How Can Coaching Help Your Small Business?

Sandra Dillon: May 18, 2018


At times people reference business and executive coaching interchangeably without realizing they are quite different. Each contributes its own value, and when pursued together, these two types of coaching can accelerate performance. Sometimes small business owners have difficulty understanding how their leadership styles and certain competencies limit their business’s success, because they are too involved in the daily operations of the company. For this reason, executive coaching for the leader and business coaching for the team can be a powerful investment.

What is Business Coaching?

A business coach works with the leadership and their teams to define vision, mission, and/or goals that the company wants to achieve—more commonly thought of as the coaching objectives. Business coaching is typically lead by coach who has a firm understanding of the various moving parts of business (i.e. finance, operations, marketing, customer service, and sales) and how they come together to deliver a product or service that attracts target customers. A business coach doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in the industry but should have a working knowledge of how successful businesses operate.

The coach works with the team to gather data and help evaluate the company’s operations, systems, people structures, and communications, looking for obstacles to remove, more effective methods to deploy, and resources required to improve the organization’s effectiveness.  The coach may help the team:

  • paint an accurate picture of the internal and competitive landscapes
  • help leadership perform a gap analysis from where the company stands to where it wants to go
  • develop or modify processes and systems that enhance the business operations
  • brainstorm and select a strategy
  • create a plan with a schedule of critical milestones
  • provide facilitation and accountability

Leadership decides what they do, how fast, and how involved they want the coach during the different phases of execution.

In many cases, hiring a coach to help identify the root causes of underperformance is worth the cost. You’ve likely heard the expression that sometimes it’s lonely at the top. As leaders rise in the ranks, they typically don’t receive all or accurate information of what needs to be addressed within their company. A business coach can help uncover the facts, so a company has a firm understanding with what they are dealing.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching deals with the worldview, thoughts, and behaviors of a leader and how these impact his team and ultimately business performance. Executive coaching focuses on what the leader needs to acquire, shed, or change in order to achieve a personal goal, move the company in a specific direction, or prepare him for another role. Leaders will usually be coached in one or more of the following areas:

  • Identifying and developing personal strengths
  • Minimizing overuse of a strength where it may become detrimental
  • Understanding leadership style and enhancing leadership skills
  • Developing a professional presence
  • Improving collaboration and communication
  • Driving successful team behaviors

In many cases, success is proven by how people respond to the executive. Although executive coaching implies a high-ranking individual in a large organization, executive coaching is very appropriate for a small business owner. I prefer the label “professional” as opposed to “executive” coaching, because everyone can benefit from individual coaching.

What Impact Can Coaching Have?

Leaders influence work processes, cultures, and how employees feel about themselves, their work, and their employer. How employees feel is reflected in how they treat their colleagues, vendors, and customers as well as how they speak about their employer. Leaders who embrace the coaching process can realize higher self-fulfillment, see their business thrive, and have greater impact on their employees and community.

Coaching can help with:

  1. Focusing on structure/boundaries/performance issues to increase productivity while creating a positive working environment
  2. Reducing or creating processes that make doing business more efficient
  3. Empowering employees to deliver a more positive customer experience
  4. Changing leadership behaviors to reduce organizational anxiety and increase focus on what’s most important
  5. Increasing collaboration and communication to build alignment and drive faster execution
  6. Creating a more positive working culture that draws in talented employees, customers, and strategic partnerships

Executive coaching is for leaders who want to lead their businesses well. Sometimes the most effective approach is for small business owners to commit to an executive coach and then move into business coaching with their team.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in business and leadership. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people and be the best versions of themselves and see businesses thrive. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Improve How You Communicate at Work

Sandra Dillon: May 13, 2018


CommunicationMen and women generally have different styles of communication, and when one appreciates and works with these language differentiators, they can help lead their teams to higher performance levels. Across all relationships, men tend to use their words to work through and solve problems; whereas, women are more likely than men to share their feelings to feel better about their problems and build connection. Women tend to talk out their process, while men think out their process before sharing with a group. Not surprisingly, studies show women use about 3 times more words than men do in a given day—20,000 versus 7,000. Statistics may highlight how differently men and women communicate, but they don’t capture how these differences can result in biased judgment. Sometimes judgment can lead to unintentional discrimination in the forms of exclusion from teams and projects as well as subjective performance evaluations based on behaviors that don’t resonate with the evaluator.

Hedging Language Undermines the Message

Did you know that women are interrupted 3 times more than men? Why is that? Ideally everyone should be respectful in allowing others to finish sharing their thoughts, but this isn’t always the case. I believe women tend to undermine their own success in the workplace, when they use hedging language—setups that do not offend or words that soften their position. People who use hedging language find themselves routinely starting their sentences with:

  • I think, but I’m not sure…
  • I hope you can see my point of….
  • I could be wrong, but…

Some men also use this type of language and suffer the same consequences. However, women tend use hedging language more, because they have been culturalized since childhood to be relationship builders. Another expression of the hedger is saying “I’m sorry” when “excuse me” is more appropriate for the situation. These “starters” and “phrases” don’t set people up for success in the work environment, because they discount the idea that follows.

Who Needs to Change?

Most people prefer that others communicate in the style they do; however, I propose that every employee has an obligation to communicate in a way that honors the company’s culture and colleagues without violating their own values. Employees should assess the work landscape and intentionally adjust their natural communication style to support the success of the company, business, or team. So how can men and women adjust to accommodate their differences?

I suggest that women minimize using those undermining prefaces, assert their ideas and opinions, and chose not to get offended. Men should share more about how they arrived at their ideas. They should also be more patient and not interrupt a woman until she has has completed her thoughts. Focus on generating white space—the pause between speakers. While women and men try to bridge their communication styles, both should suspend judgment in how the other communicates.

A Mentor Can Help

I’m an advocate for mentoring and coaching because of the benefits I see mentorees and coachees achieve. Sometimes even the most experienced and successful people need a coach to help them see and navigate the blind spots they’ve developed over time. Understandably, many people are more comfortable seeking mentors of the same sex. If you have the opportunity to have two mentors, or a coach and mentor, I would encourage you to seek one of each gender. I believe there will be at least a few instances where you will get a different perspective that proves invaluable.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

5 Words to Eliminate from Your Sales Conversationso

words out of mouthCommunication is a powerful tool used in selling and developing business. Studies show that communication is composed of body language (55%), tone of voice (38%), and words (7%). However, the contribution of your chosen words to the meaning of your message shouldn’t be underestimated.

Watch out for These Words or Expressions

There are several words or phrases sales people should be sensitive to, because they subtly diminish the impression left customers. When you reflect on your past conversations do you find yourself using any of the following?

  • No problem: These two words have become today’s standard response for a “thank you.” Does “no problem” presume the customer’s request would be a problem, and the seller was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t? Better to express a simple “you’re welcome” or an affirming statement such as “my pleasure” [the standard at a Chick-Fil-A near you].
  • Small: Many organizations label and promote themselves as a “small” business. Don’t minimize your business in your customers’ minds. Better to use more neutral, and even better, more positive language. Substitute “small” with “growing” or “intimate.”
  • We: Avoid “we” as much as you can when pitching your services or products. If you want to establish brand recognition, say and write the company’s name. Notice the difference when you speak, “Shine Crossings is offering first time clients 50% off their first coaching session,” as opposed to “We are offering first time clients 50% off their first coaching session.”
  • Just and Only: Sometimes sellers use these qualifiers to imply a bargain price: “This product is only $20.” These words make you sound less confident in what you’re asking for, which can then make a customer wonder how low you will go.  Try removing the qualifier by saying “This product is $20,” and then promote its benefits. Do you notice the subtle change in confidence conveyed about the product’s value?

Words are powerful, so be mindful of which ones you choose in order to reap the rewards of greater sales success.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Increase Your ROI with These Trust Behaviors

Sandra Dillon: April 17, 2018


Trust 1

The Composition of Trust

Trust: Do You Have It and How to Build It described how our intimacy level is correlated to the amount of trust operating in our personal relationships. In his study of workplace relationships, Covey (2006) asserts that trust is built by employees operating with integrity and ability. Subsequently, a high level of workplace trust favorably impacts the bottom-line.

Trust is a function of character and competency working together. Have you worked with people with whom you could share your life stories, but who couldn’t get the job done right? What about those co-workers who always deliver a flawless product or proposal but trash-talk people behind their backs? How would you rate these colleagues on the continuum of trust? You may classify each as untrustworthy, but prefer to work with one over the other based on whether you place more value on character or competency.

The Impact of Trust

When you hire and cultivate people who embody both character and competency, you have a winning formula to beat the competition, because your organization has trust flowing through its culture. Covey (2006) proposes that when trust is high, speed is high, and cost is low, with mistrust doubling the cost of doing business.  The trust formula:

(Strategy x Execution) Trust = Results

Trust becomes the multiplier for strategy and execution and reflects what we see, speak, and behave in the workplace. Increasing profits to the bottom line doesn’t have to involve another product launch or acquisition. Just increasing trust delivers increased profits. When employees trust one another, they don’t have to recover from missed deliverables, double check work for mistakes, and waste time with cover-your-ass tactics.

The two questions every employee from the C-Suite to the factory floor should ask themselves if they want to increase trust are:

  • What level of trust am I operating at?
  • How can I push the trust multiplier higher?

How to Increase Trust

If you’re wondering how you can increase bottom line results, Covey (2006) recommends 13 key behaviors that can push your trust factor higher.

  • Talk straight: tell the truth, let people know where you stand, and don’t manipulate people or facts
  • Demonstrate respect: show genuine care for others, treat people and their roles with dignity, and show kindness
  • Create transparency: share information that people can verify, be open and authentic, and don’t have hidden agendas or hide information
  • Right wrongs: don’t cover things up, apologize quickly, make restitution when possible, and demonstrate humility
  • Show loyalty: acknowledge contributions of others, don’t bad-mouth others behind their back, and don’t disclose personal information
  • Deliver results: establish a track record of making things happen, get the right things done, be on time and within budget, and don’t over-promise and under-deliver
  • Get better: be a constant learner, develop feedback systems, and thank people for their feedback while acting on it
  • Confront Reality: take on issues head-on, address the tough stuff directly, lead out courageously in conversation, and don’t skirt real issues
  • Clarify expectations: disclose, discuss, validate, and renegotiate expectations if needed
  • Practice accountability: take responsibility for results, be clear on how you’ll communicate progress, and don’t blame others when things go wrong
  • Listen first: listen before speaking to understand, don’t presume you have all the answers, and listen with your ears, eyes, and heart to find out what is most important to the people you’re working with
  • Keep commitments: say and do what you commit to, make commitments carefully, and don’t break confidences
  • Extend trust: extend trust appropriately based on the situation, risk, and credibility of the people involve, extend trust abundantly to those who have earned it, and trust conditionally to those who are earning it

I suggest rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you demonstrate the 13 key behaviors of trust. For those 2-3 behaviors where you scored the lowest, identify some specific changes you can make that would drive that behavior higher on the trust scale.  Monitor your progress and see how your colleagues respond to you.

Reference

Covey, S. (2006). The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. New York, NY: CoveyLink.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Don’t Confuse the Value of Management and Leadership

Sandra Dillon: February 7, 2018


A decade ago, people aspired to be promoted to manager or reach a specific management level within their company. There now appears to be a preference in being called a “leader,” implying that a leader is superior in some fashion to the role of a manager. Instead of referring to the top echelon as senior management, the trend is to call that team “senior leadership.” The truth? By definition a manager and a leader serve two different roles; therefore, comparing the position of manager and leader is like comparing apples to oranges.

managers leaders

Different Needs, Different Roles

Managers ensure they and their reports carry out the company’s mission, ensure compliance with systems and processes, accept and complete assigned tasks by due dates, and keep an eye on the bottom line. Managers are asked to focus on the short-term view. On the other hand, the role of organizational leaders is to create vision and mission, focus on influencing change in people and processes, and challenge the status quo for the sake of improving the company. Leaders are assigned to look toward the horizon, design a vision, and determine how to move the company toward that future.

Both positions, with their unique set of responsibilities, should be valued in their own right for what they contribute toward the health and growth of the company. The role of manager should be recognized and celebrated for its value, even if it doesn’t come with the responsibilities or title of leader. In smaller companies, sometimes the roles are blurred and embodied in one position or person. We should recognize that everyone wins when managers leverage their leadership skills, leaders appreciate the value of managing skills, and they all work together for the betterment of their employees, customers, suppliers, and community.

Title Assigned, Title Earned

The reality is that not everyone can be crowned with the title of manager, but anyone can be knighted with the title of leader. Why? Because in truth, leadership has never really been associated with a position but rather a way of being. True leaders are never assigned their position but earn the title by what they’re able to accomplish through influence. Everyone has the ability to influence. Your influence will be a direct result of how your present yourself, what you think, what you say, and what you do. The result will be how you affect change in people, processes, and systems. The big question everyone should be asking themselves: Have I prepared myself to lead well?


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

 

Business Trust: Its Importance, Value, and How to Build It?

Sandra Dillon: February 3, 2018


Trust 1In leadership circles, it’s well known that to move people from where they stand today to a better place of tomorrow, a leader not only has to paint a compelling vision of the future but must also convince them that standing in their current comfort zone is unacceptable. If you agree with this concept, you may be asking how does this apply in building organizational trust. I’ve heard managers and functional leadership agree they “want more trust,” then make decisions and act in ways that show their employees they don’t value trust.  They’re not uncomfortable enough with the level of distrust operating under their leadership.  Why?  Perhaps, they haven’t suffered from or come to appreciate the magnitude that distrust has in undermining their business’s vision, mission, and goals.

Why Trust Is So Important

Without trust, you can’t build anything of sustainable value. Since trust is the foundation on which business relationships are set, creating trust should be a business’s number one priority. Without trust operating throughout its culture, a business is vulnerable to silo-ed decision-making, information hoarding, and higher employee and customer turnover to name a few. These behaviors directly increase costs and slow down response time. Employees, customers, and suppliers come to realize that for someone to win, another must lose, so everyone makes decisions to protect their position.

After food, water, clothing, and shelter, Maslow’s second hierarchy of human need is safety (security). In business, colleagues, customers, and suppliers first seek to answer the question, “Can I trust you?” If someone can’t affirmatively respond, a healthy relationship won’t develop.

When enough people on a team feel they can’t trust one another, the culture becomes distrustful and then toxic. Interactions become finely crafted dances to ensure that neither is hurt in the process. The energy of the organization goes into managing distrust as opposed to creating value and meeting goals.

Why Trust Is So Valuable

In a trusting business culture, people feel connected. They know that for someone to win, somebody else doesn’t have to lose. They’re a team working collaboratively with transparency and driving on their individual strengths. When people feel respected and appreciated, they go the extra mile. They don’t hoard information like a distrusting culture where information is power. A collaborative culture achieves increased creativity and problem-solving, resulting in more satisfied customers and profits to the bottom line.

How To Build Trust

Some think building trust is treating people well, forgiving mistakes, and giving lots of praise. Not exactly. Although these behaviors exist in cultures of trust, Brown (2017) describes specific elements that must be consistently practiced and reciprocated over time to build trust.

  • Boundaries: Communicating and honoring clear expectations
  • Reliability: Doing what you say you will do again and again [Note: It’s important to understand your limitations and not over-commit]
  • Accountability: Making a mistake, owning it, apologizing, and making amends
  • Confidence: Not sharing with others what is shared in confidence
  • Integrity: Practicing, and not just professing values, in which you may have to choose courage over your comfort or right over fun, fast, and easy
  • Non-judgment: Helping when another falters and being vulnerable to ask for help when needed [Note: One-sided help sets the giver up to feel superior over time]
  • Generosity: Believing in good intentions when the behavior is a mistake

Do People Trust Me?

This is one of the most difficult questions in which to get an honest answer, because if you have trust, people will say yes, and if you don’t have trust, people will still say yes for fear of repercussions. Because of anonymity with individual finger-pointing, it’s easier to get an honest answer by asking the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does trust operate within this company?”

If you’re a leader challenged with growing trust within your business culture, I suggest two approaches:

  • Honestly answer for yourself how much capacity you have to trust others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Work on improving your own insecurities and behaviors regarding trust.
  • Know what behaviors garnish trust and hold yourself and others accountable to make the right decisions and lead with those behaviors.

Changing culture is possible, and it takes time, patience, and thoughtful words and actions.  You must trust the process that will take you from where you stand today to a more trustworthy culture of the future.

Reference

Brown, B. (2017). Super Soul Sessions Video: The Anatomy of Trust. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewngFnXcqao


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: How to Influence People and Outcomes

Sandra Dillon: January 25, 2018


leadership is influenceThere’s a reason why Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People has been in print for over 80 years. Its longevity owes itself to the timeless understanding of what drives human behavior. With leadership synonymous with influence, leaders should embrace Carnegie’s (1964) principles in how to (1) handle people, (2) make people like you, and (3) win people to your way of thinking.

In my experience, 20% of business success can be attributed to knowledge with the balance to a person’s skill in implementing Carnegie’s techniques—meaning 80% of business success comes from how you lead yourself and engage with others. Many of these learnings come from Carnegie asking himself three questions after every encounter:

  1. What mistakes did I make?
  2. What did I do that was right, and in what way could I have improved?
  3. What lessons can I learn and apply in the future?

If you’re able to master Carnegie’s key principles, you’ll likely find yourself in the top 5% of those who can influence people and their circumstances. Below is my winning summary of Carnegie’s best.

Successful Techniques in How to Handle People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Instead try to understand people and why they do what they do. Humans naturally have prejudices and are motivated by pride and occasionally vanity in their words and actions. Criticism only puts a person on the defensive, incurs resentment, and causes him* to justify himself.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation. A strong human need is the desire to feel important which is why people crave appreciation, especially from their superiors and those whom they respect. Be careful with flattery—otherwise known as counterfeit appreciation—which comes across as insincere.
  3. Focus on what the other person wants and show him how to get it. Unselfishly serving others brings enormous advantages to the relationship.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people as opposed to trying to get people interested in you. Help others in ways that require your time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness.
  2. Smile, smile, and smile. Your smile is a messenger of what’s inside you, and it has the power to brighten someone’s life by conveying “I like you” or “I’m glad to see you.”
  3. Remember a person’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to him. Use it generously, and spell it correctly.
  4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask people a lot of questions and validate the stories and words they share in conversation.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Talk about the things the other person treasures most.
  6. Make the other person feel important. When people believe you sincerely think of them as important and appreciate them, they will respond positively to you. Reflect on something you can genuinely admire and then recognize them for it.

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid an argument. You can’t win an argument, because if you lose it, you lost it, and if you win it, you lost it. Why? Because someone who has lost an argument feels inferior, has his pride hurt, and will ultimately resent the triumph. The only successful way to change someone’s mind is to help him come to that conclusion himself. It’s better to manage a disagreement by trying to see the other person’s viewpoint, look for areas of agreement, and encourage him to think over your ideas.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions and never tell them, “You’re wrong. You cannot change opinions when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings.  When you hurt someone, they’re not receptive in listening to anything you have to say.
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it clearly and quickly. Stating those words clears the air of defensiveness and helps solve problems.
  4. Begin any controversial conversation in a friendly way. As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  5. Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately. Begin a conversation by emphasizing the things in which you agree. Several initial “yes” responses keep the listener moving in an affirmative direction.
  6. Let the other person do most of the talking. Think the 80/20 rule—the other person talks 80% of the time and you only 20%. Let them talk themselves into what you want them to do. [Note: This one is difficult for the extrovert.]
  7. Let others feel that the idea is theirs. Suggest, suggest, and suggest. Then let the other person think about it so much that he thinks it’s his idea.
  8. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view even if the other person is wrong and doesn’t think so. By validating the other person’s viewpoint, he will likely have a open mind to hear your ideas. [Note: Validating is not agreeing.]
  9. Be sympathetic to the other person’s desires. Validating someone even if you don’t agree will go a long way in keeping emotions in check and leaving them with a positive feeling towards you.
  10. Assume the other person operates with noble motives. People will react favorably toward you when they believe you consider them honest, upright and fair.
  11. Dramatize your ideas. Stating the simple truth may not be good enough. You may have to make the truth vivid, interesting, and dramatic in order to get the other person’s attention.
  12. Throw down a challenge. People have a competitive spirit. If you want to get things done, stimulate some competition and tap into to people’s desire to excel and prove their worth.

Practice Makes Perfect

A leader’s job often includes setting people up for success by helping them change their attitudes and behaviors. Carnegie’s (1964) suggestions to accomplish this are simply stated:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement
  7. Compliment the very trait in a person that you want him to live up to
  8. Use encouragement and make any fault seems easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

With over 30 recommended behaviors, a person may feel overwhelmed on where to start. I would suggest rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you perform on each behavior. Select three behaviors that you are committed to improve upon and brainstorm specific approaches or words that will produce a more favorable outcome. Changing behaviors can be difficult at first, but repetitiveness turns new behaviors into old habits.

In my opinion one of the most impactful behavioral changes you can make is to remove one word from your vocabulary. What word? The word “but.” “But” negates everything that was said before it and closes down the conversation. If you replace “but” with the word “and,” you’ll see a dramatic difference in where the conversation goes. Don’t be discouraged when you realize how difficult it can be to remove that conjunction from your sentence structure. New habits are right around the corner.

Reference

Carnegie, D. (1964). How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. New York, NY: Gallery Books.

*He and him also refers to she and her. He is used as opposed to he or she to make it easier for the reader.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

How to Build Customer Connections Through Fun and Service

Sandra Dillon: January 19, 2018


mission trip

In 2001 Convergint Technologies (www.convergint.com) was founded upon 10 driving values and beliefs. Last but not least was “We promote fun and laughter on a daily basis,” and they mean it by giving every employee a $100 and a paid day off each year to go have fun. Additionally, this company closes all of its branches across the globe on its founding birthday, so its employees can go out into their respective communities and serve others who are less fortunate. They also invite their vendors, customers, plus family members to come along and help. They have given paid time off for employee teams to serve in disaster relief efforts both in the United States and abroad. I share these stories not to pat Convergint on the back for doing good, but for stepping out in innovative ways that make great business sense while benefitting everyone involved. They truly have built customer and employee connections through fun and service. How well is your company strengthening these same connections?

The internet has thousands of articles that recommend how to strengthen customer relationships and build stronger teams. From my business and professional experience, the most powerful way to build connection is through shared activities that involve fun and service. Not only does the experience create an immediate connection but the ongoing memories solidify the bond. If you include spouses and other family members as part of the activity, don’t be surprised if you become part of the extended family, likely brought up in conversation around the dinner table.

If you think the concept has merit and you’re searching for ideas, below are a few you might consider:

  1. Serve at a local charity (food bank, boys & girls club)
  2. Take a class together (cooking, pottery, woodworking) with hands on participation
  3. Host a unique experience (skydiving) or competition (go-kart racing)
  4. Rent out an Improv studio and have teams compete (remember “Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
  5. Host a talent contest
  6. Have an employee cook-off (chili, soup, dessert, BBQ) and have vendors and customers be the blind judges
  7. Organize a field day or carnival with games and fun for the whole family

My personal favorite that builds a lifetime bond—organize and lead a mission trip of co-workers, customers, and vendors. Having taken teams to Honduras and El Salvador many times to drill a water well at a local school or rural community, I can honestly say that my business colleagues, turned mission mates, and I bonded at a level that words cannot adequately described. We worked alongside each other, got dirty and sweated together, shared rooms and meals, struggled with the local language, and had our hearts united with the locals. If you want to get sticky with your customers, take them on a mission trip.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

People Operations: Are Your Work Rules Benefitting Your Bottom Line?

Sandra Dillon: January 17, 2018


What would happen in your company if tomorrow the Human Resource Department was replaced with a People Operations Department? One answer: leadership might be taking the first step in transforming the culture by changing the labels and the rules by which it hires and engages its employees. It might be taking on some of the be

Work Rules

st people practices that Google has innovated and field tested within in its own company.

Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations, takes you on a journey of failures, successes, and celebrations within Google, as leadership tried to attract the best talent and ensure all its employees succeeded. The results? Hundreds of accolades including #1 Best Company to Work for in the United States and in 16 other countries. If you lead a business or any organization, you’ll want to study and learn from Google who delivers the latest research blending human psychology with behavioral economics.

Bock (2015) shares the people strategies and tactics that leadership can use to lead their employees and teams to higher engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and reward. Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information, and in this case, they decide to design, collect, organize, and interpret data using its own 55,000 employees spread over more than 70 countries. Several of the more well-known business conclusions Google was able to prove:

  • You can learn from both your best as well as your worst employees,
  • You should only hire people who are smarter than you in some way, no matter how long it takes to find them,
  • You shouldn’t rely on your gut but use data to predict (Some may consider this one controversial).

The three Google lessons that are not mainstream business thinking but may make a difference in how well your company performs include:

  • Taking away managers’ power over their employees: Hiring, firing, promotions, and salary actions should be done by a committee using transparent data with managers only held responsible for coaching their direct reports to succeed in their work.
  • Paying unfairly because it’s the fair thing to do: Employee performance typically does not follow a bell curve, but a power curve. Your best employees should be rewarded multiples over your average producing employees.
  • Giving your employees more freedom than you’re comfortable with: Trust your employees more.

You might be saying, “These concepts would never be put into practice in my company.” That may or may not be true, but the challenge for all leadership is to be thoughtful enough to make the hard decisions that can champion change and spur their employees to collectively produce at the next level. You’ve likely heard the old saying that idiocrasy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. How does your organization need to change in how it leads people to get better results?

Is now the time to learn from actual field results and try to see how these concepts can work in your organization? I encourage every employee, supervisor, manager, and leader to pick up this book and find one or two concepts, rooted in research, that can be applied in life and in business to engage others more.  It’s easier and cheaper to learn from the successes of others who have paved the way.

Reference

Bock, L. (2015). Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You live and Lead. New York, NY: Twelve Books.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

What Movie Best Describes Your Sales Team’s Performance?

Sales GraphBringing some humor to the topic, what movie best describes your sales team’s performance this past year? Does He’s Just Not That Into You characterize your primary customer relationships–those who buy from you until a better offer comes along? What about the movie Titanic? You’ve invested heavily in sales salaries, training, and tools. The sales ship has sailed, and revenue seems to have hit an iceberg and is sinking against expectations. Or is your team acting out one of the Rocky movies? With seven title releases, you may be asking, “Which one?” Is your sales team the underdog who diligently works the plan to become your customers’ major supplier, or the team who was once a sales champion and now finds itself working to reclaim that title?

Every sales team is filming its own movie. Whether the sales team will make an awarding winning film will be heavily influenced by several factors:

  • acting skill [sales people skills, experience, and competencies]
  • quality of the script [sales strategy and execution plan]
  • script appeal [quality of products and service]
  • passion of the actors [emotional engagement of the sales team]
  • director’s skill [sales leadership ability]

If all five elements of the movie are strong, you’re likely to produce a film that will draw a large audience [customers]. With the kick-off of a new year, I would encourage businesses/sales organizations to rate themselves on the above five factors using a scale of 1-10? Which area is weakest and how could you move that rating higher? What movie would you hope to have your sales organization reflect?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.