To take care of ourselves, we need to get back the basics –healthy eating, plenty of exercise, and plenty of rest. The same holds true for business. I suggest there are three “basics” that can give your team and organization a consistently high competitive edge in their service level. Here’s one basic:
Smile – Isn’t it amazing what a simple smile can do to help brighten someone’s day? A smile says “I’m glad you are here,” “Thank you for calling,” (Yes, you can tell if someone is smiling on the phone), and “You are important to me.” Observe your workplace, especially those who are serving customers front-line and see how many people are smiling. It’s a simple gesture but can mean so much to a customer.
“A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” (William Hazlitt)
Phyllis Diller “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Stay tuned for the next 2 blogs that will cover the other basics.
The Chick-Fil-A Leadercast that was held on May 4th of 2012 was all about choices – and how the choices we make will determine the leaders that we ultimately become. John Maxwell, leadership expert and best-selling author and author of his latest book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” (which will be released October 2012), talked about the choice we make every day on self-improvement.
I have been thinking of these two issues: the value of daily discipline and the benefit of intentionally pursuing self-growth. Let me talk about one of these – the value of daily discipline. My next blog will focus on the importance of self-improvement. John Maxwell says that the law of diminishing returns comes to play when we aren’t doing something daily. “We don’t do what we should do – it is less likely that we will do it.”
Anne Ambrose, a pioneer in televised physical fitness and one of the nation’s most successful wellness authorities, (and graduate of California State University, Long Beach – Go Beach!) – recently was quoted in the Spring 2012 issue of Breach Review (the magazine of California State University, Long Beach), “I make sure I get a good 30 minutes of exercise every single day, getting my heart rate up, stretching and toning. It could be fast walking one day, yoga the next day, or using light weights.”
What can you do on a daily basis to increase your effectiveness at work and your vitality in your energy and life? Reading Anne’s quote, I’ve decided to increase my exercise activity from 3-5 times a week – to every day! What about you?
Another benefit of stories especially telling and hearing stories from others is that stories connect us with each other. Certainly our lives are a story and we can learn a lot about ourselves, and others, by ‘telling and listening” to stories. By listening to stories, we are providing a safe place for work colleagues, friends and family to be who they really are! By telling our stories, we provide people an opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
Who in your life can you ask to “tell you their story?” There are hundreds of people in rest homes with real-life stories who just need someone to listen to them. Who can you tell your story to? There are people who desire an opportunity to get new glimpses into your own life.
Each of us has a story. Each of us is a story. Who will you share yours with?
Victoria Day, is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25th, in honor of Queen Victoria’s Birthday. This year, Victoria Day lands on May 21st. Since this holiday honors Queen Victoria – who was she?
Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. Following the death of three uncles and her father, she became Queen of the United Kingdom on June 20, 1837 and reigned until her death on January 22, 1901. Victoria is still the longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. During Victoria’s life, the British Empire expanded considerably.
Let us today – celebrate with our Canadian brothers and sisters – Victoria Day – as we honor Queen Victoria!
As an entrepreneur, many of my days are filled with client commitments, meetings, training preparation, client proposals, writing Blog entries, and doing bookkeeping… I could go on and on. To some extent, every day is different, depending upon if I’m in the office or working with a client. However, the more that I work in my business (and on my business); the more and more value I see in establishing and maintaining some sort of routine. Without systems or processes or “rules”, I can forget important things! Checklists are also an easy way to remember what needs to be done – even for those tasks that we are pretty comfortable with. Regardless if you are a small business owner, individual contributor, or team leader, these checklist ideas may help you reduce your stress and increase your workplace efficiency:
- Write a checklist for those tasks you do frequently. For example, when I prepare for a training program, I need to do several things, including, discover training needs, write an outline, create participant materials, develop slides, and design customized case studies. With checklists, I can estimate how long these activities will take – which helps me plan more effectively.
- Review your checklists with others. A friend and colleague in the training field will be sending me her checklist – I may want to incorporate some of her ideas in my process. I will send her my checklist!
- Update your checklist as needed. Sometimes certain activities can be automated, or delegated to an assistant or even assigned to a team member, or even deleted altogether! Other times, we need to add important tasks to our checklists. Be sure to update your checklist – deleting or adding items as needed.
You can experience more freedom (and carve out more time) when you follow checklists - enabling you to focus on creative brainstorming - something that many of us never seem to get around to doing!
You’ve heard of the adage, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” On this Valentine’s Day, it is a great reminder to ask yourself, “When was the last time I showed my customers, staff members, team members, that I care?”
During a recent three-day supervisory class that I facilitated for Washington state governmental employees, I was impressed with how many leaders talked about the human side of leadership. In the midst of technology, changing priorities, and budget cuts, they recognized how important it was for them to show their team that they cared – about each team member individually and about how each person’s role positively impacted the success of their team.
On this holiday and throughout the year, here are three practical ways to show you care:
- Say thank you – One of the best ways to show we care is to express our gratitude. In our instant message society, receiving a handwritten note means a lot. A sincere thank you – whether written or spoken, tells an employee, “I notice and what you do – matters.”
- Acknowledge extra efforts – Think about a team member who always goes above and beyond. Ideally, all your team members have this kind of attitude and extra commitment but practically speaking, there are some people who just do more than others. Show you care about that person’s contribution by acknowledging that person’s efforts. Or how about a former low performing employee who has successfully achieved his or her goals? Show you care about this person by acknowledging this person’s efforts.
- Recognize all employees – Many times, we can’t do a lot with extra salary or benefits but what we can do is recognize every person’s impact. Take the time to show you care by making sure team members know their impact to your team’s goals.
In November of last year, I joined another master mind group. I am such a big fan of master mind groups because they provide the needed accountability to help me accomplish what I need to for moving my business (and life) forward. A master mind group is a community who provide support and accountability. The individuals don’t need to belong to your industry but who share your intentionality to achieve. Most effective master mind groups have the following elements:
- Regular meetings (once a week. Twice a month)
- Clear expectations (fines for not writing your goals, fines for not accomplishing your goals, fines for missed meetings)
- Committed individuals who are supportive.
From one my master mind buddies:
I just wanted to say how stoked I am to be part of your Mastermind group! I can really feel it – we are going to move ground this year! Wahoo! I so look forward to working with both of you and watching our business explode in 2012! We are really going to rock!
I want you to know that regardless of how 2011 was for you and your business, take a moment today to bless it and let it go. I wish you a very prosperous, wildly successful and joyful 2012!
With support like this – how can we not be successful!
Years ago, I picked up a small book entitled, “Simplify your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things that Really Matter by Elaine St. James (Hyperion, 1994). This book contains practical ways to simplify our lives in our household, Life style, finances, job, health, personal life with a concluding chapter on “hard core simplicity.” I believe the philosophy of simplify can help us live out with the “one thing at a time” attitude because as we get make our lives less complicated and cluttered, we can be freed up for innovation, creativity, and enthusiasm. If we’ve stopped and analyzed the “why” of the task, and stepped back and seen the task in light of how this task fits in with our organizations or team’s goals, we can simplify. Simplify means that we can make our lives less cluttered and complicated by eliminating things that we just do out of habit, boredom (they call this busy work) or because “that is just the way we’ve always done this.” Author Elaine St. James in her chapter on “Work Less and Enjoy It More” cut back on her workday by 10 percent by scheduling her day to end an hour earlier. What she realized is so applicable to us. In her words, “I found that I had fallen into the trap of believing that I had to do everything today, or at the very least, by tomorrow, so I was constantly working under unnecessary pressure, which is no fun.” She learned how to prioritize calls, set up more realistic time-frames for project completion dates, and build time (for interruptions) in her schedule.
I hope that these 3 S’s have made you reflect upon your current work habits and I encourage you to STEP, STEP BACK, and SIMPLIFY your work and home life so as Elaine St. James says, “not to deny yourself the things you want, but to free yourself from the things you don’t want. “
How many times I forget this! When I feel bombarded with a myriad of things to do, courses of action I could take, or just a time crunch – I need to remind myself to: stop, step back, and simplify my life by focusing on one thing. Studies show that multi tasking is not effective and productive. Whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, these “3 S’s” can help you radically reduce your stress and increase your focus.
STOP- I was coaching a woman on her resume and she mentioned what she asks her daughter on a consistent basis: “Why are you doing this?” This question has stuck with me and I ask this same question to myself. When I do take the time to reflect on my answer, I usually find out that deep down below the surface, the answers to the question “Why are you doing that?’ revolve around the following: it feels good to check it off my list, I don’t actually feel like accomplishing on my goals, it takes too long, I can’t get started…”
Stop encourages us to ask the “why” question. We may find that the answer makes sense and we continue with that task. But more often than not, we may find ourselves switching directions and working on a higher priority item that will move our work lives, careers, home lives or relationship going forward.
Stay tuned for my next Blog Posting will focus on the 2nd S – “Step Back”
James Thurber said “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” (James Thurber was an American author and cartoonist and was best known for his cartoons and short stories published in The New Yorkermagazine). What a reminder to all of us that it is not necessarily the solutions but the questions that lead to inner discovery, awareness, and change. Indeed, this same philosophy undergirds my coaching philosophy – every client is seen as a fully capable and whole person with unique insights, dreams, and goals. My job as a coach is to help that person discover his or her potential by asking powerful questions that can lead to true transformation – and growth. Here is a sample of some of the kinds of questions that I use in my coaching practice:
- What does it mean for you to live in authenticity?
- What barriers do you anticipate?
- What is your biggest concern about….
- What does team mean to you?
- Of all the things on your list, which one do you want to tackle today?
Consider using a question the next time a staff member asks you for help on a problem or issue in the workplace. Asking a question provides the opportunity for individuals to come up with the answer and they will more likely be bought into implementing the action since they are the ones who came up with the answer! Coaching your staff in this way also develops them and relieves you of the pressure of finding all the solutions!