Courage can include Fear

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

Nelson Mandela  is  credited with saying that ” Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. Real confidence is acknowledging fear and moving forward anyway.”

It has been years since I went to a sketch class and so it was great fun and the awakening of many senses when I recently went to a Tuesday Sketch Night in NYC. I watched the rubenesque model take many poses with grace and sometimes sheer abandonment. And yes, she was nude. Talk about real confidence!!

michelangelo_libyan

The experience was a strong reminder that we must each get beyond the mind-chatter. To march to our own definitions of success…not the societal definitions of perfection.

Go out and do something courageous today!

Ask Me What I REALLY Mean

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

Understanding the customer end goal vs. pushing your product and business interests. Check out the article  @DanielBurstein @MarketingSherpa

  • Customer-first means seeing that wanting a 1/4-inch hole – not the sameDrywall as a 1/4-inch drill
  • Customer-first means not confusing a type of shoe with a desire for shoes
  • Customer-first means having a liberal return policy —  customers will be grateful, not abusive of your good will

Are you confident that you were able to uncover an answer that reflects the source of the customer pain?

Red Light Green Light

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

It is that time of the year and NYC traffic congestion is everywhere; the traffic guards working extra hard to move the traffic in an orderly fashion. The following story represents a great glimpse into human behavior: WTF.

Imagine this scene: The traffic guard was directing cars with every ounce of her voice and gesturing hands. A traffic light was also available to guide the activity. So when the traffic light changed color and the guard kept moving cars forward in the direction of the red traffic light, confusion appeared and impatience erupted. The horns were pounded and the car windows opened as drivers yelled at the traffic guard who was not facilitating the traffic flow in keeping with the traffic light colors. For what seemed like forever, I watched the traffic guard in a pseudo-aerobic exercise dance as she persevered in maintaining the traffic flow as she saw fit.traffic-jam

And then, it became obvious! Twelve black Escalade vans appeared, driving in the same direction that she was indeed facilitating movement. There was logic to her actions and the override of the traffic light messaging. For a nanosecond, the car horns and driver obscenities subsided. WTF?

Was there a small smirk on the face of the traffic guard as the caravan came to a close and she turned her attention to traffic flow in the opposite direction?

How often do we assume that someone is doing something wrong or stupid because it breaks from what we expect to experience?

feedback

The Gig Economy: Top Talent in a Temporary Role

balancing act photoPer a McKinsey and Co. report titled Independent work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy, some 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work. Also known as freelancers, contractors, members of the gig economy or the contingent workforce, this employment style is real and it is here to stay. On November 15, members of an NYHRPS Forum discussed the impact this work model is having on the HR function and the workplace dynamics.
Technology is Enabling the Growth of the Gig Economy
Managing complexity. Being agile and able to quickly respond to change. A wider variety of workplace skill sets than needed in previous years. Companies of all sizes are looking at ways to maximize the blending of a traditional employee workforce and non-traditional working relationships. Technology is a big enabler in creating the gig economy, however, these workforce changes are no longer a nuance to the technology functions. Rather, technology is creating platforms by which to acquire, engage and keep track of the work requirements and work deliverables.
Appropriate Cultural Changes will Ensure the Success of a Contingent Workforce
Key to making such a culture successful is understanding the scope and requirements of the work to be done. From there, leaders can determine how to hire such talent and “the time to competency” for such hires. Competency, however, is not enough. In a team-based organization, the culture is equally critical and the ability of the team to truly succeed is based on levels of trust that encourage creativity as well as an understanding of the corporate brand that will resonate in the work output.
Talent Development – Who Owns What?
The Disney Corporation was mentioned as a company that devotes a lot of time to the orientation and on-boarding of all staff and all contractors. As such, they have achieved a level of consistency in their ability to deliver customer happiness, superior customer experience, and a global brand.
In an environment where job descriptions quickly become obsolete and new specialty areas are demanded, where can members of the contingent workforce be trained? Within the concept of hiring top talent for temporary roles, should people be hired for their aptitude or their proven experience? And, as talent is brought into the business for varied periods of tenure, how does the employer capture and preserve the corporate knowledge that has been transferred in the process? In other words, who owns the training and development functions for temporary talent?
The Evolution of the Workplace
As leaders, we acknowledged that never before has the creation of a workforce planning discipline been more important; the requirements of the work to be done can be approached in such a broad variety of ways. Likewise, never before has the team culture been more important with the C-suite serving as the chief cheerleader of the culture and the facilitator of a team focused on an aligned purpose.

The NYHRPS Forums aim to deliver industry knowledge and thoughtful business considerations to be taken back for debate within our employer and client circles of influence. In closing, we walked away from the Forum thinking about four major categories of conversation that will improve the integration of a contingent workforce.
1. The concept of good work vs good jobs expands the horizon for – who- delivers the outputs. (See John Boudreau article on the Employee vs Contractor Debate
2. A holistic concept of individual aptitude and time to competency presents new options in delivering a truly diverse workforce.
3. “Garbage-in Garbage Out” applies to the onboarding process of today’s contingent workforce. Embracing the contingent worker with the same level of orientation and an understanding of the company ethos is critical to getting the best outputs. Consideration should be given to what, if any, differential is made in the onboarding of employee vs a contractor.
4. Delivery models for health insurance, long term savings and overall benefit programs are changing; while the individual need for these programs remain strongly intact.

I invite you to keep the conversation going by responding to this post and telling me what you are doing to maximize your relationships with those working with you in a gig or contractor relationship.

Not Yes. Not No.

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

Life is not always a yes or no decision. And, sometimes it is not even one of three-four specific choices. A multiple choice question forces your answer into a pre-determined category. Are you more comfortable with structured or unstructured types of answers?

What does that say about your thinking style? feedback

Can Customer Service Excellence Go Too Far?

Did you talk about, tweet, email or blog about customer service today?

We have created new standards of service delivery and in this post; I ask if we have taken the concept of “anything for the customer” too far. Yes, pick up that jaw and let’s ponder the question.

Zappos is filled with best practices in their delivery of customer service. Let me add a personal experience to the list. Sometime during the summer months, I bought a pair of all leather sneakers. Upon receiving them I decided to put them away until the colder weather warranted a solid walking shoe of this sort. However, come November when I took the shoes out for walk, I realized that they were indeed very heavy shoes and made me feel like an old lady. I gave them one spin around the block for a total of some 40 minutes of outdoor wear. They continued to look mighty new, however they were used!

customer care imageCalling Zappos, I explained to them that I had an unusual request that may necessitate managerial input. “No problem” said the happy CSR, “tell me what I can do for you”. Here is where my own jaw dropped to the floor. The CSR then directed me to my email where I would find a pre-paid return postage form …..And for this one time only…..I would receive a full refund for my “worn sneakers”. This far exceeded my expectations and reinforced an already loyal relationship. My Zappos customer service experience will pay off in spades. I have little reason to buy shoes for my family elsewhere.

A similar situation happened to a friend of mine who knits with very expensive yarns. After discovering that she received some yarn skeins from another dye lot, the company graciously replaced the skeins. Unfortunately, the replacements were a completely different color of yarn. In turn, they once again replaced the yarns, being most careful to send the correct color and dye lot.

The extraordinaire part of the story, delivered by thepluckyknitter.com, comes with the full refund that my friend was given for the totality of her expensive yarn order. This experience gives her little reason to go looking at other yarn artisans at this time.

A recent meeting spot with a friend occurred in front of the reception area for a bank branch located in New York City’s Grand Central Station. I was amused as people came into the bank to ask for directions, restaurant recommendations, bathroom locations and so many more incidentals that were completely unrelated to financial services. This is not at all surprising considering the location of the branch. When the triage manager signed on-line to get a Google map for the individual inquiring about the nearest location of a Hale and Hearty soup restaurant, I was highly impressed. Unfortunately, in short time, I became somewhat disappointed. Why? Murphy’s Law made an appearance and a line at the triage desk was forming.

The exceptional customer service described in the Zappos and fine yarns examples are directly linked to potential business; Is the friendly banker example as clearly linked to a new deposit or mortgage application?
Here’s where the concept of “anything for the customer” can be taken too far. First off, it was not clear if the individual had a bank relationship——which is irrelevant when the bank triage staff is not busy with others. As the line formed, the triage staffer needed to make a business decision and take action: Specifically to take a quick inventory of the questions needing attention from those on line.

Human nature tends to supporting and helping others. In a front line role at a retail business center, the customer takes priority and in a major transportation hub like Grand Central Station, the triage staff is guaranteed to get a variety of esoteric inquiries. As I watched the line form and the impatient faces turn sour, I pause on defining the interaction I witnessed as customer service extraordinaire.

For quite some time, retailers have adopted the concept of triage in helping front line staff to direct customers quickly and effectively. In a healthcare setting, triage includes the identification of a patient profile so as to determine the urgency of the situation and the best way to deliver care. In our friendly banker example, we are reminded that retail triage also necessitates a qualification process. A process that should be used consistently with all interactions…..Individually, we all know way too well that Murphy is watching us from the corner!

 

How do I Know What I do Not Know?

This question can have a pivotal impact across any aspect of our lives. If only, I had known that? Why didn’t someone tell me? Can I backdate it?

“Knowing everything” is impossible however creating an infrastructure of information/data which heightens your awareness of issues that are applicable to your situation can be improved. Here are six ways to increase your chances of asking the “right questions” to ensure that you are getting more of the “right information” coming your way:

question marks

1. Ask incident related questions vs general questions.
Instead of asking: How is it going today? Or how is business, start asking more specific incident-related questions:
• Tell me about the last new piece of business you closed
• Tell me about the last employee you hired
• Did John give you an update on the five client requests made during the March 10 meeting

2. Ask the same question more than once to different people.
Did you ever call a utility company or insurance company and receive completely different answers to the same question — from two different people within the same 60 minute period of time. It happens every day and it goes beyond the quality of the service training. It reflects the experience and the empowerment levels of the person handling your request. Hang up the phone and call back if the answer is important enough to you!

3. Let me tell you what I am going to tell you, and then tell you what I told you that I would tell you.
Creating awareness and interest is a never-ending marketing challenge, Studies show that making an impression on someone can take anywhere from 7 to 20 exposure points across multiple channels of influence.
In addition to telling your story multiple times and in multiple ways, remember to stop and ask questions that are as specific as possible. In small discussion settings, pull from your knowledge of the participants history to open up the dialogue. Whenever possible, the goal is to understand how someone else handled a situation. Are there insights that would help you ask different questions?

4. Can I prevent this from happening again?
We all have situations that annoy the heck out of us, especially since they keep happening again and again. We come up with a plan to remedy the situation so that eventually we are less annoyed and more adept at handling the situation. However, have we truly resolved the core reason behind the incomplete transaction, the never-ending disruptions, or the repetitive errors that need to be corrected?
The application of: How do we know what we do not know in this situation is to make sure to let others know how a problem was solved. This supports continuous improvement in work flow and case management so that the root cause of the situation can be adjusted!

5. Ask someone who really cares.
Some people give their heart and soul to specific causes. Find those who have walked in your shoes. Others devote their lives to providing the support services to the situation you are seeking answers. Ask someone who truly cares, as their answer will point to both the emotional and functional issues that are pivotal to your success.

6. Having the courage to take a leap of faith.
The amount of information in our domain is doubling within brief periods of time. Analysis-Paralysis is no longer possible. A smart pilot program can mitigate the risk. Small changes that can be seen in a conservative culture as acceptable iterations to the process……..move the process forward.
Former NY Mayor Ed Koch created an environment of wanting feedback by including his famous “How am I Doing” question with every appearance. How do you know what you do not know? Start by taking an inquisitive nature to life, always looking for new ways to make the questions you ask more insight.

In keeping with this philosophy, I ask you to share a question with me that you now ask on a regular basis that has made a difference in your life.