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Tag Archives: Education and Training

Empowering Your Workforce: Bringing Your Company Together through Thought Leadership

downloadBy: Mitchell Levy

Thought leadership is often viewed by marketers as a platform that is focused externally. But while thought leadership is an effective means of influencing customers, it’s also a very successful way of empowering employees.

Over the last decade, various organizations have shifted their policy towards encouraging employee empowerment. Studies have shown that organizations with empowered employees perform better than their competitors by up to 202%. Empowered employees are known to be more engaged, inspired and productive in their work. They are more likely to take initiative and are expected to last longer within the company.

Though thought leadership is a great tool for spreading your brand message, it can also be used as an effective means of empowering your staff from inside your organization.

How Thought Leadership Empowers Your Employees

Influence is the currency of thought leadership. That’s because an effective thought leader can have a profound effect on the people they influence. As a tool for change, influence has a longer lasting effect than simply giving out orders on the office floor or through e-mail. It can refocus your company and empower your entire workforce. Here are just a few of the ways thought leadership can empower your employees:

 Thought Leadership allows employees to see the bigger picture of the organization by sharing the company’s long term goals and long standing principles.
 Thought Leadership encourages employees to excel at their responsibilities, inspiring them to come up with solutions that allow them to go above and beyond their roles.
 Thought Leadership provides employees incentives outside of monetary gain. They understand the larger, more intangible goals of the organization: success, satisfaction and service.
 Thought Leadership allows employees to discover the importance of their roles in the organization. It allows them to see the worth in their actions and become proud of their accomplishments.

This is why thought leadership should help influence the organizational culture beyond one that is geared towards customers, but one also focused on staff and employees. The infusion of thought leadership into an organization’s culture can unite and empower the organization.

Empowerment through Influence

As mentioned earlier, influence is the currency of thought leadership. But to gain influence over your employees, it’s important to equip them with the right tools, skills, and responsibilities to make sure they perform to the best of their professional abilities.

On average, only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their work. While managers can increase salaries, improve benefits, and promote key staff, nothing takes the place of genuine leadership.

Thought leadership utilizes edu-training tools that empower your workforce by making them advocates of the organization. These internal initiatives provide insight and ideas that are of value to employees. They are activities and platforms that help inspire the staff and bring the organization together. Whether it’s through an internal social media platform, speaking, training or other forms of internal communication, these are all means of introducing a culture of empowerment into the organization.

Followers are the lifeblood of any thought leader, but followers can be found inside as well as outside of the organization. In truth, empowered employees are the most effective followers of all. They look to their leaders for more than just their next pay check. They look to them for inspiration and ideas.

About the Author: Mitchell Levy is the CEO and Thought Leader Architect at THiNKaha who has created and operated fifteen firms and partnerships since 1997. Today, he works with companies who are active in social media to leverage their IP and unlock the expertise of the employee base to drive more business. He is also an Amazon bestselling author with eighteen business books, including the recently released #Creating Thought Leaders tweet. Mr. Levy has provided strategic consulting to over 100 companies and has advised over 500 CEOs on critical business issues. Get a free copy of his latest ebook at http://mitchelllevy.com.

 

 

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Unreasonable clients: Who gets your best work?

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by Seth Godin -

If you reserve your best effort for the irritable boss, the never-pleased client and the bully of a customer, then you’ve bought into a system that rewards the very people who are driving you nuts. It’s no wonder you have clients like that–they get your best work.

On the other hand, when you make it clear (and then deliver) on the promise that your best work goes to those that are clear, respectful and patient, you become a specialist in having customers just like that.

One of the largest turning points of my career was firing the client who accounted for a third of my company’s work. We were becoming really good at tolerating the stress that came from this engagement, and it became clear to me that we were about to sign up for a lifetime of clients like that.

Set free to work for those that we believed deserved our best work, we replaced the lost business in less than six months.

Years ago, I heard the story of a large retail financial services company that did the math and discovered that fewer than 5% of their customers were accounting for more than 80% of their customer service calls–and less than 1% of their profit. They sent these customers a nice note, let them know that they wouldn’t be able to service them properly going forward, and offered to help them transfer their accounts to a competitor. With the time freed up, they could then have their customer service people double down on the customers that actually mattered to them… grease, but without the squeaky wheel part.

No, you can’t always fire those that are imperious or bullies. But yes, you can figure out how to dig even deeper for those that aren’t. That means you won’t take advantage of their good nature, or settle for giving them merely what they will accept. Instead, you treat the good guys with even more effort and care and grace than you ever would have exerted for the tyrants.

The word will spread.

[The other alternative is a fine one, if you're up for it... specialize in the worst possible clients and bosses, the least gratifying assignments. You'll stand out in an uncrowded field! The mistake is thinking you're doing one and actually doing neither by doing both.]

 

 

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How To Become A Better Leader

Warren Buffett Speaks At Economic Club Of WashingtonIn every aspect of life social skills can make or break your plans. You have to be able to handle people in a positive way if you intend on doing many of the fulfilling opportunities available in life. Whether we are talking about romance, friends, family, or even work social skills are a key component in your individual happiness as well as the happiness of those around you. By learning how to handle each of those areas socially you are essentially learning some of the key aspects to being not just successful in those individual areas but leadership as well. Consider the essential area in which leaders must shine, being likable. Your abilities can only be helped by increasing your ability to lead and throughout this article we will discuss how to improve your leadership capabilities.

Listen

Often overlooked, listening is a critical part of any good leader. Being able to stop talking to others and simply opening your ear and giving them your time creates an environment in which those under your direction feel like a part of the team. This can increase their willingness to put in extra hours, or even higher quality output for any work you may have them complete. Even those in high executive positions are still required to lend an ear to their consumers. The possibility of missing out on a golden opportunity because you were too busy concentrating on what you perceive to be the problem can be costly.

Story Telling

When most people think back to memories of inspirational and unforgettable people within their own lives they remember a story. The greatest leaders knew how to tell unforgettable tales that create a shared memory. This bond can easily drive and motivate people into action. Good story telling can captivate friends, engage and motivate employees, and create a sense of romance for your significant other that roses and chocolate couldn’t hope to match.

Be Honest

Honesty is an essential no brainer to me in every aspect of life. Simple matter of it is that even if you don’t want to lead a group of people honesty is expected. In that sense it’s also an essential building block for being an effective leader. By being honest and admitting flaws and mistakes you are showing that you are aware of the problems. Burying your head in the sand will discourage your employees and endanger your goals.

Transparency

Secret arrangements are bound to fail in this day and age. Everything is available online and rumors are leaked out on an almost constant basis. Engaging in secrets and private deals will only serve to hurt your chances. Establishing transparency will protect you from rumors and backtalk that could effectively undermine your ability to lead.

Team Player

Getting your hands dirty in the work that you are actively telling others to do is a team playing move and a sign of a truly involved and caring leader. Show those that you are working with that you are just as equally committed to your vision as you expect them to be. Team efforts can change the world, don’t just order people around, and challenge them!

Finger on the Pulse

Great leaders keep an eye on every event they can in an effort to be fully prepared for any reaction they may need to carry out. This effort on your part as the leader will foster a culture of responsiveness as those under your guidance will begin to understand the value of keeping an eye out for any problems. It also shows that you aren’t just bossing people around and that this isn’t just about having a title of authority.

Flexibility

Life is constantly throwing out curve balls providing challenges that could sink your efforts. Be flexible with your plans and learn how to navigate each issue as its own issue. Don’t get stuck in a single mindset as it will degrade your ability to effectively lead people. The moment those around you feel that you are oblivious to the changes going on around is the moment you lost your team. No one wants to stick around for failure and neither should you.

Excitement

Leaders need to do more than simply tell others how to act. You need to motivate through means beyond being a decent human being. Surprise those that you lead with special events that truly let them see how much you actually appreciate the work they do for you. A simple tactic that is very powerful in leading others is to under promise and over deliver. Disappointment can create a negative environment that sinks other people into it. Over delivering avoids that issue by eliminating the possibility of disappointment.

KISS

The age old adage of keep it simple stupid applies to more than just first dates. Powerful leaders were able to disseminate visionary ideas in simple ways thus reaching larger audiences. Consider something as necessary as your work plans for your employees. If you give each employee a twelve page long stack of text and expect them to understand everything you present then expect to confuse them. If you make an effort to simplify the materials you provide those under with then you will be greasing the wheels so to speak. People want simplicity in design, form and function. Provide them with it and they will be grateful.

Be Thankful

Modesty is crucial in establishing and maintaining long lasting leadership. Leaders that can truly appreciate and reward those that put forth solid efforts are given full effort time and time again. Every cog in the machine is important and you don’t want to be sunk by something as easily avoidable as a disgruntled employee. Remember to thank those that help you live out your vision.

Eduardo Dieguez is a creative writer for CareerRelay.com. He is a 1st generation American born Cuban that is currently in pursuit of his AA Degree at Valencia CC. Eduardo believes one of most important questions you will ask yourself is: what career is right for me?

 

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Building Work Teams That are Successful

 

Most every job in every place of employment stresses the idea of team work. They discuss building teams and working in teams. But discussing and doing are two different things. There are actually not many people who really understand how to develop an effective work team. In order to do so there are a few good tips you should follow in order to be successful in team building. This is a very important aspect in many different businesses and fields so learn all that you can to stay on top of your game.

Tip 1: Make your expectations clearly understood. Ask yourself the following questions: does each member of my team know what is expected of them? Do they know exactly why the team was built in the first place? If the answer is no then you have not done a very good job of team building. Before anything else can happen the way it should, each team member must know exactly why they are there and what they are to do for the team and the company. If they do not, it is well past time to sit them down and have a serious discussion about these things. Until you do the team will be nothing but a figurehead that has no specific reason for being.

Tip 2: Assess the competence of your team. Do you feel that each team member is participating appropriately? Do they have the experience and knowledge to successfully contribute to the team as a whole? Do they have access to everything they could possibly need to get the work done that the team was created to do? All of these things are vital to the success of your team. It must be built upon competence.

Tip 3: Empowerment and freedom are both important aspects to team building and team work. What are the boundaries of each team member? What is the extent of their power to find solutions? If there are any sort of limitations they should be set forth at the very beginning of the team building process so that there is no confusion in the future. Giving too much freedom and empowerment will not go over well in the end, but giving too little will stifle the team members who will not be happy in their work or their place.

Tip 4: Collaboration is also important when it comes to working well as a team. Without it there will be no real team work happening. Each member must know and understand what their individual role is so there is no confusion. There must be a recorder so all information during meetings is lost of forgotten. This person is the minute taker. If money is involved there must be a treasurer installed. The process of problem solving should also be well thought out and executed by all team members equally.

By following these tips you will find it easier to hand pick the best ones for your team and have a team that is on board with the entire group with the success of the company at the heart of everything.

Simon Johnson is a team building (interesting to know is that the Danish term is teambuilding) expert, sharing his great tips online and currently working for a Danish coaching company – Attractor.

 

 

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The Ten Steps to Achieving Enlightenment in Customer Service

It really does not matter what industry you are in, or whether you provide a service or a product, the essential tenements of customer service are the same.

The first and more natural form of customer service is reactive.  It consists of the following progression:

  1. You receive a complaint or are somehow made aware of dissatisfaction.  It is imperative to respond quickly, without excuses, and honestly.
  2. This phase is essentially about listening, showing empathy, and trying to ascertain what the customer expectations were and how the customer perceives they were not met.  It is imperative to detail and documents what the customer has been promised, by whom, and in what timeframe.
  3. Then you need to get the customer to agree on what an acceptable outcome would be moving forward.
  4. Now is the time for research, you need to go back to your service providers, compare the information given to you by the customer and ask them honestly for their version of what happened.
  5. Comparing version A (customer) with version B (supplier) it is then up to you to determine how get from A to B in such a way it that the customer perceives the original expectations have been fulfilled or exceeded.
  6. This is where it gets really fun.  A really great customer service Rep is nothing but a problem solver.  If you look at it as doing the minimum to get your complaining customer to shut up, you’re missing boat.  To me there was no greater satisfaction and being able to take a completely unhappy customer and making them so delighted with the process that they become the biggest advocate for your company or service.
  7. Here the selling goes both ways, but at this stage it usually negotiating with the service provider to get them to agree the original expectations that were promised to the customer, what resources are required to reasonably get those expectations fulfilled, and agree on how soon that can happen.
  8. Communication on both sides is critical.  The side that usually fall short, is keeping the customer abreast of the day-to-day efforts you are making, and progress that is happening on his behalf.
  9. When you believe that you have resolved all the issues, restored performance to meet the customer’s expectations, it is crucially important to have the customer agree.  Most often they will be very appreciative, and happy to document the turnaround and all the efforts made on their behalf to make things right.  This is when they become not only good references, but advocates and the subject for testimonials.
  10. The last step in the process is to return to your supplying team, share with them the success of your customer service effort, their part in it, how much you appreciate them, and if possible name them specifically and the customer testimonial.

After repeating the steps many many times, the process becomes second nature.  A truly enlightened supplier will by nature intuit this procedure.  When this happens one can predict many of the steps of this process and create a similar set of positive customer experiences proactively.

Although in a perfect world predictive customer service would preempt much of the pain and duplication of efforts, and the steps outlined above.  In actual practice sometimes it is actually a benefit to walk a customer through the steps of pain, to endear them.  As they say “the selling begins when the customer says no,” so sometimes endearing yourself to a customer begins when you really blow it, then make it right.

In my former life as a Semiconductor Capital Equipment salesman, I walked into a situation where we were eight months behind on a one year  $2,000,000 retrofit program.  It took me almost a year to get everything cleaned up, and within a few months after that I ended up selling them an additional $14,000,000 worth of equipment.

 

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Top Tips for Ensuring Your Customers Come Back Again and Again

Finding new customers can be an expensive and time consuming process.  You need to figure out where to advertise to reach them, build up brand awareness, and then persuade them to trust you enough that they’ll hand over their money to you.  You could invest in thousands of ad impressions, get a lot of visitors and a fair few calls and emails, but end up seeing only a handful of sales for all your work.  Depressing, isn’t it?

That’s why it’s so important to look after your existing customers.  You’ve already built up brand awareness and trust with them, so they’re much more likely to buy your product, or hire your services again.  What can you do to keep your existing customers happy?

Reward Loyalty

Rewarding loyalty doesn’t have to mean starting your own loyalty card or points scheme, although you could do something like that if you run an online store that attracts a lot of smaller, repeat purchases.  There are other things you can do.  Offer a special discount to people who have purchased from you recently, or give your regular customers some little “added extras” with your next order.  If you have a customer that has been buying from you regularly for a long time, send them a token gift to commemorate their 50th purchase. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you show your customers that you appreciate them.

Prioritize Customer Service

Good customer service should be your top priority from the outset; not only because quality customer service is an important part of crisis prevention, but because the quality of your customer service will be noticed during good times too. People don’t always call customer service with a complaint – sometimes they call with a question, or even to leave a compliment.  You don’t want to sour the tone of a happy customer by having their first interaction with your customer service department be 25 minutes of hold music.

Communicate When Things Go Wrong

No matter how carefully crafted your crisis prevention plan is, it’s inevitable that one day, something will go horribly wrong, and the effectiveness of your business crisis management skills will be tested.  When that day comes, you want to make sure that you win your customers over.  Most people will be understanding when they find out that there’s a problem – as long as you communicate effectively and work with your customer to fix the problem in the best way for both of you.   Be open, honest, and flexible, and you could earn yourself a valuable ally thanks to your communication skills.

Be Human

Dealing with faceless corporations is not pleasant.  The simple act of being human, and treating your customers as humans (rather than entries in a CRM database) will inspire loyalty in a lot of people.  It’s easy to get caught up in paperwork, invoices, spreadsheets, and crisis prevention plans when you’re running a business.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that your customers are real people, and that sometimes a personal touch is appreciated.

This post was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of Insignia who can advise you on crisis prevention and business crisis management. Photo: Victor1558

 

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