Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rewarding Attendance

Crisp: Attacking Absenteeism: Positive Solutions to an Age-Old Problem (Crisp Fifty-Minute Series)This is actually quite an interesting topic - should you hand out an additional reward to someone for coming into work?  Basically give them a reward for just doing their job - something that they are getting paid for anyways?

Well to answer the question I'm afraid this time I'm going to have be a bit ambivalent so ... Yes and No ... or it depends would be my answer.  Allow me to explain.

What is the structure of your company?  Do you have a forward thinking organization that allows remote working or does everyone have to be "in the office" everyday?  If you do allow remote working, then lets be honest - what possible reason is there for someone being late?  They need to roll out of bed and sit down at a computer!  There should not be any tolerance for people taking advantage in this situation.  If however you do have an office based culture you are going to have to take into account weather and other travel disruptions - while all of your staff should be expected to be in the office 10-15min before the start of their shift (after all they will need time to grab that first coffee or smoke and get their computer setup prior to getting started with their job) there are sometimes issues that are outside of your employees control that will impact them.  Make sure that you are able to track these instances and also allow/disallow based on the circumstances appropriately.

 
The Controlling Absenteeism Pocketbook (Management Pocketbook Series)Sickness and Absenteeism - well people get sick ... you should really not be considering this as a measurement UNLESS you see a definite pattern - for example the employee is ALWAYS sick on Mondays or Fridays OR they are sick for a couple of days just before they go on holiday.  If this happens it must be dealt with and immediately.  Otherwise follow your standard guidelines - probably something like 3days+ of sick in a row require a Doctor's note etc...  One important point - if someone is sick and you do offer remote work as an option ... they should not choose to work from home (if they are scheduled to be in the office) and claim that they were sick.  If they are truly sick they should not be working.  If they are not sick - they should be in the office!
Amazon.com $50 Gift Card (0109)
Now hopefully you are capturing lateness and absenteeism as part of schedule adherence and rewarding it appropriately in your end of your reviews or something similar.  However there is no harm in having an employee rewarded for good behaviour and something small that is made public to the rest of the team is a great incentive.  Heck even a gift certificate to Amazon or the equivalent for a not too large sum is something that people will strive for.  A friend mentioned in passing that he had heard of one company that had problems with absenteeism introduced a free lottery for staff - however tickets were only provided to employees that made it into work on Fridays - if you think about it ... this is more of a carrot than a stick and as they say "you'll catch more flys with honey than ... "

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Treat Your Job Search - Like a Job!

The Job Search Solution: The Ultimate System for Finding a Great Job Now!


How do you ensure that your CV does not just disappear into the void and that recruiting managers remember your name when the role that you are suited for finally comes available?
    Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters: Features the Latest Information on: Online Postings, Email Techniques, and Follow-up Strategies (Cover Letters That Knock 'em Dead)101 Best Cover Letters
  1. Well firstly - ensure that you are applying for those roles that you are actually suited for and that your CV and resume shows how your skills suit the position.  If you are trying to get into a new industry - expect to start at a more junior position and ensure that you highlight why you are suitable in your covering letter (you were going to send a covering letter weren't you?)
  2. Ensure that your CV/Resume and Cover Letter (remember the cover letter always ... its extremely important and gives you a great area to highlight your skills outside of the 2 page CV/Resume format) include the key-words that the job specification indicates are necessary for the role.  However do not just fill your CV up with key words - no one will be fooled - ensure that you job experience matches the role (see point 1 above) and that you are able to speak to this skill in an interview.
  3. Formatting, formatting, formatting.  Presentation is key here - you want to ensure that you've minimized any spelling or grammar errors and also that your CV stands out (by that I DO NOT mean print it on fluorescent pink paper!) from the crowd.  Ensure that your name and contact details are clear and use legible font that can be decreased in size without losing clarity throughout your document - I would suggest Tahoma/Arial/Verdana as they are all very clear even down to Font Size 6 allowing you to get a lot of information on the page.  However - try to ensure that there is enough white space on the page as too much text is just going to kill the reviewer and they will not bother reading the whole document.
  4. Structure - in addition to the overall look and feel of your document you need to ensure that you are emphasizing your achievements (not your job duties ... people know what a Customer Service Representative does, but they don't know that you've sourced and built the ticketing system that the company is using for example!).  The top of your CV should have a couple of sentences speaking about what you are looking for and why you would be a good fit for the role. 
  5. Network - 60-70% or more of jobs are never advertised - well, not in the public domain anyways.  They come about through word of mouth and the jobs are sourced and filled by people that other people know!  You should always ensure that you have your name on others lips and keep yourself active on sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook for that matter!
  6. If you've been lucky enough to secure an interview - make sure that you've done your homework on the company!  Come dressed to impress at the interview and ensure that you send a follow up email or letter after the interview thanking them for their time.  Remember they might be seeing 10 or 100's of people for the role and if you are one of the early people you want to get them to remember you again when they are closer to making the decision.
  7. Treat your job search like a job!  That means that you need to maintain a list of contacts (recruiters) and websites that you have advertised yourself on and you should spend 2-3 hours a day looking for new opportunities and following up on previous ones.  Do NOT just send an email with your CV and expect that you will get the job immediately thereafter.  To get the right role takes motivation and effort and you shouldn't give up after 1 or 2 strike outs. 



So to reiterate - 
    How to REALLY use LinkedIn
  • Apply only to jobs where you are most suited 
  • Format your CV and cover letter to include the key words that they are looking for 
  • Check your CV for spelling/grammar errors 
  • Ensure your CV is structured correctly 
  • Network 
  • Follow Up 
  • Treat it like a job!- During a recession it often takes 17+ interviews to get a job so keep your chin up.



 You may find these related posts of interest:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Customers vs. Satisfied Customers



Choosing your customer - if you had a choice, would you pick a satisfied customer or a happy customer?  Well, first you need to understand the difference between these.  Neither of them are unhappy with you, your product or service so what differentiates them?

What is a satisfied customer?

You could say that they that felt OK after dealing with us. Their needs were met. The service was OK. The experience was OK. They are satisfied (even happy) with their “purchase”. They may or may not talk about their experience with others. They may or may not refer someone to us. Their overall feeling is between neutral and positive and their experiences with us have not been negative or disappointing. As we can see this is good but NOT great. This customer can also be satisfied with our competitors.


What is a happy customer?  

This type of customer feels GREAT about dealing with us.  Their needs were met and/or exceeded. The service delivery was GREAT. The experience was GREAT. They will talk about their experience. They will proactively refer someone to us. Their overall feeling about us is wonderful and their experiences have been memorable. 

Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends ... Pete Blackshaw 

Now I think if I was to ask you that question again, the answer would be fairly obvious - but the question that still remains is why is the happy customer better for us and our business? The satisfied one isn't going anywhere after all?


The simple answer is referrals and word of mouth.  Happy and loyal customers are the ones that think of us first when they have a need that must be met and perhaps of even more importance - they tell their contacts about how great we are also!  Studies have shown that for businesses with a focus on Customer Service, new business through referrals amount to 20% of all new business generated!

While the saying goes "there is no such thing as bad advertising", obviously good (& free) advertising from loyal customers and advocates is better.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Leadership on the Front Line

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
Gund Sesame Street Cookie Monster 12" Plush

OK - its great to have friends at work.  In fact I think its a necessity - there are very few of us who would do this (or any) job for no pay and as such work is just that ... its work.  If it was easy and always fun it would be called PLAY.  So with that being said, having someone to talk to at the water cooler is a good idea ... however ... there is a difference when you are a manager!  There is a line that shouldn't and mustn't be crossed and that is the line of professionalism.  So how do you lead these people without seeming like an unapproachable monster?  Well here are some hints and ideas for you:
    Time to Talk: Making the workplace more enjoyable through the conversations you have with your team.
  • Be honest - there are obviously things that you can and cannot share with your employees - terminations and reviews comes to mind! - but as long as you make it clear to your staff that there are some things that you cannot answer that should suffice.  Let them know that in whatever you are telling them you are being as honest and as candid as you possibly can be.  Remember if you get caught in a lie, its not only going to impact the employee that you lied to, but everyone else also once they hear about it ... after all if you could lie to one of their peers about something, whats to tell them that you're not lying to them also?
  • Communicate - talk to your teamALWAYS.  Constant and continual feedback on performance is imperative.  They need to know how they stand in the company and in their team, what they can do to improve and if they've done something wrong this is even more important.  Most employees are in the job to do the best that they can do - there have been very few instances in my career that an employee just didn't care and actively campaigned to get terminated (that's a story for another day!) - and its up to you to tell them how to do this.  In addition to keeping your staff informed and motivated however this has a direct impact on you - do you remember my previous post about Performance Appraisals (if not, click here) - trying to do a year end performance appraisal without giving the employee feedback throughout the year is going to be extremely difficult unless you've decided to grade them at the highest possible level.  If you've not been telling them what they can do to improve and trying to help them to do this they have every right to rip you apart in the review meeting!
  • Respect - Ensure that you are on time for and prepared for any meetings you have with anyone in your team.  In or out of the office your comments about other staff, management and the company in general should always be of the highest calibre.  NEVER let yourself get into a blame game and if you're in a meeting with someone - anyone - pay attention!  This means: 
  • stop looking at your email, 
  • stop looking at your blackberry and 
  • stop answering the phone. 
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)
Now where do you go to blow of steam?  Lets be honest (which I always encourage - see point 1!) managing is a hard job.  If you're in a difficult situation with your company or a member of your team you sometimes need to be able to say things that are outside the scope.  This is where your manager comes in and if you have a large enough and established enough company - your peers - come in.  They will be able to assist you in your decision making process and give you clear unbiased opinions on any decisions that you are concerned about.  If you're not comfortable utilizing that framework - heck ask me!  I'll give you a completely unbiased opinion and off course there are also tons of networking related groups available online that you can frequent that will be able to provide you guidance in your field too.

Leadership and management isn't easy ... well managing badly can be very easy ... its becoming a great manager that takes work.  I hope you choose to make the effort.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time Management 101


Time Management from the Inside Out, second edition: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule--and Your Life
Time Management is generally assumed to refer to the development of processes and tools that increase productivity and efficiency. However, this does not always have to be the case. Good time management is about knowing what to do and when.

Successful Time Management For DummiesThe first step in this process is determining what your end goal is – what is it that you are trying to accomplish and what is the shortest path for you in reaching that goal? Once you know this then you can plan the steps appropriately that are achievable and realistic to realize this objective in a timely and efficient manner. Along the way the things that are taking you away from this achievement should be removed or reprioritized so that they do not impact your target negatively.

Time Management: Increase Your Personal Productivity And Effectiveness (Harvard Business Essentials)In addition it is extremely important that one of your goals includes focusing on your personal life. Having huge business objectives and targets is all well and good, but without an equal amount of focus on the people that care and nurture you, the real underlying reason for your business goals just does not make sense.

A good post on Time Management unrelated to business but still applicable is available here.

Remember – the only thing that you cannot get back again is time. Once it's gone, it's gone so make sure that you are using it wisely and well.

Cancellation - the final step in a long and drawn out process

Dealing with customers that want to cancel is hard. I know - I'm personally in the midst of trying to cancel my Television/Internet serv...