Is it just me, or does it seem that CEO's of today are everywhere?! I can't recall such a time when CEO's have been such public figures. The headlines have moved out of the financial pages and into mainstream news. Power players like Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos, James Sinegal, Tim Cook, and Yahoo's new dynamo Marissa Mayer, have turned the front page into the business page!
Yesterday I took part in a TweetChat presented by the #bealeader community. The topic for the chat was the importance of self-awareness for a successful leader. One of the questions posed was "How does one keep self awareness from becoming the less desirable self involved?". I responded with a concept that I had been taught very early in my career that I have since dubbed "humility time". I had a few responses that unfortunately, the 140 limit of Twitter made very difficult to properly respond to.
Very early in my career, I worked off the premise that knowledge was power. At the time, I had all the knowledge, and assumed that granted me all the power. My team very quickly delivered me a very harsh reality check in letting me know that was not going to be the case. My manager at the time explained the importance of self-awareness. She recommended I mentally schedule time for myself to intentionally be the guy "that does not have all the answers". That meant not only admitting that I didn't have all the knowledge, but it also made me learn how to ask questions I did not have the answers for, and recognize those that did.
Over the next several years, I experienced very rapid success and growth in my career. Each step of the way I reminded myself to always set aside this time "to not have all the answers" - Humility Time. I became a very energetic and passionate leader. I believed that I was someone that could teach others how to achieve more. Every step of the way, I never stopped this practice.
Towards the end of yesterday's chat, the host (@gingerconsult) asked me if I felt I needed this time to stay connected to my teams. That comment really made me think (also the primary reason I want to share this). I have always felt that I had a very strong connection with my teams. Because this practice had become so second nature to me over the years, I did not think that it was responsible for the bonds I had built. The reality though, is yes, this practice is largely responsible for the connection I have with my teams. I believe my manager back then (still a very trusted mentor) recognized my penchant for letting my passion allow me to race ahead without turning around to see if others were still following. This practice, although much evolved, over the years has allowed me to always remember that a leader does not exist without a follower. It made me learn, that in the Leader-Follower relationship that it is the follower that is most important. The followers will mold their leaders with the qualities they desire. By continuously asking questions, I nurture that relationship in a way that helps me quickly identify ways to be better, and reinforces in them their decision to follow.
I did however consider a potential pitfall to permanently adopting this practice. Anything on a schedule, especially a repeated item, becomes a chore. As long as you feel you are maintaining personal and professional growth, and never feel you are acting to "cross something off your list", this can be a very powerful tool.
Thank you to +Jen Olney and your #bealeader community. I learned a lot in your chat, and even just by writing this article!!
Every retail leader has had those employees that have simply seemed to have "lost their mojo". Is it better to move them out before they contaminate your team with their "funk", or should you find out where their mojo went, and give it back to them?
Strictly from a cost perspective, hiring and training a replacement can be expensive. I will always advise in the direction of getting your rockstar back on track. People fall into a funk usually from one of two things. First, they have repeatedly felt under-appreciated for the work they feel they are doing. Or second, the appreciation is always there, but the challenge is not. The common denominator is pride, which in your business translates to ownership and performance.
Lack of Appreciation - Appreciation can come in so many forms. The easiest is a simple "thank-you". If you really want to turbo charge that thank you, use your employees name and actually tell them specifically what you are thanking them for!
"Hey, thanks for all your hard work today!" How many times have you said that thinking you were being the appreciative leader? Now try:
"Hey Susie, thanks for cleaning out the cashwrap today, it looks awesome!"
More often though, when your employee has lost their mojo, that simple thank you is too little too late. These employees need involvement. Involving your employees either through continuous education, or bringing them in on key decisions shows appreciation for who they are and what they bring to the business. Let them see that their input lead to positive results. The turbo charged thank you after that will have a much greater impact on them, and potentially the rest of your team.
Lack of Challenge - Do you ever hear your employees say things like, "I don't get paid enough for this"? That is usually the first sign that they are no longer challenged. It might sound backwards that they would want more responsibility while complaining they don't make enough for the work they are already doing, but when the job itself stops rewarding you, there is nothing left to complain about than the financial rewards. This is where you, as a leader, can really make a huge difference, and give them back their mojo like never before! Work with your employee and dig to find what they are passionate about. Ask what is happening that frustrates them more than anything. Take those frustrations, and use the skills they are passionate about and let them make the difference. If they are frustrated by having a lack of skill or knowledge, don't keep it away from them! Be their mentor and watch them grow way beyond the rockstar they were before!
I once had a mentor that equivocated my employees attitude towards me and their job with a bank account. When you first train an employee you are building up their balance. Every action, or lack thereof, will result in a deposit or a withdrawal. As with any account, withdrawals are necessary, and can come in the form of an undesirable schedule to specific critical feedback. Having employees "with large bank accounts" will not only make them incredibly productive, happy, and receptive, but you will never hear that dreaded phrase "I don't get paid enough for this" again!!
As companies evolve trying to keep up with their tech savvy customers, there are still some very simple "Do's and Don'ts" to keep in mind.
5 Do's of Great Customer Service
1. DO have a genuine greeting. No longer is this a formal robotic welcome to every pulse that passes through your door, but a warm conversation intended to develop a connection with your customers.
2. DO be honest. I guess this should go without saying, but even if you ask the most successful commissioned salespeople, being honest will create a bond that will deliver long term results that will far outweigh any potential increase today (could even generate a larger increase today if your customer recognizes your honesty!)
3. DO be happy. If you don't like your boss, or are having a bad day, that has nothing to do with the customers. They should always feel you are happy to be there.
4. DO be Knowledgeable. Product knowledge, corporate knowledge, current promotional knowledge, and now - tech knowledge! If your customers are armed with the latest in technology to help them in their shopping, know what is available to them, and make those apps a compliment to your already great service.
5. DO go the extra mile. Customers today have low expectations and high hopes. Always think of ways to make your service "better than the rest"! I had one customer deliver us Christmas cookies and a very enthusiastic "Thank You!" after we called another location to hold product we did not have. It doesn't take much to make a huge impact!!
|Good service is NOT hard to do!!|
5 Don'ts of Great Customer Service
1. DON'T ignore the customers. Let me be clear - It is NEVER ok to assume the customer will come to you when they want something, and therefore should be left alone.
2. DON'T be greedy. Yes there is pressure to hit sales goals, but when your customer senses greed as your motivation, the experience is killed. They likely, at that point, will either leave or buy the minimum items they need. They also will assume you are an accurate representation of your store, and will be very skeptical towards future interactions.
3. DON'T have a bad attitude. Having a bad day? Get out your issues before you clock in! Not only could this turn real ugly real fast, but you could even put your own employment in jeopardy if you can not control yourself.
4. DON'T be a robot. Letting the customer shop and then silently checking them out at the POS, is definitely NOT giving your customers reason to return.
5. DON'T be unaware of your job. Having new people that are still learning is one thing, because they can still have a positive attitude to make learning with the customer fun. Having people that just don't know what they are doing can be one of the most frustrating interactions a customer can have. As with (#4 above), customers are now armed with enough technology that instead of serving as the intended compliment to your service, they can and will become a substitution!
Yesterday, I spent some time walking the mall. I was specifically looking at the visual execution of stores in the mall. While, I was overall pretty impressed with the elevated level of appearance standards from the last time I did this exercise, I still saw several things otherwise great looking stores missed.
Mannequins - These are the most important displays in your store. Not only should the mannequin be in good condition, but it should be dressed in such a way, that a customer would want to have the same look. Mannequins can drive your store sales by also including accessories to add to the detail and complete the look. I was disheartened to see mannequins that were in store windows, with broken pieces! I also saw clothes that appeared "flat". They looked as if they were unfolded and then just draped over the mannequin. As you adjust your own clothes after putting them on to look right, you should treat your mannequin the same. The more like a person they look, the more effective they will be!! **TIP - Give your mannequins a name!! After you dress them introduce them to a co-worker. It might sound silly, but you wouldn't introduce a friend that looked sloppy to someone, would you?
Windows - While I understand that it is not possible to keep up with every passing kid that drags their hands across the front of your store, some store windows looked like they were cleaned with a box of KrispyKremes. Windows, unfortunately, can easily become an afterthought. Customers passing by your store can and will make assumptions about the product and customer service they can expect from a store with a dirty exterior. **TIP - For big exterior windows, generously spray window cleaner on the top half of the windows. Then use an extended reach squeegee and wipe from top to bottom. Use one towel to wipe excess from bottom of the window.
Visual Elements - Unique displays create visual interest that will draw customers closer to your product. The more real the better. The best way to describe this is with TV's. Have you ever gone to a TV store and bought the TV that had the fuzzy picture or maybe wasn't even turned on at all? But the big TV with bright clear picture drew you in. Then it was an easy approach of the salesman to give you enough product knowledge and direction to find the TV in your price range and viewing requirements. (Right: Two stores from the same chain. Which one do you think sells more TV's?) Look at your displays. Do the items look realistic? If your displays do not create any emotional connection....adjust them!
Daily Maintenance - While this is where I saw a significant improvement, this is the most important part to not let slide! Maintaining that focus of maintaining your store appearance throughout the day can make all other tasks go by so much easier! Shirts were folded neater, fixtures and floors were free of dust, lighting was all turned on, and racks were full....KEEP IT UP!!!!