A Guide to Being a Servant Leader

A Guide to Being a Servant Leader

The most successful leaders focus on developing their team and enabling their people to be great. This means giving your employees learning and development opportunities and removing obstacles that get in the way of them providing great service for their colleagues and customers.

When you become a servant leader and focus on removing obstacles and developing your team to be extraordinary, your employees will give you their discretionary energy, motivation and engagement, which translates into better service both internally and externally.

Servant leaders believe that their talent would rather be awesome than ordinary. They understand that their primary role is to help their team excel with their customers, and that they won’t get there by micromanaging or being a bosshole. Read more about How to Identify a Bosshole here.

Here are a few guidelines you can follow to become a Servant Leader:

1.Focus on developing your employees.  Give your employees opportunities to learn and grow within your organization.  This will give them skills and competencies to excel with their colleagues and customers.  It will also show them that you believe in them and their future at the organization, which will motivate them to give you their energy in return.

2.Recognize and reward your employees. When you recognize your employees for a job well done, it reinforces a culture of appreciation.  Other employees will see their peers being recognized and will strive to do better to meet and exceed the expectations of their leaders and colleagues.

3.Provide direction and guidance.  It is important that you provide clear guidelines, expectations and direction for your employees so they know what is expected of them.  When they struggle with a project, be sure to give them opportunities to learn and improve by offering a helping hand, advice and guidance in how to best execute the task.

4.Get to know employees beyond the job.  When you get to know your beyond just their role in your organization, you will know what motivates them to excel, and you will be able to better personalize their experience and the recognition you give them for a job well done.

5.Be flexible with policies. Give employees the opportunity to make good decisions within the scope of your company values. It’s good to examine policies and procedures that are outdated and unnecessary.  For example, is a strict dress code holding your organization back from having a more casual culture? Could you offer flex time or work from home accommodations for employees who care for children or aging parents?

6.Communicate openly and effectively with your employees. When you make communication a priority in your organization your employees will feel valued and feel like their voice is being heard.  When you let them know what is going on in the organization they will be more dedicated to its future growth.

Servant leaders experience much higher levels of engagement and energy from their employees.  Plus, they are twice as likely to stay with an organization when they feel their leaders develop and recognize them.

Develop Your Employees for the Digital Kick Back

Develop Your Employees for the Digital Kick Back

Technology is proliferating our business practices and all aspects of our lives and we have become extremely reliant on technology and automation to run our businesses efficiently. Yet, there is a digital kickback taking place whereby now, more than ever, customers want both highly personalized and high tech interactions with the organizations they buy from (and work for).

What this means for front-line workers is that they must be prepared for this digital kickback by providing their customers with personalized experiences that only another human being can provide, while also remaining as fast, friendly and hassle-free as their robot counterparts.

As an organization there are several ways that you can prepare your employees to become irreplaceable and create exceptional human experiences that your customers crave in this digital revolution. The principles that will protect their jobs from being automated by a robot are:

Being friendly & fun. Being friendly and fun cannot necessarily be trained, it is a personality trait that is engrained in humans at a young age. When you are friendly and fun with your employees and customers, it makes the interaction personal, light and shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but are choosing to create a joyful experience for everyone. You can encourage friendliness and fun in your organization by giving your employees the autonomy to make good decisions that reflect your company culture and values. And create a culture that embraces fun and isn’t stifled by too many unnecessary policies and procedures.

Being competent & committed. In order to be competent and committed you must first make sure that all obstacles that would get in the way of creating an exceptional experience are removed. This means thoroughly and accurately training and developing all employees to understand the workflow, what their role is in providing an exceptional customer experience, and how to execute any tasks that will be expected of them to carry out that experience. Then they must be committed to providing that experience, no matter what. When you invest in your employee’s learning and development, they will invest their discretionary energy back into creating an exceptional internal experience for their colleagues and external experience for their customers. And when you recognize and reward them for doing that, they will be committed to continue to create that experience at every touch point.

Being authentic, empathetic & hospitable. In other words, you must treat each individual employee and customer uniquely how they want to be treated. You must be able to empathize with their needs and wants and be able to authentically create a personalized experience that makes them feel welcome. This will create an exceptional experience for them that will create decades of customer loyalty.

Providing these personalized, humanized experiences for your employees and customer throughout the digital revolution is one excellent way to differentiate yourself from other organizations and be a winner in the experience economy now and for decades to come.

If you want to read more about the 7 Personalization Principles discussed above, click here and we’ll mail you a free copy of The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the principles to thrive in these disruptive times.

Skilling Up For Service

Skilling Up For Service

If you want to remove the parking brake that is holding your organization back from reaching its best growth and potential, your job as a leader is to develop your employees with skills, and remove obstacles that get in the way of them serving their colleagues and customers.

There have been millions upon millions of dollars spent around the globe on employee engagement and improving customer service.  In my experience the missing ingredient to unlocking your employees’ discretionary energy and providing your customers with better service is enabling your employees with the skills needed to excel today and the development needed to advance tomorrow.

When you deliver skills that increase the competency of your workers, they will become more engaged and energized and will be more knowledgeable and able to provide better service for your customers.

As a leader, you want to hire people who are smarter than you and who have a passion for growth and learning.  If you think about it, your employees should know more about their areas of specialization than anybody else, and their decisions are likely to have an impact throughout the company.  That is why it is crucial to invest in their skills and competencies, so they can make smart decisions on behalf of your company and provide their colleagues and customers with amazing service.

Here are 6 ways to skill up your workers for service:

  1. Provide engaging learning to develop skills that make your employees more marketable, ideally internally, but maybe someday externally.
  2. Remove obstacles and bad or outdated policies that can negatively affect employee enablement. Learn more about how to become a Chief Obstacle Remover in this video.
  3. Leverage your employees’ distinct abilities and ensure the right people are in the right roles.
  4. Focus on giving your employees non-monetary rewards such as career growth and recognition programs. This will incentivize and motivate them to practice and use their skills with their colleagues and customers.
  5. Provide life skills that will differentiate your employees in any role they are in. Life skills, often referred to as ‘soft-skills’ are what differentiate humans from robots. These are the skills that help create personalized, authentic interactions with colleagues and customers.
  6. Layer in skills over time, with a focus on follow up, reinforcement and action planning. If you repeat and reinforce your learning, they will be able to access their skills when they need them.

Now that you know why it’s important to skill up for service, read more about the Top 4 Things Your Employees Want From Their Learning Program.

Omni Channel Surf Much?

Omni Channel Surf Much?

One of the biggest challenges that every organization faces today is having a consistently exceptional experience across all service channels in order to grow and retain their customers.  Customers service nowadays is expected to be an omni-channel experience.  

With the growth of technology, customers are demanding flexible touch points more than ever, no matter which individual they are interacting with.   All customers want fast, friendly, hassle-free experiences regardless of the channel or touchpoint they are dealing with. 

What this means for your organization is that you must improve your service at every touch point and through every channel by proving fast, friendly, personalized, hassle-free interactions that make your customers stay longer, buy more and refer others. 

Take a minute to do a quick check in of your omni-channel experience.  What is your customer experience like on mobile/desktop/tablet/in store/on the phone? What obstacles are in the way of your employees proving your customers a fast, friendly hassle-free experience through each of these channels?  As a leader, how can you remove those obstacles?

Here are 5 check-in points to improve your omni-channel customer experience. Ask yourself these questions for each service channel:

  1. Do you communicate clearly and effectively?
  2. Do you create personalized experiences?
  3. Do you honor your commitments?
  4. How do you deal with customer service recovery?
  5. Do you work to continuously improve your customer experience?

For more information on how to remove obstacles in your internal service channel so you can have exceptional external experiences read Your Customer Service is Only as Great as Your Internal Service.

Got Habits?

Got Habits?

Until recently the word ‘habit’ had a negative connotation to it. I’m sure you have heard the adage that it takes 21 days to break a habit.  Well many entrepreneurs and leaders went on to turn that idea on its head and create positive habits to help in their lives and business.

In business, what is it about our habits that differentiate us from our competitors?  And how can we harness the potential of positive habits to increase our productivity, personal interactions and profit?

Many books, blogs and research papers have examined the habits and routines of successful leaders, millionaires, entrepreneurs and celebrities lately.  I’ve read my fair share of these books and garnered some helpful tips which I’ve summarized below.

Start with your morning routine.

Many leaders attribute their productivity, mental clarity and ability to be mindful with their colleagues and employees with taking time to check in with themselves in the morning.  Whether that means waking up earlier, meditating, exercising, or other routines and habits that work for you.  Take a step back and look at what you’re currently doing and where you can improve.  Many people trade in solid morning habits for hitting the snooze button, but ask yourself if that is where your time is best spent (sometimes it is!) or if you could wake up an extra 30 minutes earlier to clear your mind, make a healthy breakfast, and set your daily intentions.  Having these habits will start your day off in the right direction.

Minimize interruptions.

Listening to your colleagues is so important, but being interrupted incessantly can be extremely detrimental to productivity.  Try having recurring check in times or meetings where you can knock off a list of concerns, questions and delegation all at once and save interruptions for things that are truly urgent. For you, this might mean checking email during certain windows during the day (instead of continuously), or only having meetings at certain hours.  Look at what works best for you and your daily energy levels as they ebb and flow.

Make recognition a habit.

Many organizations do not make recognition a habit and wait until  their annual or quarterly reviews to provide their employees with feedback and recognition.  However, the best leaders recognize their employees’ day to day, moment to moment and at every touch point.  Recognizing your employees and showing them appreciation for a job well done, will not only increase their motivation and discretionary energy, but it will also make you feel good in return.  Both of which will increase your organization’s productivity, engagement and ultimately profits!  Check out my last blog, If You’re A Leader You Better Not Suck at Recognition for more information on why recognition is critical in your organization for better engagement.

If You’re Not Changing You’re Not Growing

If You’re Not Changing You’re Not Growing

Change is the cornerstone of growth and all great breakthroughs in life and in business.

If you’re not changing, you’re not learning and growing.  As a leader, it is crucial for you and your employees to be open and committed to always changing and growing, because it will allow you to reflect and pivot when things are not going so well, and flourish with the momentum when they are.

New York Times Best-selling author, and #1 Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith said that leaders should commit to choosing change rather than being compliant and committed to a path that no longer serves them.

To be a great leader you must commit to choosing change and saying — I do what I do because I choose to, not because I have to.

Goldsmith says, the more committed we are to a path the harder it is to admit, that it is the wrong path.  A great leader is willing to let go of projects that do not work.

Change can be scary and uncomfortable at first, but being compliant and stuck on a path that no longer works can literally suck the life out of you.

Remember, if you’re not changing it really means you’re not growing.

When have you decided to choose change and how did it serve you?  Or rather, is there a time you didn’t choose to change and got stuck on a path that didn’t serve you?

I’d love to hear your personal stories — share in the comments below!

How To Keep Your Employees and Attract New Ones

How To Keep Your Employees and Attract New Ones

The research is in and it’s loud and clear that organizations are struggling to both keep their talent and keep their talent engaged.  In fact, 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job.  Plus, 91% said the last time they switched jobs, they left their employer to do so (Gallup, 2017). 

This is a major problem for employers because employee turnover can cost anywhere from 30-400% of an employee’s salary (depending on their seniority and level of specialization) (TLNT, 2015). 

So how can you keep your current employees happy and engaged and attract new ones?

The key is in providing them with opportunities for learning and development within your organization.   Learning and development is consistently listed as one of the key drivers of employee engagement.  Your talent want to learn new skills and competencies that will make them more marketable now while they are with you, and for wherever they may go in future.

When you focus on engaging your employees with learning and development opportunities (in addition to monetary and non-monetary recognition), you are building a company culture that says that you care about them as human beings, and not just profit making machines.

In order to attract new talent, the stories being told by your internal and external customers must be exceptional.  Creating these exceptional stories starts by building your internal culture and engaging your employees.

There are many perks and benefits that you can implement in your organization in order to effectively engage your talent.  Read more about the Top 6 Benefits and Perks to Engage your Talent here.

For more information on implementing and employee engagement program in your organization so that you can retain your employees and attract new ones, get in touch for a 15-minute demo of GES’s Organizational Engagement solutions.

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

Most millennial workers are approaching their careers with high expectations.   They want to find a role and organization that fit their life and give them a sense of contributing to something bigger than themselves.  They are very interested in doing work that feels meaningful and purposeful to them.  And they want to be able to use their talents to do their best work and are consistently looking for opportunities to get better through learning and development.

Now when it comes to engaging your talent, millennials are no different from every other worker in every organization – one size does not fit all.  Every generation of talent want to be treated how they want to be treated.  As a leader, this means uniquely enabling each worker with the personalized skills, competencies, rewards and recognition that they want, when they want it.

Many argue that workers of the non-millennial generations tend to stay longer in their jobs, so that makes them more worth investing in.  However, with the new work economy moving so fast and continuously changing, even so-called loyal employees will move on if they are offered a better opportunity to learn and grow with an organization.

As a generation that is growing in the workplace and swiftly moving into more management and leadership positions, learning is consistently rated as a top driver of employee engagement and attraction among millennials.  Gallup found that, “Millennials are more likely than both Gen Xers and baby boomers to say a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them (45% of millennials vs. 31% of Gen Xers and 18% of baby boomers).” (Gallup, 2017).

A key takeaway for leaders from the vast amounts of research focusing on millennials is that they are speaking up and letting their employers know what they want and their passion for growth and learning is playing a huge role in driving workplace change.

As a leader, the key areas you should focus on when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining your millennial talent are learning, development, work-life/family balance and flexibility.  As a leader your primary role should be listening to your talent and removing obstacles that get in the way of successfully delivering these things to your workforce.

Although there are small variations in the levels of engagement, and desired perks and benefits for the millennial, GenX and Baby Boomer generations, a lot of the larger picture findings were very similar.  All generations of talent consistently report that they want to feel acknowledged, they want to be enabled with learning and development, and they want to be rewarded (with personalized perks and benefits) for their good performance.

For more information about how you can develop your talent with learning opportunities get in touch for a 15-minute demo of our global, mobile learning solutions.

Is a Robot Going to Take Your Job?

Is a Robot Going to Take Your Job?

I recently wrote a blog about re-skilling the workforce to prepare for technology, which got some traction amongst readers.  This is an extremely popular topic lately, due to the nature of the changing work economy and the proliferation of technology in all aspects of our lives.

Companies are turning to technology, robots, apps and kiosks to streamline their service, automate simple tasks, save money and increase profits.  Technology can be a great option for organizations to improve their processes and procedures; however, it is important that leaders consider all the implications that technology can have.  And it is important for individuals to consider what they should be doing to re-skill and grow to make themselves irreplaceable.

Answer this question honestly, would you rather interact with a computer/robot, or a friendly, caring, human being who can personalize your service?  Please take note, the friendly, caring and personalized part are extremely important to this question, because not all human beings are going to deliver the service interactions that their colleagues and customers desire.  That is why as a leader it is critical that you focus on re-skilling your talent with soft-skills such as authenticity, friendliness, fun, and hospitality, that 1. A robot cannot duplicate and 2. Makes them the most desirable to interact with.

I’ll give you a scenario to consider.  Have you ever been at a grocery checkout and noticed that the line for the self-checkout was shortest?   But once you proceeded to check out, you had trouble with the scanner, an “unidentified object” in the bagging area and your points card wouldn’t scan properly.  This has happened to me on many occasions, and I’ve noticed the customers around me who chose the human cashier have typically gotten out much faster.

Technology can be great in some circumstances, but often, organizations are trying to implement technology in place of humans to reduce costs at the expense of the best service.

In a recent interview with Quartz, Bill Gates floated the idea of the government taxing robots which replace human workers to potentially slow automation and fund other types of employment for humans (Quartz, 2017).  Right now, robot automation is primarily effecting front-line roles such as customer service agents, phone center reps, warehouse workers, and probably drivers in the future.  Re-directing some of the funds in some sort of tax would still net a profit for those companies changing to robot automation, but it would also support the re-skilling or re-focusing of the humans being displaced by robots.

What do you think of a robot tax?  Could it work to slow down automation and help re-skill workers into new jobs?  Share in the comments below!

Check out my latest book The Seven Personalization Principles to find out more about how you can re-skill yourself and your employees with 7 soft-skills focused on personalization that will make you irreplaceable, not matter what job you’re in.

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