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Calgon: Take me away…..from negative people

Yesterday was just one of those days. I kept finding myself engaging in negative conversations with negative people who didn’t believe in themselves and employees who just didn’t think it was important to go the extra mile to help.

  • We can’t do this
  • You don’t understand
  • I am unable to assist you
  • My boss isn’t available
  • That won’t work
  • They won’t allow it
  • My favorite: THE PROBLEM IS
  • I am not allowed
  • No one is here to help with that
  • That won’t work for us
  • I can’t
  • I tried that but…..
  • I don’t know what to do
  • Being told “that is not convenient for us” by someone I was paying to provide a service; a service offered by others


I couldn’t wait to get home. I couldn’t wait to have a conversation with anyone who had a Can-Do attitude; with someone who wasn’t having a pity party. Or just spend some time with my dogs; who are always happy no matter how late I get home or if I decide not to give them table scraps.

I felt dirty,  like I had been sprayed with toxic chemicals. I wanted to jump in a shower or a bath.

And then I remembered this commercial from a long time ago for Calgon:

One of the reasons I didn’t play well in the sandbox during my corporate career was my constant quest to make things better…..for employees and customers. I was known for questioning decisions on a regular basis. Why? Why? Why? And believe it or not that three letter word is often the difference between an innovative company that leads its industry and one that eventually dies.

At one company I had a boss who would announce a new policy at a staff meetings followed by “Rich, I know you’re going to have a lot of questions regarding this policy; let’s talk later.”


If I was going to have a lot of questions don’t you think others do as well. I’m a pretty smart guy, but so were a lot of the other people that worked alongside me. Or maybe there were holes in the policy? Or that boss didn’t really understand (or believe) the reasoning either? Isn’t it best to communicate all the reasons behind decisions so people know how to react? Isn’t it better to have people on the payroll who actually want to improve an employee or customer experience? Isn’t questioning a good thing?

But until then we have Calgon… take us away….a moment to make it all better.

But wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy; if there was a product or service that could just take us away from negative ideas, no vision, no understanding, lack of service, bosses who are afraid to take a risk or ask questions, and employees who forget that a customer will always be more sympathetic when you drop a stupid script and at least give an earnest effort to be of help.

Calgon…….Take Me Away!


Oct 3 – 9 is National Customer Service Week; Time to recognize great customers and employees

Next week is National Customer Service Week. So just in case you weren’t aware (and want to join the celebration) here’s 10 last minute things you can do to celebrate:

  1. Invite customers for a tour and to meet your fantastic employees
  2. Host a Customer Luncheon to honor your customers
  3. Host a Customer Luncheon where the customers get to honor your employees
  4. Host a celebration of all your Customer Service Employees
  5. Acknowledge and celebrate internal customers too!
  6. Do what one of my clients is doing….. hire someone fun (I’m available early part of the week) to come celebrate teamwork, communication and service
  7. Host a Customer Service Awards Ceremony
  8. Shower your customers with gifts
  9. Shower your Customer Service Employees with gifts
  10. Have each employee personally contact a customer to thank them for their loyalty and business
Well that’s a start. I’m sure you can take some of these ideas and build on them. But get cracking; time is running short.

6 Simple Steps to take a Recess from Workplace Stress

People often contact me looking for ideas on how to build camaraderie, improve employee morale, reduce workplace stress and improve team working relationships. Here’s a quick fun idea that shouldn’t take long to complete but could provide for a lot of laughs.

Use it as a meeting ice breaker, an end of the week special moment, when you see the stress level has hit the roof or the next time some long winded policy gets issued. I like to call it:

 Take A Recess from Rules and Policies That Make You Go Hmmmm

  1. Gather 2 or more people
  2. Grab the nearest company policy manual
  3. Identify your “favorite” policy; the one that just makes you shake your head
  4. Write a new interpretation of that policy (in other words, remove all that corporate speak, dumb it down and have fun with it)
  5. Issue the new policy to people with a sense of humor. Issue it anonymously to people with no sense of humor.
  6. Now go get ice cream or a piece of cake – you did order cake and ice cream for your Recess, right?

Now if you’re looking for more ideas on building a great workplace check out the Recess At Work System – it’s got 12 opportunities for you learn something, recharge your team or just celebrate. Click here to learn more

Maybe a Recess from a low rate of employee turnover is needed?

There are companies that seem to never have turnover of employees. People stick around forever. Leadership is proud of to celebrate 20, 25, 30 and 35 year employees.

Then there are other companies where turnover seems to be a regular and recurring thing. Recruiting is its own department; not a part of Human Resources. Leadership breathes a sigh of relief when someone reaches the six-month mark.

But which is better – high turnover of employees or low?

Clearly some might say that high turnover is more of a problem than low turnover. I’m not so sure of that.

  • Turnover leads to new ideas
  • Turnover leads to new energy in the organization
  • Turnover leads to innovation
  • Turnover leads to new experiences being introduced to your company
  • Turnover leads to keeping people on their toes
  • Turnover needs to new relationships
  • Turnover leads to new products and services
  • Turnover brings with it new business leads

But what’s the right rate of turnover?

I think the answers lie in your sales figures, your bottom line results, and the level of employee morale and engagement you are witnessing.

Take a Recess today and look at your level of turnover and ask yourself a hard question: Is our level of employee turnover hurting or helping your organization?


Please don’t introduce nudity to the organization when your star employee leaves

Okay, what the hell were the writers of Two and a Half Men thinking?


Seriously? That’s the best thing they could do to launch the new season post Charlie Sheen? We took a Recess from sexual inuendo and went right to sex?

Imagine if GE had done that when Jack Welch left. Or Apple when Steve Jobs left? Let’s have everyone walk around naked.

  • Your Apple Genius Bar employee will now serve you in the buff.
  • Your new light bulb or appliance will be installed by a certified pole dancer!

That’ll give employees and shareholders confidence in our company. That will increase employee morale or the customer experience. That will let everyone know that we’re in touch with our customer base and why they turn to us.


C’mon CBS…….you still have a great cast of characters. As does Apple. As does GE. As does any organization when a “star” leaves their ranks. Don’t sell out and do something stupid. Use the talent you have to create something better and what your employees and customers expect.




KMN! Or take a Recess & take the Meeting Slide Challenge!


That’s Kill Me Now for those of you not familiar with “the new shorthand” called texting language.

At a recent meeting I was exposed to yet another PowerPoint Presentation Gone Wrong. Very wrong.

Bottom line…..once again……the presenter read to us.  

When will people stop insulting the intelligence of meeting attendees? Send me the slide deck next time, please.

Or take a Recess from the old way of preparing slides and …………………….

Take Rich’s Meeting Slide Challenge

Each slide can have no more than than three words or a picture/graphic.

The challenge is designed to:

  1. promote and strengthen dialog, conversation and free exchange of ideas
  2. get the presenter to invest in preparation time  
  3. remind presenters that they are experts, know more than the audience and if they know their stuff (and are engaging) they really don’t need slides at all

One picture or 3 words. Your Choice. Try it! (at least once.) You have nothing to lose…….except your audience.

I’ll bet your presentation will be a lot more fun too!