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Woman: When Will We Be More Than Enough In Business?

Without question, it’s complicated being a woman executive—particularly a successful one—as we’re expected to display both male and female traits effortlessly throughout our career. New research has uncovered yet another quality women are obliged to manifest if we want to succeed in today’s workplace. One not required of men.

It’s kindness.

Yes, for a woman to be considered confident and influential at work, she not only must be viewed as competent, she must also be liked.[i] Interestingly, confidence isn’t determined by how women view themselves rather self-confidence is defined as appearing at work as others’ perception of whether an individual is confident about being able to meet his/her performance standards.[ii] Read More→

You May Be Talking… Are You Getting Through?

Years ago, a friend and I were driving by a strip mall the flags briskly flying in the breeze grabbed my attention. A large sign above its door proudly proclaimed its business: “IMAGING.”

Casually, I shared: “I’ve been intending on making an appointment with them for days.”

“Why?” he said, “Do you have health issues?”

“What! No, why would you think that?” I asked, “I’ve been reading about the powerful results people are achieving as they expand their mind to envision a grander future for themselves.”

It rapidly became apparent we were talking about two different kinds of imaging!

Thank goodness my friend asked a clarifying question. Had he not, can you picture how lost we both would’ve been? And misunderstandings happen in large and small ways in every interaction we have.

I laugh at myself over that long ago recollection, and yet it has always presented a vivid reminder of the seriousness words and their interpretation play in effective communication. You see the terms we use are the seeds we plant intentionally or unintentional which produce healthy communication outcomes or not. How much care do you take as you express yourself?

Diverse Views:
In the scenario above, I was healthy as a horse so creating future was the only thing on my mind when I saw the sign. My friend had faced, and overcome health issues where medical imaging was part of his history. Our co-workers, bosses, subordinates, and customers all come from remarkably different backgrounds. So, there are plenty of life separations where we use the same words to express entirely different concepts. And with the world becoming smaller and smaller, and far more complicated every day the simple breakdowns in communication are getting bigger and bigger!

Hint: 
Inclusive communication isn’t exclusively about vocabulary. In fact, paying attention to body language often provides clues to bridging the misinterpretation gap. With such a large percentage of our communication occurring across phone wires today, listening to the pregnant pauses and voice tonality also provides an insightful gauge for the state of the listener’s agreement and understanding.

Hurting Or Healing: Your words can unconsciously carve out the heart and spirit of others. Or you can consciously choose to inspire and bring out the greatness in those around you. An absence of respectful, sincere, human-to-human interaction, to my mind, is one of the factors leading to the Gallup data that establishes 70 percent of America’s workforce is disengaged at some level. Employees who feel confident their contributions count to the success of the organization noticeably care more and give more!

Hint:  Recognizing a job well done, relating to others based upon strengths, celebrating wins, and pointing to “better” when things unravel go a long way to bringing out the best in others.

Potent or Anemic: The selection of your words conveys a lot about you and the impact your words will create. The choice is yours. Are you employing powerful words or insignificant ones? Your preferences reflect either leadership or followership both important in an organization, but leading to two wildly varying career destinations—one higher and the other midlevel. Are you using language that will have you heard at the level you intend to achieve?

Hint: 
You’ll want to tap into words that are inspirational, authentic, passionate and empowering as well as speaking with confidence and authority.

  

Employee Engagement Isn’t A Side-Bar Activity… It’s A Primary Obligation

If your company is searching for ways to delight customers, square one has to be your employees. The correlation between engaged employees and engaged customers is a compelling and proven fact! In actuality, companies in the top quartile for employee engagement have 10 percent higher customer ratings.[1]

The first hiccup we run into when discussing employee engagement is it’s a moving target—everyone has assumptions regarding its meaning. Even experts recognize there is no explicit, universally agreed upon definition. However, at its genesis, there is wide agreement (84 percent) that it is a willingness to give ones best at work.[2]

The second hiccup is transforming adequate managers into exceptional ones. It is at the heart of employee engagement.

Low employee engagement is no small issue as it costs the nation an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion per year.[3] As managers are primarily responsible for their employees’ engagement levels,[4] developing an indispensable management team capable of turning around your workforce is imperative. Additionally, Research cites bad managers as the third most common reason for leaving. [5]

The third hiccup is engagement can’t be a side-bar activity—it has to be your primary obligation. Try initiating these “no cost” actions to accelerate engagement:

  • Focus on Strengths: Gallup’s research shows that people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.[6]StrengthScope™ research delineates the best performance enhancer is an emphasis on employee’s performance strengths which improves performance by 34 percent. On the other hand, an emphasis on performance weaknesses produces a 26.8 percent decline in performance. Think about it. That’s a 60.8 percent differential.
  • Focus on Appreciation: Appreciation goes a long way toward improving employee engagement. Research has shown when you attach a subject to a brain monitor; you can see appreciation changing the brain waves… altering the ragged lines of frustration into smooth, evenly measured waves.James Kouzes’ research confirms how important appreciation is to an employee’s attitude. He reports that when an employee receives encouragement and appreciation, 98 percent of those surveyed felt they performed at a higher level.[7] And The Massachusetts Institute of Technology attributes a 47 percent increase in productivity to those whose work is acknowledged as opposed to those whose work is ignored.[8] That’s pretty powerful stuff.
  • Satisfaction Isn’t the Goal: An employee can be satisfied with their work hours or the donuts in the coffee room, and still not be engaged. Research discloses that of the 80 percent of employees who say they are generally satisfied with their company; their sense of satisfaction didn’t translate into improved employee engagement.[9] So, dig deeper if you intend to achieve employee engagement and retention because mere satisfaction won’t generate a commitment to the organization.

 

[1] Pay.com, Discovery What Employees Want, Overlooked Insights in Employee Engagement, page 3.
[2] HR.com and GLINT, The State of Employee Engagement in 2018, Leverage Leadership And Culture to Maximize Engagement, page 3.
[3] Pay.com, Discovery What Employees Want, Overlooked Insights in Employee Engagement, page 3.
[4] Gallup, State of the American Workplace, page 11.
[5] BlessingWhite, The State of Employee Engagement, page 2.
[6] Gallup, State of the American Workplace, page 46.
[7] 2015 WBECS session with Jim Kouzes.
[8] Pay.com, Discovery What Employees Want, Overlooked Insights in Employee Engagement, page 10.[9] Gallup Webinar, Why Isn’t Employee Engagement Getting Better, January 28, 2016.

Your Customers Don’t Agree You’re Doing A Great Job

There has never been a more competitive time or a period when customers have more control over their service experience than in today’s marketplace. If you’re not staying on top of your processes as well as the customer touches of your business, you face losing the profitability race.

Ask yourself three questions:

How’s Your Customer Retention and Loyalty? Did you know it costs 6 to 7 times as much to attract a new customer[i] as it does to stop the defection of an old one? And yet, 40 percent of companies have a greater focus on acquiring new customers; while only 18 percent focus on retention.[ii]

Poor customer service is costing companies in the United States a brain-numbing $84 billion every year! And these unhappy consumers aren’t waiting around. Instead, they began doing business with a competitor following a poor interaction. With 70 percent of customers saying they would have stayed if their issue had been resolved in a single interaction,[iii] this statistic is worth remembering.

As a 2 percent increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10 percent. Depending on the industry, reducing your customer defection rate by 5 percent can increase your profitability by 25 to 125 percent.[iv] More importantly, customer profitability tends to increase over the life of a retained customer.[v]

Perhaps you believe you’re doing a great job. Don’t assume—confirm how you measure Customer-Centric Service—because what’s scary is while 80 percent of companies believe they provide a “superior customer experience,” only 8 percent of customers agreed.[vi]

Do You Know Your Customer Retention Rates? In a business that sells a product/or service with recurring revenue renewal models, it’s particularly crucial you have a good grasp on how many customers are abandoning your business. Do you know the real reason they’re departing?

With 9 out of 10 consumers saying they would pay more to ensure a good customer service experience,[vii] it is critical you build-in processes that: listen to your customers!

Because as Kristin Smaby asserts: “When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points.  They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.”[viii]

Are You Taking Advantage Of the Connection Between Employee Engagement and Customer Retention? Gallup research has found that managers are primarily responsible for their employees’ engagement levels.”[ix] BlessingWhite’s research cites bad managers as the third most common reason for leaving (trailing lack of career growth and dislike of the actual work). [x]

With this in mind, transforming adequate managers into exceptional ones is vital. Such a shift translates powerfully throughout your organization.

Once managers realize how vital customers are to the organization’s profitability and given the tools, it is an “Aha” moment that has them allocating time for their workforce. Employee engagement and retention leading to satisfied customers isn’t a side-bar activity—it’s a primary obligation.

Did you answer any question negatively? How do you intend to tighten-up every interaction, so you always respond with a Customer-Centric Service mindset?

 

[i] Whitehouse Office of Consumer Affairs
[ii] http://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/
[iii] https://www.salesforce.com/hub/service/important-customer-service-skills-list/
[iv] Article: Customer Retention, Repeat Sales, Referrals– are Business Imperatives: Bridging with Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty, Lifetime, Score…
[v] Ibid
[vi] http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/closing-the-delivery-gap-newsletter.aspx
[vii] https://www.desk.com/success-center/bad-customer-service
[viii] http://alistapart.com/article/being-human-is-good-business
[ix] Gallup, State of the American Workplace,  page 11.
[x] BlessingWhite, The State of Employee Engagement, page 2.

Does Your Career Feel As Though You’re Traveling Down That Long, Straight Highway Between Denver, Colorado and Wichita, Kansas?

Is your schedule so overloaded with completion and results-driven tasks the space for Curiosity has vanished? You find checking items off your to-do list rewarding, yet still, something is missing?

Often you feel as though you’re barreling down a straight highway with complete concentration—very like the long drive between Denver, Colorado and Wichita, Kansas—with nary a glimpse of an engaging scene to be had. If you’re looking to kick up your experience a notch, you’ll need to unplug from cruise control and your pedal to the metal attitude to take in some of the remarkable sights off that busy highway. The same holds true at work.

While organizations value high performers, what is a game changer for the company long-term is innovation. The worrisome fact is that since 1990 creativity continues to decrease in the United States. This research points out why Curiosity is imperative in today’s marketplace. Individually and corporately the trend must be reversed, or businesses lose.

You see the bi-product of Curiosity is learning, exploring, discovery, and new ideas, which naturally breaks up imprisoning work patterns.

Are you interested in taking on the Curiosity challenge?

  • Unplugged Emotionally: You may not even recognize you’re bored with your work life as you haven’t taken time to identify your nagging feeling that something’s off. Ignoring the subtle hints doesn’t mean it’s not impacting your career. Entirely the reverse is true. Denial of what you’re encountering daily, in all probability, may be one of the factors playing into Gallup’s staggering statistic that 70 percent of America’s employees are disengagement. 
  • Curiosity Walkabout: Research reveals you’ll be more productive by getting up from your desk every 90-minutes. How much enjoyment would you generate for yourself as well as others by bringing Curiosity alive every day in your interactions with the people, situations, and projects surrounding you?Begin your journey of Curiosity by asking for a broader perspective—not merely the surfaces of issues—instead dig deep and see what new “Aha’s” jump out at you. Open-ended questions require thought and cannot be answered with a yes or no. Understanding is necessary, which is often missing when cruise control is your only work mode. 
  • Take-up The Challenge: Take your eye off your speedometer, your “to-do” list, for a minute to assess what repetitive customer complaint or annoying system glitches do you run into at work? Firing-up your innovative brain cells will kick in while working on passion projects. As you become a curious explorer determined to unearth solutions, you also gain a whole lot of job satisfaction and joy in the journey.
  • Break-Away From The Rut: Experimentation will aid in building your Curiosity muscle, so pay attention to any activity you regularly do and make the conscious decision to explore elements you’ve never noticed. The act of being curious will support you in being more present, engenders more aliveness and connectivity in your interactions with every person and activity.

Being bored, but productive isn’t good for either you or your company long-term. Curiosity is the vehicle that energizes both your days and your innovative thoughts. So, discover ways to challenge and mentally stretch yourself every day to live an exhilarated life.