"You do not change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change things, You must build a new model
that will make the existing model obsolete"
"You do not change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change things, You must build a new model
that will make the existing model obsolete"
Posted at 04:08 PM | Permalink
Posted at 11:47 AM | Permalink
To get some inspiration about what to write here, I spent a good portion of the weekend reading about all sorts of opinions about management and leadership. Most were opinions about what should be done when leading and managing, but very little about how to do it.
I see educators, professional speakers, and self-proclaimed experts who write books, speak, consult, and teach leadership and management theories based on their research, or the research of others, but not on their personal experiences or accomplishments. If they had, I would most likely have read about their "system."
It was interesting that I seldom read anything about management systems, teamwork systems, engagement systems, or systems of any kind. Since they recommend suggestions on what should be accomplished, but not how to accomplish it, these recommendations are to be implemented into the existing management systems of the readers.
So, since much of my reading was about avoiding, solving, or eliminating personnel problems, it occurs to me that tweaking the system is not the solution for businesses and managers. Replacing the system is the solution.
I don't have all the leadership and management answers. Like everyone, I am learning every day. Nor does my management system have all the answers, but I didn't read one word that would improve my approach to team leadership. There was not one word that would change my system for creating an entire team of top performers.
Youtube.com has an interesting video" by Dale Dauten, aka "The Corporate Curmudgeon." about "de-hiring" employees. He coined the term in his most recent book, (Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success, and it refers to managing personnel in such a way that unproductive employees leave a business without the pain, suffering, or hassle of a formal termination.
We are of like minds here,as I would hope many are, when he recommends having a one-on-one meeting with new recruits to explain what is expected of them in order for them to become great employees. And setting doable (by great employees) goals. They either blossom into exceptional employees or they fail to meet expectations and they find more suitable employment.
He speaks to his methods as managing from the heart. That is exactly how I look at creating a great staff of employees. One by one, recruit, attract, or develop developing an entire team of achievers. No one wins when marginal employees remain on a staff. It is unfair for talented personnel to be asked to take up the slack. But is most painful and stressful for poor performers to continue to disappoint themselves and their employers.
The final chapter of "What Clients Love" by Harry Beckwith should be read by anyone who wants to become extraordinary. Titled, "Why do Some people and Businesses thrive?, he hits it right on the mark thanks to Historian David Landes (The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why some are so rich and some are so poor.), John Dryden, Victor Hansen (The Soul of the Battle), David Pottruck and Terry Pearce (Clicks and Mortar) and a story about Howard Schultz and his belief that the difference between Starbucks and the rest of the coffee chains is his company's commitment and passion.
"Belief and passion: Is this any way to run a company? Give me process, a Gant chart, a system, the hardened executive insists. Give me something concrete: Seven steps, eight keys.
We try. But when we search for the hard nuggets that drive success, we don't find hard nuggets. We find something softer. We find that the equation seems elusive, defying all Intelligent efforts to reduce it to action steps."
I love Harry Beckwith. I am currently reading his latest book, You, Inc: The Art of Selling Yourself, which is as insightful as his previous three books. An excellent read, but I think what he has to say in this final chapter of "What Clients Love," is some of the most accurate, and seldom analyzed, insights he has ever published. But he had me questioning what I was reading until I read further into the chapter.
"You could struggle for a lifetime to translate these intangibles into your plan. That's why so few companies soar. If every business could reduce belief and passion into easy steps, almost every business would have.
What should managers do? Build something that fills you with passion and then spread its flames into every corner of your business.
Listen to Pearce, Pottruck, Hanson, and Landes: Belief and passion grow businesses. Clients love passionate people and passionate businesses because passion stimulates them-they feel it and feel better too-and because they know that passion produces great work.
Triumph then, then, belongs to those who believe. belief steels us with the courage to take risks that the faithless avoid, and to reap the rewards that follow-to realize that our loves grow in proportion to our courage."
This my take on belief and passion. I think it is fairly simple to put passion and belief into an organization. They are both part of The A's, B, C's, D's, and P's of Achievement. Awareness, Attitude, Action, Belief, Courage, Confidence, Commitment, Desire, Discipline, Development, Passion, Plan, Perseverance
Like everything in life, personal and organizational excellence requires knowledge, insight, and awareness regarding whatever it is a person is trying to accomplish. It all starts with awareness. A daily focus on learning will lead to individual and organizational achievement. It is the end product of an awareness that helps people believe in their ability to excel which in turn leads to commitment and passion.
In consumer sales and service, few businesses believe they can become extraordinary. Few have a communication (engagement) system that gets everyone on the same page, builds confidence in the company's ability to be special, or even hints at a creating a passionate team of front line personnel.
I love Seth Godin. his books, blog, and insights. I just finished his most recent book ("The Dip" is due out May 10th), Small is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas. I read it from cover to cover, over the course of a couple of weeks as he recommended. It's the first business book I have read from cover to cover in the past year. While I could write about many other riffs, the one that jumped out at me was about choosing to join the best of the best.
"You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It's never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. It takes only a moment-one second-to decide.
Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that's to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?"
It has been my experience-I have asked that question many times in my career-that, despite a wide range of responses to the question, the root of every one of them is that they choose not to be great because they don't know how to transform themselves or their organization into a focus on excellence.
They can't visualize, imagine, or even set a goal to excel because they don't know what to do next. In consumer sales and service they look at a company like Nordstrom and believe it is about everything they can't afford to do as a company. "Well, we just don't have the budget to afford a return policy like they do." When discussing Nordstrom, the extraordinary quality of their face-to-face service is what sets them apart from most other retailers. As the last paragraph of their history (on their website) states, "The company's philosophy has remained unchanged for more than 100 years since its establishment by John W. Nordstrom in 1901: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value."
I have been shopping at Nordstrom's for decades and I am yet to meet someone who wasn't focused on helping me as if i was the most important person they were going to meet that day. They recruit, attract, and develop sincere highly motivated personnel. Their leaders educate, motivate, and appreciate their staffs daily. Most of how they became great is about simple common sense.
The questions I would ask myself, my colleagues, and my staff would be: How do we become great?, Does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone been great or a part of a great organization? Does anyone know how, other than their great products, Nordstrom became great?
As Seth Godin says, "You get to make a choice." Choose to start a discussion about how you and your organization are going to be great.
In an interesting article, "Team chemistry and winning share symbiotic relationship," in the Seattle Times, Ted Miller (once again) tries to define team chemistry and how to create it.
"Of course, assessing team chemistry is subjective and imprecise. Some insist good chemistry is a product of winning, not the reverse. It's sort of like arguing which came first, the chicken or the egg.
So which comes first: chemistry or winning?
"Chemistry is always great on teams that are winning," former Mariners reliever Norm Charlton said. "When you're winning, the little BS things get overlooked. If you're losing, those things surface and become a problem."
But good chemistry is more than getting along. It's more than a pleasant atmosphere. There needs to be a spark. There needs to be genuine joy over playing baseball for a living. There needs to be accountability that clicks in at the first hint of complacency or self-absorption."
In sports and business, exceptional teams have great leaders with a system for acquiring (recruiting, attracting, developing) an entire team of achievers, instilling extraordinary teamwork, training their teams daily, and creating team chemistry.
Team chemistry is said to be an uncommon, elusive, and difficult to create intangible, yet top coaches do it every year, year after year. A few years ago a head football coach who will eventually prove to be a great assistant coach, but not a great head coach, said what many not-ready-for-prime-time coaches say, "If I knew how to create team chemistry, I'd write a book about it and become a millionaire." (I hope he is right because I'm writing a business book about creating great teams that does will cover the creation of extraordinary teamwork in depth, but it will not offer much that extraordinary sports team leaders are already doing in their team achievement systems.
Tony Donovan does it every year. Locally Mark Few at Gonzaga and Lorenzo Romar at Washington do it annually. All top echelon coaches have a disciplined firm, fair, and fun approach that focuses on the development of exceptional team chemistry. They are respected for their character and the character of their teams. One by one, player by player, they make certain all players are working daily on "doing things the right way."
The formula for team achievement is simple. Leadership, talent, teamwork, training, and team chemistry. I write and speak from experience, not theory. I have created team chemistry many times.
Which comes first, chemistry or winning? Neither. In sports and in business the team leader comes first. Leadership makes it happen. Top flight team leaders do not have laissez fair management styles, they do not hope their staffs will create chemistry. They emphasize it and manufacture it, day after day, year after year, team after team.
In his article, Repeat defines 'team' in the Tacoma News Tribune, Don Ruiz focuses on the tremendous commitment of the Florida team to the team, the team, and the team. Which is no small accomplishment with a team that has so many talented achievers.
“I think this team should go down as one of the best teams in the history of college basketball,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “Not as the most talented, and not on style points, but because they encompassed what the word ‘team’ means. They did it the first year with no expectations, then they did it again with all the expectations.”
As Coach Donovan said in his TV interview after the game that Florida, won because of how they had handled the intangibles of creating a great team, not the talent on the team. I agree, but for the record, once again the winning team was the team that had recruited, attracted, or developed the most top achievers.
Billy Donovan's team leadership system, his team achievement system, covered all the bases. The team's mindsets were focused on making certain the team was unselfish, committed to helping each other improve and excel, and having a great time doing it. They knew they had the talent to repeat, but only if everyone was willing to celebrate the accomplishments of their teammates the team.
Business teams, should have the same team-centered focus, as team skills are the key to a great team. But few team leaders have learned how to motivate their staffs to work in unison with a common goal. More often a business team is a group of individuals competing with each other more than they are the competition.
The team achievement system Coach Donovan used to join the best of the best would do the same thing for a sales or service team. Any business team. The only significant difference between a sports team and a business team is the type of achievement skills they require to become a winning team. In sports, the achievement skills are athletic skills. In sales and service, the achievement skills are persuasion skills that sell both products (or service) and customer service.
In sports, the highly intensified competition drives a team to do what is necessary to compete with their competitors. In business, few organizations have a "competition system" effectively installed to make daily motivation, daily training, and the creation of an entire team of achievers who enjoy working together and helping each other succeed a part of a team leaders job description. This is especially missing in most sales and service businesses. (It's not missing at Nordstom.)
When I see a frontline sales or customer service team, I see a sports team that is either winning or losing depending on the number of top achievers on the team.
I thought UCLA and Georgetown would win, but I really didn't care. The intensity, focus, and passion of the players and coaches is exciting. Competition drives teams to perform at their best, but few do over the course of the year. So tonight we saw the "Passion for Achievement" winners.
It takes a great team leader. A coach with a team achievement system that inspires players to have exceptional attitudes, extra-effort work habits, extraordinary team skills, excellent athletic skills, and maintain exciting team chemistry. But most importantly, these four head coaches instilled a passion for achievement into their teams.
For months, probably a year, they were on a mission to win it. And they believed the would. Getting to the Final Four is a challenging mental experience as much as it is an athletic one. It takes "Best of the Best" motivation, mindsets, methods and a mission that everyone buys into, but the number of coaches who succeed at it are few.
The Florida, Ohio State, Georgetown, and UCLA basketball organizations have a passion for achievement that is seldom found in a consumer sales or service service organization. They don't have the management system that creates great teams.
As the Washington State coach, Tony Bennett said after being named The Coach of the Year in college basketball, "It wasn't me, it was the team, they bought into the system." Good behavior, a desire to grow as a person, and the team, the team, the team. "One for all, and all for one!"
The only difference in the formula is that athletic skills are replaced people skills. But the difference in the way the each part of the model is executed. Especially in the "Training." In sports you work on improving yourself and the organization daily. Everyone is focused on learning how to do their job better. Just like every team you saw in the Final Four."
How many employees in our favorite company (BTW the covert mission is on track) thought about how to better sell or serve (persuade) their customers even once, much less their entire shift? How many in any company? How many sales or service companies train daily like athletic teams? How many train their front line managers and their front line staff daily?
How many sales and service teams train themselves daily?
The organizations with a passion for achievement. The companies competing for a "Something Special" Trophy.
Leon Stafford's column, A New Emphasis of Service, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution speaks to the monumental importance of customer service and the millions spent annually by companies to improve their customer service.
Good customer service can improve a company's image, distinguish it among competitors and bring in consumers who increasingly have more and more choices about where to spend their money.
"It's all about the competitive culture in terms of raising the bar," said Tim Mescon, dean of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. "To me, it's an essential market factor."
It's especially crucial for those sectors that rely heavily on repeat business, like hotels, restaurants and retail.
Atlanta-based Home Depot — for years perceived as lacking in customer service — launched an effort last year to improve consumers' experiences. Spending $350 million, the company hired additional staff and installed more self-checkouts and new radio-equipped call boxes that shoppers can use to summon help. The company is continuing those efforts.
A widely cited survey on customer satisfaction released in February showed the company's scores rose 4.5 percent in 2006. The previous year, Home Depot scored last among retailers in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is compiled annually by a University of Michigan researcher.
Home Depot spent thirty-five million and customer satisfaction only scored a measly 4.5%. What are they spending millions on? Whatever it is, it is being spent to avoid dealing with the real problem at Home Depot. And it is not the short-staffing that is getting a lot of press.
After the Nardelli regime, the management system needs to get store employees involved in improving the company. I would suggest buying their Store Managers a copy of The Enthusiastic Employee, have a group think discussion about the book, and then try to sell every one in the company on getting involved in helping the company learn how to inspire customers to remember, return, and recommend.
The company has lost it's passion and identity, but an active engagement program can get them back in the game. They need to spend their "training" budget on training Store Managers how to motivate, educate, and appreciate their teams. Customer service is not rocket science, it's rooted in common sense, common courtesy and customer concern. Customer service skills that employees are well aware of, but often need a top quality front line leader to make certain they use their skills daily.
I think The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want is the best management book I have ever read. The book, published by Wharton School Publishing and written by David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind, and Michael Irwin Meltzer, features the "Three Factor Theory" (equity, achievement, camaraderie) of employee motivation and the value of partnership management.
The book's data are taken from questionnaire surveys administered by Sirota Consulting from 1994-2003.The company surveyed 2,537,656 respondents from 237 companies to determine that getting employees involved in the companies success is more motivating, energizing, and profitable than autocratic or laissez-faire management. Employees and management are in league together with both striving to make the company highly successful.
"We advocate a partnership culture as the surest path to a high-performance organization. Partnership works because it harnesses the natural motivation and enthusiasm that is characteristic of the overwhelming majority of workers.
I agree. I first learned the value of a partnership culture at the J.C. Penney company thirty years ago.It just made sense because the company based it on "The Golden Rule." Everything flows naturally from there. Who doesn't want to be treated fairly, have opportunities to grow, be a part of a successful company where everyone gets along without personnel problems?
Partnership management can engage, excite, energize, and improve any "team" (company, corporate office, department, region, or front line) regardless of the nature or size.
I strongly recommend that, any organization with a passion for organizational excellence, read the table of contents and decide whether this book is of value to their career or their organization. It paints a profitable picture of an engaging way to create something special by getting everyone involved in the process.
The Table of Contents
Part I: Worker Motivation, Morale, and Performance
Chapter 1: What Workers Want-The Big Picture
Chapter 2: Employee Enthusiasm and Business Success
Part II: Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Fair Treatment
Chapter 3: Job Security
Chapter 4: Compensation
Chapter 5: Respect
Part III: Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Achievement
Chapter 6: Organization Purpose and Principles
Chapter 7: Job Enablment
Chapter 8: Job Challenge
Chapter 9: Feedback, Recognition, and Reward
Part IV: Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Camaraderie
Chapter 10: Teamwork
Part V: Bringing It All Together: The Total Organization Culture-and How to Change It
Chapter 11: The Partnership Organization
Chapter 12: Translating Partnership Theory into Partnership Practice
The only major disagreement I have with the book, after instilling a partnership culture in five corporate offices and seven front line teams, is that it does not have to start at the top as stated below. In fact, it is more likely to be considered a viable management approach by an organization after a front line team has established the system within the existing culture.
It Starts At The Top
"Many partnership organizations did not have to change to that form; they started that way with a visionary founder and CEO who strongly believed that is the way people should be managed. Frederick Smith of Federal Express and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines are good examples of this. "
Employees who feel important produce important results.
Employees support, often with great passion, what they help create.
If a retail business has an exceptional sales team, they are guaranteed success. Yet few businesses do. Most rely on their products and services for their repeats, referrals, and reputation. It's common, it's easy, and it doesn't require a passion to achieve great things. It's the only way they have, so far, learned how to do it.
Nordstrom is a classic example of a passion to excel in the retail industry. They are known for excellent products and "best of the best" service. But it's their customer service (sales) teams that create memorable customer service experiences. Professional, sincere, trustworthy, well-groomed, efficient, and energetic. The company supports them with their unique policies, but every person on the sales floor is an expert (or being trained to be an expert) in how to sell customer service. Sincere, effective persuasion skills that make "Would you like______________ to go with that?" a comfortable inquiry, not a robotic question asked of every customer because it is company policy. Nordstrom has the policy, but you don't feel like they are asking to improve the size of their commission check.
A trip to Nordstrom is "the excitement program!" I live a couple of blocks from their Flagship store and stroll through the store every few days just to see excellence in action. Without exception, every walk through looks, sounds, smells, and feels exceptional.
Tully's Coffee, and many retail businesses like Tully's, have great products, provide average to above average service, and offer excellent benefits to their employees. They are good companies doing a good job of delivering their products and services to the general public, but they seldom have a passion for excellence that is evident in their coffee houses. They seldom have the excitement, energy, or enthusiasm of a top flight team that excels in selling both products and customer service. They lack a team a leadership and management system that creates, motivates, and retains entire staffs of memorable achievers.
I think the coffee Tully's Coffee serves is among the best of the best. But if their model model for success also included a passionate best of the best sales and service staff (customer experience), going public would soon be a reality.
Last week, or at least prior to Sunday's edition, the newspapers were full of exciting news about Tully's Coffee. On Thursday the company announced it planned to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public.
"We are moving very, very fast by the end of April," Chief Executive John Buller said. "We want to raise $50 million, build our stores and build the wholesale and run like hell."
Most companies just file with the Securities and Exchange Commission when they are ready to go public.
But Seattle-based Tully's, which said it wants to raise about $50 million through the initial public offering, has an annual meeting in two weeks, and now it can answer shareholders' persistent questions about when they might cash in their shares.
Tully's roughly 6,000 investors have waited a long time.
Those shareholders are the ones hoping an IPO will somehow recharge their company and let them recoup investments made years ago. But the numbers suggest there's not much reason to think an IPO would attract a huge new set of investors and unlock great value for the existing ones.
The company has come a long way in getting their act together since John Buller took command a few months ago, but they need cash to continue their improvements and grow the company with more company-owned stores. While the company has never made a profit without selling assets, that should happen soon. But investors want a return on their money and their patience.
It's time Tully's Coffee to add an extraordinary customer experience to their passion for selling hand-crafted coffee. An experience that inspires customers to remember, return, and recommend. An experience that creates a "Have you been in a Tully's lately?" buzz that will both generate new customers and bring back the customers that customers that got tired of Tacky Tully's.
In On The Money on February 14, CNBC had a great segment, "Tully's coffee sets goal of being no. 2," (video) that was both enlightening and exciting. The lead into the reporting from Mike Hegedus was "another Seattle success story," and It featured the CEO, John Buller, and the Master Roaster, Brian Speckman.
John Buller said that "The nice thing about Starbucks is they also say there is room for about 40,000 stores. We can have two or three thousand stores, and all based on the model that we're local, we're about the coffee, we're about the drink profiles, we're about the gatherings, we're about the simplicity of the old traditional coffee shops."
I loved listening to him speak. He was talking about the original concept for Tully's that founder, Tom O'Keefe, envisioned when he started the company fifteen years ago.
He went on to say, "My job is to grow this as fast as we can in the model that we have." After years of marginal leadership, I have no doubt Mr. Buller has a plan for achieving his goal that will, providing the money to finance the expansion is available, achieve his 2,000 to 3,000 goal.
John Speckman said, "...if they walk away with an experience that they have just had a really good cup of coffee, that's where they are going to spend their next day, their next morning, then that is good enough for me."
Makes sense to me. I still remember my first cup. I was a fan of Seattle's Best Coffee, but Tully's has had my taste buds since the first sip. And, in 1992, they also offered their customers a unique and memorable experience unlike no other coffee shop. Hopefully the day will come when they have returned to those days as well.
But the taste of the coffee will not create a "this is the one" mindset that inspires customers to remember, return, and recommend. To grow their customer base rapidly, they need to add a "WOW" customer experience that separates them from all their competitors.
In the first section of his latest book, "You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself," Harry Beckwith presents five beliefs about what people buy.
While the book is written to help people sell themselves, it is full of insights into how a consumer sales or service team can separate themselves from their competitors. As I have written many times here, customers consciously, and unconsciously, judge everything they see, hear, smell, and feel when they are in a business. They judge everything from how the business looks on the outside to the environment they find on the inside. Is it well-maintained, clean, and hospitable? Are the employees especially congenial, honest, and helpful? Does their experience feel good? Does it feel great? Does it feel extraordinary?
Few businesses score high marks in the "See-Hear-Smell-Feel Test." Most are not unique or special. They are average, but profitable enough to have a place in the marketplace.
Passing the test with flying colors, however, guarantees an ever-growing customer base and reputation for excellence. Starbucks, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's have great products, but they would not be near the companies they are without their customers feeling good about their experience.
I love the show because every episode is an opportunity to see a potential leader in action. (And, of course, compare their Project Manager (team leader) skills with my own.) But, week after week, I am mystified as to why, with outstanding resumes featuring numerous achievements, many leaders have no idea how to unifying a group in a common cause. They can't motivate, manage, or facilitate a simple discussion about how to win the competition.
I think the producers have changed the way the game is played.
Maureen Moriarty in her column in the Seattle P-I, Apprentice 101: Managing difficult personalities is key, once again provides an exceptional analysis of the lessons to be learned this week. While reading it, it occurred to me that the current series has had an unusually large number of applicants that don't appear to have a clue about leadership and management.
Surya, last weeks firing, was last seen rambling about how he was wronged. He was fired because of the opinions of his teammates who, for three weeks, had more or less ignored him as they completed their projects. He thought they had won the two previous tasks because he was a great Project Manager.
This week Kristine, the losing Project Manager, puts her OK on a 45-second Webisode (commercial) that, with Muna's accent, was a disaster. Difficult-to-manage Muna was fired, but as Maureen writes "Kristine should have been fired as well for her weak leadership." The only way Kristine's team could have won was if the other team didn't complete their project.
Unlike the past, every week there are a number of "what were they thinking?" moments. I think this is by design, but along with ditching the tent I would prefer an entire group of talented applicants.
Seth Godin is one of my favorite bloggers and authors. In his Good is not almost as good as great post about a trip to an auto dealership, he describes his experience with frontline auto salesmen. He was not inspired to remember, return, and recommend, but he was inspired to write a blog about an experience that is a common occurrence throughout the auto industry.
A great auto dealership? Where? I don't know of one! My guess is that the percentage of dealerships that are exceptional is about 3%. A great sales team in the car business is almost non-existent because the standards for customer service in the auto industry are much lower than most consumer sales industries.
A local (east side of Seattle) high-end dealership consistently receives awards for exceptional customer service and satisfaction, yet I have yet to know someone who is happy with the dealership. Their TV spots, that have one thrilled customer after another, are typical of the industry. A lot of bragging, but reality proves them to be average at best.
I measure the quality of a sales force by the number of quality achievers that have been attracted and/or developed, and the quality of the team chemistry (esprit d'corps, camaraderie) that has been instilled in the fabric of the sales team.
In high-ticket sales, an extraordinary sales team has 90-100% achievers and an exceptional one has about 80%-90%. (It would be rare to find a car store with 50% achievers.) Team chemistry or esprit d' corps ? I know the ins and outs of the industry fairly well. I have never heard of a car store with a true (authentic) passion for excellence and/or teamwork.
Seth suggest firing half the sales line. If that would get everyones attention focused on personal and team excellence, why not? At least the staff would be paying attention to providing great service and improving their sales, service, and team skills.
I would have a meeting with the frontline staff. It would begin with my pointing out that the room is full of people with varied experiences, insights, perspectives, and intuitions regarding the auto industry. Then I would tell them I want this dealership to be the best of the best in the industry and I want to know how we are going to accomplish becoming the very best? I would ask every person, without exception, for input. What do they think should go into a mission to become the best of the best.
I've had these meetings many times with sales and customer service staffs. They energize teams because employees support, often with a strong passion, what they help create. When it comes to team excellence that is especially true because the true achievers in the group love to be a part of a business that is "something special in the industry."
Great customer service is the secret to longevity written by the New Haven County chapter of SCORE and published in the New Haven Register is great article that covers customer service from front to back as it lays out how to provide excellent service.
I am certain that, whoever contributed to this article, probably did things very well in their leadership careers. Leaders who were successful without technology. How did they do that? They spent a lot of time talking face-to-face with their employees about everything.
"When you think about it, you can come up with some great customer service improvement ideas that are unique to your own business. Just step back, look at your business through the eyes of a customer, and go back to work to create the unique business experience you want your customers to have.
Great customer service pays dividends because it makes your employees feel good about where they work, keeps the customers coming back and makes your business more profitable. Walk the talk, and build a reputation for your business that keeps you ahead of your competition."
I especially loved the paragraphs above. Many corporate offices in sales and service industries would also love them. They would read the above paragraphs and say. "Yeah, we're doing that." And they probably are...in the Corporate Office. So, the question is, "What does the frontline think? Do they think the company is delivering satisfaction to customers and to employees? If not, how do we change and improve?"
Team leaders at any level of an organization should make the frontline a big part of the solution. Provide them the opportunity to have a huge voice (every one of them) in procedure and policy. Involve them and they will know that you, and the company, think they are as important as you are.
If I was a team leader right now, I would have casual, congenial, and creative conversation about those two paragraphs. I'd put those words on a poster-size piece of white paper. (No slides, powerpoint, technology) Then I would facilitate an analysis (a meeting, hopefully a series of meetings) of those words as if they were part of the evidence in a murder investigation on, "Law and Order."
The meetings would provide new insights and awareness about a variety of topics, but the biggest value would be that a unified team is being created during the discussions. Extraordinary teams are rare. As rare as a customer service experience that inspires customers to remember, return, and recommend.
The goal is a communication system that engages people in being a part of the team achievement process.
A couple of months ago an especially energetic Tully's employee, after I had asked him why the store was so clean, said, "I believe that if I have time to lean against something, I have time to clean something." If you have time to lean, you have time to clean has been a standard belief for years in consumer retail. Yet, at Tully's Coffee, despite the fact they have exceptional employees, are spending thousands on improving the "experience" they provide customers, and a great new company website that features TellTully's.com , which is an excellent way to solicit input from customers, most stores in the Seattle area need of a cleanup. (I can only assume that, if stores near the head office are poorly maintained, there are other stores in need of elbow grease.)
As the covert mission is directed toward the frontline team leaders (Store Managers who are not only responsible for the filthy stores, but can do something about cleaning them up), who probably don't know there is a shareholders meeting coming, I would like to point out that this is a once a year opportunity to impress the investors with the new and shiny (clean) "New Tasty and Terrific Tully's Coffee."
As I have said many times, "Customers judge, consciously and unconsciously, everything they see, hear, smell, and feel (sense)". Knowing (and believing) that simple truth is especially important with group of investors (many who are running out of patience while they wait for the company to go public) coming to town for the meeting.
Hey Store Managers, it's simple stuff. Starbucks sweeps the floors every hour. Do it every forty-five minutes and be proud that you are better in the "Floor Sweeping" Category than your biggest competitor. Take all of your products off the shelves, then clean the shelves and the items. Clean your windows and get rid of the dirty or worn (in most cases unneeded) things you have taped to the glass in doors and windows. Make the stores extraordinarily clean!
Have a meeting and ask everyone, "What should we do to keep this place bright and shiny?" Then set up a system to do what they say should be done. (In soliciting input from everyone on your staff, you are engaging them and beginning the process of selling them on buying into "The Best of the Best" mission.
Tully's Coffee is doing real well in many areas, but the goal is to be the best the best, bar none.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
By MAUREEN MORIARTY
SPECIAL TO THE P-I
"It's all in the details. The individuals and teams this week either won or lost around the details. Those that won paid proper attention to the details (car product knowledge, serving petits fours, which imply luxury, etc.). Those who lost failed to pay attention (Jenn not preparing for her presentation or noticing how screen glare would affect it, Derek and Angela missing a critical graphic deadline and the sloppiness of Derek's language with Trump)."
Another " Apprentice," another great analysis by Maureen Moriarity. I have been reading her pespectives, insights, and beliefs about "The Apprentice." for years. If I could afford her services, I would sign up. This lady is exceptional.
Her comment, "It's all about details," caught my eye. We were just talking about Howard "Retail is detail" Schultz. It is always about details. They are what separate winners form "also-rans."
Why do so few candidates on the show know that? Why do they know so little about team achievement?
This is what I would do as a Project Director. (Frontline Team Leader, Store Manager)
I would ask the team, "What is the best team you have ever been a part of?" In the course of the conversation, I would tell them my best team and why I thought it was so good. Then it's where are you from?, what are your hobbies?, where have you worked? accomplished? like to do for fun???
After about the third person that I "quizzed" about who they are in life, I would explain to the team that this is the most important discussion we will ever have. Important because we need to use our combined skills and talents to win the "game." We need to know what we can do as a team, what we can't do, and who do we need to hire to do it?)
Then, after everyone has a new awareness of their team mates, I tell them a few stories about teams that communicated so well, that the meetings grew from 15 minutes to an hour. (By popular demand.)
It's as simple as that. "Feel The Power" meetings. A group of people working together as a unified force because they have an extraordinary communication system that engages, excites, empowers, and energizes them. Frequent meetings with employees on all topics of value guarantee a team's success. So why not learn how to do it? Everyone wins!!!
Just don't forget to keep it simple, make it fun, and make it everyone as in "We, not me."
Danny Meyer: Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
Meyer said his business strategy is built on both good service, defined as the technical delivery of a product, and “ENLIGHTENED HOSPITALITY" which is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. He argued that HOSPITALITY is the distinguising factor for success in this new, service economy. In the information age, competitors know how to offer the same products and services, but the CULTURE and EXPERIENCE companies create for their customers will help them stand out. “It’s all about HOW YOU MAKE THE CUSTOMER FEEL.” he said.