I’m honored to have Bill Malkemes as a guest blogger this week. You’ll find some background on Bill at the end of this post. Enough of my rambling – here are Bill’s thoughts: Whether you are just starting out in a new job or at the end of a long career, you should always “stand up for the team.” You will find overall greater satisfaction in life in team accomplishments than individual achievements. By working within a team environment, you will develop skills that will do you in good stead for the future – the ability to set goals, recruit talent and provide focus and leadership towards a common goal are traits that are always desired by your peers and management. During your career you will be faced with situations that will test your patience and management skills. You may have one or two employees who are not up to par. If they are also hurting morale of your team (it only takes one or two of these bad apples to adversely affect your team efforts), you need to get rid of them as tactfully and professionally as you can (see Mike’s post Compassionate Leadership: Cleaning Up A Mess). This needs to be done in private, not public. There is no need to embarrass someone in a public arena. You may have a few on your team who are not top performers but are loyal and dedicated. They are still very valuable to your overall effort but it is up to you to get the most out of their talent. You will have some super performers who may require constant praise. Figure out a way to recognize them but do not go overboard on their individual accomplishments. Instead, praise them with emails and notes when appropriate (as mentioned in “The […]
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-19 14:04:002013-11-07 14:18:32Leadership Perspectives: Stand Up For The Team - Guest Blogger
Have you ever made a hiring mistake? The candidate looked brilliant on paper. They blew everyone away in the interviews. They were local so there as no relo cost involved. They even took your first salary offer without negotiating (danger Will Robinson!). And then they showed up for work… And all went well for the first month. Everyone loved him. He was gregarious and got to know everyone in the organization. And one day you woke up and realized he hadn’t done anything yet. Not one iota of impact. And you started to wonder… Time went on. Less and less got done. Others in the organization began to notice and even grumble that the rock star you hired was not a real rock star but was actually a used up member of Poison from the ’80s (appropriate because this guy seems to be looking for “Nothin’ but a good time!”). It became abundantly clear to everyone you had made a hiring mistake. It’s okay. It happens to all of us. There’s nothing wrong with making hiring mistakes. It’s forgivable. What’s unforgivable is not doing something about it (remember You see it, you own it?). The best leaders I’ve seen quickly try to address performance (or lack thereof) with the individual. They set near term, measurable improvement goals. And if, unfortunately, the individual fails to meet them, they are moved on to another opportunity (either inside the company or outside of it). But doing this takes a degree of intestinal fortitude that is difficult for many of us to summon. Such actions require us to first admit we made a mistake (admission is the first step to remission…).
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-14 19:10:002018-12-28 19:28:09Compassionate Leadership: Cleaning Up A Mess
You’ve already been exposed to a few of my customer service diatribes and bad customer service experiences in Customer Disservice. You’ve also seen how little things make a huge difference in my post on Customer Service Without Boundaries. What’s the difference? Two little awkwardly shaped pieces of cartilage covered with skin (and in my case a few errant black hairs that I occasionally have to pluck so I don’t look like Ernest Borgnine). Figure it out? EARS! Listening makes all the difference. Whether or not your front-line employee (or even you for that matter) takes that moment to genuinely not just hear, but absorb and appreciate the concern of your customer is the determinant of which way the interaction will go. Use your ears and everything will be okay. Fail to do so and you could potentially create a blogger who has no problem whatsoever berating your or your company in front of millions (I’m a nice guy though – I don’t name names…). “Thanks Mike. Helpful advice. ‘Listen.’ Gee whiz… you’re like the Yoda of customer service. You’ve given me nothing helpful or practical in this post. You must have been a consultant at some point in your career…” You must be a new reader (welcome to the blog by the way!). Regular readers of these posts know the drill. I tee up an issue, highlight why it’s important, tell a story or two, occasionally soliloquize, then give you one or two real-world tools to try out in your business. Strap in. Here we go.
Every once in a while I have the pleasure of interacting with a service provider who goes above and beyond. They redefine boundaries and set new bars for what the expectation of customer service should be. While they’re rare gems, you can find them if you look hard enough. I’d like to explore a couple of such experiences and deconstruct what made these experiences so great. It was the morning of Christmas Eve and all through the house, no one was sleeping including my wife, my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother-in-law, the dogs or my kids… The holidays at my house tend to be a bit chaotic. With a mix of excitement and dread, I prepared for my annual sojourn to the fish counter. I needed to buy the traditional seven fish for the Christmas Eve dinner (I’m Italian. It’s what we do. No one can tell you why exactly – there are about ten different explanations for the tradition. All I know is I’m not tempting bad ancestral juju by breaking with the ancient ways). I ended up at Whole Foods because they have incredibly high quality fresh catches. They’re also one of the few places where you can buy smelts in central Ohio (it’s another Italian thing…). I bought my seven fish and headed to the register. As the cashier was ringing up my final items, I realized I had forgotten the eggs to bread the fish. Under my breath I said “Shoot. Eggs.” Now in 95% of the rest of the grocery stores in America, this comment would have gone nowhere (which is what I intended). Not here. This young woman (let’s call her “Julie”) heard my comment, stopped what she was doing and asked “Did you forget your eggs sir?”
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-07 21:28:002018-06-21 13:26:18Customer Service Without Boundaries
Ah to be young again. To be able to make mistakes repeatedly and egregiously. To have paternal and maternal figures in our careers who forgive the errors of our youth and kindly guide us to better answers… I miss those days. One of the best “thinking” mentors I had was very understanding of the errant ways of youth and my penchant to find issues all around. I’m blessed to have run across him because he taught me a new way to look at the world. It started innocently enough. I was new to consulting at the time and was bold, brash and driven (nine years in the Army and spending a few of those years on tanks will do that to you). I was serving a particularly ornery client on a tremendously thorny set of issues. Long hours and frequent travel were wearing on my patience. Friday finally rolled around. As consultants, we’d all return to the mother ship on Fridays and spend our day in the home office sharing best practices and developing new strategic frameworks (which is code for we’d complain about the hours we were logging and how difficult either our clients or our partners managing our projects were being). On this particular Friday, I was good and spun up. It had been a train wreck of a week at the client. The progress review went poorly. They were pushing back hard on our recommendations. They put us in a cold, drafty, smelly conference room (I think it used to be a janitor’s closet). Subway was closed for renovations and I had to eat at JoJo’s Subs (don’t ask…). As I was bemoaning my plight to a colleague, our office director came around the corner (he was also the senior partner on my client engagement). He asked […]
A really cool thing happened today – I had a referral come to this blog from a prestigious newspaper’s website forum on career and management styles. At first I was like “Wow! I’ve been noticed by a leading periodical.” Then I read the content of one of the posts on the site and lost my mind. No – the post wasn’t something bad about me or my blog. It was offering advice that made me cringe as a professional manager. The advice was about how to give critical feedback to your team members. It suggested: “Use the ‘sandwich technique.’ When delivering a critique, it’s important to censure the behavior, not the individual. One of the easiest ways to encourage receptivity is to preface your criticism with a positive statement about the person’s job performance or character. Once you’ve fortified his ego, deliver the bad news. Ensure that he received the message, and knows how to correct the situation. Then close the conversation with an affirmation.” Pardon me. I just had an embolism. Sorry. I don’t subscribe to this particular way of doing business. Where I come from, we call the above “The But(t) Sandwich.” You’re offering kind words at the beginning and end (the bread) and the criticism in the middle (the meat). The word “but” typically separates the bread from the meat and the meat from the bread. Unfortunately, while it looks appetizing on the menu, it goes down like a butt (deliberately spelled with two t’s) sandwich. Allow me to elaborate:
At some level, all of us are looking to get a favorable decision on ideas we put forth. Whether it’s being able to hire someone new, launch a new project, make a sale, or get approval for an acquisition. Too often, though, we overlook an important and time-saving point – does what we’re proposing “change the answer?” If it doesn’t, we’re wasting time and energy because nothing will ever come of all our hard work. Let me explain with a couple of examples. I was lobbying for an acquisition. I built the financial models and my recommendation was to do the deal. Another individual in the approval chain was reviewing the economic model and started pushing on some of the costs in the pro forma future P&L. He believed they were too low (and therefore we were overstating the benefits of doing the deal). He and I went back and forth for about an hour on whether a particular ratio was 10.2% (my estimate) or 10.5% (his estimate). On another item in the model we argued over whether it should be $37,500 or $42,000 (my and his estimates respectively). We spent a lot of time in the conversation (we were talking by phone). Eventually, I got tired of the argument. I put him on speakerphone, muted my end and let him babble for a while (he wasn’t listening to me anyway). After a while I got bored listening to the diatribe and started messing with the model. I looked at the cells we were arguing about and simply popped 50% and $80,000 into the model just to humor myself. That’s when the light bulb went off – even with those numbers in the model, the deal still made good economic sense. I took my end off mute and quickly said […]
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-28 06:46:002020-06-15 06:45:04Getting to "Yes" - Does It Change The Answer?
We’ve already talked about what a strategic plan is (and isn’t) in our discussion: “strat plan isn’t ‘budget +10%.’” Hopefully now that you’ve got a direction mapped out and a list of initiatives you’re going to pursue, you’re ready for a little tactical strategic advice (yes that phrase is supposed to sound oxymoronic but it’s actually deliberate and accurate). Repeat after me: “No.” Try it again. This time with conviction: “NO.” Strategy is inherently about saying “no.” It’s about the choices we make and the choices we don’t. I’ve seen plenty of strategies completely derailed due to an inability to say “no” to that incremental initiative that’s kind of “on strategy” but not really. The more effective you are at saying “no” to non-core work and singularly focusing your team on the end vision you’ve laid out, the higher the likelihood of you achieving your strategic goals. Not saying “no,” on the other hand, leads to dilution of your efforts and strategy by incrementalism (which is rarely effective). Let’s walk this logical strategic dog, shall we? Take the following points as true: You know where you want to end up and what your overarching strategy is You have a finite amount of resources at your disposal. You’ve defined the 3-5 most critical initiatives to help you achieve your goal. There are a substantial number of “cool” opportunities you could pursue in addition to those 3-5 you’ve already identified. The last point is where things get hairy.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-24 21:46:002018-06-20 15:51:15Strategy is About Saying "No."