Power Follow-Ups for Leaders & Their Teams by Jim Johnson

From an earlier post…

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Observation coaching involves something called “power follow ups”. If you see or hear something that is not the standard you set for your staff member, try the following:

You observe an employee, Joe, waiting on a member. During the interaction, the employee rarely made eye contact and he did not use the customer’s name (both standards for your company). As soon as the customer walks away from the transaction, turn to Joe and say (quietly to them directly), “Joe, I noticed that while that customer was here, you hardly made eye contact with them. You also did not use their name. We’ve been trained that those 2 simple interaction skills make a big difference in how we build important relationships with our customers. I’ll be here observing the next several transactions. I need you to work on those 2 skills. In a while, I’ll give you my feedback on how you did. I know you can do this.”

Do you think Joe will make the changes? You bet! He knows that you know how he is interacting. You just witnessed it. He also knows that you are intentionally watching him and that he now has his marching orders. After several more interactions with customers, watch what happens in the following interactions:

Joe begins to make eye contact, intentionally uses the customer’s name and even smiles.Here’s your power follow-up, “I knew you could do it, Joe! That was great. Did you see how Mrs. Jones responded to you? She even asked you some additional questions that allowed you to talk about that new product. You’ve proven you can do this. Remember, our commitment is to do this at every encounter every day. It will become habit. Super job, Joe. I appreciate your concentration on this.”

You have just provided immediate, specific feedback on your employee’s performance.

He performed + you observed + you praised = a power follow-up

Chances are he will become more consistent with his customer interactions. By the way, don’t make this the last time you ever observe this employee on this issue.

Observing coupled with a power follow-up also works with negative behavior. The secret here is to give your power follow-up in a more private environment such as your office or a side room away from other employees. You never want to embarrass a team member in front of others on the team. It will only demotivate or anger that person.

As someone once said, “you have to inspect what you expect” and that means getting out and observing.

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson

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I recently heard John Stossel make the following statement concerning government:  “when we have a “mother, may I” government, innovation and creativity dies.”  He went on to say that when people are over-burdened with regulations, fewer and fewer people will fight the current to find a better way to do business.  This got me thinking…

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” culture at your company?

  • The staff is petrified to act in the best interest of your customers because they may “get in trouble” for acting first instead of asking first.
  • Your team comes to you constantly throughout the day to get permission to act, get involved, decide on ____________.
  • You have employees who’ve been in their positions for years and they have not generated a new idea, initiative, suggestion, etc.
  • Your team waits for you – the manager, VP, CEO – to decide what to do next.  Until then, nobody moves.

In 2008, I spoke at a national credit union conference at Disney World.  One of the keynote speakers was the former CEO of Mountain America Credit Union (Utah).  In his early days, he once observed teller interactions with members in the lobby of the main branch.  He stated that at almost every interaction, the tellers excused themselves, walked over to their manager’s office and then returned and finished the transaction.  After several interactions, he walked over to one of the tellers and asked why they continued to seek out the manager.  He was told that the manager had to approve almost anything a teller did.  He soon found out that this was happening all over the credit union.

“We had created a sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy here. I set out to change it.”  He did.  The credit union’s assets more than doubled under this man’s leadership in about 12 years.  They acquired several smaller credit unions.  Their business now spans 4 states.

So here’s the question for you:  How do you change from a company of “Mother, may I?” to one that empowers its staff to think, innovate, create, and serve your customers?

I’d love to read your thoughts.  Please share them!

Blind Eye by Jim Johnson

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A pit fall of any leader is turning a blind eye to things that can ultimately hurt you, your integrity, and your reputation.

 

  • Ignoring poor performance of a staff member over and over.
  • Allowing certain staff members to “get away” with coming in late, taking longer lunches, gossiping, surfing the internet while others on your staff work hard to do right and be right.
  • Allowing some staff members to regularly share negative thoughts and feelings about their coworkers and then you begin to believe these things, too – and you haven’t personally invested in those other people.
  • Allowing yourself to say what’s on your mind without filtering your thoughts and words first.
  • Blowing up and getting angry in public.
  • Playing favorites.
  • Saying one thing, but doing another

 

Many leaders succumb to some of these things during their career.  The successful ones aren’t blinded to these and other shortcomings.  They know what they need to do in order to minimize and/or eliminate their blind eye:

  • They hold their staff accountable to their performance.  They have regular coaching sessions which keep results and behavior standards in the fore front.
  • They hold everyone on their team to the same basic/core standards.  If arriving to work on time is good for the team (and it is), it is good for ALL of the team.
  • Do not allow a staff member talk with you negatively about another staff member.  As the leader of your team, it is YOUR responsibility to monitor and deal with each of your team members.  It is the responsibility of your team to focus on their own personal performance.  If a staff member insists on bad talking another (I’m not talking about ignoring violations such as stealing, harassment, etc), try saying this next time:  “I understand you have a personal issue with that person.  But it is not appropriate for me to talk with you about that person’s performance.  That’s not your job.  That’s my job.  Your job is to focus on your results and performance.  So, we can talk about what you’re doing right now to move this department/company forward.  But what I won’t allow is for you to talk to me about someone else’s performance.  That’s not your job.  So, how are you doing with….?”  Become a broken record on this point.  Your staff will quickly realize that their responsibility is on their own personal results.
  • Seek out a trusted resource at your work place and allow them to ask you tough questions.  “What am I being blind to?”  And if they tell you, act on that!  Seeking truth and then ignoring it will quickly ruin your integrity and reputation.

We all have blind spots.  All of us.  If you are fortunate enough to discover them, intentionally act to remove them.  Will most people see this happening?  Perhaps not.  But you will move yourself towards becoming a respected, trusted leader who is recognized as authentic, approachable, and effective.

 

“Authenticity is the alignment of the head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently.  This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” 

Lance Secretan

Cleaning, Passion, Growth…Adam Ross interview by Jim Johnson

On September 11, 2013, I sat down with Adam Ross, owner of Ross Cleaning & Restoration (www.rossrestoration.com).  Our families attend the same church and our children attend the same school.  Prior to this interview, I had not known what Adam did.  On the first day of school, I noticed he was wearing a branded shirt with his company’s logo on it.  I sent him a couple of emails and we set up our lunch interview appointment.  I think you are going to find his story interesting.

HISTORY

Adam told me his father is an entrepreneur/small business owner.  Adam grew up watching his dad start and grow several businesses.  It appears it got into his blood.  Adam told me he started off attending college, but it became quickly apparent that school was not for him.

In 1999, Adam worked for Stanley Steamer.  Then the following year, while working for Carpet One, he saw ad for Steamatic in newspaper and looked into buying the Las Vegas franchise.  He decided against but then opened Steam-it in 2002 which he later sold in 2005.  Adam and his wife moved to Vegas in July ’05 but then returned in January ’06 with a baby on the way. In 2007, he opened Ross Cleaning and Restoration.

STAFF

Ross Cleaning has 2 crews right now.  I asked how he builds his business.  Angie’s List has played a big part in promoting the business, Adam explains.  “There are over 90 carpet cleaning companies in our area.  On Angie’s List, Ross Cleaning has over 70 reviews – the vast majority are very positive.  My nearest competitor has only 6 reviews.” This customer-driven website has brought in a lot of new business.

I asked Adam about his staff.  “I’ve always had good luck with staff.  I felt the need to always have a “right hand man” and I have a great one now,” Adam told me.  Adam is proud of his professional, clean-cut team.  It sets his business apart from most of the others.

BRANDING

I asked why people would choose Ross Cleaning over other companies.  What makes his company different/better?

Adam explained that they are very good at cleaning carpets and they charge fair prices. He is very proud of the fact that he and his crews build great relationships with customers – many of whom have been customers for years.  Adam intentionally seeks out business opportunities.  As a result, his company has solid business relationships with area apartment complexes and property managers.

Customer retention has been key to Adam’s success.  “The first time doing business with someone, I don’t make a lot of money.  My goal is to get hired the 2nd time by them.”  Adam relies heavily on “promoters”  who tell friends and families about the positive experience they’ve had.  “It can’t be just a one-time cleaning…ever.  With over 90 carpet cleaners in town, consumers have a lot of options.”

Adam has learned that he can’t simply rely on the basics of cleaning.  He needs to diversify.  “Everything we do compliments something else.  From carpet cleaning to air duct cleaning to mold remediation, we have to be better than others.”

One point Adam made was his skill and ability to build relationships with new and existing customers.  He can walk into a home or business and see items that reveal what is valued by this person.  Adam has learned to use his observation skills to start-up a conversation with folks that will eventually lead to a more solid, long-lasting relationship.  “We clean some million dollar homes and they leave us alone in their house to our work – they trust us.”  .

Adam hires intentionally:  his team has to also believe in the business as much as he does.  “We invest a lot in our business, education staff, and equipment.  We are professionals.  It breaks my heart when we get a review that’s not so good.  I take it personally…everytime.”

GROWTH

I asked about Adam how, when he started, he went about building his business.  In the early days, he had to go out every day to look for work. “I’d do the work for free just to get my name out. I had to keep moving.  This really helped me spread the word.  I had to practice and preach about my new business.”  In other words, Adam took action even if he didn’t feel like doing it. “I was always good with numbers – bills were coming in and I knew I had to work to pay them.”

Finally, I asked how Adam approaches growth now.  “I had to learn to start working on the business instead of in the business.  I had to hire more people to do the tasks.  I had to let go of control and focus on things I was really good at.”

As a result, Ross Cleaning & Restoration is now debt free.  But that doesn’t keep Adam from losing focus.  “Employees are like family. We know each other’s secrets.  I worry about the next week’s sales, that we hit our numbers.”

Take-a-ways for Leaders/Managers in a Traditional Work Setting:

  • Be passionate.  It’s your business.  Throw yourself into it!
  • Be wise in your hiring. Hiring the right people is critically important in building your business.  The right people will build your brand.  They will bring you success.  They are the living, breathing brand promise with every interaction with your customers.
  • Customer retention is key.  When you make a sale, look to deepen the relationship.  Get “hired” the 2nd time.  You cannot survive on “one-sies”.
  • Learn more about your business.  Keep up on new developments.  Apply what you’ve learned.
  • Build relationships, not just a portfolio.  Your customers are people with needs, dreams, and drives.  Learn what those are. Be the solution for them.
  • When in doubt, act.  If sales are slow, go out and work the streets.  Don’t let a slow down slow you down.  Just keep moving, acting, thinking, doing, creating.  If you don’t, your business will not grow.
  • Work on your business and not just in it.  Focus.  Help your team to focus.  Everyone on your team cannot all be doing the same thing at the same time.  Do what you do best.
  • Act like you own the joint.  It’s far too easy to hold a mindset of “oh, the company will take care of ____”.  When you spend money, think and act like it’s your money.  When you have to dedicate time to a project, it’s your time you are investing.  Act like an owner in all you do.

To learn more about Adam’s company, visit their website at:  http://www.rossrestoration.com/.

The Mind & Spirit of an Entrepeneur by Jim Johnson

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What is it with entrepreneurs!?  Have you ever asked yourself that before?  You see folks who have built a business up and are their own bosses.  Many of us admire them while others of us think those folks are crazy!

I’ve decided to interview local entrepreneurs here in my town, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I want to learn how they became an entrepreneur and why they made this decision.  I want to learn what drives them, what scares them, what inspires them.  I want to learn how they achieve.  I want to learn how they deal with obstacles and failure.

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Most of us work for and in traditional companies.  We come in daily and punch the figurative or literal time clock.  There are no entrepreneurs down a cubicle aisle, right?  Or are there?…

  •  What if managers/leaders in a traditional company began to think and act more like an entrepreneur?
  • What would that look like?
  • How would that impact their performance and bottom line?
  • How would they treat their staff differently?

I think I’m going to learn – and you’re going to learn – a lot about ourselves and much more from entrepreneurs through this process.  I’m excited about this adventure.  Please share these posts with others.  Please drop me a comment as you follow along.  I appreciate your feedback and insights.

My next post will be the interview I just had with Adam Ross on September 11, 2013.  Stay tuned!

The Culture of Your Company

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by S. Chris Edmonds

“Consider new research from management consultancy Orion Partners. Its survey of over 2,000 employees found that 24% of employees thought their bosses were overstressed, poor communicators, and lacked empathy. Only 5% of employees felt that their managers were empathetic, explained why organizational change was good for employees, or rewarded employees for their efforts.

Almost half (47%) of employees said that their managers made them feel threatened. 85% said that their managers cared more about what they did than what they were feeling.

Every one of these issues is fixable. Most managers can easily reframe key messages in ways that demonstrate care, that encourage employees, and that make employees feel heard and valued. The trick is to invite employee opinion, then refine behaviors to better serve their needs — and, in the process, create a safe, inspiring work culture.

What are proven ways to gather reliable, valid employee perceptions about your work environment?

Employee surveys are a very effective “formal” means to gather this data. Informal ways include regular one-on-one meetings, “breakfast with the CEO,” town hall meetings, exit interviews, or discussions that organically happen when leaders “manage by wandering around.” It’s amazing what leaders can learn if they are available and present for these conversations.

The path is clear: Ask employees what they think of your company and culture. Then share the results, no matter how depressing the data. Then act — repair lousy systems, coach lousy bosses and employees, etc., to improve your company work culture day by day.”

Read the entire article here: http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2012/12/26/is-culture-your-companys-most-important-asset/

7 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Promoted

 
by Brandy Lee
 
Getting the news that you’ve been passed over for promotion can be disheartening. And the follow-up discussion with your boss—the one that should help you understand why you’ve been passed over—more often than not just leaves you with a bruised ego and no idea what to do next.The fact is, your boss is probably just as uncomfortable delivering bad news as you are with receiving it. (I’ve found that most supervisors actually expend a lot of energy actively dreading these exchanges.) Is it really any mystery, then, why we walk away from being passed up with no clue why the decision didn’t go the other way?

To get some insight, I interviewed 20 of my favorite executives to find out why so many up-and-comers were finding themselves part-way-and-stuck. Straight from their (anonymous) mouths, here’s what bosses are trying to tell us in those less-than-fun meetings.

1. You Lack the Skills Necessary to do the Job

“Julie is very efficient and effective in the completion of her daily tasks. The position she was hoping to get, however, requires strong analytical skills she doesn’t have.”

One of the most common misconceptions employees have about promotion decisions is that they’re based solely on performance in their current role. While that’s certainly a consideration, success in one area doesn’t always translate to success in another. For instance, someone who excels at data entry may need additional education or training to become a data analyst, a job that requires strategic thinking and problem solving abilities.

The secret to getting ahead? Become familiar with the requirements of the job you want, and determine what skills you need to improve upon if you’re going to succeed in it. Then, talk to your boss. Let her know you’re interested in moving up, and ask for her advice on how to get there.

2. You Lack the Soft Skills Necessary to do the Job

“Pam is extremely accomplished, technically. Before we can promote her, though, we’d like for her to spend some time developing her leadership and teamwork skills.”

Here’s something else The Powers That Be (TPTB) don’t tell you up front: These skills aren’t always technical. Particularly if you’re moving up to management, you’ll need to have mastered some soft skills—like conflict negotiation, diplomacy, and business communication—and coming up short might very well be a deal breaker.

Develop the soft skills you’ll need to succeed in the job you want, then highlight them through your involvement in programs that are important (and visible) to TBTP. Perhaps you can become an informal mentor to a newer employee, or volunteer to lead a presentation or training. Whichever method you choose, you’ll be signaling to your boss that you’re ready for management.

3. You Don’t Take Feedback

“I’ve really tried to develop Mary, to get her ready for a promotion. But she gets very defensive when I give her constructive feedback. I feel like she spends more time trying to prove me wrong than she does trying to improve.”

I doubt there is a woman among us that hasn’t struggled to keep her composure when receiving “constructive” criticism. But remember—feedback is not always a bad thing. Is it possible that your boss has some valid points? She’s telling you how to improve your performance—and this is good information to have when you’re gunning for a promotion.

When you receive feedback, whether in your review or in the hallway, resist the urge to defend yourself. Try to take it in and see what you can learn from it, instead.

4. You Lack Professionalism

“What frustrates me more than anything else is employees who are consistently negative about the company. What they don’t understand is, the things they say—they get back to us. Why would we promote anyone who behaves like that?”

It’s not unreasonable to expect that, as you move up the career ladder, you’ll begin to conduct yourself more professionally—and not just when the boss is looking. This came up several times in different contexts—from an inability to maintain confidentiality to participation in office gossip—and was identified by executives as the most difficult challenge for employees to overcome.

This may seem obvious, but how you behave in the company of co-workers is just as important, if not more so, as how you behave around management. For example, you can and should identify problems within your department and company, but you should not pontificate about those problems in the break room—which gives the impression that you’re looking for an audience, instead of a solution.

5. You Don’t Take Initiative

“Jennifer is quick to recognize areas that could use improvement, but we can’t get her to go beyond lodging the complaint. We’d really like to see her take the initiative to come up with solutions, not just expect everything to be fixed by management.”

Becoming a problem solver shows that you care—not only about your own career, but about the long-term health of the business as well. Don’t just document the problems you see, analyze the issues and find ways to get involved in developing the solutions. Collaborating with others to create positive change will identify you as a leader in your organization. Remember, anyone can drop a complaint into the suggestion box.

6. You Think Like an Employee—Not a Manager

“Craig is good at his job, but it seems like he’s more committed to getting on the freeway by 10 ’til than he is to the success of his department.”

Remember, TPTB are anointing future leaders here. If you’re giving them the impression you’re only showing up for a paycheck, it’s not likely that you’ll be high on their list of candidates. No, you don’t have to become a workaholic or start hanging out long past five or six just to “be seen,” but it’s a good idea to express interest in the things that happen when the meter isn’t running.

7. You Expect It

“Sean has made it clear that he expects to be promoted. The problem is, I feel like he expects to be promoted based on only his length of service. There are others on his team that are more focused on their career development, and even though they’ve not been here as long, it’s likely that they will be promoted before him.”

Lastly, recognize that in today’s environment, tenure is no longer the primary factor in promotion decisions, and is best left out of any arguments you might make on your own behalf. These days, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been there six months or six years—it’s all about your contribution.

Being passed over for a promotion doesn’t need to be the end of the world. In fact, it can be a huge learning opportunity—and sometimes, it can also be just the kick in the pants you need to get you started down the right path. So take these lessons, learn from the past, and keep that promotion in your sights.

About the author:

Brandy Lee is a seasoned human resources executive with practical experience in employee development and change management in a variety of industries. As the Practice Director of the HR Services Group at a progressive CPA firm in Orange County, she provides high level consulting services to the firm’s business clients. You can find out more about Brandy by connecting on LinkedIn, or visiting her blog, Real Women Unite, or her wildly funny list of “Things We Learned The Hard Way.”

Read more: http://www.thedailymuse.com/career/7-reasons-you-arent-getting-promoted/#ixzz2S9Q9wua3