This past Saturday I attended PodCamp; a social media and technology unconference. It was a day of learning and sharing information. There were people there from all walks of life; students, teachers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, employees, CEO’s, media personalities and tech geeks.
It was clearly in the Top 5 Learning experiences for me this year; and for one reason. It wasn’t recycled air.
Most of the conferences I attend are as a presenter to a group of similar people. It might be the Association of Widget Sellers; but they’re all widget sellers. And while I offer them ideas or ways to keep their employees engaged in the widget selling business they usually have one thing on their mind….the business of widget selling; and how they currently engage in that business. It becomes a challenge to move people out of that space; to get them from “Wow that is a cool idea” to “We’re going to start implementing that tomorrow!” So instead, the same recycled air conversations occur year after year.
I also attend conferences with my peers. Other speakers, trainers, etc. I have great conversations but basically most people are doing business the same way. It’s recycled air. I don’t want to engage clients or prospects by doing things the same way. I want to engage them with something they haven’t seen. Your customers are expecting that from you; your employees as well.
So this past weekend I went to PodCamp and this coming weekend I am going to a Creativity Workshop. I owe this to myself and my clients. I do my best not to be recycled air; but to RECESSitate organizations with new ideas. We can only do that by looking for fresh air, fresh thoughts and fresh ways of doing things.
The same conversations over and over rarely keep people engaged and move organizations forward. What you can do to eliminate recycled air in your life
Recycled air kills people and organizations. It drives down productivity, employee engagement, morale and ultimately profits. Fresh air really isn’t that far away; if you’re willing to let it in.
Given the chance to walk around that fence and go exploring or stay in the yard; the yard that provides safety, security and food; which would you do? Stay or explore?
I’d like to think that most people would like to explore. And that is exactly what my little four-legged guy did yesterday. Went on a little adventure when I wasn’t looking.
The lake gets lowered every fall so we can do work on our docks, walls etc. Yesterday I was so busy talking business with a friend that I forgot the dogs were outside and the lake was lowered.
He’s not in the yard. Not answering my calls. “Want a cookie?” is not getting his attention. “Wanna go in the car?” not working either.
Fast forward: He was next door. Doing what male dogs do to claim their turf. I’m sure Joel’s plants got a complete watering.
When I celebrated his return it got me thinking about workplaces; and how we need to let employees explore. Explore new ways of doing things. Explore new opportunities. Explore the work of other people, departments and divisions. People want to know what is going on outside their team, department or division. They want to know what is happening on the other side of the fence.
Keeping employees engaged in their work requires us to let them do some exploring of what is going on outside their little piece of the business. Give them an opportunity to explore – regularly. Your business will benefit. Your employees will benefit. Your customers will benefit.
Almost every organization is talking about, worried about and doing something about the customer experience. Great. Marvelous. You should. But what about employees? Don’t you think they deserve a great experience too? Don’t you want them excited about coming to work every day? So with that in mind, let’s take a RECESS from the way you normally operate and give these points some thought:
My hope and challenge for you: Stop thinking only about the customer experience and start thinking about the employee experience as well. As you can see from above it’s not that difficult to do simultaneously. And while front line employees may not be the ones who design your customer experience they sure as heck are the ones delivering it. That in itself should provide impetus for you to do something.
The definition of Recess is a break from the norm. Let’s break from it only being about the customer. Here’s to your NEXT GREAT EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE!
It’s not difficult to make your employees feel great; but it is necessary. Talk to your management team about this. Or get in touch with me and let’s schedule some a Recess
A lot of employees are probably gathered around computers and televisions watching the Chilean Mine Worker Rescue today. While you’re gathered there in amazement and awe (or while you’re periodically crying as I am) here are some good points to discuss and think about as a group. They just might help strengthen your organization and get rid of some of the BS that goes on.
So much is going to be learned from these workers. Why not start now?
These are just a few points/questions to get some conversation going. I’m sure you can come up with your own. Just make sure you do the important thing………….draw the parallels to your organization with your answers.
One of my newsletter subscribers replied to what I sent out this morning. I replied back to her. She thanked me for taking the time to reply.
When a fan/follower/friend replies to a post/tweet/email we OWE it to EVERY ONE of them to get in touch. EVERY ONE. (Okay, maybe we can ignore some of the people who just hit “like”).
When a customer gets in touch with you about your service or how an employee made their experience a great one, you need to get in touch; let the employee get in touch.
Now I’m not perfect; I can get better. We can all get better. But I know an awful lot of people who put things out there and watch the buzz rather than stay engaged. All that does is disengage me.
How about you?
Training makes employees better at what they do.
When employees are better at what they do they become engaged.
Engaged employees aren’t out looking for new jobs but are looking to help grow the company.
A growing company leads to new products and ideas.
New products and ideas lead to new/loyal customers having great experiences.
Great experiences lead to increased profits.
Increased profits allow for the ability to continue to invest in your employees.
Or you can do what too many companies have done; cut training, cut positions; cut expenses, disengaged employees and not increase revenue.
As I write this I think about one of my clients who invests in their people no matter how tough the times may get. They get it. They get that it is their people that move their business; and sometimes you have to forgo some profit to retain great talent.
TRAIN TO RETAIN!
As I was checking out of the market yesterday I noticed one item that was lit up on the cashier’s display was highlighted in green. I asked why.
She told me she didn’t know; that it just lights up random items green from time to time and that others have asked her the same question. Well at least I’m not the only observant one in my community.
But my gut was telling me that this was not random. Was it a sale item? A taxable item (I only had one and that was the one highlighted?) Was it from a certain department?
You should want to know I told her; so when people like me ask you can give us the right answer.
She looked at me with one of those “get real Mr.” looks.
And that’s just one of the problems with employees today. They either don’t ask why or are encouraged not to ask why. There seems to be no interest in learning and not enough encouragement for people to learn.
Encourage your employees to ask WHY? It engages them in your business and ultimately makes for a better customer experience; one without unnecessary looks.
And the light bulb went on!
The other day I was spending Recess with a group of Leaders, Executives and Owners of Assisted Living Facilities. One of their bigger challenges is staffing. Seems there is a very high turnover rate in this industry. So I tossed out the question “Why are people leaving?”
“Leaving? We’re happy if they even show up once hired” was the immediate response. So after we laughed we came up with this list
When I speak at a conference I always arrive early and talk wuth as many people as possible. Let’s get the real story and the real information. Then change my program if appropriate. So my big finding that morning, right before I presented, was even the leaders had not been in their jobs very long. 2 years. 4 years. 17 months. 6 months. 2 months. I asked why they keep jumping around. (See list above)
So I proposed they take a hard look at that list and do something about it. I proposed that instead of looking at cost savings they start ONLY (well at least mainly) looking at generating revenue to offer the items on that list. I also questioned how they can sit there and get frustrated over that which they are guilty of?
Later that day three people came up to me. The light went on. All three said I was right. All three said we’re too busy looking for something better rather than making something better.
I told them it is not about me being right; it is about what are you now going to do and how are you going to be the role model?
Don’t look for something better; make what you have great!
Training budgets have been slashed.
Most of you know my feelings on that…….STUPID.
People are the biggest expense of most organizations. You don’t stop investing in them. You continue to develop them. Figure out how to increase your revenue; not continue to cut your expenses. If you’re as smart as you say you are that shouldn’t be so challenging.
But seriously……….did you know that every single person in your organization has something they could teach another. Every single person. Maybe it’s a better use of technology? Or perhaps a procedural shortcut without breaking a rule? Maybe someone has figured out how to streamline a report? Maybe someone has a great sales technique? A marketing idea that can help another department or division?
Why not dedicate some time in the upcoming week. Gather the team together. Ask a few people to share some knowledge or wisdom that can make everybody’s job easier. Allocate as much time as you can and include as many people as you can. Do this regularly and ask that everyone contribute.
Simple. Easy. No outside trainer needed. Use them when it’s something you and your people cannot do – and there are plenty of things they can provide by being an outsider and offering you ideas that are working for others.
So go have fun with this. This is not optional. This is mandatory. Ask employees what they want from employers and professional development always comes up. Why not let them be part of that solution?
Have you ever found yourself talking about X when your customers/employees/friends wanted to hear Y?
We all have.
So when I was asked to speak on a webinar to a group of entrepreneurs about the value of joining the National Speakers Association and how it changed/launched/defined my business I said sure.
Waiting for the call to start, while some technical difficulties were being sorted out, I tossed out a question to those who had logged on early…..”Why did you sign up for this webinar?”
And it was clear……….what they signed up for and I what I was about to talk about were not the same. A sudden momentary sinking feeling went through my body. The call organizer was nowhere to be found – she was having the technical difficulties. How am I going to keep these people engaged? I just got fed to the sharks. Or in this case a group of (mostly) women who were about to hang me out by my……..
They were looking for tips/strategies/ideas on making presentations more powerful; I was getting ready to address building a speaking business. Screw the EASY button; where’s the PANIC button!!!!
I started talking about what I was asked to deliver. While I was talking I was watching the chat and Q&A windows. They did not want to hear what I had to say. It’s happening…….DISENGAGEMENT! I didn’t even dare look at the attendee count to see if it was dropping. Talk about an ego deflater.
They wanted tips and strategies. Now I have trained myself to not read emails/chats/facebook posts with any slant. So although I know the questions were coming from a place of learning; I kept reading them as “hey stupid, this is not what we want to hear” and imagining people booing and shouting at me.
So now not only am I talking into a piece of crystal and looking at a picture of myself, my gut is telling me STOP! ABORT! ABORT!
And so I did.
And with the permission of my host I changed the focus completely to marketing strategies and presentation techniques that I use.
And here’s what I learned and offer to you:
In the end all was good, and several of the attendees reached out to me and thanked me for the information that I offered. But it just reminded me once again the importance of businesses, employees, leaders needing to be flexible when it comes to a customer experience.