Archive for engagement

What’s inside your framework?

At last count, I have tracked approximately 136 different organizational change frameworks. Some famous and highly used, some not.

It’s kind of like looking at art…

Have you ever walked through a museum enjoying and admiring great artwork? Do you remember the pieces and how the artwork made you feel?

Some art has the potential to truly impact me and tell a story, it draws out feelings even when the art is not “my thing”.

But notice, you rarely remember the frame.

And yet…

…the frame plays a significant role in the display of the artwork, it is carefully selected to align with the colours, impression, and the overall ‘feel’ of the artwork. It is the stage on which all great art either pops, stands out, or conveys a sense of historical importance. The frame is truly vital to the presentation. But is not the art.

The art is what you have paid money to see, and is the catalyst for reaching inside your emotions, for telling a story, for conveying an idea or for making us think. The art changes you.

The Framework

So you want a specific organizational change management framework, good. But it doesn’t stop there, success is about hiring someone who can paint the image that fits well within the framework. Putting all your attention on a frame, and leaving the opening empty will not get you that gallery showing. You can polish the frame, you can carve into the frame, you can even repaint the frame, but until you have the artwork, your presentation will be left hollow. (See what I did there?)

I work with a framework I like because science supports that framework, and I trust that. But true success is based on HOW I paint the picture within that frame. It is the application of many elements of how change is led, the engagement, the technical team, the impacted people, and the organization that really drives success. Trust your framework, then find ways to pay attention to the culture, the impact, the touch points and paint the plan with the kind of brush that will truly make a difference for the people being impacted. Positively preparing them for what they will see, think, feel and do is more important than filling out a template within your framework.

How you work within your selected framework matters.

If you want to learn more about how we can teach your team to paint their organizational change picture, contact us.

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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.




Staples Inc. Shows It Can Be Done

There are some terrific examples of Customer Service out there, some we have come to expect, Zappos for one – a large organization built on providing WOW for their customer. When I am listing examples for my clients, one company would never spring to mind and that is Staples. They are the largest supplier of office products nation-wide and a business I have tried to avoid using, until now.

Previous experiences were…

  • Lack of care or concern for my copy center needs, several times miscounting or getting it wrong then refusing to correct it.
  • Waiting for up to 20 minutes for someone to help or assist me, if they noticed at all.
  • Allowing me to leave the store either disappointed or angry at their lack of concern for my solution.

In fact, last summer I had decided to obtain most of my office products from elsewhere. As a result, I thought I’d try one of the other Staples locations and came to the conclusion this problem was much larger than a local manager who didn’t ‘get it’ because I received the same experience at other locations.

All that has changed! Staples is a key supplier for several things I need for my business, and in the last month felt forced to shop there – was I ever pleasantly surprised.

Yesterday I tracked down a manager/supervisor and asked if the management had changed since last summer. He indicated it had not, and wanted to know why I asked. I mentioned my work in the areas of Leadership and Customer Service and told him I was seeing a marked improvement in their store, he was happy to hear it.

Apparently Staples rolled out a nation-wide customer engagement plan to all their stores. I now intend on being a more frequent customer to observe its sustainability and its reach. From what I witnessed in my last two visits, they do appear to understand that customers are the reason for their job, rather than an interruption.

  • I had at least 3 employees in different departments ask if there was anything I needed help finding or if I had any questions. Score tally 1
  • Managers and supervisors were watching closely to see if anyone looked stranded or lost and directing employees accordingly. Score tally 2

I do hope their customer engagement rollout includes building on that engagement, extending that new customer service goal to include customer experiences as they increase their customer base; they have an incredible opportunity to do so.
Kudos to Staples!

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership, Customer Service and Small business. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us if you prefer to rise above the status-quo, care deeply about employee and customer experiences and truly believe in living and performing with excellence.


The Price of a Smile.

The Lost Art of the Smile?

What do you believe is the price of a smile? For customers it will often mark a return visit. For friends and family it can mean a myriad of things, depending on the situation and for strangers it can certainly add to a positive change in their day. Research has shown that a smile has the potential to build relationships and foster friendships.

I had an experience the other day that left me wondering about why a customer-facing crew would choose not to adopt the international symbol for friendliness!

I needed a ‘writing day’ and escaped to a well-known Canadian coffee shop. It works well for me, I get to listen to great music, drink coffee and isolate myself from a typical workday to focus on writing. I’m working on a great workbook for corporations to use in their leadership training programs and wanted few office distractions.

I spent a minimum of 4 straight hours at this one particular coffee shop and had a wonderful opportunity to observe the staff. Being a person who works with people in leadership and customer service, I pay close attention to the behaviour of employees everywhere I go.

The employees were efficient, capable, and clean. It was a fast paced counter and the place was extremely busy. There were very few moments when the barista was able to take a break. In the entire time I sat there I would have to say there were only two times in the day when they had a break in the line-up. It’s a stressful job to make the perfect cup of coffee, ensure all supplies are filled, tend to the bathrooms, the tables and the till appropriately all the while never getting a break.

We know the drill and we’ve all worked in roles asking us to keep the pace at a hurried level. What struck me as odd, very odd was that not once, no matter how much a customer tried to connect, no matter how friendly the customers were… not one of the 4 employees I observed smiled! NOT EVEN ONCE.

I went to the counter a minimum of 4 times over that period and attempted to see some kind of un-robot-like behaviour, nothing! No eye contact, cards were passed, money was exchanged, and coffees were made and delivered, but no friendly human exchange was offered in return for my smile, my thank you, my attempt at engagement. This challenged me to try to get a rise out of one of them so I tried being exceptionally nice, tried to compliment, offered gratitude with a smile and still nothing. I witnessed one fellow even made an effort in his loudest voice to say, “This is the best cup of coffee I have ever had.” All he received for his compliment was a dead-pan, smile-less “thanks”.

Usually when a customer makes positive attempts at engagement, employees will respond as described by Rosa Say in the LifeHack blog when she turns it around and smiles at a flight attendant during a routine safety briefing;

“Now they smile back, and they begin to slow down. The robot disappears, and I can see the warmth of their very human spirit begin to surge through them. I start to see why this person was hired as the appealing face of the airline, and for the next few moments their aloha has surfaced to bask in its glory.”

I couldn’t believe the girls at the coffee shop! The fact they didn’t smile at each other was odd enough but to not smile at even one customer for an entire day was wild. Just before I left I stopped and asked one of the girls if she was happy in her work. She seemed surprised, as if I should assume she was thrilled to be where she was. She did state they were a stressed crew and they were being given more and more duties from one of the girls leaving for a week which added to their load.

Mercantile Systems in their Always Wear A Smile post say;

“The secret to getting your employees to smile is to treat them just as you would treat your customers; with courtesy and respect. Show them you care. Above all, SMILE at them. They will pass it on to your customers.”

In my observation, the one girl who appeared to be a manager was the key to the whole thing. Her lack of smile and engagement in her employees set the tone for every employee there. We do that as managers, we define what work “looks” like for each and every person who is brought into our fold. We define the manner in which all interaction is performed within a team, the leader sets the tone.

John Baldoni writes in his article Smile As You Lead,

“In truth many people in leadership positions forget to do it. Yet doing it is something that you will establish rapport with an individual, a group or an audience. And for that reason cracking a smile is worth doing”

One might argue they were having a bad day, one could argue something terribly wrong happened at the beginning of the day to elicit dead-pan expression, however, I will argue otherwise. This is one of the first times I spent such a considerable number of hours in that particular coffee shop, but I have been there for many meetings and witnessed identical behaviour. The surprise for me was that it didn’t involve a single shift of girls, the shift-change as I was leaving also managed to show a similar lack of friendliness.

In the customer service site Service Untitled the writer offers several tips in the blog entitled Smile!

  1. When in person, always smile.
  2. Even smile on the phone.
  3. If a customer is angry, breathe.
  4. Hire the smile!

I can’t begin to know the actual reason this coffee shop group of employees doesn’t smile without getting into the conversation with them. I might shoot a guess the manager does not value a smile as a necessary component to efficiency, they simply choose not to hire people for their smile. Research does show managers and leaders tend to make the mistake of hiring employees who are more like themselves rather than looking for the characteristics and traits to provide balance within the team.

What I can tell you is that they are very fortunate to have the clientele they have. The franchise was definitely wise in their location as the competition is practically non-existent or they would be suffering some pretty serious loss of customers due to the lack of smiles. Perhaps the staff are busy enough, smiling would simply increase their customer-base and they would be over-worked. Hmm, that would be an odd twist on business reasoning, wouldn’t it?

For me, the price of a smile is fairly inexpensive in comparison to the cost of doing business without one. Humour, attention to the customer and positive engagement will bring that customer returning time and again.

If you are struggling to find solutions to your leadership concerns, Strategic Sense Inc. has a Leadership program to help you, contact us at: info [at] strategicsenseinc [dot] com for more information

Strategic Sense Inc. Specializes in working with Executives of companies who care about their people and know their business is driven by the people within their employ. Leadership, Communication, Strategy, Plans of Action.

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