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Archive for September, 2018


Create An Environment Where Your Best Employees Thrive

Most managers would agree that it’s easier to retain good employees than to hire new ones. Employee retention is one of the most important factors in your ability to develop a positively productive team. According to Willis Towers Watson, more than 25% of employees, including key employees and top performers, are open to leaving their jobs. The cost to replace one of these employees can exceed 200 times their salary! While money is a key factor that contributes to employee retention, other factors also play a role.

  • Training and development. Departing employees often cite a lack of training and development opportunities as major factors in their decision to leave a company. As a manager, developing your employees, especially your star performers, helps you motivate and inspire them to continued excellence. It’s visible proof that you care about their careers and are willing to invest in them.
  • Flexibility. Just because a process or policy has been in place for a while doesn’t mean that it still makes sense. Consider being more flexible when it comes to work hours, how work is performed, and how team members collaborate. Are there jobs that don’t require full-time attendance to perform? Treat staff like the adults they are and let people decide to work how and where they are most productive, based on the results they need to deliver.
  • Customized recognition and rewards. While it’s important to recognize and reward the entire team when a milestone is reached, remember to honor individual employees for their accomplishments. Consider each employee’s preferences for rewards and personalize them. Make recognition immediate; don’t wait for the quarterly, all-staff meeting. See my blog post How to Thank Your Employees for more information.

Good employees can be hard to find and harder to retain. Create an environment where they flourish and want to build a career, trust them to deliver excellent results, give them opportunities to grow and develop, and recognize a job well done.


Obstacles to Effective Customer Communications

How well we communicate with customers contributes a great deal to the customer experience. According to Accenture, 89% of customers get frustrated when they must repeat their issues to several representatives before getting it resolved. Here are some obstacles to effective customer communication and tools for overcoming them.

  • Poor listening skills. The key is to stop talking and just listen. It takes self-control to keep quiet and focus on what the other person is saying as they say it. Focus on the other person, stay in the present moment, and take notes, if necessary. Responding with a recap of the person’s main points is one way to ensure understanding.
  • Poor questioning skills.Open-ended questions generate discussion and add information; closed-ended questions stop conversation. For example, “Does this take care of your issue?” is a closed-ended question with only a yes-or-no answer. On the other hand, “What else do we need to consider or review?” is an open-ended question that keeps the conversation going.
  • Lack of empathy.Empathy is the ability to step into the customer’s experience and accept what they are feeling without judgement. This helps you understand the customer’s point of view, so you can better help them. It also reduces any anger or frustration the customer feels.
  • Poor non-verbal skills.Make good eye contact with the speaker and face them. Watch their gestures and facial expressions to determine if they are consistent with what they are saying. When the customer speaks, they also are watching your body language to assess your credibility, so make good eye contact, lean slightly toward the customer, avoid interrupting them, and nod to show interest and engagement.

See my blog post Your Company Needs a Customer-First Mindset for more information and check out my workshop Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.


Managing Resistance to Change

Today, change is the only constant. While change is necessary for growth and profitability, it can be hard to accept, and you may feel fear, anger, or frustration. We like staying in the comfort zone because it’s safe. However, resisting change is counterproductive and a futile exercise since change is inevitable. Here are some tools to help you.

Mindset is a key factor in managing resistance. There are two types of mindset—fixed and growth. Those with a fixed mindset believe that the ability to succeed is based on skills, and skills cannot be improved. When they are faced with change, they resist more than others since they believe they cannot change.

The other mindset is the growth mindset. Those with this mindset believe that improvement is always possible, and when change occurs, they look for opportunities to stretch and grow. Cultivating a growth mindset when faced with change can keep you positively productive, allow you to realize the benefits of the change, and communicate a professional image to management.

Another approach to resisting change has to do with uncertainty. Resistance often comes from fear—you don’t know exactly how the change will affect you or your job. You don’t have enough information to decide whether it will be bad or good. Instead of jumping to a negative conclusion—that the changes will be bad for you—move to a neutral position of wait-and-see. Be open and receptive to information, ask questions, listen carefully to answers, and withhold judgement until you know enough to react logically.

Remember the words of Shakespeare, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” If you don’t know the affects and are unable to view the change with a growth mindset, move into curiosity, which is neither good, nor bad.


Use Job Shadowing to Develop Key Employees

Job shadowing is a popular workforce development tool that can prepare employees for advancement. It allows someone to observe another employee on the job and experience first-hand what the job requires.

  1. Identify which of your employees would benefit from job shadowing. Generally, these employees are on a management or leadership development track.
  2. Identify a role within the organization that would expose the employee to a skill they need and would find valuable.
  3. Contact the person to be shadowed to find out if they agree and to set up guidelines.
  4. Meet with your employee to discuss this opportunity, gain their ownership of the process, and clarify expectations for the assignment.
  5. Release the employee to the job shadowing assignment.
  6. After the assignment, debrief with the employee to review expectations and personally thank the person who agreed to be shadowed.

Job shadowing facilitates true hands-on learning and gives your employees the opportunity to “test drive” a job they may be interested in. Contact me for information about my newest program Developing 21stCentury Leaders to see how you can cultivate the youngest members of your team for advancement.


Improve Team Dynamics

Team dynamics play a large role in how positively productive and successful your team is. Many factors affect team dynamics, including the nature of the work being performed, the personalities and workstyles of each team member, and their interpersonal relationships. Successful team dynamics depend on:

  • Mutual respect.Team members put aside their personal preferences and biases and work together toward a common goal. They accept workstyle differences without criticism, handle disagreements professionally, and resolve conflicts quickly. Make sure everyone on your team understands the goals that the entire team is striving to reach and their part in accomplishing them.
  • A primary goal of collaboration is to generate and implement new ideas. For the collaboration to work, each team member must feel comfortable and safe to share his or her ideas. During team meetings, create an open atmosphere by accepting all ideas using a brainstorming or mind-mapping process and then discussing each idea objectively until you find the best.
  • Value contributions and recognize people with rewards customized for each person. Acknowledge team accomplishments in ways that applaud achievement and reflect the value of the overall contribution to departmental success. Celebrating milestones and achievements can be a great way to encourage teamwork that will pay off in the long run.

Understand and monitor team dynamics to ensure you meet your departmental goals and cultivate a positively productive workplace. See my blog post Build Unstoppable Teams for more information.