Archive for Engagement

So, What Say You?

AwkwardHave you ever shared something out loud and it came out in such a way that you offended someone, but were not aware of the horrible impact you had? I have, and it was not until I began noticing that I was being “put in my place” over and over again, or when word began filtering back to me that it had been discussed by others.

Sadly, what was said was never meant to come off as condescending or rude, but the judgement stuck. Before someone made an effort to get to know me, to learn about my heart, before anyone even tried to cull from me the actual meaning of what I was trying to convey, the words were judged, shared, and shared again.

In the end I was made to feel ostracized and ignored. No amount of good-effort on my part will likely change the opinion I had given them with two poorly worded sentences. They will never know how much I admire their talents, their contributions to their work or how much I wish to learn from them.

The personal brand had been set, the path drawn and the relationship skewed.

My fault for not choosing my words more consciously, for allowing some things going on in my personal life to cloud my ability to say what I really meant, and for uttering sentences that poorly described what I was trying to convey.

Yes. Lesson learned, think first, and speak later.

But I have to wonder what makes us so afraid to say;

“Are you aware how what you just said made me feel? That I felt lessened by those words?”

Oh how different things might have been! How easily I could have been given an opportunity to right the sentences, to utter what I really meant. What a lovely opportunity I would have been given to build a relationship rather than be branded.

Our words matter – mine did and I must live with that. But actions matter too.

Dealing with ‘difficult people’ is never easy, but it is swiftly accomplished if you are first willing to approach the ‘difficult’ person directly.

Leadership lessons for me:

  1. What I say and how I say it matters, always.
  2. Try to address the person making uncomfortable statements first.

All of us are both easy to get along with or difficult to get along with, depending on the audience, what one is going through, or the environment in which they find themselves.

Have you ever wished you could take back words that were conveyed in a way you never meant to convey them?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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A New Manager’s Guide to Honesty

LeadingFirst, a short story.

Not long ago, a team we are familiar with described their experience with a difficult manager. The frustration level was such that the core team were ready to quit.

Their issue? A lying Manager.

The team was weary, distrustful, often cranky and angry at each other, and they were beginning to unravel thread-by-thread. It was easily traced to the manner in which the manager had been handling the team.

Sadly, the issues they had went on for a number of years:

  • They were all privately told different versions of what was going on in the team.
  • The manager made promises to all of them, separately, but did not always back it up or follow it through.
  • The manager continually deflected accountability for actions by pointing in any direction but his own, including pointing up the chain or at other team members.
  • Many of the stories pitted members of the team against one another.
  • The manager promised roles to team members when that role already belonged to other team members, without using professional due process.

In addition to lying, the key ingredients to frustration were the manager’s inability to take ownership or accountability for most actions, especially anything the employees disliked or when they challenged his lack of willingness to be open about future planning.

The thing about lying is, as mentioned in a previous post Liars get caught, period, the lies are almost always found out, eventually. When a manager lies to his team, he destroys trust. Avoiding difficult situations, or conflict altogether, are as good as lying and continues to diminish trust within a team.

Ways to be an honest Manager, especially through change

Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for moving the team forward. The manager who falls into the habit of blaming their bosses for decisions made loses the team and creates an ‘Us against Them’ environment. This can be avoided by one of the foundational principles of management, keeping the team unified and in alignment with the company strategy.

  • Take ownership of the decisions which are out of your control and made at a higher level.
  • Champion these decisions as your own and encourage your team to do the same.
  • Recognize when you are powerless to change the decision and move on professionally, even if you disagree (keep it to yourself) as you are the ambassador for the people who lead you.

Build the functional capability of the team as a team. Many a manager believes that once given the title they are empowered to make all the decisions and the team must simply follow it through. While that may be true in terms of power and authority, by disrespecting your team members’ valuable knowledge and ignoring group decision making, a manager may be putting the team, and ultimately the company, at risk.

  • Make meetings productive by listening, not by trying to be the smartest person in the room. Ask a lot of questions and get answers from your experts, leverage the team ‘on the ground’ and utilize and respect their knowledge.
  • Mine solutions from the whole group then ask all in the room to question the validity and be the ‘friendly critic’ who can identify associated risks.
  • Keep ‘water cooler’ conversations away from planning and decision-making unless you are focused only on that team member’s performance.
  • Never make promises you cannot keep, the entire team will slowly begin to distrust your leadership.
  • Focus on the strengths of the whole team united, the importance of a team that works together and is not in conflict.

These are a just a few ideas for helping your build honesty and trust within your team. An honest, transparent and trustworthy manager is far more effective than a top-down, distrustful one. Leadership is not about you, it is about the team and what is best for the company. Open, honest transparency will be a far better guide through change and will serve you as a new leader in all walks of life.

What ideas can you share with new managers?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Your Yes Men Are Hurting Your Business

clearYes men are the people always willing to agree with or go along with the leader for any of a number of reasons.

Yes men (or women) have a reason to believe that contradicting the boss or executive is detrimental to their career.

If you see this in your business, and you are at the top – you did this. You either inherited or created a culture of Yes Men and you likely have failed to address it.

At first it feels good. It’s great to feel like the smartest person in the room that everyone looks up to, the person who everyone agrees with. But it does not bring change, it will not bring innovation, it will never make your company distinctive or set you apart from the competition. It will stagnate you.

Yes Men fail in the actions your business really needs:

  • Challenging how money is being spent and why
  • Courage to innovate
  • Willingness to be accountable for a creative solution
  • Desire to adopt new ways of marketing or selling your brand
  • Being a unique player in a highly competitive market

Sure your business is doing fine. But, are you okay with fine?

Yes men are more about someone’s ego than what is right for the business.

Be willing to hire strong, capable people who are experts in their field. Create an atmosphere of trust where they feel safe telling you what they believe or think. Learn how to facilitate the kind of meetings that pull the best ideas out on the table. Ask yourself these:

  • When a “friendly critic” comes into the company, are they embraced or chased out?
  • Do you take challenge as a personal attack?
  • Think about it. Who could you ask or trust in the business to tell you what you really need to hear?
  • Who is the person who has the guts to challenge the status quo?
  • Are your ‘challengers’ really contrarians or do they have a passion for success?
  • Are they discounted because they are not following in the steps of your Yes Men?

Are you a strong enough leader to allow yourself to be challenged by your employees?

It’s YOUR culture, what are you going to do about it?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Change Management & Leading

Where Are We Going?

Change Management (CM) is quite the buzz word in business lately – everyone knows they need it, but few organizations truly understand the science or the way to go about leading and managing change for their organization. Many companies are still fixated with tossing it into a separate department or onto a specific project for the middle managers or project managers to ‘figure out’. For many companies, especially project-specific ones, the focus appears to only be on getting buy-in for difficult changes.

“Let’s wrap a little change management around that.”

It’s a frustrating phrase we hear quite often in our consulting practice that not only demeans change management professionals and the means by which change is successfully adopted, but it also makes it sound like the people were the afterthought – like a dictator suddenly realizing three minutes into a coup that they may need a strategy for placating the masses.

“Change Management is about bringing the people with you through change, not shoving it down their throats in a more digestible fashion.”

~W.Blackstaffe

Change Management is just a small bite of Organization Development, not the whole meal. Leading change for the entire company is best accomplished by the leadership within the organization first. It is not enough for an executive body to decide to make a change, there are some very important readiness steps that are often missed. Projects that are completed fully through to implementation before the organization decides it’s time to bring on a change manager miss the most important steps to successful change.

In this article by Forbes, Donna Wiederkehr offers some very poignant advice on preparing the change at the leadership level in her commentary on change.

  • Have a clear vision
  • Articulate the vision
  • Give your teams a reason to believe
  • Use transitions for inspiration, not just explanations

Most of this is prepared in the decision making process, long before project start or during implementation, and the heart of it is developed at the leadership level. Read more of her article to dig a little deeper into Donna’s thoughts on change.

Our point is this: A watered-down Change Management effort designed solely for last minute buy-in is not going to be as effective as creating an organization that is Poised for Change™. Your organization needs to be capable of handling the many forced changes through market disruptions, environmental change and technological shifts that businesses are facing today. Companies need an over-all change strategy that reaches the heart of the employees who are being asked to make changes on a continual basis.

What do you see missing in change efforts you have been involved with?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Are You Leading for Change Management?

Success MagazineLeading for Change...a few years ago Patti, our Strategist, was interviewed for an article of the same title in Success Magazine. In that article she stressed the importance of involving the team in finding solutions, saying;

“When employees know the plan, the direction, the mission and the goals, it gives them something concrete and real to focus their actions toward. It helps them understand how they add value to the direction of the company and shows them their own worth toward building success for the organization.”

Recently, a new client approached us because they have been struggling with the internal management of some of their change initiatives. The topic of managing change is a relatively new area for them and they have made assignments regarding the change management role. When we identified for them that they have not developed a common understanding across the organization as to exactly what change management is, they began to better understand why some of their initiatives were failing.

What was happening?

  • Employees believed they WERE performing change management in their respective areas.
  • The words Change Management were being used but not necessarily performed in the manner the industry recognizes.
  • They were seeing ‘ownership’ of their piece of the project threatened by the new change management role, assuming their piece would be taken away.
  • They were unwittingly sabotaging the change efforts of the change manager.
  • They had a number of ‘change’ initiative going on, but did not support at the highest level.
  • They were treating the process as an administrative duty.

It didn’t take long to get them on the right track, what they needed was a company-wide definition of the Change Management Process for their organization. They needed to engage the people in the organization to clarify this common definition for the entire company. Then they needed to engage teams in learning just what that involved. Most had no idea that change management is actually a process, not a series of random steps performed in isolation of the other steps. “We added a little Change Management to this…” means they had no idea what change management actually involves.SuccessMagazine

In your best sponsorship, are you leading change by creating clarity and understanding from the top and including people from ALL levels of the organization so that they have both input and a common understanding of initiatives? Here are some ways to help you build the competency in your organization:

  • Bring in someone to help you define a change process for your organization.
  • Train the people you will be assigning as change practitioners
  • Enlighten the organization with clarity on exactly what change management involves.

Let me leave you with Patti’s other quote I like from the article:

“You don’t have all the answers, and science is showing that a group of committed collaborators trumps a single genius for finding amazing solutions.”

Clarity and engagement – two keys to success in Leading Change – Make it Grand!

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Walt Blackstaffe works with Golf and Ski Operations in process and procedure development, streamlining business practices and managing change, guiding them toward increased revenues and business proficiency. Walt accomplishes this through analysis, interviews, procedure review and bringing a life time of experience and passion in the recreation management industry to every engagement.

You can reach us at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

 

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Own It to Change It

Own_It_Change_It How does organizational change occur?

Change occurs because people, just like you and me, made the decision to change. How that decision came about may be different for each individual involved; the motivator, influence or even traumatic event that may occur and spur someone toward change is usually personal and unique to each.

In the end, change occurred because the individual decided to take responsibility for their contribution to the current state of affairs & take action toward the future.

Every stakeholder involved plays an instrument in the orchestra of change.

Successful, sustained change occurs when someone owns and takes responsibility for their individual piece of the musical score, especially if it achieved a not-so-appealing outcome based on past performance.

Change is hard. It involves leaving our comfort zones, habits or belief systems and developing new ones. The transition is messy while we figure out how to accomplish new behaviours. There will even be a few mistakes along the way and people will need to readjust, (forgive), move forward and shift action. It can be awkward or frustrating. Keeping the whole orchestra (organization) and the final performance (goals) in focus will help.

  • Each person needs to know what instrument they play and how that instrument contributes to the whole.
  • Each person will need their own sheet music and it will be slightly different than someone playing a different instrument.
  • Each person will need to own their personal performance AND how they perform along with others. (You’ve all heard music when one instrument is off or out of tune.)

Making change is not about laying blame, it’s about being responsible for and owning ‘what doesn’t work’ or is no longer sustainable action – owning it personally in your corner of the stage – and it will take practice. Equally important to successful change is collaborating with others, following the beat or lead of another, being supportive of and aligning with other members of the orchestra, not to mention caring deeply about those people who will bear witness to the performance.

Own it to change it…

With luck, your orchestra has a supportive and active conductor guiding you along the way.

P.S. If you have an absentee or a non supportive conductor, you are still part of an orchestra and need to own your part in the overall performance in spite of a lack of leadership. Working together WITH the other musicians toward the greater performance is the best way to win with change.

P.P.S. Pointing fingers at others and blaming a lack of leadership as an excuse for poor performance or a bad attitude is a cop-out that shifts responsibility to others – this is a lose-lose activity. Win-Win activities involve owning it to change it.

 

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Are You A Team Player?

Team-700x350

In his blog titled, “We Don’t Need To Make it Better” on February 5, Seth Godin says this about improvements.

“Just because it is uphill doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though. One of the most essential tasks a leader faces is understanding just how much the team is afraid of making things better (because it usually means making things worse—for some people).

Change is scary for most people, and risky change that might adversely affect someone or cause a wave, even scarier! The thing is, it is important to do what is RIGHT instead of working in fear.

Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference

Cooperation and conciliation and compromise and teamwork are all arts, and like all arts they require practice and commitment. In a complex world, success is not possible without teamwork.”

Let me put it this way, if you are a member of a team or a ‘Tribe’, as Seth Godin calls them, you have a responsibility to that team; not only to each other, but to the overall mission (or company) as well. If you have been hired in a role and you work with other people to accomplish that role, you are being paid to work with them and help develop plans for reaching the BIG PICTURE. Not sure what that is? As a team, ask these questions:

  • What is our collective why?
  • What exactly does success look like, what are we trying to accomplish overall?
  • Who is needed to accomplish that goal?
  • What do I have to do in my specific role to make it an amazing success and who do I need to collaborate with in order to reach success for the BIG PICTURE?

Now bump it up…..

  • How can I bring the very best of myself to that role and help everyone else shine so they too can accomplish our BIG PICTURE Mission?

Ultimately, it is not about you. If your loyalty is only to yourself and not with the team and the company who is paying you, you are in the wrong job or at the very least not giving your best to the job you have.

Here are a few great actions of a team-player.

  • They keep professional confidences and do not put the company or their team mates at risk for selfish gain.
  • They see and recognize the strengths that EVERY member of the team brings to the table and are willing to work WITH those people for the BIG PICTURE success.
  • They are both transparent and honest, protecting the path to the BIG PICTURE along-side their team members.
  • They deal directly with the individual they have a qualm with and do not drag clients or outside individuals into their emotional dramas or insecurities. (P.S. that is called gossip)
  • They do not disparage other team members to each other (or anyone else for that matter), but rather find ways to turn the other team member’s poor performance or lack of success into a coaching opportunity before writing them off.
  • They are loyal to the BIG PICTURE realizing the people or organization paying their salary are where their loyalty lies, and they work together to meet that big picture.

Getting the drift? If you are a member of a team within which you can take these actions, then you are on the right team.

If you cannot find yourself loyal to the team or play well in the sandbox with the people you are supposed to be reaching the collective goal with, united for a common cause, (or you don’t believe in the cause), it is time to find a different place to work.

Why? Your heart is with you, not the team or the goal.

Go do something GRAND, something you can be passionate about in reaching a common BIG PICTURE goal WITH people you can respect – or – find a way to be a solid member of your existing team, unite and build a plan together so that you can again be passionate about what you do and who you work with. Stop waiting for your company to change so you can make this happen – you have much more power than you think.

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Occupy Your Street

There is a commercial on television where a woman and man are sitting in a reception area, the woman turns to her husband and says, “I just want to stop paying checking fees” and a woman at the reception desk says, “If you want to stop paying checking fees, then stop paying Checking fees.” I love this commercial because of its simplicity.

Simplicity is beauty, especially when one wishes to rally a large group of people with a single message. The message must be clear. I am not sure what the message is regarding Occupy Wall Street protestors, as what I’ve heard varies and some pieces are complex. This doesn’t work for most folks, many wish to have something clear and simple to follow before they get on board to champion and rally with others. I know I want to know what I am rallying toward and the outcome this rally is to achieve.

Of course most of us know some of the reasons behind what drove people to Occupy Wall Street. I recognize people want desperately for the decision makers who put the world economy at crisis to take notice, to pay for their mistakes, for corporate greed not to get the best of us. I know people are frustrated feeling starved while big CEOs took in buyouts to pay themselves handsomely. I get that, I feel for those sharing their stories on the “We Are the 99 percent” webpage and I ache for the populations of all countries who are suffering with the loss of homes and jobs. What I am not certain I understand is what outcome these folks wish to achieve by doing what appears to me to be an un-focused sit-in.

What I wish everyone understood is that all of us, by choosing to ride the wave of boom and buy, we were a large part of the train that brought us here.

But think about this…WE have the power to change things in this world with actions that can truly affect Wall Street. Think about it, if 99% of us are financially hurting or trying to make sense of where we find ourselves within this brutal economy, then the number-odds are pretty much in our favour.

Mere groups don’t create change, actions do.

Gathering in groups in Tanzania, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain did not accomplish change. Showing the world by committing to being part of covert operations and dangerously sending video footage overseas to present to the world the atrocities occurring within their borders did. Being brave enough to organize with a clear message of what they will and will no longer accept and then taking action to gain world-wide support, this created change. Gathering was only a step in the process. Simple message, understood outcome and actions toward that outcome achieved their goals. They were the majority, and they acted together in solidarity to accomplish an outcome.

Like those countries, the majority here have the power to make every day choices that will speak more loudly than a sit-in or a tent in a central park location. We don’t have a simple message such as, “oust the dictator”. WE do have the power of numbers, but not only numbers with messages on placards, but numbers who make every day choices and take everyday actions to truly guide where our countries need to go, and we have the freedom to do so.

We all need to Occupy OUR Own Street and we can do it by using the power of the purse, even if all you have are pennies.

  • If you want a better environment, change your spending habits to green or ecological companies.
  • If you want to increase small business, then buy from small business.
  • If you want to grow local businesses, then shop at local businesses.
  • If you want more jobs within this country, start purchasing brands made only in this country (if you can find some).
  • If you want better transit then choose to ride on transit until the sheer numbers force it.
  • If you don’t like how a company works, fight it by not giving it your money, then support the kind of company you trust.
  • Be strong enough to fray from the party line and vote for what is best for the 99% and your country instead – listen to your heart not the rhetoric.
  • Be willing to teach your children fiscal responsibility by showing them and modeling for them the kind of change we need to take as individuals to contribute to positive change.

You got it, do the research, make the choices and then do these things in large numbers and there you have the power. But, you have to know the outcome you wish to achieve so you know what to choose, and then you need to choose it. Stop whining because things have changed and you want it back the old comfortable way but still want OTHERS to drive the change for you.

Right now isn’t comfortable for most of us, right now we are in a great shift and shift means leaving our comfort zones and making decisions that will CREATE the change, but we need to know what we want.

CHOOSE, ACT, and make it YOUR responsibility right at home:

  • Share what you are doing with others and give them a chance to make it their responsibility, and then share it some more.
  • Tell people where they can buy, how they can make different decisions, find a way and a path that makes sense, movements require action.
  • Show people what actions will help, where they can turn and what support you have found.
  • Repeat the actions over and over again in as many numbers as you can to drive change.

Be the leader you were meant to be…Occupy YOUR Street.

 

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop

Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership

through advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323 | contact her here | book her to speak


 

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The Art of “Allowing”

 

I know a person who has an opinion about everyone. It is interesting and sometimes comedic to listen to because the focus is always about how others should speak, act, and live. I find these opinions even more comedic because they come from someone who has a long way to go to get their own life focused, but the attitude and comments are directed at people who are successful and contributing members of our society. They don’t deserve criticism, but rather applause!

So be it, but what if this person practiced the art of allowing. Dictionary.com describes my definition of allowing, thus;

 

…to permit something to happen or to exist…

 

To permit something to happen or exist – what a beautiful thought. Today a tweet went by sent out by S. Max Brown and it said:

Imagine the productivity gains if we just treated each other better.

We hear people describe how they wish to be treated, but sometimes people fail to recognize a key component to relationships also depends upon how they treat others. One large piece of the solution is found in the art of allowing.

Allowing is about not trying to change someone to be like you or perform for you. It is about not having unrealistic selfish expectations about who they are to you, but rather finding out ‘their way’ of loving us, working with us and being a part of the team.

Allowing is about letting others fly their Freak Flag as Joe Gerstandt aptly describes in his talks, on twitter and every Friday on his blog. Allowing is a two way activity. Allowing is about being responsible in that you act according to the true you inside and respectfully allow others to do the same.

Many years ago I was describing to a wise friend what I needed from someone else and she told me;

“But it is not their way.”

This made me think long and hard about whom I decided the other person ‘should be’ while failing to appreciate who they actually are. And yes, even for someone who typically hurts people and needs to be avoided you have the opportunity to ‘allow’ them to be who they are, even if it means the solution is to stay far away.

You see, we have no power to change another, we can only change ourselves and our reaction to others.

What allowing is:

  • Seeing the strengths and unique qualities that make the other person special.
  • Letting the other person define their own dreams and goals.
  • Seeing the true gifts and being grateful for what the other person has given you.
  • Accepting all of the above as a celebration of another person you have the honour and privilege to know.

What allowing is NOT:

  • Selfish opinions about what another person should be doing for you.
  • Attempting to step on the dreams of another because you don’t agree with them.
  • Seeing only what you want from them rather than what you can give.
  • Complaining or whining about how someone else behaves or acts.

The art of allowing travels hand in hand with maturity. You see, there was a time when I failed to practice it myself, and I slip with my own children every once in a while because of my passionate desire to help them along in life. But for the most part, it has been the greatest and most life changing action I have ever taken to improve my own personal and business relationships.

When to start? Start now, this minute. Think about the people you interact with every day and take that huge weight of disallowing off of your shoulders by letting them be who they are, let it go! It will feel so good not to own someone else’s life and begin focusing on your own. Is it easy? No way and not for a minute, as my friend Zane Safrit says, “It is tough” Will it change your life? Definitely!

Now, allow me to thank you for reading this far.

 

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership through advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

You can contact Patti at 1-855-968-5323 | contact her here | book her to speak

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Building the Ultimate Customer Experience

Strategic Sense, in addition to providing Leadership Training, has made a commitment to highlight some of the remarkable authors, leadership professionals and business people we’ve had the great fortune of meeting and working with over the last 3 years. On Wednesdays you will see guest-posts from some of these folks. All are leaders in their field and have solutions to some of our biggest workplace issues. Such as Dr. Ellen Weber, Director at Mita International Brain Center who wrote about brain based approaches to innovation.

Today’s Guest Post is by Jeffrey Summers, the President and Founder of RestaurantWorx whose full-service, national and international, Hospitality Coaching and Consulting firm in Dallas, Texas guides clients to bring their customer experiences to new heights.

And now, here’s Jeffrey…

Customer ExperienceThe Experience

The customer experience is your product. It is the sum total of every interaction a customer has with your brand at every touchpoint. Equally critical is the employee experience. Both should be given equal validity, weight and attention when discussing, analyzing or creating the ultimate customer experience.

Most business owners/managers will tell you that most of this is out of their control or direct influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are 5 critical tools you can use to design and deliver a superior customer and employee experience.

Culture

As one writer summed up it up recently, “Culture trumps strategy, every time.” Culture is critical in understanding, defining and executing the desired actions and behaviors by employees in order to ensure a superior customer experience. Culture is what happens in the absence of direct supervision or company policy. It’s what an employee does when confronted with a customer situation that wasn’t covered in their training or ongoing coaching by their supervisor. It’s also a critical decision-point which can make or break the customer experience and ultimately determine the success or failure of the business.

Culture is also the area in which you must align all of your businesses goals, values and processes with those of your employees and customers in order to achieve the necessary level of customer-centrism, cooperation, trust and execution.

Buyer & Employee Persona’s

The ‘Buyer Persona’ is critical to knowing and understanding who your target market is and what issues and behaviors you need to influence in order to increase the desired purchase or loyalty behaviors you want to see from them. It answers the two critical questions about your customers, ‘How can we influence this person to buy from us’ and ‘What issues or attitudes prevent them from buying from us.’ Essentially it defines what is important to them and what is not.

Without knowing the answers to these and similar questions, all of your marketing efforts will be in vain at most or just shots in the dark at the least.

Likewise, it is equally important to understand and create a similar ‘Employee Persona’ that matches and aligns with the company’s goals, values and processes in order to successfully execute your customer experience.

Voice-of-the-Customer & Voice-of-the-Employee

Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) and Voice-of-the-Employee (VoE) programs are extremely important to your experience building success because it gives you the much needed measurement of your experience and ongoing experience building efforts. The value of gathering customer feedback, information analysis, the resulting process and experience changes and performance monitoring is immeasurable. This is where you can better understand and influence the loyalty drivers of your employees and customers by engaging them in the very process of experience design.

Experience Design

This is the overt process of mapping out your customer experience by analyzing each and every customer or employee touch-point. Then utilizing your VoC & VoE information to determine the what, where and how to add meaningfully differentiated value to each one in order to create the best experiences possible. This ongoing process of measuring, analyzing then refining not only applies to the customer experience, but the employee experience also as you cannot disconnect front-line employees from the process.

Coaching

Coaching employees and staff is absolutely critical to ensuring that you have not only their input and buy-in into the customer experience building process but also their understanding and participation in the necessary culture and ongoing process refinement that ensures future success as well.

Let’s also not forget that the process of building the ultimate employee experience is similar and just as important and critical to your success as it is in building the ultimate customer experience. Employees are your ‘Brand Ambassadors’ and are directly responsible for executing all levels of the customer experience. Not embracing this part of the program will render the rest of it worthless.

Jeffrey Summers is a 29 year veteran of creating, operating, Coaching and consulting with successful food service & hospitality concepts that include national and international chains, franchises and independent operators. He is an award winning business Coach, consultant, speaker, writer and blogger.
Jeffrey is also the president and founder of RestaurantWorx™, a full-service, national and international, Hospitality Coaching and consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas. Besides helping clients achieve success by working with them one-on-one, he frequently speaks at and attend numerous industry events as well as at local, state and national small business groups in order to share his passion for the business of food and hospitality.

Jeffrey can be reached through his company’s website at: RestaurantWorx™ and you will find him on Twitter providing great content for his followers.

Patti Blackstaffe, President of Strategic Sense Inc, is a Speaker, Strategic Advisor and Trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition.You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Read what folks have to say about her eBook Leadership XXL: 11 Practical Steps to Living Leadership Extra, Extra Large.

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