Posts Tagged ‘Employee Engagement’

Celebrating stories of success

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

History books are one person’s opinion of what happened. Need proof? Tune in to MSNBC and FOX News reporting on the same stories on the same night, and you’ll get two wildly different interpretations of what happened that day. An event described as a soaring success on one side of the political aisle is often described as a wincing failure on the other.

The very same thing happens with organizations. Is Apple the greatest thing since the light bulb, or the ultimate force for evil? It depends on who is telling the story.

The same is true of your own company. And as a member of the team, one whose success or failure are tied tight to the company’s success or failure, you have every incentive to be a cheerleader for your company.

Do you use your company’s products? If you work for Pepsi, are you serving Coke at the neighborhood barbecue? When you talk about the work your company does, do you share stories of success or failure?

What are the positives you can share with customers? What are the success stories you can tell them, the differences your products and services have made in the lives of others? Of course there are also less flattering stories. Every company has those. But for the company to thrive, and for you to thrive along with it, you want to find and tell the positives.

This isn’t just a job for marketing. It’s everyone’s job to pass along those stories and to institutionalize them. Stories of success, told again and again, are at the heart of every great culture.

As if your life depended on it

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Years ago I had a friend with a crazy sense of humor and a vivid imagination. He was also absolutely reliable—never missed a deadline, and always delivered precisely what was needed.

I finally asked him for his secret. “If I don’t finish on time,” he said in a whisper, looking both ways, “They’ll push the button.”

Ooooh-kay. I slid a little further away from him and asked what on Earth he was talking about.

He laughed and explained. Whenever he was on an impossible deadline, he imagined he was in one of those implausible movie situations. Some unseen bad guys have planted a device in his body and instructed him to meet the deadline or…they’d push the button.

“I don’t know what happens if they do,” he said, “but I don’t want to find out.”

He doesn’t really believe this, just in case you are wondering. He’s just playing his version of a mental game that really works. Act as if your life depends on it, and you can do just about anything.

How would everything you do be different is you acted as if your life depended on doing it, and doing it well?

If your life depended on it, could you get your weekly report in on time? If your life depended on it could you hit your targets? If your life depended on it, could you get that new product out on time?

The answer, in every case would be “Of course!” Because you decided up front to make it happen, based on the level of stakes.

So why not bring those high stakes into your mental game every day? By tempting yourself with a reason that is bigger than life, you trick your brain into finding ways to do things instead of ways to not get the result. Everything becomes possible.

Internal customer service

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

When most people picture a customer, they naturally think of the person who buys a company’s products and services. Making that person’s life better and easier is a great way to think of customer service.

But what about internal customer service—the way employees interact with and support others in the company? The best companies make sure their internal customer service is on par with their external customer service.

Suppose you work in IT and somebody’s computer is down. Now they can’t deliver great external service. You might make it your own goal that “No one will be down more than one hour.” Internal service supports external service.

Internal customer service also sets the tone for employee engagement. Each phone call from a colleague should be answered with the same courteous, “How may I help you?” language and tone that external customers receive.

This also has a huge impact on employee engagement. We are the face of the company to each other. If we see a cold and uncaring face when we interact with other employees, we will each naturally come to see the company itself as cold and uncaring. It’s hard to stay engaged in your work when you see your company in that unflattering light.

Engagement is tied directly to productivity, of course, so It’s not just a matter of being “nice.” Upping your internal customer service game can make the difference between a company that founders on the rocks and smooth sailing.

Seeing informal agreements

Monday, July 7th, 2014

While my son was in India, he called to say, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe how different it is here. There are cars six deep, all blowing their horns and driving around people who are sleeping in the street, missing them by inches, with cows running up and down the road between all of it. And there are no road signs at all, and no lines on the roads!”

That pattern of behavior describes most workplaces! They have their own traffic jams and people sleeping in the way, right? And they have their own version of cows running up and down the street. And worst of all is that last observation—no instructions, no signs, and no lines.

Imagine if you woke up this morning and the streets on the way to work were like my son described—no lines on the road, no street lights, no stop signs and no laws?

That’s what your workplace would be like if it had no agreements.

Fortunately, there’s no such workplace. Workplaces are filled with agreements, formal and informal, spoken and unspoken. Some are obvious—be on time, don’t steal, don’t divulge confidential information.

Some others are less obvious but just as serious. Don’t undermine others with passive-aggressive behavior, for example. If you don’t have an agreement to disallow those unhealthy behaviors, then you have an agreement to allow them.

Teach others how to treat you

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Are you treated well by those around you? Whatever your answer, I want you to consider the idea that you have taught people how to treat you.

We do teach people how to treat us. We let them treat us poorly if we don’t call them on it when they do. And when we allow crazy behaviors that make our workplaces unsafe or not fun, we get a predictable impact.

It goes both ways. If someone treats you well, lifts you up, makes your day—reinforce that behavior! Let them know what it means to you, and by all means, return the favor.

As a team, you need to decide what your non-negotiables are for behavior and hold each other to them. In no time at all, you’ll teach each other how to treat each other, and everybody wins.