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By Doug Fleener 18 Feb, 2017

When most managers think they are coaching in the moment, they are really doing one of three things with an employee.

Yelling - Okay, most leaders aren't usually yellers (at least I hope not), but the leader's focus on what the employee did wrong is often interpreted as being yelled at.

Telling - Telling is much better than yelling. In this approach, the leader tells the employee why he/she is being coached. 

Teaching - Teaching is far superior to telling. When leaders teach, they take time to connect someone's behaviors and actions to customers, colleagues, and results. Teaching drives behavior changing much faster.

Here's an example

While working the floor with Courtney, you observe that she was so focused on putting out an order out she didn't notice a customer walking into the store.

Here are three ways you can address it:

Yell - "Courtney, you missed greeting that customer who came in." Remember, it is often a perceived yell whether you raise your voice or not.

Tell - "Courtney, I saw you miss greeting that customer. You’re expected to welcome every customer within five seconds."

Teach - "Courtney, I noticed you were so busy with the order that you missed welcoming the customer. It's important that we welcome within five seconds so our customers see that they are our priority. They also know we know they're here, and that we're ready to assist them."

Yes, teaching takes more time than telling and yelling. Imagine, though, what Courtney may think or say after each approach:

Yell: "Okay okay. I was just trying hard to get the order out as soon as possible like you asked."

Tell: "I know. She slipped in so quietly."

Teaching: "That makes sense. I'll try to be more aware."

It's obvious which approach is going to have the most impact.

Successful coaching recognizes what the employee is doing well so they continue to do so, and teaches what they can do to be even better. Something we emphasis and practice in my EveryDay Coaching and Leadership class.

So let me ask, are you more likely to yell, tell, or teach your staff?


How to use this article

Talk with your management team about the three different approaches, and what each person can do to increase the amount of teaching they do with the staff.

By Doug Fleener 08 Feb, 2017

If you want to make a great big leap forward in your business, you have to make a great big leap forward in what you believe you and your team can accomplish. You must believe there's more opportunity and growth out there just waiting to be tapped.

Think of it like taking a high performance car for a test drive. You're flying down the highway very, very fast. Faster than you've ever gone before. The car salesman tells you you're only going half as fast as the car can go. You push down on the accelerator, the car leaps forward, and you speed off down the highway.

What if you and your team are like that high performance car? What if you can push the accelerator down and speed towards your goals faster? I believe you can!

Here are three ways to find and make a huge leap forward in your business.

1. Constantly champion, "We can. Let's figure out how." Some of the most successful leaders I see live the saying, "Where there is a will, there is a way." The way may not be easy, and it may not always be easily defined, but the way is there as long as you own the obstacles and results.

When you believe and champion that you and your team can do just about anything you set out to do, it's amazing what can be accomplished. It requires the right attitude, drive, and focus on figuring out how. We achieve what we believe.

2. Identify and address any governor . A governor is a device used to regulate speed. They are sometimes used in high performance cars to keep the speed down. 

In most stores and service teams, a governor is someone or something that drags down the overall performance of the team. This can be someone whose attitude is negatively impacting the team, or whose performance is pulling down the group's overall results. I estimate that probably half of the leaders I talk with struggle with some sort of governor. Most of the time, they're looking for an easier fix than addressing the governor. 

3. Expect a giant leap forward from yourself. Change and growth starts with you. Identify three things you believe hold you back. Choose one of them to work on, and resolve to make a great big leap forward by March 1 at the latest. Remember, you can. Just figure out how.

Into action: Even though Leap Day only comes around once every four years, any day can be the day you lead your team in a great big leap forward. What better day than today? 

So let me ask, what is your huge performance leap forward?

By Doug Fleener 08 Feb, 2017

Not long ago I had a conversation with a manager who is struggling in his job. The company is unhappy with both his performance and his attitude.

During our discussion I could see there were three key issues creating the performance gap between where he currently was, and where the company wanted him to be.

1. Lack of clarity on HOW to close the gap. This is common; I see all too often. A manager will sit down and tell someone where he/she is falling short, and where he or she needs to be to close the gap. What's often lacking is any idea of how to get from the current place to the goal.

Most managers aren't even aware of this. They assume the employee knows how to get where he/she needs to be, or that they covered it in the meeting. You might ask why the employee doesn't tell the manager they don't know how to do what they're being asked. Well, often they too assume they know how, or they don't want to show any weakness when they're already struggling.

Here's a simple test. Your employee should be able to tell you exactly what he/she is going to start doing, or stop doing, or do differently, and it is something you should be able to see or hear them do. That last part is critical.

2. Lack of a specific plan to close the gap . It makes no difference if you're trying to help an employee grow her average sale by $4, or she is on final probation. As a leader, your role is to partner with your employee in creating a specific plan to close the gap.

It should not only include the "how", but also specific day/dates of when you or another resource will be assisting them. If can be something as simple as: We'll meet every Tuesday morning for four weeks to practice and roleplay.  

3. A poor attitude is usually born out of frustration. Most employees want to do a good job. They get frustrated when there is a performance gap, and as a result they get a "bad attitude."

More often than not, if you focus on the first two factors you'll almost always take care of the attitude. If not, you can address that after the person is demonstrating the required behaviors and actions.

As a leader, your role is to help every employee deliver the best performance possible. That often includes helping someone close a performance gap. 

So let me ask, who on your staff might need some help closing his/her performance gap?

How to use this article

As a group, discuss what you might do differently to do a better job of leading and coaching your staff through current or future gaps.  

By Doug Fleener 27 Jan, 2017

A good friend of mine is a super smart guy. He's a walking and talking encyclopedia, but many people never guessed he's so smart.

You see, he had this habit of saying "umm" or "uhh" when he spoke. So much so that he came across as being very insecure in his thinking. He was unaware of this habit until I pointed it out to him, and the impact it had on how people perceived him.

In addition to "umm" and "uhh" there are two other words I hear people use with customers that negatively impact sales and the customer's service experience

"Can I ...." Two seemingly innocent words, but when you start a question with "Can I" you're starting by asking permission. And chances are, whatever you're asking permission for is something you should be doing for your customer without asking.

"Can I get the door for you?"

"Can I show you something else?"

"Can I get you something to drink?"

"Can I carry that to your car?"

Let's turn those requests for permission into statements, just by replacing "Can I" with "Let me."

"Let me get the door for you."

"Let me show you...."

"Let me get you something to drink."

"Let me carry that to your car."

The customer can always decline your offer, but most of the time he/she will be delighted that you're proactively offering your help.

By the way, my friend was able to break the "umm" and "uhh" habit by asking his friends and colleagues to point out whenever he did it. The change didn't happen right away, but with the help of others he no longer does it. I'm excited, because now everyone else gets to experience the guy I know.

So let me ask, is asking “Can I” getting in the way of you delivering an even better customer experience?

How to use this article

As a group, listen to what each of you say to your customers, and point out afterwards if the person used "Can I" when "Let me" would have resulted in a better service experience.

By Doug Fleener 22 Jan, 2017

The three biggest barriers to successful coaching your employees are Me, Myself, and I. Once you get past those internal gatekeepers you become a much more effective coach, one who can help employees grow, develop, and reach new heights of performance.

Here are a three things those gatekeepers sometimes tell you, and why you should not listen to them.

1. "You hurt someone’s feelings when you tell them they're not doing a good job."

First of all, your gatekeeper has it wrong. You're not telling her what she is doing wrong, you're helping the employee do something better.

Second, you rarely hurt someone's feelings by giving feedback. We're all adults. Employees are fine hearing feedback as long as it is done respectfully in a way that they can hear.

2. "If you give him feedback he's going to get mad and that will affect the team."

Wrong, gatekeepers! Rarely does the person get mad, and if he does you talk it through with him. If he continues to act mad, then you tell him to stop it.

Here's what affects teamwork... not addressing an issue, or letting someone on the team consistently fall short of expectations. Remember this: Drama is unresolved conflict. Don't let issues fester and you won't have drama.

3. "Don't say anything now. Wait a few days and address it then."

I'm glad that gatekeeper is in management, not medicine! If you're bleeding, do you wait a few days to address the problem? Of course not. The sooner you address an issue, the sooner you are on the way to making things better.

The same is true with people. You rarely need to wait to give your staff feedback. Do you purposely wait days to praise someone? Of course not.

People want to be successful. They want to do a good job. The faster you give them feedback the faster they are on the way to doing just that.

So let me ask, are your internal gatekeepers getting in the way of you coaching your people to be even better?

How to use this article with your leadership team

Discuss as a group how internal gatekeepers can get in the way of successful coaching your employees. Have people share how these and other gatekeeper messages can impede their helping the staff be their best. Last but not least, ignore those gatekeeper messages!  

 

By Doug Fleener 10 Jan, 2017

I define the customer experience as the perceptions, emotions, actions and reactions a customer has with your people, products, and environment. Environment can be a store, office, website, etc.

Combined, these elements meet, exceed, or fall short of your customer’s expectations. That determines if, and how much, a customer makes a purchase, advocates for you and your company to others, and will continue to do business with you.

That’s why well-defined and well-executed experiences can be so magnetic. Magnetic experiences attract new customers and keep current customers coming back. Both are vital for continued success in today’s ultra-competitive and rapidly evolving market.

How do you make your customer experience more magnetic? 

The answer varies from company to company, and even location to location. What doesn’t vary is the fact that if you’re not obsessed about making your customer experience more magnetic you’re at risk of losing current customers, and are less likely to replace them.

Here are the questions that I ask when leading strategy sessions to identify opportunities to make a customer experience even more magnetic. Choose one or two, and use it/them for a brainstorming session.

Involve as many people at different levels of your company as possible. Your frontline staff brings an important perspective and voice to the conversation. 

Brainstorm as many answers as possible, and then determine their validity and potential impact on your customer experience and results. 

1) How can we make it easier for customers to do business with us?

2) How can we save our customer time?

3) How can we add value to a customer’s purchase and/or life?

4) What do we do, and/or start doing for customers that other companies can’t or won’t?

5) What is really special and unique about our company and customer experience? 

6) How do we, and/or what can we do, to make our customer feel special and appreciated?

7) Why might a customer choose to stop doing business with us?

8a) What do we want a customer to tell others about us?

8b) What different things do we do, or can we do, to make sure that happens?

9) Where is the biggest gap between what we say we do, and what our customer actually experiences?

10) If our biggest competitor put a store/office right next door to us, what would we do to make sure people walks in our door?

End the brainstorming session with a list of actions (not ideas) you and your team can take immediately. One change rarely makes your custom experience more magnetic, but a series of small improvements will make a big difference in the people and the targeted experience.

So let me ask, how much more magnetic can your customer experience be?

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