Coaching Millennials At Work, Choice Magazine Article

Last week an article I wrote about Coaching Millennials At Work had been published in ‘Choice Magazine’ – A Coaching Magazine. http://www.choice-online.com

The article speaks to the importance of being a coach – a mentor and a leader when working with Millennials. Work with them well and you will have a loyal, creative, hard working employee. Don’t… and you will be hiring again soon – likely before their 2-year anniversary with your company.

With little fanfare… here is the article. I hope you enjoy.

coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-2

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Please feel free to share – and to contact me with questions.

Bruce

Executive Coach & Trainer  | Difficult Conversation Training  |  Business Email Etiquette   |  Time Management Training   |   Collaboration Skills  |  Generational Differences At Work  |  Motivating Millennials  |  Leadership Training  |  Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)  |  Creating & Using Stories

Imagine confidently communicating with your customers and co-workers.

“Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching  <http://www.choice-online.com&gt; http://www.choice-online.com&#8221;

Leadership: A Leaders Responsibilities Have Changed: Part 1

Being a leader isn’t glamorous or easy. Changing your leadership style is even more difficult… but the rewards of both are immense.

If you are an individual or a company, your leadership qualities and leadership style are essential if you are going to survive and thrive. Stats show that half the companies in the S&P500 are different from 1999 (Source Sam Ro). Said another way, the world is changing around us and longevity demands our leaders promote responsible change and keep their teams adapting.

Leader TrainingLets think back a few years when Blackberry (Research In Motion), was leading the smartphone market. Many Leadership Coaches agree that Blackberry’s leaders had become comfortable that their main core competency (their security protocols), would continue to lead market demand. Then Apple innovated the market and gave mobile users new features like cameras, an ipod, touch screen, useful apps and high-definition for movie watchers and gamers. Almost overnight Blackberry became one of the smallest players in the mobile market.

Apple, a company known for a non-traditional approach to almost everything focused on customer delight, not how to keep doing the same thing and maximize existing revenue. Apple won because their leaders and by extension their employees looked at tomorrow and built a solution for tomorrows customer. Apple leaders gave their employees the freedom to look at what individuals were doing within their lives and explore solutions. By doing this Apple leaders and employees did far more than maximize existing revenue – they created a whole new revenue stream. HOOYAH!

This is a good segue into one of the key things leaders need to do.

Put Your Customer And Employee Needs First

Before you think about maximize existing revenue or cost cutting to increase ROI, are you preparing for what customers will want tomorrow? How can you make life better for them? When you make life better people see value, and when they see value they will buy your stuff.

The world is going to be different tomorrow!

Not only are customer needs changing, employees’ wants and needs are changing… really quickly. So, your leadership qualities and leadership style also has to change if you want to survive.

Great companies run on great employees. Products don’t think or make themselves – and they don’t innovate themselves.

Innovation happens in months not years, and to keep up leaders need their employees to grow, contribute, innovate and collaborate. Todays leaders need to create a vision and instead of telling their team what to do and how to get it done, todays leaders / mangers are successful when they empower their team and remove roadblocks.

Great leaders have learned how to hire and motivate great employees… and stay out of their way.

Conclusion

Customers want great products. Employees want to be proud, contribute and get better/learn.

Doing the same thing and/or just putting in more hours isn’t going to… work; it’s not 1958. So, how do companies attract, motivate and retain promising employees who build great customer solutions? How do companies prepare employees to be tomorrows leaders? The simple answer is to invest in leadership training and leadership development for todays leaders – and tomorrows leaders.

Happy leadership and communication.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Words Matter: Two Easy Writing Tips For 2012

Do words matter?

Even though most of us are not great authors we’ll still spend most of our day writing. Why? On average 90% of business communication is done using email or instant message (IM). Not to mention the time we spend writing proposals and reports.

So, do words matter? Sure they do. Two of the most common areas we can improve are:

  1. The number of words we use (we use too few or too many)
  2. The actual words we use (we often don’t fully describe what we are trying to say)

Let’s discuss these opportunities!

I believe all we need to do to start writing better is to learn to control the ‘Busy Beast.’

What is the ‘Busy Beast‘? It’s what I call the feeling of being so ‘busy’ that our email writing stops informing. We stop managing people’s expectations. We write so briefly our writing loses focus, and when this happens we actually:

  • Get less accomplished
  • Create more work for ourselves and the people around us
  • Become less efficient; costing us time, money and potentially opportunity
  • Sound pushy, rude and / or bossy
  • Lower our customer service ratings

I believe another reason for our brevity is that we’re becoming so used to 140 characters (Twitters limit), that our meaning – our intent is so “high level” so “50,000 feet”, that the words we do write are virtually meaningless.

Email Example 1: Being Too Brief

If your boss sends the following email to you, what’s your next step?

Are you going to ask your boss:

  • What are the priority areas is she most concerned with?
  • What behaviour she wants to see from your team?

If you do ask your boss might question your competency even though the real meaning of her request is lost. If you’re like most people you’ll ‘interpret‘ what you think your boss is asking for and what your team needs. You’ll use your experience but be cautious.

Unfortunately, if you don’t ask you risk wasting your time, effort and budget.

This is why words matter. The problem isn’t your competency, it’s the email message. Too few words were used resulting in too little information being shared.

People at all levels of the company write email like this. Not because we hope our readers will fail. In most cases it’s because we’re all so ‘busy’ we don’t take 20 extra seconds to ask ourselves “Have I given my readers enough information for them to understand what I am saying or asking for?

What if we did take an extra 20 seconds to include the information our audience needs to understand our request. In this example, what if the email the boss wrote was this:

Good Email Example

We see that words matter because they can help our audience understand what we are thinking, feeling, wanting.

As I mention in my blog post called Increase Productivity By 15% Or More!, if you have to write one more email to 15% of the requests that come to you (because your co-worker didn’t write a clear message for example), you’re wasting 12 days of your valuable time each year (and they’re also wasting their time). There is a very real cost / loss when employees write bad email.

Email Example 2: Being Too Vague

Here’s another of my favourite examples. I will contact you later. What does that mean?

Here are some of the possibilities for:  I will contact you later.

What is contact?

What is later?

Phone your office
Phone your mobile phone
Email
Instant Message
BlackBerry PIN
MAC FaceTime or Skype
Come by your office
Facebook message
Within the hour
When I’m out of my meeting
This afternoon
On my drive home
Today
Within the week
When I have an answer
When ‘X’ gets back to me

We need to give the people we communicate with some help. They don’t live inside our head.

Much of this seems to be commonsense; natural even because it’s what many of us learned when we were young. However, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives many of these truths have been set aside and we’ve become unaware of our abrupt, abbreviated 140 characters or less impact as we move through our day.

It’s time to slow down – to control the ‘Busy Beast‘. It’s time to become more efficient by no longer wasting our efforts and time and the efforts and time of the people around us.

Most of the time an extra 20 seconds will may go a long way to communicating effectively (the first time), and to building meaningful relationships.

Kind thoughtful words do matter.

Imagine work being easier. Imagine work being more productive.

Happy communicating.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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Organizational Behaviour; Impact On Customer Retention

If you are worried about customer retention & acquisition, evaluate how you can take better care of your customers – don’t reduce price. Happy, loyal customers will stick around and also recommend your product / service.

The Harvard Business Review suggests the average business loses 50% of their customers every five years. As a strategic marketer I’ve measured client retention and Lifetime Value (LTV), that shows the best clients usually stay only for four years… rarely longer than six. With most leaving within the first two years.

Why Do Customers Leave?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (sorry to all my Canadian friends):

  • 68% leave because they are upset with the treatment they’ve received (Customer Service)
  • 14% are dissatisfied with the product or service
  • 9% begin doing business with the competition
  • 5% seek alternatives or develop other business relationships
  • 3% move away
  • 1% will pass away

So 82% (68% + 14%), of clients leave because their complaints or misunderstandings were not solved and / or they were made to feel dumb, ignored, disrespected, angry or unimportant. In other words, poor organizational behaviour is pushing clients out the door. They’re not leaving because of the product / service, price or marketing / advertising. How’s that for a reality check?

There are many studies that demonstrate it’s cheaper to satisfy and keep an existing (good), customer than to add a new customer. Customer acquisition can easily cost four to five times more, so what would happen if you put that expense into your training budget? Customer retention?

Adding new customers is important for company growth because there’ll always be attrition. Consumer habits and income do change, and people move or people pass away (as examples). But it’s important to spend time and money wisely by investing in organizational behaviour and organizational development that supports your clients and your brand.

How To Retain Customers Longer

What should you do if you want to help customers refer new business to you? I suggest you start by finding out what your clients love and don’t love about you. Most businesses never ask – I bet your competition doesn’t… which is an advantage for you.

When I start working with a client I recommend we survey their existing clients to find out what they like and don’t like. If possible I also want to survey past clients to find out why they left. If 82% of your customers are leaving because they are upset or dissatisfied with service…. wouldn’t you want to know what to fix? Today a combination of online email surveys and one-on-one phone surveys are:

  • Efficient
  • VERY informative
  • Not expensive

I recommend employees also be included in the research – they often have great ideas. Surveys and brainstorming are great ways to engage employees. But be certain to keep their findings and language separate from your clients.

Surveying clients lets you hear the good and the bad from their point of view and in their language (very important). If you are going to design a marketing or training program you want to use the perspective and language that’s relevant to your clients, not your corporate perspective.

Once you have the perspective and language of your clients you can:

  • Measure the gap (to your goals)
  • Design programs that fix what’s wrong
  • Overlay your goals and organizational values

With this information we’re able to design programs that are strategic for your business, relevant to customers / prospects and branded to your core values. We’ll also be able to support positive organizational behaviour by aligning your customer service training strategies into:

  • Sales
  • Implementation
  • Product Development
  • Office Management
  • IT
  • Finance / Invoicing

Share The Responsibility Of Customer Retention

Make sure everyone at your company knows they are part of the solution.

Show staff how to demonstrate the desired behaviour. Why do you need to show them? Well, we’re all individuals with our own personalities, history, education and life experiences. As an example, it’s not surprising that your idea of “Managing Expectations” is different from mine. Without training to get everyone on the same page, is likely their approach will be quite different. So, work with your employees to discuss how to demonstrate your corporate values and to develop customer service expectations.

Your customers are people, and people are social animals. Yet many of us hide behind our email and website… even sales and customer service people. As customers, we are starved for personal contact and want a chance to feel important.

Customer service is personal – it impacts the individual – it builds relationships that last beyond the transaction, beyond the billing cycle. Personal customer service is what builds customer retention. For the same reason, if you’re treated poorly you’ll not forget it. Never make the customer feel dumb, ignored, disrespected, angry or unimportant. If you do they’ll likely become part of your lost customer statistics.

Personal Case Study 1:

I know I cannot forget the consistently bad attitude I’ve experianced from my doctors receptionist. She is terrible but he is great.

Her latest faux-pas was that she called me to move my appointment. When we found a time and day that fit she just hung up. I was literally left holding the phone. While my first instinct was to call her back, I knew it would do no good to address it directly with her – and likely she could use her power to call and reschedule again.

If they were retail or a business to business relationship I would be long gone… but it’s not easy to find a doctor you trust! But I’m also not referring business.

Personal Case Study 2:

There is a gourmet burger shop at the top of my street. I was enjoying going there and even began to follow them on Twitter.  But, after a particularly rude experience that an employee initiated I have actively boycotted them… and told all my neighbours. Rudeness is not how you reward loyalty.

There are lots of fast food places to eat at.

Conclusion

Every business makes mistakes, and most these things are forgivable if you own up to them and fix them. But good customers will not forgive you for consistently bad customer service. They’ll leave as soon as they can and they won’t forget it.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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The Banker And The Ex Banker On Communication. Now There’s A Conversation.

Please indulge me. This will not be a typical Bruce Mayhew blog post.

I was walking my dog Lex (my inspiration for Business Lessons I Learned From My Dog), a few nights ago and at the end of the walk I joined a new nieghbour on their front porch.

Like most Torontonians, we were soon talking about work: his is the banking industry. I know that could mean anything, and as an Ex Scotiabanker I understand that. But anyone who has ever worked in the banking industry will tell you that it’s something special.

Soon he’s asking me what I do. So, I told him I’m a marketing consultant and also provide corporate training to improve corporate communications between individuals, teams and most importantly how to speak and send email to clients. In a nutshell, my communication training shows staff how to:

  • Get to the point quickly
  • Build and protect the corporate brand and reputation
  • Create messages that are easy to read, easy to understand and easy to act on
  • Stop frustrating, irritating or annoying the people you speak to or email

I’ve heard my new neighbours next words a hundreds of times.Wow, we could use you at the bank.’

Thinking ahead (he’s a cleaver guy), his next question was:Do you ever teach people to consider the needs of their audience and to address those needs immediately?

Clearly, he was remembering the many times when he’s read long email and at the end was confused about:

  • What the topic was?
  • How it impacted him (WIIFM- What’s In It For Me)?
  • Was he expected to do anything? (Did he have an action item?)

Let’s face it – he isn’t alone.

A Plug: How My Training Is Different

Now, as a personal plug, many large organizations like banks and insurance companies offer communication training / email writing / business writing programs. But my competitive research tells me they focus quite a bit on grammar and spelling. I believe nobody over 20 years old wants to sit through hours of training on adverbs, adjectives and pronouns.

As a marketing consultant what I do differently is focus on using ‘needs’ as the primary focus of a communication. Therefore, I help people learn to identify their needs (pretty easy), AND the needs of their audience (not often done when communicating). Then I help them clearly address those needs.

So, What’s The Take Home?

Just by reading this post you have a few pointers on how you can start communicating differently today.

On a larger scale, it’s not just a bank or insurance company problem. Every company needs to help their employees work with each other – at every level of the organization. The beauty is that it’s starting to happen – and it starts by helping employees:

  • Know the corporate (or even department) vision and values
  • See how to represent that vision and those values – with every conversation, phone call or email
  • Spend a moment to consider the needs of your associates, suppliers and most importantly customers
  • Spend a moment considering how your associates, suppliers and customers work. How do they do business? Then use that knowledge to meet their needs.

To succeed individually (personal brand), or organizationally (corporate brand), we have to align our goals and act as partners every time we communicate. If we make our top priority our customers’ needs (and then our needs), we’ll actually reach our own goals.

What are the challenges you face with the email or phone messages you receive? Comment to this post or send me an email at bruce@brucemayhewconsulting.com

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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Accelerated Learning: How Business Training Can Benefit.

Learning styles research tells us different people learn in different ways (OK – we didn’t need research to tell us that).

There have been many learning models to support this. Some models outline three learning styles – other models outline four, eight or more learning styles and associated learning cycles. In a later blog I’ll create a comparison of a few popular learning styles like Kolb and DISC.

No matter which model you use or how many individual learning preferences you focus on, the one thing every trainer should consider is that almost everyone learns best when many learning styles are engaged. This is called Accelerated Learning.

Accelerated Learning

The name given to learning that engages multiple learning styles in a training environment is ‘Accelerated Learning’. The benefit of Accelerated Learning is that it’s a multi-pronged approach to training (especially business training), that should results in improved retention (learning), in less time. This is a plus to help your organization see a greater Return on Investment (ROI).

The best training design therefore combines both traditional fact-based linear training and active learning – alternating frequently / never keeping one going for a long time.

Active Learning does not mean throwing in a few games or plans to get participants to stretch or dance every hour during a traditional fact-based linear training program. It may however include a combination of experiences including:

  • Auditory stimulation
  • Physical movement
  • Sequential learning
  • Analytical exercises
  • Intuitive thinking
  • Hands-on experiences

Why Does Accelerated Learning Work?

Switching between multiple learning styles works because it lets each individual benefit from their preferred learning style, and then also use the other learning styles to reinforce knowledge transfer. Makes sense right? And there is an added benefit that switching between multiple learning styles help keep participants engaged and awake (seriously).

The irony is that traditional fact-based lectures are still predominantly the norm. The problem is that traditional learning (fact-based linear learning), keeps participants physically inactive and most often (within 5 to 20 minutes), participants unconsciously become disengaged. This is true for the child and the adult learner.

It’s not that traditional fact-based lectures are bad. In fact, short burst are great support to have within an Accelerated Learning program.

Conclusion:

Even people with similar learning styles are not the same. We are all different, so even if you and I share the same primary learning style, our preferred learning process will be different. To demonstrate, consider three very natural variables:

  • How quickly each of us learn
  • How dominant our preferred learning style is (i.e.: strong or weak)
  • What our secondary learning style is (and is it being used during training)

So, even though two people with the same preferred primary learning style will learn at a different pace, using multiple learning styles that involve our emotions, body movement, our senses and the full breadth and depth of our personalities will enhance our learning.

To succeed in introducing Active Learning, openly communicate with employees what they will experience and ask them to ‘listen’ and ‘be active’ without judging. Before you know it, they will be fully engaged – to the best of their abilities and learning styles. Mindfulness is key.

______________________________________________________

What might be your primary Kolb learning style?

Accommodating

The Accommodating learning style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic. They commonly act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis and prefer to work in teams.

Diverging

The Diverging learning styles prefers to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and prefer to work in groups.

Assimilating

The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. These people like to work alone, require good clear explanation, and prefer readings, lectures and having time to think things through.

Converging

People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications. Prefer technical tasks and to work alone.

Happy communicating… Happy training.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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Training Employees: Get the most from your training dollars.

Training employees is a critical component of business development. But how do you get the most out of your training dollars?

Besides the quality of your facilitator and the quality of the training What To Consider When Training Employeesenvironment there are two easy-to-implement goals that will enhance your success when planning staff development programs focused on training employees.

These two goals are:

  • Motivation & Relevance for the adult learner / employee
  • Familiarity of the adult learner / employee with the subject (even generally)

Motivation & Relevance

Let the adult learner see ‘What’s In It For Them?’ Adults will actively participate in training when they know how and why professional development will benefit them as well as the organization. As an example, the benefits can take many forms including:

  • Helping employees succeed in the newly changed environment
  • Increasing job satisfaction and organization contribution (often valued more by employees than a salary increase)
  • Preparing employees for a promotion or new career opportunities
  • Licensing or required (career benefiting), credentials

The benefits of goal oriented motivation when training is clear. Your employees will see you as investing in their success, therefore appreciate the training you are providing. In the end you’ll have happier employees that are more attentive during the training, retain more information and implement more once back at the office. Certainly a win-win for everyone.

Familiarity With The Subject

Adults learn best by associating new information to existing knowledge.

Familiarity with the subject allows the adult learner to bridge the new information with existing knowledge, allowing them to retain more and learn at a faster pace. Association therefore increases transference (transference being the adoption / implementation of new knowledge by an employee into their daily activities outside of the controlled classroom environment).

With transference increased, the adult learner will use the new information sooner, more effectively and potentially adapt the knowledge to additional (different), situations.

To ensure familiarity with the subject, it’s also beneficial to approach a new knowledge from more than one vantage point. My suggestion is to be as honest and straightforward as possible. For example, discuss how the new XYZ will:

  • Benefit the adult learner…
  • Benefit client A…
  • Benefit client B…
  • Benefit the organization….

Conclusion

Adults also stay engaged and retain more information when they’re able to actively participate in relevant learning – participation taking the form of:

  • Conversation / interaction
  • Asking questions of the facilitator and each other
  • Practice / exercises
  • Self defined activities – such as choosing one or more aspects of the training to commit to implementing

In a group class setting adult learners are able to bring and share their experiences (increase familiarity), as well as motivate and even teach each other – something difficult to obtain from webinars or pre-recorded training.

So when training employees the best place to start is with a group of people who work together and can discuss / brainstorm the best resolutions. Training success equates to doing because as a group they can discuss problems and how to address solutions to solve those problems. This group will also be able to self-reinforce the new behaviour when back in the office.

As you plan your next training environment, bring your whole team together and encourage them to support each other and practice together. With everyone in your office learning new procedures together, the chances of transference and employee satisfaction increases significantly.

Happy training. Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Don’t forget to Subscribe to this blog.

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