The Delusion of Competence

Delusion of Competence
If you have achieved almost any level of success, it’s very easy to get caught up in all the praise and exaltation. This can create what I call the Delusion of Competence. This is our tendency to Continue reading The Delusion of Competence

The Other Side of the Counter…

In this day and age of people knowing people personally, through networking, social events and even social media you don’t know who knows who, so our customer service had better be top notch: no excuses, no pointing fingers, everything above board because you don’t know who that person knows or who knows that person. We tend to judge the person by their dress, body language, language or accents, and often the look on their face in a one to one situation. Believe me, we can be very wrong. We hear about these types of interactions in some of the Christmas songs but how long does the message last? Does it go beyond the holiday season?
Let’s start with basic customer service in retail businesses. Most interactions are one on one between the associate and the customer. On the whole the interactions are good to great however we have to keep in mind how to handle those that are not. Let’s create a few examples.

Our customer comes in to buy a new pair of shoes. While most of your customers are happily hunting for something new to wear this person is very short and even snappy. “Just bring me some that are what I asked for.” He does not seem to be at all happy about shopping for shoes. You go to your co-workers and whisper about how grouchy he is and does another associate want to take care of him. You get some of the styles he is looking for and go back to find tears in his eyes. Asking whether there is anything you can do to help he says: “No. My mother just passed and I am buying shoes for her funeral.” How does that make you feel about your first reaction to him? You did not know his story.

My son works for an establishment popular in the area. He brings home stories of some of his more difficult customer interactions. I advised him of this concept that he does not know what their day has been like and to be the one to make it better if he can. He took a fresh look at how he was approaching the customers keeping in mind that at the moment with that person he WAS the store. He has become very good with his customer service even in the busiest of times making him associate of the month recently.

This can also be a two way street. We as customers do not know what kind of day it has been for the associate on the other side of the counter. I did a short time once between jobs in a grocery store deli. It was a physical job and took its toll on my back being on my feet all shift. There were times it was hard to put a smile on my face. Then a customer would come up and greet me by name with a bright smile and a sense of humor. That much interaction made my day a lot better. Learn to look at name tags and use the associates name whenever you can when doing your shopping. They may not remember you yet they will remember the kind interaction.

This also applies to co-workers and people you may supervise. I was in a leadership position once when an employee with a great quality record suddenly started making mistakes. After a few weeks I was advised to let her go. Instead I asked her if something was going on that was distracting her. Her story was she was being worked up for possible heart disease and was really worried about what the outcome would be. Knowing that I cared her quality went back up and it turned out her issue was not heart disease at all.

It is almost habitual that when we have a bad day we have all the proper reasons for it yet when someone else is having a bad day we blame them for everything under the sun! We have to keep in mind with our interactions, be they social or customer service, that everyone has a story. Things can be going on in their lives that have an effect on their daily lives. You have a story and may have some bad days because of it. How do you want to be treated? I hope with kindness and patience and the honor that is due you just for being alive today. Treat everyone with respect and kindness and you will get a lot more of it back. When you are treated poorly send out compassion—you don’t know what their story is.

Coach Judi Harris
Visionary Catalyst
Cirrus Business Group

Are You Creating a Culture of Entitlement?

America was built by men and women who came to this country to stand up on their own and create new opportunities for themselves in a free society.  The founders believed that people have the right to make a life of prosperity with their own talents and creative abilities and every family had to find its way.  There were no government given entitlements.  These strongly independent thinkers would turn over in their graves today if they saw what many of the people expect.  Yet many entitlements that are not even thought of as entitlements are expected:  health insurance (now REQUIRED), vacation pay, sick pay, family leave, and the list goes on.  I am not knocking what we have yet I and others do see some issues.

My research found this from FOX news:

“FOX News

Entitlements are two-thirds of the federal budget. Entitlement spending has grown 100-fold over the past 50 years. Half of all American households now rely on government handouts.

When we hear statistics like that, most of us shake our heads and mutter some sort of expletive. That’s because nobody thinks they’re the problem. Nobody ever wants to think they’re the problem.

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is, as long as we continue to think of the rising entitlement culture in America as someone else’s problem, someone else’s fault, we’ll never truly understand it and we’ll have absolutely zero chance of altering its dangerous course.

The truth is that America’s growing entitlement culture is far more pervasive than people realize. It’s also far more top-down than people realize. Indeed, the entitlement mindset that’s infecting America starts with our leadership, and not just in Washington, either.”

Let’s look at the small business world or the family owned business.  Take the example of a company of 50 employees that has been in business over 20 years. Joe has been there since nearly the beginning of the business.  In the past few years Joe’s work has slipped to a seemingly unacceptable level.  Yet because Joe has been there so long management feels he is entitles to keep the job and is doing nothing to try to change it.

How are the other less tenured employees feeling?  They are carrying extra load because Joe just sits back and does as little as possible.  He knows no one will fire him.   “How can he get away with that when if we worked like that we would be fired?  It’s just not fair.  I think I will just go look for another job.”  Off goes the “A” player and with him or her a lot of bad mouthing about the company.  Is this type of entitlement going on in your company–there could be any number of other reasons for it happening.

Here’s another example of what we see often.  Sue is young and just learning the business.  Her learning curve is slow and she really shows little interest in the business.  She would rather party  But she is the owner’s daughter and therefore “entitled” to the job.  Again, what are the other 49 employees thinking?  Same as above.

Considering the loss of productivity because of under performance, work overload on others, turnover, rework because of mistakes and more, these are a very costly situations.

These are not the only ways a company may be creating a feeling of entitlement that is hurting the company, but they are two examples we see often in our practice.

What have you seen? Your comments are invited and please keep them related to the topic!

Personal Development and Business Development

As a consulting company focused on the development of businesses we have realized in no uncertain terms that a business that is focused solely on the business and not on the needs of the people is doomed to failure.  Along with the business development side of things, we at the Cirrus Business Group have a strong focus on human talent development, and this part of the business is growing rapidly with more offerings in this area.

It does not matter what the size of the business is; there is a need for personal development in every business. An entrepreneur with a strong technical skill must develop him/herself as a person and gain business skills to run the business side along with the technical side of the business.  This goes for small and micro businesses as well.  We have programs specifically designed to meet the need for this personal development.

A larger business may need team and management development along with the personal development. Learning leadership and management skills is a must, however, if the leader is struggling with the personal side of life a lot of the effectiveness can be lost.  Our coaches are trained to sort through the personal side with the coachee while also assisting the business to grow.

Most big businesses do not address this side of their business at all. Just looking at the turnover rate goes a long way to show what is missing, and exit interviews are a must.  The exit interview is where the understanding of why people leave comes from and it is often they are leaving their manager, not the company. Providing the employee at all levels with personal development opportunities can help to slow down the revolving door. When the person understands him/herself and others better, and has opportunities within the company to support their necessary life adjustments, they feel supported and will stay longer. Having a confidential personal coach for one-on-one work is a great investment.

When you look at the most successful large businesses you will find those companies are investing in their people. They see this need and fill it.  The investment in the people actually slows the turnover and saves money.  Turnover is very expensive.  When you look at the loss of experience, cost of recruitment and on-boarding, training and ramp-up time for every employee lost, especially at the senior levels, the cost of personal development and a coach seems to be a most effective way to go.  A third party coach that is not actually on company staff may be the most effective since he/she is looking from the outside in with no vested interest in the company.

We at the Cirrus Business Group have certified, trained coaches to develop the employees from the business side and the personal side. Many leaders believe the two must be kept separate.  It is not possible.  Employees are people first.

The Value of Personality Assessments

What if you knew the work style of every employee in your company? How do you think that might change the work environment and culture? If you are like most employers you have never even thought about it.

We find many times in the workplace there is conflict from clashing personalities. Sometimes people are put into positions for which they are not ideally suited.  We have all heard the stories of people being promoted beyond their capabilities.  Not every personality type is suited for leadership even if they are the best at what they have been doing. Do you thing knowing their types and inherent approach to the world would help to understand these situations? We do.  In fact we base our work on it.

There are several different assessments for learning the personality styles and temperaments. The work goes as far back as Hippocrates and is as modern as DiSC styles and the work of David Keirsey’s KTS II Temperament Sorter.  In most of them it comes down to 4 basic styles and all assessments come to the same basic characteristics for each style. There can be differences between the styles that are so strong that much conflict comes from this alone.  When one studies the personality styles of a whole company and see which DiSC style each uses one can see where the most likely clashes will happen and can see the make-up of each team and indeed the entire company.  When this information is charted and posted in a common area of the workplace all employees have the ability to see the styles of others and can understand them from a new point of view.

Does your company deserve to know this information? We think so.  Let the Cirrus Business Group come in and provide this information through the assessments and company-wide workshops.  You will see a rapid improvement of the interactions of the employees and the teams.

Difficult Conversations – Executive Challenges Town Hall

Difficult Conversations

Sooner or later we all end up having to have a difficult conversation with a peer or key employee. While they are rarely easy, handled well, these can be some of the most productive conversations had in the organization. Chris Reese, Judy Harris, Martha Kanaday, and Angela Jergler of Cirrus Business Group share several things you can do to protect yourself and the organization.

Making Your Company Great

Making Your Company Great

I recently reviewed again the work of Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great.  It was a great reminder that getting your company and its people to mastery is not simple nor is it quick. It takes vision, time and above all uncommon discipline and persistence.  Many companies are looking for that magic bullet, the quick fix, to turn them around.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Collins relates it to the egg.  Nobody really notices the egg just sitting there until one day there is a crack in it and out jumps a chick.  The headlines are “Stunning Turnaround at Egg” and everyone is talking.  But look at what was happening inside the egg for those 21 days.  It was growing and developing, taking shape until it was ready to hatch.  Maybe a bit silly but none the less an example we can relate to.  The companies in their study that were determined to be great had such a story.

These companies were willing to take a hard look at their current state of affairs and make changes in critical areas including their people.  The made clear decisions about who was in the company and only the A-players were on board.  They had a clear vision, a clear why, and used that uncommon discipline and persistence to drive the “what” and the “how”.

Momentum builds slowly and with a lot of effort.  The fly-wheel was hard to get going.  There was a lot of the inertia of a body at rest to overcome.  While it looked like not much was happening to the outside world these companies were getting into momentum with the right people and vision.

The leaders of these companies kept things simple: one core focus that all systems revolved around.  They had such belief in the vision that they did whatever was necessary to become a great company that is a great place to work.

A great company, small or large, must buy into these beliefs.  Within our client engagements we look at the business vision, culture, people, systems and more.  We help them to understand what a team at mastery level is and help them to get there. We help the people be their best by understanding themselves and others better.  We believe that every organization wants to be a healthy organization that is a great place to work.  No company starts out to be mediocre or even good.  They want to be great, yet many times lack the tools and experience to get there.  They are also often too close to the business to see the path forward.

That’s why all organizations wanting to be great need a coach.  Who is yours?

Creating Your Strategic Plan

Creating your strategic plan is a primary duty as a business leader.  All businesses big or small need to have a strategic plan, but what is it anyway? Chris Reese and Judi Harris explain what a strategic plan is and share some tips on what that plan should include.

Original Air Date – January 4, 2013 | BIZ1190 AM | Atlanta, GA

Build Your Farm Team

Recruiting quality talent is a topic that is top of mind with CEOs.  Without a solid bench of talent, business growth is a scary thing.  Chris and Judi offer some great tips for building your farm team as they visit with Phillip Saxton in this podcast.

Original Air Date – December 28th, 2013 | BIZ1190 AM | Atlanta, GA