“Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.”
Okay, work with me here (all of you that are not from the greater Boston Area). There is something about that sign (and every city has its own landmark). When you see the Citgo sign, you know you are in one of the greatest cities in the world and right around the corner from the legendary Fenway Park. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, brings back great memories, and is just simply awesome. Ever since I was a boy (my wife might argue that I still am one), this sign has been a back drop for the home runs over the Green Monster. Somehow that backdrop also brings good summertime memories, and for anyone who loves Boston in general, the sign has huge value.
Some of you may not be as fortunate as I am in regards to employees. My employees are probably some of the best people in the business. Both personally and professionally. They have a bounce in their step, have tremendous integrity, are hard-working, like their job, and generally are happy to be alive. Sometimes I wonder if this was orchestrated or if is just by chance that this caliber people are working side by side with me every day. Either way, I’ll take it.
I challenge all of you managers, supervisors, and executives alike. Get out of your office. Say hello to all of your people daily. Call them by name. Get to know them. Carry their burdens (to an extent) and share in their victories. Trust them. Train them. This will help you keep them. You might find this to be a secret weapon, as many employees don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors, managers, and executives.
Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
So, from time to time, in business, sparks fly among the employees. If people are disrespectful, racist, sexist, demoralizing, condescending, etc., I will immediately have a real problem with it. But on the other hand, if the cause for the concern is a good dose of passion, and the other negative factors I mentioned are not part of the equation, I see it as good.
When the store is staffed full of passionate people, sparks are bound to fly from time to time. Usually people are passionate because they care. That is certainly better than dead fish that don’t care. When an employee wants to give his or her customer a great experience, they are passionate. When an employee wants to be sure the transaction is legal and ethical, they are passionate. When an employee is good at what they do, they are passionate. And , when an employee thinks another employee does not care, they can become extremely passionate.
I personally have an amazing team that truly cares for the guest and for the business simultaneously. They care that they themselves are treated fairly, and at the same time the guest is treated as royalty. They often feel respect for their fellow coworkers and think of many of them as their own family. This fact also makes each of them proud to be a part of an amazing team.
When we surround ourselves with passionate employees, the sparks are bound to happen. However, it is up to the management team and myself to ensure a fire does not break out from the sparks. So, let them fly, but be willing to air the concern in private and be quick to restore all relationships quickly.
So, in sales, it is always about the relationship. I am followed by many new people on a regular basis on the business social media, LinkedIn. It never fails to amaze me, that after 10 seconds of accepting a follower, they send a private message trying to sell me their product or service. I literally delete the message immediately and never consider their offer. It is analogous to meeting someone for the very first time and saying, “my name is so and so, would you like to get married?” How ridiculous?!?!
If you want to sell a particular product or service, get to know your prospect. Find out how you could truly benefit them, not just sell something and benefit yourself. The more time you spend getting to know someone, the more they will like you (assuming you are not annoying, have good hygiene, good manners, and are genuine). The more they like you, the more likely they will buy from you. YOU. MUST. EARN. IT!
No one wants to be surprised with your great offer. We don’t like it when someone jumps out of the bushes at the mall and tries to evangelize the lost, because it is out of place. No one likes a cold call at dinner time promising a free cruise, because it is out of place. No one meets a stranger and suddenly wants a lifelong commitment of marriage, because it is out of place. Consider the relationship the next time you want to “sell” someone on your product or service, because as for me, I do not want to “get married” if it is all about you.
Imagine yourself at your place of business, and suddenly a celebrity walks in. What happens next is simply amazing. All of the staff have a heightened awareness of every move the person makes. There is a sense of wanting to make the person feel comfortable. The celebrity is called by their name and offered a beverage. Extra customer service is given. More smiles are present. Everyone in the facility shows respect and gives attention to the celebrity’s every need.
WHAT IF! What if we treated each guest as if they were a HUGE celebrity. What if, when a normal unassuming person walks through the door, everyone employed at your place of business treats that guest as if they were the biggest celebrity ever?
Soon, and very soon, there would be such anticipation from the public to visit your place of business based on word of mouth advertising, that you would have to expand. People from all over would want to work there. You would be surrounded by employees who genuinely care to make each guest feel like a King or Queen.
So, what are we waiting for? If we make each guest feel like a celebrity, soon enough we will be elevated to one ourselves, as people love other people who make them feel important.
So, as my family and I were out for the evening, I was taken back by a young girl who stopped to hold the door for us as she was exiting and were entering a building. Then it dawned on me; why on earth would that stand out? Have we have truly forgotten what good manners look like? It seems that most people are so self absorbed, have their face stuck in their phone, oblivious to others around them, simply don’t care, are grossly narcissistic, or – ALL OF THE ABOVE.
I remember a day, when I was younger, that it was normal to say please and thank you. It was normal to yield to someone else. It was normal to give up your seat for a woman or an elder. It was normal to hold doors for those coming after us. In fact, if you did not do these things, you were seriously looked down upon. Now we live in a world where if someone is polite and holds a door, we find it odd and certainly the anomaly.
Let’s get back to being the difference makers. There should not be an expiration on good manners. The good people of the U.K. say “Long Live the Queen”, because they know at some point it will end and they are trying to prolong the reign. We should not be saying “Long Live Good Manners”, as if it too has an expiration.
So many times, people feel that a job change will solve all of their issues. It is always someone else, if you’d ask them. Either their boss is a pain in the neck; their pay is not good enough; there is not enough opportunity; they are not appreciated as they expect; and more.
Truth be told, if we would take the time to invest in ourselves, magically, our environment would seem to get better. Get a hair cut and . . . SHA-ZAM, you instantly feel better. Get a new suit or professional clothing, and the same result happens. Read books on personal development and leadership, and begin to change your thoughts from ” I’m a victim” to “I NEED TO CHANGE”.
Once the victim mentality diminishes and the new self emerges, everyone should be willing to fire themselves (figuratively speaking) and re-hire the more productive, better attitude, better dressed self. Unfortunately for most, a job change will still produce the same result until they do more than just paint the outhouse.
Cut the cord, pull off the band aid, sever employment, etc. Whatever you’d like to call it, it nevertheless needs to be done. Anyone in a position of leadership has from time to time, hired the wrong person. I mean the totally wrong person, not just someone who is mediocre. Once it has been determined to be a very bad hire, the necessary steps to remove that person, need to take place. And, the quicker the better. Most of the time, a bad hire occurs from making a decision from a point of weakness, rather than strength.
When hiring, it is always better to hire slowly. When we are shorthanded, we want to hire quickly, and that is when the mistakes start to happen. We can sometimes hire to fill the position that is empty, rather than hire the best possible candidate. If we hire slowly, it weeds out many candidates that just “want out” of their current job and do not care where they land. We want candidates that “want in” to the opportunity we are offering, more than they “want out” of their current job.
Once we have identified a bad hire, we must act swiftly. It is never an opportunity to put someone down and make them feel bad about “why” we are removing them. We should speak the facts of how the person is not meeting the basic needs of the position, encourage them to land on their feet, and close the door for other possible positions within the company. In doing so, there will be light at the end of the tunnel and certainly will not be a train coming the other way. However, if we do not act swiftly, the collateral damage can be huge. The damage can range anywhere between employee moral to lost customers, and more. In that case, the light at the end of the tunnel will indeed be a train coming the other way.
How can I do this you ask? Very easily. That’s how. Follow me here; customers only turn into the Hulk when their concerns are not resolved. Think about your personal life. When was the last time a person from a particular company irritated you beyond belief? Think back. When that happened, was there someone to speak to? Did they exceed your expectations and resolve your concern in a quick and professional manner? If they did, it was over and behind you. If they did not, and avoided your calls and/or emails, you most likely began to turn green, your muscles popped out, and your clothes tore off. At that point, you could easily see yourself ripping someone’s head clean off their body.
Why do you think you are any different than your customers. When a customer complains, FIX IT! Acknowledge their concern quickly and resolve it to the best of your ability as quickly as humanly possible. Most times it plays out like this; you get a voicemail or an email and you avoid returning the call or email like the plague, because let’s face it, you’re afraid of being yelled at. When you hit the pause button on a customer, simply because you do not want to be uncomfortable, you get them a bit more mad. It is like a thermometer, or should we say angry-ometer. The more you put them off, the higher their “temperature”. So, they call again, email again, and give you a poor online review. What do you do? Put it off even longer. Now, your customer is the full blown Hulk and nothing short of your head on a silver platter will do.
Customers are usually reasonable. Most humans are not opportunists. They feel they have a legitimate concern. Listen to them. Look for an opportunity to empathize. Get others involved in the solution if need be. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, you might get yelled at. But, by waiting too long, it only gets worse. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER. Run into the mess with all intentions of solving your customer’s riddle. I promise if you do, they will not turn green. In fact, in the end, they will probably be as tame as a house cat.