Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Month: March, 2007

Employee Training and Development

31 March, 2007 (16:44) | Employee Retention, Management, Recognition, Training | By: Administrator

As a manager it is important that your team members are qualified to do their ever-changing jobs. Obtaining training for them is one way to do so. Let’s find out how Joe and Wanda approach training.

Joe Kerr: I try not to train team members if I can at all help it. First of all it negatively impacts my numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I always put some money for training in my budget, but that’s only for sand-bagging purposes, so I look good when I come in under budget at the end of the year. I need to look out for number one.

Training is over-rated. Take me for instance. I haven’t had any training in years. Haven’t read a book since college, and it hasn’t impacted me in the least. This is the school of hard knocks! If employees can’t learn how to do their jobs on their own, I’ll find others in the market that can. Besides, who wants to spend big bucks training someone only to see them go to another company for more money? Talk about a slap in the face!

Wanda B. Goode: Training is a great motivator. It generates increased productivity. Employees are so eager to use their skills to the benefit of the team.

I push for as many training dollars as I can get, and avoid dipping into the funds for other purposes. Sometimes budget cuts get announced mid year. I try my best to avoid impacting training.

Realizing that training dollars are limited, I also work to maximize them. Our team uses the train-the-trainer method where a select few people attend a class and then train the rest of the team. It’s a lot cheaper, and it’s very effective. Peter Drucker stated, “Knowledge workers and services workers learn most when they teach.” I agree with that and have shared it with the team on many occasions. I encourage team members to constantly teach one another. I do my share of teaching as well. Everyone benefits as a result. The ideas that people come up with are amazing!

Some fear training their employees. They don’t want to spend money to train workers, only to see them quit and use their new skills to benefit a competitor. I don’t buy that. In Stephen R. Covey book, “The Speed of Trust,” there is a quote from an unidentified CEO. Someone asked him, “What if you train everyone and they all leave?” He responded, “What if we don’t train them and they all stay?” Now that can keep you up at night!

We need to retain good people in order to thrive in today’s global economy. Employees need to continue to learn and grow if we are to change and re-invent our groups and our companies. Employee training and development is essential for long term success.

Workplace Solicitation

20 March, 2007 (21:39) | Management, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

Girls Scout cookies, Longaberger baskets, church raffles. What, if anything, is acceptable to sell in the workplace.

Joe Kerr: 2 rules. Anything I’m selling is OK, and anything my boss is selling is OK. As a matter of fact, I advise people to sell their own blood if necessary to come up with the coin to buy as much from the boss as possible. That’s the way to get ahead.

Wanda B. Goode: Some companies have very strict non-solicitation policies. That’s not the case at my company. Personally I’m OK with selling as long as it is not active selling. I have guidelines in place that do not allow employees to go from cube to cube asking coworkers for money. It’s too intrusive. Rather, brochures can be placed in our common area. If people are really interested in what is for sale, they will buy.

I also have a personal rule. I never sell anything myself, because even if there is no overt pressure, I believe people still feel obligated to buy from their boss. Why subject team members to that? Find another way.

Employee Surveys

11 March, 2007 (23:51) | Employee Retention, Management | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda, how do you feel about employee surveys?

Joe Kerr: Bunk! A waste of time. I hear from whining employees 360 days/yr. I don’t need a special occasion to get beaten up! I’m forced to go through the motions and put a plan in place to address concerns I can’t do anything about anyway. Leave me alone and let me get back to work!

Wanda B. Goode: It’s always good to get feedback from employees. No matter how easy we think it is for them to talk to us, some just don’t feel comfortable. An anonymous survey gives them and additional outlet.

There are some rules that I like to follow:

First, I encourage participation, but I don’t force it. If survey participation is low, your group/organization is probably in worse shape than you might think.

Second, I share all the data – the good and the not-so-good. There’s no need to filter. It’s also helpful to compare results with those of prior surveys in order to gauge performance.

That leads to the third rule – do something about the not-so-good. If you don’t use the survey as a way to improve, you squander its value. Furthermore, distrust and complacency will set in, resulting in a lack of participation. If you show an interest and act on the concerns you will slowly gain trust and improve the organization.

Customer Complaint

4 March, 2007 (18:42) | Customer Service, Management | By: Administrator

Most managers don’t relish dealing with customer complaints. Joe and Wanda are no exception. Let’s find out how they dealt with their latest one.

Joe Kerr: This is fresh in my mind. Just had a major customer complaint last week. I’m still fired up about it. The guy called me directly and ripped me a new one! I told him it was the new guy’s fault and I’d never let it happen again. I had to give the customer a refund to shut him up. It’ll probably cost me my bonus this quarter. I felt a little better after I laid into the person that caused the problem. I made an example of him in front of the team. I wanted to make it clear that I was not going to tolerate anything like that again. 

Wanda B. Goode: When customers complain, I find it very important to hear them out. Although it can be uncomfortable situation, if handled well, there is a great opportunity to recover.

It doesn’t happen all that often, but we did get a complaint a couple months ago. I let the client vent. I told her I understood how she felt. Although I had no idea who was at fault, I apologized for the inconvenience. Then I asked her if I could take some time to resolve the issue and get back to her. She said fine.

I checked with the team member to get his story. There are typically two sides to every story, so it’s important to remain open when collecting the facts. Sometimes we are entirely in the right. Sometimes we’re not. I try to use these experiences as learning opportunities. In this case it wasn’t clear that we were in the wrong, but it was clear that we could have done some things to improve the likelihood of a more positive customer experience. We talked about what we could have done better and updated our procedures accordingly.

I got back to the client, apologize again and thanked her. I explained that we put some things in place to avoid a reoccurrence. She must have been satisfied, because she is still a client. Sometimes demonstrating that you care enough to listen and to correct a mistake is all that it takes to recover.