Archive for February 2011

If you treat your employees like crap, they’ll treat your customers like kings!

February 25, 2011

This title is crazy, right?  Of course it is.  In fact, the opposite is true.  If you treat your employees like crap, they’ll treat your customers like crap, too.  But, the positive flip on this is also true.  If you treat your employees well, they will treat your customers well.

H.A. Thompson of Rose Chauffeured Transportation, Ltd. spoke Tuesday at our Business Success Institute meeting, and this was one of his major points.  H.A. recognizes that he is in the “People” business — not the transportation business.  He shared with us the number of commendations he gets from clients who use his company.  “They all talk about the people–the drivers and how great they are,” he said.  “Not one of them mentioned the vehicle!”

Think about what you tell your employees they should do, and then think about whether or not you practice it.  Here are a few examples:

1.   Listen to them- if you expect your employees to pay attention to what your clients say, you’d better pay attention to what your employees say.  Most people want to be heard–and employees are like most people.

2.   Respect them – if your employees need to show proper respect to customers, you need to show proper respect to them.  Regardless of their pay grade or title, all people deserve basic respect.

3.   Make them feel valued – do your employees feel like contributors to your success, or more like disposable items that can be easily replaced?  If they don’t feel valued, they won’t likely understand how to value your customers.

Your employees are a critical part of your customer/client’s experience.  Take a look at your team.  Are you hiring the right people?  Are you training them and providing the tools they need to be successful?  Are you treating them the way you want them to treat your customers?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, stop and think.  Then decide to make some changes.  Your employees, your customers, and your bottom line will thank you.

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Management problem or hiring problem?

February 23, 2011

One of my valued business owner friends shared a story with me yesterday.  She was recalling the day that she realized just how much turnover was costing her business.  “I was appalled,” she said. 

She began looking at how many people had come and gone from her company in the past 12 months, and she compiled a list of those people.  She then asked her managers to identify any of the people on the list of former employees that they would want to rehire if given the chance.  Guess what their answer was — none of them!  There wasn’t a single person who had left their employ that they would want to return.

This caused my friend to have a revelation — her company didn’t have a management problem, they had a hiring problem.  She immediately set out to study what made great employees great and to apply that information more diligently to her hiring process.   She looked at her advertising mechanisms, her interview process, her reference and background checking processes, her pay scale — everything to do with getting the right people in the door.  Once she identified the key success factors and developed ways to screen for those, she began to dramatically improve her hiring process and reduce her turnover.

Her business requires extensive training for associates once they join the company.  Investing in that training time doesn’t make sense if the employee isn’t going to make it long-term.  My friend found it well worth her time to invest more time, effort and money up front to get and keep the right kind of people.

How much does it cost you when an employee leaves?  Most companies never add up the numbers–but you can bet, it’s a significant figure.  If your hiring processes aren’t working as they should — do something!  Develop processes that will help you get the right people in the right places — and keep them there.

Many companies are beginning to hire again as the recession wanes and new opportunities develop.  If you’re one of those companies, now’s the time to figure out how to hire better.

Have we met???

February 18, 2011

I’ve thought a lot this month about what it takes to expand your network.  Social media and blogs like this one have given us new ways to reach out and share thoughts and ideas.  That’s great.  But—it simply can’t take the place of meeting face-to-face. 

I’ve made a real effort since the first of the year to attend more functions, reach out to more people, to make those face-to-face connections.  Once again, I’ve found the power of “in person” to be amazing.  The social media connections may make it easier to get that first in-person meeting, for sure.  But I’m afraid some people are trying to use them as a substitute. 

I have a client who is basically an introvert.  He loves the idea that he can “meet” people via LinkedIn because it makes him feel as though he’s becoming more extraverted.  In fact, it’s allowing him to hide behind his computer–in his safe place.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but if meeting people is a goal, then he needs to get out from behind the computer and engage – face to face.  The information he can gather on LinkedIn can help him plan the meeting so that he feels less awkward — he can know what topics might be of interest to his new acquaintance and prepare accordingly.  That may help him feel less uncomfortable, and that’s great.  Still, he needs to get “in person” contact.

So, if I haven’t met you yet, I’d like to.  If you’re in the Charlotte area, call me for coffee.  If you’re not, we can Skype — not quite in-person, but the next best thing. 

Get out there — meet some new people — in person!

Self-Control key to adult success…really?

February 14, 2011

A recent study found that children who learn self-control early turn out to be better adults.  This is going to sound mean, but —duh!  I guess it’s good that a study proved what seems to be obvious, and if it means parents will pay more attention to teaching their children self-control, then I’m happy the study came out.  But, really–did we need a study to tell us that?

Self-control is a driver of responsibility.  If people understand that they DO have control over themselves, they are more likely to understand that they create many of their own outcomes.  They can take responsibility for those outcomes rather than blaming “the system,” “the man,” their parents, and so on.  Even when circumstances beyond their control put them in difficult situations, they can take control of their reactions, leading to better outcomes over time.

I think the most frustrating trait I see in adults is the unwillingness to take responsibility for their part of their situation.  Commercials today really play into this tendency.  The general theme is — whatever your problem, you didn’t cause it, and you can’t help yourself.  The truth more often is–whatever your problem, you likely made decisions that helped bring it on, and you CAN take actions to change direction.  Put more simply, “learn from your mistakes.”

The connection of actions and consequences is an essential building block to rational adulthood.  If I do A and B happens, I’ll either choose to do A again or not, depending on how pleasant or unpleasant B was.  If someone intervenes and keeps me from experiencing B, I’ll never learn.  We parents really DO have a responsibility to teach that. 

I sometimes run into workers who never learned that lesson.  They always look for someone to blame when things go wrong.  They don’t seem to be able to see the clear connection between their actions and subsequent outcomes.  This can be taught to adults, and I hope that we will continue to try to teach it.  It’s a tough lesson, but one well worth working on.

Since we’re talking about “self-control,” let me encourage you to look at yourself.  Do you take responsibility for your decisions and actions?  Even when life deals you a tough blow, do you understand and practice self-control to get the outcomes you need?  I’ll be evaluating myself on this today as well.