Creating Good Relationships at Work

An article in Mind Tools reported that Gallup published a study about the value of having good friends (or at least one good friend) at work. The poll showed that people who have a friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied with their job, be more positive and work harder. As humans, we want friendships and positive interactions with co-workers. If we are happy we are also going to be more productive.

That being the case, it’s important for businesses to foster good relationships between workers. Managers should be aware of employee differences and make every effort to understand and deal any situations with the employees involved. If not, minor disagreements can blow up out of proportion, affecting more employees than those originally involved, making the workplace uncomfortable for larger groups.

As employees or managers, it’s important that you look at all sides of the problem.  Sometimes people who have to work together are not drawn to each other’s personalities or managers may prefer one employee over another for any number of reasons. At these times, it is easy to criticize the person you don’t see eye to eye with rather than trying to find the positive things that this person brings to the group or department. Granted there can be co-workers that you just don’t get along with. It’s rather like an AM/FM radio; the AM stations can’t play on the FM channels and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that either AM or FM is wrong, it just means they are different.

If you are working with or managing someone who you are not in sync with, try getting to know the person a little better. Find out more about them before making your final decision. If you still don’t care for them, be polite, professional and offer them the same courtesies you would offer to anyone else. Conversely, if you are a manager and realize you have one person who is upsetting the whole team and have talked to them once or twice with no result, don’t sacrifice your whole team to one person. Remember the one dysfunctional person can easily drag the rest of the team into being dysfunctional. It is very rarely that a functional team is able to bring a dysfunctional person up.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Why Employees Leave Jobs

Of course, there are many reasons why people decide to leave their jobs. However, according to an article by Brigette Hyacinth, published late last year,

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not the position itself.

This interesting information, which should make us pause.  As a manager how do you treat your employees or, as an employee how do you feel you are being treated by your manager and, just as importantly, how do you treat your manager?

Many times people are promoted from within. Someone who, for example, has been on the sales floor and been successful may be promoted to sales manager. However, while s/he may want the promotion, it may not be the best thing for the company or for other employees.

When someone is promoted to management (even at that first rung of management) they need the know-how how to do their new job properly. Being a great salesperson does not necessarily mean you are automatically a great sales manager. Training should be readily available for the employees being promoted. This is also true further up the line. An owner who started a small business because s/he was passionate about the product may have put all his/her time into production and be a terrible manager. Not because s/he is a terrible person but because managing is not within their skill set.

To be a great manager you need to know what your employees want and need to be successful. Feeling a part of the bigger picture is one thing that makes employees feel as if they are contributing to the success of the business. If the employees and managers feel successful then the business will be successful.

I leave you with a quote from Richard Branson (who has been amazingly successful):

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating A Recognizable Business Culture

With the great number of brands these days, it is getting harder and harder to differentiate your brand from those of your competitors. A lot of that has to do with the fact that many who start businesses do so because they are passionate about the product, not because they are passionate about marketing, branding or creating the culture of the company. This is very evident in the wine business. Most winery owners are passionate about growing grapes and making wine, they are not, necessarily passionate about the culture of the company.

As you are developing your business, the grapes you shall grow, the wines you shall make, also ask yourself, “What culture do I want to create for my business?” Creating the culture will give you a template for many of your other decisions. For example, what are the traits and qualifications you want in your employees, how will you create your customer service guide and your plans for advertising, marketing, and public relations?

When developing some of your cultural items, consider the things that make your business recognizable, such as your logo, the colors you use and your tagline. Think long and hard before you choose those, as they are the things that define your company in the mind of many consumers and you don’t want to change them too often. It’s fine to tweak things to keep them current but wholesale changes make it difficult for consumers to remember you. For example, look up online the portraits of Betty Crocker, a brand that has been in existence since 1921. While Betty has changed over the years, she has always been a brunette, she is always wearing a red jacket or sweater with something white underneath, mostly a blouse, one time pearls and now a tee shirt and the drawing is always just head and shoulders. If you look at all the Bettys together you can see how much they have changed, but you would recognize every one of them as Betty Crocker. That’s the point.

Try and create a culture through everything that you do from in-person communication, visuals, and written communications, to how you deal with customers on the phone. You want to stand out from your competitors. This is a way to do it.

Finally, be patient. Creating the culture is not a sprint it’s a long distance race where you keep reinforcing the same lessons and methods.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating an Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is an important part of your training schedule. The handbook provides employees with a written guide to follow and refer to when they may have forgotten.

Creating an employee handbook can be a lot of work, which is why many businesses do not have a comprehensive handbook. My suggestion is that you write the handbook in small pieces. For example, a winery would write a one or two page summary of the vineyards and how the grapes are grown; another one or two pages can be dedicated to the information on how the wines are made, focusing on the information that will give customers facts they can take home with them. I start with these two things as most owners find these pages easy to write and you might as well start off with things that can be done quickly.

Next on the list, write a one-page mission, vision, and an overview of the company if you don’t already have that.

After that, a one-two page basic job description detailing the duties of each the position in the company. For example, sales and hospitality staff should be given information on the ins and outs of opening and closing, how to run the cash register, etc. You should also cover compensation, commissions, and how sales discounts work for customers.

General employee policies differ from state to state but information should be readily available on government websites. Consider employee policies such as attendance, benefits, vacation time, confidentiality, dress code, expectations, expense reporting (if applicable) work performance, discipline and termination factors.

One of the most important parts of an employee handbook is the information about the Customer Experience you expect each of your employees to provide to your guests and customers. This information should be available to everyone in the company whether they regularly come into contact with the public or not.

When you ensure that your employees understand what your expectations are, you are more likely to have your expectation met. For an outline of a suggested table of contents for an employee handbook, drop me an email at E@inshortmarketing.com and I will send one over to you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Do You Know Your Employees?

With the workloads that many managers and owners have these days, it is easy to lose touch with what your employees are doing, how they are treating customers and how they feel about the treatment they receive from management.

Even with all the work that has to be done, one of the most important parts of a manager’s job is keeping in touch with employees both as a group and individually, especially those who interface directly with customers. I am surprised when I see employees treat customers with indifference, and wonder whether it’s because they are treated the same way. That’s not always the case but it can add to the lack of customer service in a company.

One thing to remember is that positive interaction with employees usually takes some thought and attention. Think about the words you use when speaking with employees, your tone of voice and your body language. Make eye contact with employees. Work on your soft skills (see my blog from 12.12.17 for more information on soft skills) and your ability to connect with employees.

When you are looking for information from your employees, be aware of how you ask the questions and be specific about what you want to know. It is easy to misinterpret what people want of you, whether it is manger to employee or employee to manager.

When talking about policy changes, present your case in a positive and persuasive manner. Ask for feedback, listen carefully and receive it openly. Take your time when considering suggestions before you make any decisions on whether the ideas should be implemented or not. If you can test an employee’s suggestions, do so. Keep in mind, too, the tone of your online and distributed information and the effect it may have on employees.

Work on ways to relate to your employees, take the time to make small talk with them.

Show an interest in their lives and family and look for common ground. You may find that you have more in common with your staff that your thought.

The way you treat your employees is the same way your employees will treat your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Reviewing Your Customer Service

The beginning of the year is a good time to review your customer service and your customer retention. How did you do at holding on to customers in the past year? Who has dropped off the radar and why? Most managers know how many customers they gained over the past year, though less of them know how many customers they lost or why they lost these customers.

If your business has a slow time, those involved in customer service can spend this slower season going through customer records, finding out who has gone AWOL and picking up the phone to find out why. There are lots of reasons for customers to stop buying and not all of them have anything to do with your business or products. If customers have dropped away for personal reasons (illness, a lost job or a move for example) a phone call to tell them that you haven’t seen them for a while and hope everything is okay will make them feel appreciated and missed. That way, when their lives are back to normal, they will be back.

If the reason they have left you is because of a bad experience, the sooner you find out about it the better. Especially as 95% of consumers talk about poor customer service experiences with other people, though they probably won’t tell you.

The winter is also a good time to make changes that might be necessary or improve the experience you provide to guests and customers. Get together with key staff and define the ideal experience that you would like to deliver to your customers and guests. Give your employees the opportunity to present their ideas of how things can be improved. When employees have a hand in shaping the experience they are much more likely to follow the template that is created for the experience.

Once you have a new template for the customer experience, put in place processes that will promote the change. Train some of your employees to be mentors so that when you hire new staff in the spring, there is someone they can turn to for help and guidance if you are not available.

This work during the winter will pay off in increased sales and greater customer satisfaction come the busy season.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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New Year’s Resolutions

Another year is almost upon us. By next week it will be 2018. Hard to believe but here it’s time again for your New Year’s resolutions. This year make it a little easier on yourself by putting in at least one resolution that you absolutely know that you can accomplish.

One way to accomplish your goals is to give yourself some wiggle room. For instance, instead of saying I am going to completely stop doing something that is an ingrained habit, I plan on doing it less.

Here are a few resolutions that are on my list that you might also want to consider:

Allow 10 Minutes Each Day to Organize

My desk seems to have a mind of its own and, before I know, it the desk is full of miscellaneous pieces of paper. My resolution is to take 10 minutes each day to clean up the papers that are all over my desk from the day before.

Allow yourself the choice of when you are going to clean up your desk. I find it easier to clean up my desk first thing in the morning rather than in the evening. Choosing the time when I will do it makes it easier for me.

Cut Down on Procrastination

There are things that we have to do that we put off for days and then end up doing at the last minute. If my deadline is two weeks away, what I find helpful is to split big tasks into smaller sections.

Allow yourself the time to do one section, shelve the project until the next day then finish section two. I make sure I have a day at the end to double-check my work before the project is considered finished.

Reward Yourself

Allow yourself some small rewards when you accomplish a goal. I love to read so when I have finished something I allow myself to read an article I am interested in. Or I take a five or ten-minute walk. Both these things give me the break I need to put one thing behind me before I move on to the next.

When we are creating our New Year’s resolutions it’s important to take into consideration how likely we are to be able to keep them. Choose resolutions and structure them so you have a good chance of succeeding. This way, by March you can feel proud of what you have accomplished.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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