Leadership

Handling Employee Contentious behavior?

What is behind it and should you dig deeper?

Tom was a contentious employee. He talked too much and got into arguments with fellow employees more than the norm. He even got into a fight once with another employee who had a short fuse. This resulted in a suspension of both employees until they could come back and verbalize what happened and how they could make changes.

When an employee has issues outside of work and it begins to flow into work, how do you handle it?

That was not the end of it. Upon his return, Tom explained to me in confidence that his wife was an alcoholic and had fallen off the wagon again. She was in her 40’s, he in his 50’s. They had a 9 year old daughter who when Tom worked was under the care of her mother. I listened intently to Tom’s stories and showed empathy for his situation. I tried to emphasize the care of his daughter as being of utmost importance. She had been left alone on occasion while mom sought solace in a drink. But I tried to not get too involved for fear of his becoming too dependent on me. He needed Al-Anon counseling or another counselor. I recognized the burden he was shouldering and asked him to determine if he needed to take time off, having already used his personal time off. He said he couldn’t afford it.

In the meantime, Tom’s work in complimentary sales with other sales people was suffering. At a sales meeting, he blew up at others who recognized he wasn’t getting the job done. I asked him to leave the room and go cool off and meet me in my office after the meeting. I listened to the others for 5 minutes and said let’s move on with our business at hand. I didn’t want to listen to endless criticism of him knowing the issues he was dealing with but acknowledged that their dissatisfaction was recognized and would be shared with him.

So now, the issue had spilled over with the rest of the team. It would be a short time before it reached the rest of the company, even though I had asked for restraint in the matter.

After the meeting, I sat with Tom and asked him if he thought his personal life was intersecting with his work life. After a long pause, he said it was. We had had numerous short conversations as I checked in with him periodically on how things were going. The answers were always short as he acknowledged he was taking care of it. He was protecting his paycheck. But this day, I needed and got a straight answer. His performance had been subpar and I could no longer justify his performance.

This was most difficult because I knew he was very capable and he had proven himself in the past, but he needed to deal with his personal issues. I decided to suspend him indefinitely to give him time to take care of his situation. If I fired him, I would add to his misery, this way he knew he had a job if and when he returned. His response was another outburst and he stomped off.

Tom came back 2 months later to let me know he would not be returning. He had checked his wife in to rehab and had been a stay at home dad for his daughter. He had filed for divorce with primary custody of his daughter. He was receiving help from family members and had taken another job.

The surprise ending for me on this was his thanking me for forcing him to deal with the situation and for listening to him when he was trying to cope. He had listened to his daughter to realize that she had missed out on her young life as she struggled with understanding her mother’s disease.

The hard part of leadership in letting people go is you never know what the end result will be. But, companies are in business to produce, serve and profit. The balance, which is everything, is found in how you treat people.

For more information and a free personal consultation, call (207) 577-1948. We deliver success for your business.

Have YOU had Your Customers for a Sleepover Yet?

But, it’s good customer service!

Getting and keeping customers today is harder than ever. When opportunities arise to WOW! the customer, you need to jump on it immediately.
Take a look at this story of an opportunity that presented itself in what could have been a dire situation for both the customers and the employees. But the lead manager of the John Lewis department store in London made lemonade.
This inspiring story is delivered in this fun Prezi as you follow the adventure of an open-minded, risk-taking manager (Deborah), who did what was right for the customers, all 100+ of them.
Ask yourself, would you stick your neck out to do this? The last few slides say it the best: “It shows that great service isn’t a set of rules, it’s a mindset.”

Use right and left arrows at the bottom to view presentation at your pace. Some slides have sound, not all.

Listen carefully to Deborah as she describes the experience. Find the key culture characteristics that drive this behavior and how as a manager, she was totally comfortable in doing this at a cost. How does that culture become not only unquestioned, but supported by senior managers? And note the enabling, not constraining nature of the effort.

“Sharing your customers’ problem and doing all you can to help solve them.”

Share your customer service hero experience here.                          

5 Strategies to Get Through Election Week

CS_Dist_Sales

And Beyond

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. Have you been saying, “If we can get through this election, we’ll be able to __________.” Fill in the blanks.

This is not a forecast of things to come, but rather a thoughtful look at the controls you can prepare for as a result of things not in your control.

Wait no more…

  1. Strategy – stop waiting to see what will happen. You have more control over your business’ success and direction than you think you have. Successful companies are just that because they develop strategies around current climates. Take the time to look at a high elevation view of your company. What are its strengths? Weaknesses? List them, study them and engage your managers and other employees to help resolve the profit eating bugs.
  2. Strategy – Research potential outcomes. Read trusted news sources that are least bias about election outcomes. Listen to candidates, most are pretty transparent when it comes to honesty. Find a source that delivers facts. That is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you have to read multiple sources from opposing viewpoints and deduce your own conclusions. The key is to take the time to digest such information and align it with your own goals, beliefs and moral compass. Then take action.
  3. Strategy – Spend some time with trusted advisors about what potential strategies you could take basedhappy-customer-dog-licking-face on different scenarios. Prepare your company around possible “if…then” scenarios. If you have managers, get their input. Throw some ‘what ifs’ at them. Write down the responses for your review later. ‘If, then’ scenarios force you to look at potential outcomes of elections and will drive recoveries for your business should they be needed.
  4. Strategy – Reduce the “what if’s to “thens”. Draw your worst case scenarios and what you would need to do to keep your business thriving, or at least surviving. (I recommend thriving). If the anticipated outcome is for an increase in business, then develop your best case scenarios and write your strategies for growth. In the case of an election, you may end up with multiples of one or the other. Start with the worst case and work your way down the list. Don’t leave any possibilities. No one likes to lay people off because of a downturn in business. But the potential outcome of not doing could eventually lay everyone off. Better a few than all.
  5. Strategy – After the election, pay attention to the business climate. Watch your production, billings and financials daily, weekly at the most. Talk with other business owners and leaders and get a feel for the general mood. Avoid knee jerk reactions but rather try to temper your actions over time. Be flexible and enlist your employees help in making things happen for the benefit of the company. Chances are, if you’re scared, they are too. If you’re positive, they’ll follow. Stay the part of the leader. Show your ability to keep things moving in the right direction.

While the mood after an election can be good or bad, your ability to stay ahead of the curve will greatly enhance the success of your business. Your main goal after the election is to stay positive, hopeful and communicate with your staff to give them confidence.

You may not be able to control the general economy, but you can be ready to make course corrections along the way because you thought about it ahead of time.

What is your chief strategy for the post-election economy?

 

Leading Edge Business Strategies, LLC is a consulting firm for small business. Paul Beaudette is the President and has over 30 years of successful business experience managing companies to sustainable profits and leading employees to greater productivity.

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.”  -General Norman Schwarzkokpf

 

The Power of a Mentor

Every business owner/president/general manager should have a mentor. If you think that as an owner you know it all, you’re wrong. You may be successful up to this point, but you will get to the point where you’re faced with decisions that could take you either way.

Here are 4 reasons to find a mentor:

  1. You need someone to tell it to you like it is. As an entrepreneur, mentor1you live in a bubble of your own thoughts. Your thoughts are a result of what you read, the conversations you have with others, things you may have seen on TV, etc. Someone in the past has influenced you into the way you think today. With a mentor, you need to find someone that will tell it to you straight, someone who does not have a vested interest in your business or your anticipated reaction.
  2. You need someone who thinks differently than you do. If you’re in the tire sales and service business, you may have been doing newspaper or print advertising, perhaps even TV advertising. Find someone who can deliver new ideas to you from outside the tire service business. Perhaps another entrepreneur or a business coach who can deliver new ideas on promotion, dealing with customers, scheduling customers or whatever.
  3. You’re not looking for a friend. A friend has a vested interest in your feelings. That doesn’t mean you’re looking for someone who is rude or heartless. You just need someone who doesn’t mind disagreeing with you and telling you why. Someone you’ve never known before but knows something about business, usually works out better.
  4. Confidant – if you have confidential matters to talk over with someone outside your business or executive team, find a mentor whom you can talk to on a confidential basis. Business owners don’t always have someone to share their inner most thoughts and feelings with. Finding a confidant can be extremely stress relieving.

Vivek Wadhwa quote

Developing a relationship with a mentor is a sign of strength in an entrepreneur. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Mental alertness, comfort and acuity is key to operating a business. Whether you pay for a business coach who works in confidentiality or find someone you trust, make the move to ensure your success.

Paul Beaudette is an independent business coach with Leading Edge Business Strategies. His focus is on growing small businesses to better compete against national and global corporations.

Don’t just Survive, THRIVE !

Leadership from Gratitude

Not Management by Ego

by Paul Beaudette

The presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, have all demonstrated one thing in common. An oversized ego is prevalent when you run for president.

After all, what are you selling? YOU! You are selling yourself to the people of the United States. How you go about it determines how much of a narcissist you are. We have seen extreme levels of narcissism, ego-centricity, pomposity and vanity, and these came from one candidate.

In business, managers, leaders and office holders often have the ego-driven need to attain such a position and then bask in the glory of “I’m in charge”. To a new manager, what may have formerly been co-workers, are now employees and the responsibility of this new manager. The transition has to be handled carefully and responsibly to maintain a working relationship, yet achieve the level of respect and allegiance that the manager seeks from the employee and vice versa.

egomaniac

Strong manager egos often displace the actual message being transmitted. Your title isn’t your role, your role is your title.

If the manager’s ego takes over, the relationship becomes one of title, not role. Too often, you’ll see people promoted to positions that they are not trained for because they are family, or a friend of the big boss and feel they are ‘owed’ that position. The damage potential that this has to the workers will begin to trickle down to customers and diminish customer loyalty. Employees begin feeling used, threatened and hurt. Turnover increases and the constant flow of new people begins to affect the bottom line. Morale is destroyed and theft and misuse of company property appears. Customers vanish.

How do you keep this from happening? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Hire right. Don’t take your hiring process for granted. It’s not filling in vacant positions with bodies. Look at it from a standpoint of the customer. The customer wants a friendly personality, someone who can answer product/service/process questions and someone who can be expedient and accurate.
    1. When there is no direct contact with the customer, use the same scenario as in #1, but change the customer to a co-worker, team leader or anyone else within the company.
    2. Depending on the position being filled, you may choose to have a personality survey performed. These give you the traits of the applicant against the traits you are looking for. They provide a good indicator if a match is possible. They are also useful after hire to coach the employee to success.
  2. For Pete’s sake, don’t promote people just because they are related or a friend. Promote them because they are leaders or have the potential to become leaders. Whenever you want to fill a leadership position, interview the candidates (including internal candidates) and ask them the tough questions. Find out how they have handled stress in the past, what examples they have of conflict they have encountered in the past and what they did about it. Those experiential answers will go a long way in your decision.
  3. When the candidate’s questions revolve only around pay, company car, benefits and such; question whether they are only looking at status versus the interests of your business. Ask why the position is important to them. Question how they would change an unproductive behavior in an employee. How would they handle an irate customer with a legitimate complaint?
  4. Get a fellow team member to interview the candidate. They know what it takes to do the job and can ask pertinent questions.
  5. The ideal candidate will be someone who will do the job because he/she wants to be a part of a better business. This person will want the customers to better themselves through the interaction with your company. They will be happier, feel good and be personally productive within their own business. The manager (leader) you are looking for is someone who is personally grateful for having improved the lives of employees or customers. Their primary goal is not make themselves look better and boost their ego. It is to serve others.

The fifth concept is not common in business. In fact, it’s rare. But the end product is a person who is rewarded for having created an outstanding team of employees and extremely satisfied customers. Steven Covey would always say, “Start with then end in mind”. Well, here it is. The customer is the end and if you work your way backwards from there, you’ll find that this personality type creates the environment and attitude you need to succeed.

Paul Beaudette is a business coach and consultant. With over 30 years of ‘boots on the ground’ experience, he has made businesses successful through his leadership, controlled management style and financial acumen. “Don’t just survive, Thrive”

Leading Edge Business Strategies