Month: December, 2008
It’s the time of year for giving and sharing. I’m reminded of Rule #12 in Susan Stamm’s book, 42 Rules of Employee Engagement, Sharing Builds Community, which relays the importance of being connected. Susan points out that the popularity of the many social networking sites are testament to our need to connect. These “virtual” connections, though, don’t seem to be the same as the real thing.
Joe and Wanda, how do you promote sharing and connection in the workplace?
Joe Kerr: I share with my employees that they better do their job or I’ll sever their connection to the company! I don’t care if they stand on their heads in a bubble while they do their work as long as it gets done.
Wanda B. Goode: The first step is for the manager to share. Share what’s going on in the company, the business unit, the organization. Share with the team what you are doing. If the manager does not share and the team members don’t see the benefits of doing so, there’s not much hope of building a sharing culture.
Team meetings are also a great forum for sharing. Allowing team members to describe their assignments and associated challenges sparks interest and dialogue which helps build relationships. Once team members are comfortable with one another, sharing seems to come naturally.
To learn more about this rule and the other 41 in Susan Stamm’s book, click here.
Check out this post at the Managers Realm on 5 Ways to Create a Culture of Sharing.
In their book, Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Here, Robert Lefton and Jerome Loeb suggest that three questions be asked for every work assignment.
- Is the task important?
- Is the person capable of doing the task?
- Does the person enjoy the task?
If the answer is yes to all three you’ve struck gold, but of course that can’t always be the case. The authors then go on to tell how to deal with assigning work when the answer to one or more of the questions is no.
Joe and Wanda, what thought process do you go through when assigning work?
Joe Kerr: That’s easy. Jan and Tim get all the tough assignments, because they actually know what they’re doing. Sam gets the tasks that a chimp could do and that no one else wants to bother with, like washing my car. I’m not sure what Jim does, but he brings coffee in every Friday and manages the softball team, so he’s an integral part of the squad. Finally, I save the good stuff for me.
Wanda B. Goode: I have to admit that I don’t always look at work assignments in that manner. Usually I concentrate on the second question. I dole out work based on the particular person’s area of expertise. Are we doing some things that are not important? Probably. Am I pigeon holing some team members? Maybe. Am I challenging others enough and giving them the support they need to learn and grow? Not sure. I can see how my process can be improved. I think I’ll take a closer look at the book.
An electronic version of the book is available here.
It can also be purchased on Amazon.
Last post we talked about how companies don’t update the message on their Interactive Voice Response systems (IVRs)? Today we will discuss the opposite extreme. There are those that change their voicemail message every day, regardless of whether there is a change.
What do you think of that practice Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: Those that change their voice mail greeting daily are anal retentive wing nuts who mistakenly think they’re convincing others that they’re on the ball. I say spend less time trying to impress people and more time on the job!
Wanda B. Goode: I think it’s a matter of personal preference. The frequency of greeting changes is not important to me. The key is that the greeting sounds professional and that the messages are returned in a reasonable time frame – typically within 24 hours.
I do have a piece of advice for those that change their voicemail greeting every day. If you are going to change it daily, you best change it daily. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me it’s Monday when it’s Friday.
Here’s a post that favors changing voice mail messages daily.
A Better Voice Mail Greeting
Here are some other voice mail tips.
Many office workers still don’t grasp the rules of voice mail
“Please listen carefully as the menu options have changed.” How often have we been greeted with this infernal message on an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system? The kicker is I don’t recall a single instance where the menu options have actually changed.
Why do companies do this? Is it their intention to deceive and to annoy? Or, is there some grand liability associated with inadvertently directing an unsuspecting speed-dialing customer to the billing department instead of customer service? Are the ramifications so severe as to warrant the continuous play of this phrase on the off chance that a change to the options actually does take place? “They can’t blame us for the faulty transfer. We told them the options changed!”
Is it too much trouble to actually place the message on the answering machine only when there is actually a change to the menu options and remove it at an appropriate time?
Help me out here Joe and Wanda.
Joe Kerr: Look who woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!
Wanda B. Goode: It is an annoyance. It’s probably not good practice to begin interaction with your customers with a false statement? Customers deserve better.
Here’s a post on making your automated customer service system a bit more friendly.
Here’s another on tips for IVR success.
Frustrated with automated customer service? Here’s a post on how to combat it.
At a recent Toastmasters anniversary celebration a former member and small business owner spoke of how he found the Toastmasters experience so beneficial professionally that about 7 years ago he began a program where employees of his company would be given $1,000 for earning what is now called the “Competent Communicator” designation. He also agreed to pay the nominal fee for club dues. To this day, not a single employee has collected the prize. Reason? No one has completed the program. Is it that difficult? No, it’s not. He went on to say that only one employee actually made the effort to join Toastmasters! That person quit after getting through 30% of the program.
Joe Kerr: Perfectly understandable. Those Toastmasters are a wacky bunch. I keep my distance from them and advise others to do the same.
Wanda B. Goode: This is an example of how little most people are willing to do to improve. At work, we had the opportunity to take computer based training. I’m guessing one out of 25 people took advantage of it. “Do we have to do them on our own time?” was a frequent question.
I try to encourage team members to put in some time to improve, but it’s not easy. It’s difficult to get people to invest in themselves. I’d love to hear how others have had success convincing employees of the need to put in some time/money to continue to learn and grow.
Why don’t we take the necessary steps to succeed? Do we think they won’t work? Do we fear that they will? Here are some posts that offer up explanations.