Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

12 necessary shifts in leadership thinking

Refine your leadership skills to help foster a sense of community and value. Priceless.

You may have noticed that most companies operate in a command-and-control hierarchy. This is where “employees accept their paycheck in exchange for time” and there is a limited sharing of ideas.

To move away from this model, business consultant Shawn Murphy offers 12 alternative leadership techniques.

He says managers should foster a community with joint ownership, know their passions, and create an optimistic environment. Leaders can also redefine achievement as meaningful work, get to fully know their employees’ aspirations, and in turn, recognize their own personal values.

No. 11 is important: Leaders should create time to be more prepared for their partnerships and meetings, all of which will make work more satisfying. He writes: “Paychecks are important [but] meaningful relationships between leaders, employees, and their paychecks will be even more valuable.”

Read the complete list here.

All the success!

PM in the AM

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 Ways To Sustain a Vibrant Culture


Warning: Trying to formalize a cool environment can make the hip factor go away.

Growing companies need some amount of process to prevent chaos, duplication of work and miscommunication. The right procedures help free up time and energy.

But the founders of Method, the cleaning products firm, asked, “How do we institute process without suffocating culture?”

To answer this question, Method interviewed six companies with cool cultures — Apple, Google, Pixar, Nike, Starbucks, and Innocent. A warning and three themes emerged.

The warning: “The greater the effort to formalize culture — to box it in with structure and guidelines — the faster that culture slips away.”

The advice:
  • Make sure each interviewee’s personality fits with your culture. If not, decline the candidate even if the person’s skill set matches your job description perfectly.
  • Provide up-front training on how to “live” the culture.
  • Give feedback on cultural issues, not just job performance.
This wisdom sounds simple. Yet most organizations are hard-pressed to succinctly describe their culture. This entertaining book excerpt relates the process Method used to articulate its “Methodology” (corporate values).

If an outsider asked your employees to sum up your culture in an “elevator pitch,” would your staff respond with a unified voice?

All the success!

Peter Mclees, MS LMFT

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winning by Giving: Succeeding Through Kindness

Explore the benefits of "giving" in the workplace.

When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.
  – Wayne Dyer, author and speaker

When we're at work, we can spend a lot of energy trying to get help from those around us. However, how much time do we spend helping others in return?

Having a strong social support network at work raises morale, productivity, and overall success. If we truly want to succeed, however, each of us must spend time "giving ourselves" to those in our network. Only then will we experience the true benefits that giving brings, and start to see the success we've dreamed of.

Benefits of Giving
Giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but research shows that it lowers your chance of depression, strengthens your heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life.

Professionally, giving also offers several benefits. One study found that fostering positive social support at work raises productivity. Another study found that those who give at work ("work altruists"), are far more engaged with what they do and are more often promoted, compared with colleagues who stay isolated while doing their job.

However, you probably don't need research to tell you that giving makes you feel good! Just think back to the last time you helped a colleague who was stuck with a problem, or took your assistant out to lunch. Giving boosts our energy in a way that nothing else can. We feel connected and engaged when we help others, because it reminds us of what it means to be human, at its best.

All this, in turn, comes back to us in ways we could never expect or predict. Giving creates a network of trust, goodwill, and good energy at work that can pay off many times over in the future.

Giving and kindness also have an important ripple effect, which is why one generous person can transform a team or an organization. The person you give to feels great about the help they received. This can create a desire in them to "pay back" that kindness to someone else. Much like ripples in a pond, one act of kindness can impact dozens, or even hundreds, of lives.

How to Give More
The good news about giving is that you don't need to invest huge chunks of your time to do it. Often, the smallest acts of kindness and consideration can have a big impact on those around us.

So, how can we give at work?

1. Just Listen
A great way of giving is simply to listen to others. When you do this, listen without contributing your opinion, and without trying to "top their story." Use Active Listening skills, so that you can fully grasp what they're telling you, and respond with empathy and understanding.

2. Offer Specific Help
How many times have you heard a colleague say, "Let me know if you need any help!" but had the distinct feeling they didn't really mean it? Vague offers of help can come across as half-hearted or insincere. Offering help in a specific way shows that you mean it.

For instance, your colleagues may be complaining about their workload. So, offer specific help: volunteer to collect their lunch for them, so that they can continue working, or give them a hand with a task if your own workload allows. When you offer specific assistance, you let others know that you're truly willing to help.

3. Show Gratitude
If you're in a leadership position, how often do you give praise to your team? How often do you say "thank you" to your assistant for the good work he or she does every day?

Showing gratitude to those around us, whether above or below us in the hierarchy, is a simple but powerful way to give. So, find ways to say "thank you"  to your team and colleagues. You might be surprised at the difference that this makes to your relationships!

4. Become a True Mentor
When you mentor others, you can share a lifetime's worth of knowledge and skill in order to help them succeed. This unselfish act not only benefits the professionals you work with; it can change your own life in many ways.

It probably goes without saying that your organization will benefit when strong mentoring relationships are formed within it. Start mentoring in the workplace now, and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others to succeed.

5. Share Resources
If your team or department has ample resources or supplies, why not offer to share them with another team or department, particularly if it is not as well funded as yours?

This could include sharing resources such as physical supplies, but also knowledge, technology, and team member expertise as well. (This won't be viable in some situations. Use your own best judgment here, and make sure that you're doing your own job properly as well!)

6. Offer a Hand to New Employees
Can you remember what it was like on your very first day at the organization? You didn't know anyone, and you probably felt overwhelmed by all of your tasks and responsibilities.

When a new employee joins your organization or team, spend time with her during her first few weeks and help her have a successful induction. Offer to help her get used to her new role, and take her around to meet everyone that she'll be working with. Share your knowledge about the organization's culture and values.

This can make a challenging transition smoother and less stressful.

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness"
Random acts of kindness can transform both you and the person you help. When you are kind to someone anonymously, you give for the simple, ego-less pleasure of giving, and that's it. So, practice random acts of kindness when you're at work.

What can you do? Leave a cup of gourmet coffee on your colleague's desk when he or she is having a bad day. Send an anonymous "thank you" letter to your organization's cleaning staff. Bring some healthy snacks or homemade cookies to work, and leave them anonymously in the break room, with a note letting others know that they're for everyone.

There are endless ways that you can make a positive impact on someone else's day. Just use your imagination!

8. Find Your Purpose
Every job has a purpose. It's easy, especially when we're busy and stressed, to forget how our role helps others. But, no matter what we do or where we do it, ultimately our work should benefit someone else.

Take time to find your purpose at work. Once you dig down to find the ultimate meaning of what you do, you may be surprised by how much your work helps others.

Although it's important to give your time and energy to others, it's equally important not to go too far! If you spend too much time helping your coworkers, you may find that you don't have time to accomplish your own objectives. It's important to find the right balance between helping others, and focusing on your own goals and tasks.

Key Points
Giving our time and energy to others not only feels good, but it's been proven to make us happier, more productive, and more engaged with our team and organization.
Giving also offers positive physical benefits as well: it helps alleviate stress, helps lower our risk of illnesses like depression, and even helps us live longer!

You can give back to others by doing any or all of the following:

1.               Just listen to others.
2.               Offer specific help.
3.               Show gratitude.
4.               Become a mentor.
5.               Share resources.
6.               Offer a hand to new employees.
7.               Practice random acts of kindness.
8.               Find your purpose.

Make an effort to give regularly – you'll love the results

All the success!


(Adapted from MTwebrticle)

Rewarding Your Team: Learning Why "Thank You" Is So Vital

Rewards don't have to be financial.

Imagine this scenario: One of your team members has saved the company a significant amount of money with a process she spent weeks creating. It's right before the winter holidays, so you decide to reward her with a turkey that she and her family can enjoy for dinner one night.
You make a big deal of presenting the turkey to her. She smiles and shyly accepts the gift, quickly putting it in the office refrigerator. You feel good because you rewarded her efforts, and she seemed to be happy about the recognition.

But is she? Things aren't always as they appear. You didn't take the time to learn whether or not she eats meat, so you didn't discover that she's a vegetarian. And you didn't consider that she commutes to the office one hour by train – so by the time she gets that frozen turkey home to give away to friends, it will be a drippy, soggy mess.

Have you ever wondered why the rewards you offer don't seem to be received very well? We often hear from business experts about how important it is to reward your team. But it's equally important to take the time to find out how your team would really like to be recognized.

Sometimes people don't want just a bonus or pay raise. Instead, what they'd really like is a sincere "thank you" or a day off to spend with their families.

This post can help you learn the "ins and outs" of recognizing your team.

The Importance of Rewarding Your Team
Although the idea of rewarding workers beyond their pay and benefits package seems obvious, some leaders avoid the practice, perhaps because they feel that showing appreciation undermines their authority, perhaps because they want to avoid stirring up jealousy in other members of the team, perhaps because they feel they don't have the time to do it, or perhaps because they feel embarrassed praising people openly.

This is a shame, because these attitudes reduce their own performance, and all of these problems can or should be avoided. The most successful leaders are those who recognize and reward their team's efforts. This not only builds trust, but it strengthens loyalty as well. Turnover is often much lower in teams that have a strong bond with their leader, and this impacts a company's bottom line.

You should also remember that, for the most part, the world's talent pool is shrinking – mostly due to declining birth rates, which leads to an aging workforce. This means that it's becoming harder for organizations to find the people they need. Finding and keeping talented people is a key issue, and the companies that figure out how to do this now will likely be the ones that succeed far into the future. One of the best ways to keep these people is to make sure that their hard work is appreciated. If finding the few minutes needed to recognize people is a problem, just think how much time you'd have to spend replacing them!

Recognizing Their Efforts
Appropriately rewarding team members for something they've done takes some effort on your part. If you don't put much thought into what you're doing, then you may just upset the people you're trying to thank. This is why you should sit down with your team and find out how they'd really like to be rewarded.

For example, if your team is about to start a major project, find out:

·   Which team achievements would people like to be rewarded for?
·   What kind of reward would they like, as individuals and as a team?
·   Would they rather celebrate with several milestones along the way, or have one big celebration when they hit the goal?

Learning how your team would like to be recognized, and how you can show your appreciation, is a vital step toward making sure that your efforts will be appropriate.

When and How to Say "Thank You"
Because the return on appreciation is huge. Workers who feel appreciated are twice as likely to stay at a company than those who don't feel appreciated.

If you think you don't have time or can't afford to show appreciation to your team, then stop and think about how much you currently invest in hiring and training new people. How much would you save if your turnover were lower? Probably a lot, which is why recognizing your team's efforts is almost always cost-effective.

And don't think that daily gratitude will "wear out" your team. Has anyone ever thanked you so many times that it lost its meaning? Probably not. It's not likely that your team will ever get tired of receiving your appreciation.

Just make sure you're sincere about why you thank people. And don't rush the "thank you" while you're on your way somewhere else. This WILL probably make your gestures lose their meaning. Stop, look at the person, and tell him how much you appreciate what he's doing.
These small gestures cost nothing except a few seconds of your time, but their payoff is enormous.

"Thank You" Tips

Remember these guidelines:

·    Be consistent – Consistency is vital. If you praise often during one month, and then skip the next month entirely, your team will wonder what's going on. Creating a culture of recognition and reward is important – so once you start, make sure you continue.

·    Be specific – Every time you praise people on your team, be specific about what they did to deserve the recognition. If you say, "Jim did a great job yesterday!" that's not only vague, but it may cause jealousy from other team members. Being specific not only makes the person you recognize feel better, it also lets the whole team know that you're paying attention. So, detail exactly what the person did and why it made a difference.

·    Know your people – You must know your team to reward them adequately. For example, if you know that someone loves art and music, then opera tickets or museum passes would probably be an appreciated, thoughtful gift. If someone else is a sports fan, then football tickets might be a great idea. Getting to know your team's interests is critical to showing your appreciation well. Send out a survey, or question them about their passions. And write it all down so you don't forget.

·    Make the reward relevant – Your gift or gesture should be relevant to your team member's effort. For example, if someone comes in early for a week to make sure a project is completed on time, then a gift certificate for a great breakfast would be a good fit. If, however, the person just saved the company from a mistake that would have cost millions, then something more significant is needed!

Ideas for Rewarding Your Team
As we said earlier, chances are high that your team isn't looking for a bonus check or pay raise to feel appreciated. Often, smaller gestures go further and end up costing you less in the long run. Here are some creative ideas to consider for showing appreciation to your team:

·    Send handwritten thank-you notes when someone goes above and beyond the requirements of the job.
·    Create "free day" coupons that a worker could use for a free day off – no questions asked – without using vacation or sick time.
·    Take your team out to lunch – and then, as a last-minute surprise, give them the rest of the day off.
·    Give out "lazy Monday" coupons to allow a team member one "free" Monday morning off.
·    If you e-mail a team member to say thank you, consider copying that message to YOUR boss.
·    Offer flexible scheduling – not everyone needs, or wants, to be in the office at 8:00 a.m.
·    Ask each team member this question: “What is the best form of recognition that you’ve ever received.” Knowing the answer to this will help you tailor your recognition to the unique needs of your people.
·   Think of a few ideas (and write them down right away) that are appropriate for your workplace.

There are thousands of creative ways to say "thank you." The great thing about these gestures is that they'll probably be remembered far longer than any bonus check. You'll show your appreciation – and, at the same time, you'll strengthen the bond between you and your team.

Key Points
Leaders need to say "thank you" regularly. Your team members will likely work much harder if they feel that what they're doing really makes a difference, and that their efforts are noticed by those with "power."

Thank-you gifts don't have to be extravagant or costly. Small gestures are often remembered longer than financial bonuses. These small, entertaining rewards can also help promote a sense of fun in the workplace, which may go a long way toward helping you retain key talent.

All the success!

(Adapted from MTwebrarrcile)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tips for Boosting Retail Sales This Holiday Season

A Special Post  for Retailers

During the holidays most stores can expect to see heavier traffic volume. This presents a great opportunity for staff to increase sales and create loyal customers who will return in the New Year.

Often during these busier times customers outnumber associates. While it is a wonderful problem to have, there are certain things sales floor leaders must do to take full advantage of it, make order out of chaos and reap the rewards in terms of sales.

Without direction, associates can get caught up in the whirlwind of activity with the resulting customer service being less than what they could be. This would be a natural occurrence and not because your associates are doing something wrong. What they need is continuous guidance, direction and coaching on the sales floor. With proper sales floor leadership in place, your customers will enjoy shopping in an environment where everything is well managed because they can get in and out fast, with their holiday shopping taken care of.

They'll enjoy being served by competent, happy associates and getting their questions answered quickly. And for those customers who do not wish to take care of their shopping quickly; the ones who enjoy spending time choosing just the right item, your associates will be there for them too – providing exactly what they need if they avoid the ten common mistakes retail sales people make.

10 Common Mistakes Retail Salespeople Make
  1. Failing to build a rapport with the customer. From a simple greeting to a little chat about niceties, non-sales directed small talk go along way in developing an easier and more open mood in the customers.
  2. Failing to find out customer's needs.
  3. Focusing on their own agenda instead of the customer's.
  4. Not giving customers the majority of the air time.
  5. Confusing "telling" with "selling". Not listening or not hearing what customer is saying.
  6. Not knowing the prevailing promotions, specials and regular pricing.
  7. Not differentiating the product enough to create additional value in the mind of the customer.
  8. Acting like a vending machine instead of a human being. (I.e., Grabbing a product and handing it to the customer without first building rapport and identifying needs)
  9. Failing to address objections properly not realizing that satisfactory resolution of the objections is the shortest distance to purchase.
  10. Not taking advantage of add-on sales, as soon as the main purchase is done, which is when customer is most ready to entertain them.

Appointing a Sales Floor Leader is a must.
The store manager, management person in charge, or other designated management personnel must be free to perform the function of Sales Floor Leader during busy times. The sole purpose of this function is to make sure all associates are free to do their jobs – sales associates, cashiers, runners, greeters, etc. This means being aware of everything that is going on in the store and removing obstacles to performance, preferably before they become obstacles.

Here are some keys for effective sales floor leadership:

Ñ  Keep moving around the store.

Ñ  Always be facing the front of the store so you stay up to the minute on the traffic entering and exiting.

Ñ  Set up a signal system that associates will recognize - perhaps a slight nod - to acknowledge and assist a customer.

Ñ  Be aware of who is doing what at all times.

Ñ  Be on the lookout for fixtures that are sold down so you can tell the designated individual to replenish. And then follow up to ensure it is done quickly.

Ñ Watch for bottlenecks at the check out or check desk so you can take action. Actions like

o   call a bagger to help out
o   call another cashier to the register
o   have a runner go for supplies
o   spend a moment chatting with customers who are waiting - taking their mind off of the fact they are waiting.

Ñ  Watch for associates who are finished doing what they were doing and have not yet engaged in something else that is productive. Give them a new task.

Ñ  Let all associates know that they can, and should, look to you for guidance on any problems that come up. Let them know you are there to ensure the smooth operation of the sales floor providing the very best service to customers and that nothing is more important to you.

Ñ  Tell associates to let you know if they are leaving the sales floor for any reason.

Ñ  Do not leave the sales floor. If you absolutely must leave the sales floor for a short time, appoint someone to take over.

Ñ  Review the schedule regularly. Change it if necessary. Lunch and break times must be adhered to unless you make a change.

Converting shoppers into buying customers is much easier when the Sales Floor Leader is on the job – removing obstacles and directing virtually everything. There will be fewer customers who leave without buying something because you have made sure that they were greeted and welcomed into the store, that someone attended to them, that all products/models/styles/sizes that you have available are actually on the sales floor, that the environment is clean and safe, that associates are pleasant and calm, that the checkout lineup is under control.

Apply some of these ideas and reap the rewards in terms of holiday sales and happy customers who will return with their friends in the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

PM in the AM

The Johari Window

Creating Better Understanding Between Individuals and Groups

The Johari Window is a communication model that can be used to improve understanding between individuals within a team or in a group setting. Based on disclosure, self-disclosure and feedback, the Johari Window can also be used to improve a group's relationship with other groups.

Developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (the word "Johari" comes from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham), there are two key ideas behind the tool:

1.  That individuals can build trust with others by disclosing information about themselves.
2.  That they can learn about themselves and come to terms with personal issues with the help of feedback from others.

By explaining the idea of the Johari Window to your team, you can help team members understand the value of self-disclosure, and gently encourage people to give and accept feedback. Done sensitively, this can help people build more-trusting relationships with one another, solve issues and work more effectively as a team.

Explaining the Johari Window:
The Johari Window model consists of a foursquare grid (think of taking a piece of paper and dividing it into four parts by drawing one line down the middle of the paper from top to bottom, and another line through the middle of the paper from side-to-side). This is shown in the diagram below:

Using the Johari model, each person is represented by their own four-quadrant, or four-pane, window. Each of these contains and represents personal information – feelings, motivation, etc. – about the person, and shows whether the information is known or not known by themselves or other people.

The four quadrants are:

Quadrant 1: Open Area
What is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others.

Quadrant 2: Blind Area, or "Blind Spot"
What is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others know. This can be simple information, or can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, rejection) which are difficult for individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others.

Quadrant 3: Hidden or Avoided Area
What the person knows about him/herself that others do not.

Quadrant 4: Unknown Area
What is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others.
The process of enlarging the open quadrant vertically is called self-disclosure, a give and take process between the person and the people he/she interacts with.
As information is shared, the boundary with the hidden quadrant moves downwards. And as other people reciprocate, trust tends to build between them.

Tip 1:
Don't be rash in your self-disclosure. Disclosing harmless items builds trust. However, disclosing information which could damage people's respect for you can put you in a position of weakness.

Using the Tool:

The process of enlarging the open quadrant horizontally is one of feedback. Here the individual learns things about him- or her-self that others can see, but he or she can't.

Tip 2:
Be careful in the way you give feedback. Some cultures have a very open and accepting approach to feedback. Others don't. You can cause incredible offence if you offer personal feedback to someone who's not used to it. Be sensitive, and start gradually.
If anyone is interested in learning more about this individual, they reciprocate by disclosing information in their hidden quadrant.

For example, the first participant may disclose that he/she is a runner. The other participant may respond by adding that he/she works out regularly at the local gym, and may then disclose that the gym has recently added an indoor jogging track for winter runners.
As one's levels of confidence and self-esteem rises, it is easier to invite others to comment on one's blind spots. Obviously, active and empathic listening skills are useful in this exercise.

The Johari Window in a Team Context
Keep in mind that established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. New team members start with smaller open areas because little knowledge about the new team member has yet been shared. The size of the Open Area can be expanded horizontally into the blind space, by seeking and actively listening to feedback from other group members.

Group members should strive to assist a team member in expanding their Open Area by offering constructive feedback. The size of the Open Area can also be expanded vertically downwards into the hidden or avoided space by the sender's disclosure of information, feelings, etc about himself/herself to the group and group members.

Also, group members can help a person expand their Open Area into the hidden area by asking the sender about himself/herself. Managers and team leaders play a key role here, facilitating feedback and disclosure among group members, and by providing constructive feedback to individuals about their own blind areas.

Key Points:
In most cases, the aim in groups should be to develop the Open Area for every person.
Working in this area with others usually allows for enhanced individual and team effectiveness and productivity. The Open Area is the 'space' where good communications and cooperation occur, free from confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.

Self-disclosure is the process by which people expand the Open Area vertically. Feedback is the process by which people expand this area horizontally.
By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team.

All the success!

Peter Mclees

For more information about how to use this and other individual/team development tools contact us at: