Archive for May 2006

We’ve moved this blog

May 23, 2006

We’ve moved to a new URL. Please bookmark it so you can get updated postings.

We’re now at .

Thanks for your interest.


Stellar performers start in the interview

May 18, 2006

When I encounter excellent employees I wonder if they were that way when hired or if the company trained them to be that way. I’ve decided that it is a lot of the former, with refinements coming through the latter.

These last few weeks I’ve encountered excellent employees where I didn’t expect them. I’ll admit my bias — when I visited four rockeries to choose stone for my new patio, I didn’t expect to be treated to excellent service. My project is small compared to the many big projects the rockery employees deal with every day. Yet to a person, from the counter help to the yard men, each person was friendly, attentive, helpful, and treated my basic questions with respect.

Do rockeries have some outstanding employee recognition program? Superb management? Stellar customer service training programs? I seriously doubt they have any of the above. However, they are certainly doing something right, at least from this customer’s perspective.

I’d guess it has something to do with management hiring people who will fit and weeding out those who don’t. Also, since the inside staff work closely together, if someone is rude or out of line, I’d guess peers and management would say something quickly.

Could they be even better with a little help? Of course, we can all improve. But if you haven’t hired people with a helpful, team- and customer-oriented attitude, no amount of training in the world will make them better because they aren’t open to change.

If you’d like to read more on creating a positive environment for customer excellence, read the excerpt from Calming Upset CustomersManagers’ Guidelines for Creating Customer Satisfaction.”

Are your staff continually improving?

May 17, 2006

Clients tell me it is hard to get their people to think about improving because they are so inundated with getting work out. They wish there were more efficient ways to accomplish their tasks, but they don't have time to research what they are.

I've developed a simple chart of 10 cost-effective ways to help your team more effective. Some involve very minor cost and time commitments. Many of these ideas will also encourage your staff to share ideas on best practices.

View this chart.

Is being too nice hurting your business?

May 12, 2006

Yesterday I was having our monthly group consultation/coaching call with a client’s managers. One brought up an issue you may relate to. He had a 5-month new staff member who has been absent and tardy too often, and has been verbally warned. The staff member had viable excuses — family deaths, personal illness, even an auto accident. But she also stretched the limits — she had to be with a friend who was in the hospital, her car wouldn’t start, and she was late getting back from lunch because she got caught in traffic. Thus the verbal warning.

The supervisor was asking if he should be nice and give her some more slack, as her current absence was an unexplained illness. He had counseled her to get a diagnosis then report back so they could explore her options. Of course, she had to take the day off to see the doctor!

He was at his wits end. Her absences meant his department didn’t run as smoothly as needed, but he also wanted to be compassionate to her illness.

I suggested he wait til she returned (today), get the report, then decide whether she should be put on leave of absence (with a doctor’s letter), or if the doctor couldn’t find anything, tell her one more absence or tardy in the next 30 days would result in her termination. (Since I’m not up on HR laws on this matter, I told him to check with his HR department first.) While it is important to be compassionate, he had come to the end of his patience and she was abusing his compassion. He had a unit to run and her frequent absences made it difficult to get the work done.

If you were in this situation, what would you do? I’m sure he’d love more insights!

“The Power of Our Words”

May 10, 2006

Today I delivered the keynote address "The Power of Our Words" at the Stockton Women's Network, a warm, wonderful group of entrepreneurial women in this city south of Sacramento, CA. (I usually tithe a speech a quarter to non-profit organizations like this.) They were a great audience — attentive and participatory — my favorite!

We talked about how our words impact others, and often we say things without thinking that have long-reaching affects. I find this program is popular at managers' meetings, as managers often say things off the cuff, having no idea how devastating their remarks can be to their staff.

After the presentation, some of the SWN members shared that they were glad to be reminded that the should mind their words more carefully with their staff, peers and family.

If you'd like to read more on this program, click on the title above. The text from this program is included in the eBook Life's Lessons: Insights and Information for a Richer Life.

What’s your approach to developing your people?

May 9, 2006

At lunch today, a fellow organizational development consultant and I were sharing some projects we loved working on. We both agreed we loved working with clients who partner with us for success, and who know that lasting change in people and organizations takes more than a one-, two- or three-day leadership, management, or communications class.

I'd outlined the three types of training solutions I'd found over my 26 years in the people-development business. In the article "Decision Tree for Training Solutions" you can see the three approaches I've distinguished and which one you and your organization use most.

Yes, my bias is clear in the article. I guess I'm biased toward what I've seen repeatedly create the desired results and biased away from "solutions" which are really a waste of everyone's time and money.

See what you think. Then leave me a comment here, or email me and we can chat about it.

I love when results exceed expectations

May 7, 2006

I love it when the outcome exceeds what we anticipated. Recently, an airport client wanted to increase the customer service skills of all the concessionaire (retail, food and beverage) employees. He said he wanted a customer service training program designed that their internal trainers could deliver.

After interviewing the key stakeholders, I learned that the real objective was to increase the revenue per customer and ultimately, make this the airport of choice among the airports in the region.

I saw that just a training program would not accomplish what they wanted. I added and designed a pre-training secret shopping program and analyzed the data to design a customized training program, developed a customer comment program to track the ongoing results of the concessionaires’ customer service and upselling, designed a monthly employee recognition program, created the training program, including pre- and post-testing, delivered a leaders guide and train the trainer. I developed a new hire training guide for managers to train their new staff on the basics expected from them. I monitor the progress of the program quarterly to make any needed modifications.

The client is thrilled with the results. Nearly 210 frontline staff and managers have been trained by the airport’s internal trainers. The client says the program is far more comprehensive and effective than he originally imagined, and the project stayed within his budget. While there are always several factors affecting revenue, following are some of the results related to the implementation of the program.

  • On time, on budget, and with a more comprehensive solution.
    Within one month concessionaire revenue increased beyond all my fees for this project.
  • 26-31% increase in retail gross sales
    Comparing the previous year’s data corresponding to the same month after the launch, the airport-wide retail gross sales showed a 26-31% increase per month for the months reported so far.
  • 12-17% increase in food & beverage gross sales
    Comparing the previous year’s data corresponding to the same month after the launch, the airport-wide F&B gross sales showed a 12-17% increase per month for the months reported so far.
  • 13-17% increase in food & beverage sales per passenger
    Comparing the previous year’s data corresponding to the same month after the launch, the airport-wide F&B sales per passenger showed a 13-17% increase for the months reported so far.
  • 18% increase in customer service knowledge among concessionaire staff
    Participants showed a 18% increase their knowledge of the preferred ways to treat customers. This contributed to their acting differently toward the customers, thus the customers buying more.