Category Archives: COMMUNICATION LIVES
“We had received a few letters, and generally they were positive, but they would say: ‘It’s really too bad you use those foam peanuts. Have you thought of using something else?’ or ‘I am really going to have to start looking for another source if you guys don’t stop using them.’ People wanted to continue to order products from us, and they liked our service, but they objected to us using the foam peanuts. I figured if so many people had taken the time to write to us, then there must be many more people thinking along the same lines. So we stopped using foam and started using a tissue made from 100 percent recycled magazines instead.”
– Patricia Gallup, PC Connection, Inc.
The purpose of sharing this quote regarding customer feedback from a quality company is to ask you the question about your customers: Are You Listening?
Many times workers in companies and/or agencies who are responsible for collecting customer status or satisfaction information do not give this function the continuous improvement attention it deserves. Although it is true that customers are not always thoughtful and complete in their responses to quality survey requests, you can never assume you won’t find that “gold nugget” suggestion somewhere…sometime!
This week’s TRIPLE III TIME message: Are You Listening? is fully intended to force everyone to question themselves about their customer service follow-up process. Do you do it just because you must…or in search of a good idea? Do you really pay attention to the responses…or do you just check off who responded and how many? Or is your customer follow-up process outdated and just an assignment…and thereby self-defeating in its purpose?
Great companies/organizations put stock in getting quality feedback from their customers. Are you GREAT?
During this time of low supply of available, qualified new employee candidates, it has become more challenging to misfortunately retain your current workforce. What do I mean by “misfortunately retain” in the previous sentence? I mean that in many cases poor work habits, excess absenteeism and less than appropriate employee attitudes are silently overlooked in today’s workplace. In a unique, unplanned, unforeseen way…employers have sometimes assumed a position that “a poor employee is better than no employee”!
How does this scenario apply to this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message” YOUR Words Matter?
I believe that today it is critical for leaders and managers to be more direct and honest in their product development assignments and quality of service expectations. “Sugar coating and softening” messages in these areas should make you question yourself…how much do YOUR WORDS MATTER! Whether your directives, instructions and /or positive action words are delivered in written, online or in-person fashion; the need for simple, specific, timely expectations should be totally clear. In addition, it may be more unfortunately appropriate during these employee supply-demand challenge times to also include verbiage on negative consequences for non-action. Today including consequences information in personnel communications as a necessary standard will increase the likelihood the fact that YOUR Words Matter!
Is this an example of progressive professional discomfort…Yes. Is it an easy personnel action…No. If applied correctly and consistently will it make a positive personnel difference…Yes.
Are there other questions?
One of the most common “critiques” my III partners have regarding the preparation of these weekly messages is that “I have too many messages in one message!” And although I can argue…99% of the time they are absolutely correct. Because as I reread and proofread my drafts…I too can feel the multiple messages, confusion and questions regarding “what is he really trying to say!”
In these growing times of information and messaging overload, it is critical that we assess whether we are Simply Speaking or Speaking Simply. Do we take appropriate steps to make sure our communications convey an accurate, non-wordy, straight-forward message? Do we understand the need for political correctness, but not at the expense of promoting a greater number of issues that cloud our purpose and communication intent? Or do we try to be efficient in our number of messages we send and thereby “say” too much in one which then causes confusion on what is most important?
Speaking Simply is a “cause” that will serve everyone well at home and at the job. If you find yourself Simply Speaking…those reading or listening will get lost in the backlog of words and essentially quit hearing and the most direct meaning of your message is gone.
Ok D.S., J.B., and J.L. I know I’ve said enough.
There is not a week that goes by that I am contacted by an organization that I work with…or one in need of help that talks about/requests some form of TEAMING training. In most instances the requests come as the result of the addition of a number of new employees joining their workforce or the assignment of a new/different project that requires both individuals or groups to work more together. Every team training opportunity is high value for them and for me…and the results are positive. And yes I could go on and on about the critical need for a quality team environment, but for this TRIPLE III TIME moment I want to share some thoughts about TEAMING Beyond The Norm.
Think about the times when someone in your group randomly brings donuts for everyone. Or the satisfaction you feel when you ask a co-worker: “How’s your dad doing as a result of his surgery?”…and they offer an enthusiastic response that confirms he is doing AOK! Or the two-way camaraderie felt when you simply ask a company team member: “How are you?”…because you know they had to deal with a difficult staff person issue a day earlier.
TEAMING Beyond The Norm is NOT about becoming part of a co-workers challenges/problems…but rather an action to confirm team building is something that is part of everyone…everyday! Likewise it doesn’t have to be about a special circumstance or event, instead it can be about greater, more meaningful communication. I guess in a way TEAMING Beyond The Norm has a “family” feel to it and even a community-building purpose.
Think hard about this TEAMING Beyond The Norm message…it has a lot of great life application areas.
When was the last time you offered a “Way To Go” message to your boss? Think about it. Did you ever tell your Board Chair that they handled a troublesome Board member with style, grace and professionalism? Frontline staff, have you ever offered a statement of praise to your manager about their cool wording in a marketing piece or decision-making memorandum?
I believe in all employee-employer relationships…”Way To Go’s” – Should Go Both Ways! But unfortunately it is a professional development action area that needs some work. Too often employer/boss recognition comes to them for who they are in the organization…instead of what they do. Just to give you an example, recently I asked my co-workers if they thought the latest fiscal status chart from the CFO was great…and did they tell him so? Responses…not one out of ten sent him a note letting him know that his chart work was the best ever!
In all honesty I can report that during my career I did not do a good job in practicing the “Way To Go’s” – Should Go Both Ways principle. Additionally I can’t think of a time when I really expected some of kind of “you really were beyond excellent in that Committee meeting” compliment during my leader days. However my consultant role has helped me better see the high value of two-way “Way To Go’s” and the impact it has on building a supportive culture in the workplace.
Give it a try and let me know your return-on-“way to go”!
Worker shortages are a major contributing factor to the supply chain product and service voids felt all around the world. “HIRING NOW” signs can be seen posted everywhere in business windows large and small. Those working in the labor exchange systems have been additionally pressed from both the employer and potential employee standpoint to help make the perfect business-personnel selection decision.
As I have witnessed this scenario unfold, an interesting “weakness” in the worker recruitment process has arisen. With the additional usage of technology in the recruitment, screening and worker selection system, the incidence of Sharing “Multi-Skill” Qualifications has strategically declined.
What do I mean?
I believe that due to the fact that many companies and organizations have now gone to an online application process, the opportunity for candidates to offer a more in-depth description of their total skills has been reduced. Individuals often have skills that may not directly apply to the job they are seeking…however they may be ideal for another project that is “in the hopper!” And with interview and screening time always at a premium, the likelihood of having a segment for Sharing “Multi-Skill” Qualifications is highly unlikely.
It is my TRIPLE III TIME recommendation that improvement for Sharing “Multi-Skill” Qualifications lies equally on both sides of the desk. Job applicants must make it a written and verbal priority to strategically share their direct and indirect employment skills. Business/organization leaders must also structure their employee recruitment systems to capture the maximum professional skills information they can on every candidate.
An additional 30 minutes in both areas could prove invaluable for everyone’s future!
It is often ironic, interesting and maybe even scary when my choice for a TRIPLE III TIME message somehow connects directly to one of my current day business or personal situations. However, when you consider topics regarding leadership, communication, professional development and innovation…which are my III discussion priorities…the “connections” make sense! But I have to report that when I selected The Importance of Presence for this week’s message, it’s “connect-ability” factor to all aspects of my professional career…past, present and future…could not be more critical.
So let’s start this discussion by stressing the importance of physically attending meetings that you are part of. Personally showing up at a special event/meeting hosted by a colleague, family member, business partner or friend just feels more necessary today more than ever before. Likewise if you reverse the situation and ask what does The Importance of Presence mean to me as a professional when I am waiting at the door for those invited to attend? I believe it means caring, interest, support, joint venture consideration, a future opportunity and without a doubt…a special form of respect and friendship.
Does this mean that I do not support virtual involvements? Does this mean that I am too old-fashioned? Or does this mean that I have not allowed myself to adjust to a non-face-to-face future?
Well, I think all who know me have a pretty good idea how I may or may not answer these questions.
Regardless, the goal of the TRIPLE III TIME message: The Importance of Presence is to encourage everyone to go the extra face-to-face participation mile if you can. Virtual attendance is an acceptable second choice but I believe your personal/in-person connection can and will always make a good…GREAT difference!
It is now the first week of our new year 2022! And although I was thinking about a message of inspiration and future-thought… I decided we need to start with a “head-on” TRIPLE III TIME topic: Do People REALLY Hear Me?
Think about it.
In this day and age of fast, extensive and multi-faceted communication…it is very necessary and appropriate to regularly ask yourself: Do People REALLY Hear Me? As I thought about the value of this message I couldn’t help but remember the Charlie Brown cartoons/comic strips where the terms “Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha” were regularly used to demonstrate that no one was really listening to someone important. I believe that too often today when we speak or when we listen…the “Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha” syndrome takes effect.
So what’s the potential remedy to resolve the “Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha” syndrome? Here’s a few TRIPLE III TIME ideas:
- Use a blended written & voice strategy to convey your message.
- Don’t be the only, continuous voice when making a point…allow others to share the responsibility.
- Make it a regular practice to ask: Did you hear/understand what I said?
- Apply a strict time limit to each topic and to the overall time dedicated to an individual or group meeting/training.
- Don’t be afraid to use today’s techno-options for unique short communication “lessons” to help people hear you.
- Consider fun, informal small group “Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha” syndrome resolution sessions.
The answer to the Do People REALLY Hear Me? TRIPLE III TIME topic question does not have to be controversial or negative. If everyone understands that professional discomfort is a natural part of personal and professional growth…the answers to achieve quality hearing/listening may come much easier than you think.
Everyone knows about the challenges and discomforts that come with Having The Toughest Talks with someone. Whether its about under-performance with a co-worker, the canceling of an agreement with a partner company or service provider and/or trying to resolve a conflict issue with a family member or friend…the discussion moments are tough! In response some ignore or hide from the challenge(s) hoping that it might resolve itself. Others might take a “my way or the highway” hardline approach just to move it forward (good or bad) in some way.
No one “enjoys” the Having The Toughest Talks moments. I know that I have touched on this issue over the years in other TRIPLE III TIME messages, but today it is time to give it a special TOP 10 “helpful thoughts” blog segment.
- Treat the person/persons how YOU would want to be treated during a Having The Toughest Talks situation.
- Gather as many “facts” as you can regarding the challenge…but stay open to new/additional facts as the tough talks continue.
- Do NOT enter Having The Toughest Talks discussions with your mind already made up on what will happen afterward.
- Appropriately use each person’s age and experience as measuring tools in assessing the situation.
- Leave other people’s opinions “at the door”.
- Listen well and take notes.
- Correctly compute the values related to action options (i.e. firing the person/canceling services/personnel reassignment, etc.)
- Consider the precedent-setting issues that will result from your action or inaction.
- Don’t ignore the option of postponing action on the issue. Sometimes delayed action is a solid positive step for all sides.
- Finally understand the high-value of compromise while Having The Toughest Talks.
I am sure there are more than these TOP 10 “words-of-wisdom” that would be helpful when Having The Toughest Talks. Please add them to this list and build your own set of resolution recommendations. Responding to Having the Toughest Talks incidents will always be “a work in progress”!
Over the years our TRIPLE III TIME messages have mentioned and discussed the importance and long term value of mentors and life advisors. I believe we should all have at least a couple individuals that are regularly available and professionally comfortable to reach out to…no matter the issue.
Mr. L & Dr. B have been my 40 year (plus) mentors and life advisors. They always provide common idea-sharing support and wisdom…but at any given moment have the capacities to specialize in a professional or personal area of concern. As a result they both have contributed in different ways to my innovative style and professional approach with useful information and “furture-ish” guidance.
But there’s the III question: When do YOU fill that special mentor/advisor role for someone? Let me offer an example.
Recently a friend and colleague called just to share concerns about a tough education related issue. We talked for some time but unfortunately I was not able to offer him a real solid solution for his problem. However, the conversation ended with this statement: “I know we didn’t find a good answer to my issue but just hearing your quiet, listening voice has helped me a lot.”
The moral of this TRIPLE III TIME message is to always…ALWAYS give someone the best information, help and support you can. The example I mentioned caused me to reflect on others who have looked to me for mentoring and life advice…and I found it happens much more often that I realized. Maybe its my age and graying hair…but it is a special honor just to be consulted. So because you will not instantly recognize your “mentoring-moments”…be genuine and positively thoughtful every time.
Thanks again Mr. L & Dr. B.