t want to do it. Maybe you don’t know where to start. If this is stopping you, start anywhere. There’s no requirement that you start at the beginning. Maybe you don’t know what to do because you have a lack of training or experience. If so, find out who can teach you, check out training offered by your company, and use online resources to find what you need. Sometimes, you just don’t like the task. In this case, limit how much time you will commit to it and give yourself a reward when you finish.

Remember, people may not be what’s keeping you from being positively productive. You might be the reason. See my blog post, Where Are You Wasting Time?