by Jim Johnson
Over the past few months, I’ve developed and introduced a new initiative to my team. I lead a great team who is responsible for: a call center, eServices (online/phone lending), fraud, card admin, deposit operations, online account opening, etc.). We are calling this initiative the “Challenge to Change”.
What I wanted to do was to show the team how they can impact our bottom line (we call that our Measures that Matter) by adding something to their daily habits/routines. I didn’t want them to stop doing what they should be doing. No, I wanted them to add a simple step – a simple addition that could have significance in hitting our corporate goals.
Our call center, for instance, handles hundreds of calls every day. This team is effective in handling a wide variety of issues. They have been asked to view the customer’s financial profile and determine if this person has a full relationship with us (we are a credit union). Once they look at the profile, they are to ask themselves: “what’s missing?” Even if they see that more than one thing is missing, we have kept it simple. PICK ONE. Then talk about it.
We have created a list of “conversation starters” that assist the call center rep to begin a conversation that will lead to a deeper relationship with us. We are using current technology tools to log this interaction. Our technology can be viewed by anyone in the company and will keep the conversation momentum moving as the customer is in the deciding stage (we don’t assume that the sale will be made on the first attempt – it will take multiple interactions).
Here’s what I’ve learned while developing this initiative:
1. Know what my team is already doing. I spent significant time with team members asking them to show me what they look at when beginning an interaction with a customer. I had them explain (when necessary) what they could see/know from the data available on our core system. I gained valuable information with this step.
2. Understand their routine. Everyone approaches the same job in different ways. I had to discover how my team works. Some take short cuts. Others don’t. Some know their technology tools well. Others? Not so much. But I had to spend time with the team to know what they know and do.
3. Keep it simple. I knew that if I wanted to introduce a new habit, I couldn’t turn their work world upside down. Knowing my team and understanding their routine helped me know when and where to introduce change. It helped me to keep this process simple.
The new process only adds one step in their routine. One step. That’s it.
4. Communicate. I met with my call center 3-4 people at a time. I’m a word-picture guy. I drew charts, pictures, and graphs to lay-out what they do and where the change was going to happen. I asked a lot of questions and listened. I asked for feedback and got it. I made changes to the process based on the feedback. It was critical that we were all on the same page.
We are planning to launch this initiative this month. We have some testing to do with our current technology. We believe it will work and be a great “leading indicator” of our monthly corporate goals. It will drive more business to our branches. It will keep the relationship conversation going.
We didn’t build a complex machine to do this. We’re keeping it simple. We’ll be inspecting what we expect and encourage development and growth as we launch.
Change isn’t always easy. But keeping things simple, understanding the team’s work and process helps change happen.
“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
Over time, this loop—cue routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.”
“However, simply understanding how habits work—learning the structure of the habit loop—makes them easier to control. Once you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with the gears.”
Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-power-of-habit/id446670958?mt=11
by Krista Magidson
Your alarm goes off at 6 AM and immediately your to-do list flashes through your mind. Before brushing your teeth you check your phone for important emails and updates. While putting on your mascara your mind jumps ahead to your noon appointment. At breakfast you rehearse what you are going to say, anticipate objections, and the entire meeting runs through your mind, over and over again. “It’s going to be a long day,” you think to yourself and it’s only 7:30 AM. Sound familiar?
This kind of mental projection is time consuming, unproductive, and exhausting. But you can train yourself and your mind to be present, productive, and supportive with these four easy and effective Applied Meditation techniques.
1. Accept that thinking is inevitable: Over thinking is not the cause of an unproductive mind, allowing yourself to be either distracted by your thoughts or run by them is the problem.
Fighting with your mind or feeling frustrated over your lack of concentration actually makes thinking worse and it is exhausting.
Accepting that the process of thinking is normal and natural is the first step in retraining your mind and your attention. Acceptance is the first step in gaining control.
2. Train your mind with gentle repetition: Lack of focus is a habit. No matter what your personality type, genetic predisposition, or up-bringing you can re-train your mind with gentle and consistent repetition.
When you notice that your attention has wandered during a client meeting or phone call, take a quiet deep breath, and bring your attention back to your client or call.
This is a very powerful practice and you can do it throughout the day. The more you notice or watch your mind when it wanders the more present and focused you become.
3. Dealing with Worry: Worry thoughts are deceptively distracting and draining. Worry takes you right out of the present moment and propels you into the future.
The present moment is where all of your power lies. When you are consistently focused on future events you waste time, energy, and the feeling of powerlessness increases.
Instead, when you find that your attention has wandered towards a worry thought, ask yourself one of two questions: “Is that happening now?” or “Do I need to think about that now?”
Unless it is something that needs your immediate attention, the answer is usually, “No, that is not happening now” or “No, I do not need to think about that right now.” Repeat the question until you feel your attention settling back to the present moment.
This practice is also very useful if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with “to-do’s” on your mind.
4. Take three deep breaths, three times a day: Deep conscious breathing takes focus and it is a wonderful way to train your mind to be present. If you need to, set your phone to alert you at 12 noon, 3 PM, and 7 PM to help remind you.
Your mind is your greatest ally. Use these steps to gain control of your attention and create a mental environment is productive, energetic, and successful… and you will be too.
Here are the top 7 tips for self-improvement. They are general principles that apply to lots of areas of life. Therefore no matter who you are, at least most of these tips should be of use to you.
1. Self-improvement is your responsibility
When we our young, nature and society grow us automatically: our bodies develop under their own automatic schedule, and we are pushed through the school system where we are learning new things every day. But at some point – usually in the 20s for most people – this stops, and we have to take responsibility for our own growth, or we will just stagnate or even deteriorate, mentally and physically.
Once you are an adult, you are not fully-grown, you still have lots of potential. But you’ll only develop it if you decide to.
So my first tip is to acknowledge that it’s important and natural that you should take responsibility for your own self-improvement. A big part of this is figuring out who you are, what you’re passionately interested in, and then actively pursuing this.
2. Understand the 80/20 law
Also called the Pareto principle (after the Italian economist who first described it), this is a general principle that you see cropping up again in nature and society. Basically it states that the majority of the effects are created by a minority of the causes. For example, the minority of books that are launched each year make the majority of the sales (same with music), or in a business, 20% of the customers account for 80% of the sales.
The figures aren’t always exactly 80/20, they may be more like 90/10, or 70/30.
How does this relate to self-improvement? The answer is that there’s probably only a minority of things you do which create the biggest and best effects in your life and a small number of bad habits create the majority of the bad effects. This is good news as it implies that just by adding one or two good habits or removing one or two bad ones you can revolutionize your life.
Observe yourself and figure out what small changes could have the biggest effects. Things like cutting out smoking, watching TV or drinking sugared soda drinks can have big effects.