Originally published as: Crave Success? Then Get Up, and Get Moving
March 15, 2017 at Restoration and Remediation Magazine (R&R)
By Jon Isaacson
At the beginning of the year, discussions about resolutions, goals and the pursuit of success are common. Everyone wants success, or at least they say they do, but what is success? Success is a moving target. The path to success is often non-linear as not all roads lead to success and neither is there a clearly marked single lane leading to success. Leaders with an entrepreneurial vision are not afraid to travel the paths that are unmarked, offer no guarantees and are less traveled by those who would rather talk about their plans for the pursuit of success.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. - Colin Powell
Because there are no shortcuts, the personal investment in success requires payments made in sweat and time, both of which will test your perseverance. Progressing through layers of success is often determined by what we do when everyone else is doing nothing as well as our ability to endure failures. There are only so many hours in the day, so we must be effective with the time we spend on the clock and creative with the time we have off the clock. Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the smell of oil burning at midnight.
Sports anecdotes are common in business as we enjoy the correlations of working hard as a team, being motivated by inspiring hard-nosed figures, fighting to the last minute, practicing our craft and being rewarded for our efforts. In the archives of iconic coaches and historic motivational half time orations, there may be none more revered than Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” – Vince Lombardi
Who doesn’t want to win? Who doesn’t want to succeed in their entrepreneurial efforts? As you fantasize about your dreams of business accolades, do you find yourself declaring among friends and co-worker about how good you could be at something? Do you ever find yourself stating, “If I only had the time …or the money …or this one tool.”
Perhaps you are not the most objective person to be answering this question. If you don’t have the ability to be honest with yourself, perhaps you should ask an earnest friend. While the effectiveness of resolutions is arguable, there is value in setting goals. If you want to take yourself to the next level in your personal and professional development, it’s time to make a plan for how you are going to use the hours that you have — make a plan for what you will do with the hours everyone else is wasting.
If you have a family that should come first in your time off of the clock, family is the component of life that will be there whether you succeed or not so don’t burn those bridges or lose valuable time in caring for those relationships. Your values should always be God, guns, glory — wait, that’s a different article. We understand that athletes have to put in the time lifting weights, running sprints, practicing the minutia of their profession, but somehow we don’t apply this mindset to business. The will to prepare to win as laid out by Vince Lombardi involves those sacrifices that an individual makes when they are not required to be working in a structured environment. Whether you have 30 minutes a day or several hours, be intentional about making a plan and executing to the best of your ability.
The difference between knowing what you should be doing and starting the process of achieving it is one step. Stepping forward does not guarantee that you will succeed, but standing still guarantees that you won’t. If success is a moving target, how will you train yourself to hit the target that you have set for yourself? If success has many paths, and no path is guaranteed, what will you do to start moving down the road? If success is an investment in personal and professional growth which requires payments in sweat and pain, when was the last time you did so? If success is determined by what we do when everyone else is doing nothing, when are you going to get off your butt?
Team + work = dream
“Team work makes the dream wok”, yet everyone's dream is different so which dream are we working on?
Everyone is tired from working long hours and another call for service comes in, what will the team do? Leadership has a dream that everyone will work together peacefully and profitably but the reality is that the motivation train doesn’t always steam along down those tracks without some fuel to propel it. In these situations, what will stimulate individuals to action - which team will be responding to which dream?
There are many managerial delusions, one of which is that everyone marches to the company drum beat. Only the extremely deluded would state it in such blatant terms but many managers express this sentiment in other ways. The truth is that people rarely go above and beyond for a company because of the company. Brand loyalty alone is not typically a primary motivation for employees as though a mid-level manager can summon the name on the logo as a beacon to action for the minions. Enduring motivation for individuals come from a sense of family (within the team), a sense of duty to someone they respect (leader or peer) or a need for remuneration (financial goals). It's important to understand what makes the individuals on your team tick so that you can attempt to connect with them to help build collaboration within the team. If you know just enough to be dangerous, or so that you can manipulate people, this dark art of stimulation will only last so long before you will run out of trust currency.
In the discussion of motivation I have yet to meet a person in a position of leadership who hasn’t attempted some level of incentives for their organization. Jeremy Watkin, who is the Head of Quality for FCR and a featured columnist for Customer Think, shares his experiences and insights with incentive programs concluding, "Unexpected acts of appreciation reinforce the behaviors we want to see in our contact centers. Couple these with efforts to empower your agents and you can watch the engagement and motivation of your team increase." There is no silver-bullet incentive that will work in the same way for all people at all times. A team member may or may not bite on the bait of a particular incentive but that alone is not an indication of their engagement or commitment to the goals of the organization. Mr. Watkin shares some of the responses from individuals within the teams he has overseen who did not participate or weren't successful in certain incentive programs:
A second managerial delusion, or faulty perception, would be that lack of participation equates a lack of motivation or loyalty. As noted above, perceived failure in response to incentive programs can occur for various reasons, remember you are dealing with individuals. When seeking to motivate people, especially if you are in a position where you need to ask for the extraordinary or draw from energy reserves that may be depleted, connect with individuals to conquer as a team. As noted previously, the number of employees that are loyal to your company (the logo) are likely few. This doesn't mean that they aren't loyal employees or that they won't run through walls for the team, it just recognizes that brand X is not the reason why. For example, if all of your people have been working long hours and you get that infamous call at the end of a long day for emergency services, some of the least effective motivational speeches you could conjure would include sentiments such as, "It's your job...This is what we do...You owe us...Do you want me to tell the CEO that you refused..." If you seek to build a connected and collaborative team that is poised to conquer their shared goals, that type of camaraderie occurs at the local level with individuals of character and a team that cares for each other. It is to the benefit of the organization as a whole when there are strong localized teams who are working for each other.
Culture is no accident as we discuss in our article Culture is not a Unicorn. What matters is that the individuals on the team respect, enjoy and fight for each other as those bonds will enable the group to rise to those occasions that draw upon those deep reserves. Teamwork makes the dream work because a strong team has an energy tank with more capacity than any individual. Everyone on the team has a unique motivation, and at times in their life those motivations may change due to circumstances. A sense of brotherhood, empathy for customers in need, the desire to reach financial goals, a commitment to the rotation of responsibility (i.e. It's my turn since you did it last time), respect for a leader, as well as many other positive factors help to keep the wheels turning when everyone is ready to call it a day.
Those in a position of leadership cannot expect a culture of service without being intentional about building it. Even when the culture of service is active, managers must be mindful not to become the boy when cried wolf when sounding the all-hands-on-deck bullhorn. Leadership has to understand that drawing from the bank of trust and motivation requires that they have invested currency into those reserves through things such as development, emotional intelligence, team building and employee engagement. Rather than calling for blind allegiance to the badge of the company, building the team to be prepared for service and having intentionally invested in individuals enough to know how to connect them to a need in relationship to their values and/or motivation are key. Capacity for extraordinary response starts all the way back at the point of recruitment, are we clearly representing our organization to candidates and through our process are we learning about them as individuals with respect to how they will embrace and promote our team culture? Are we reinforcing our vision and values through training, employee development and regular check ins with team members? Investing in individuals and being active in development are the right qualities in building strong teams and they will also go far in preparing the group to respond when the need arises. Don’t wait until the alarm sounds to invest in people.
As noted in a previous article on Open Doors, “Leadership is an extension of customer service within your organization. When leaders demonstrate care and service to their employees they perform several key functions including engaging their employees, encouraging positive action and demonstrating how the organization treats people.” Leaders cannot expect team members to sacrifice without having themselves exemplified this value. One of the beautiful revelations of programs such as Undercover Boss is that those who sit the highest and furthest removed from the boots on the ground get a first hand view of the strengths as well as weaknesses in the organization in action. Nothing reveals more about a person or enables close connection better than working shoulder to shoulder, or in the case of services industries like ours - elbow deep in human waste. Motivation comes in many colors, shapes and sizes as so do your team members. Exploring means that recognize individuality as well as build the team are going to be the most effective long term. Making the commitment to understand the individuals and investing in each team member will assist in building individual as well as team reserves that can be drawn upon when the extraordinary is required.
From recruitment to retirement, understanding the motivations of individuals and building a connected team, that collaborates on values and is poised to conquer goals does not happen by accident. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, investing in employees who grasp, build and hold their peers accountable to a culture is key to long term success. If team work is going to make the dream work we must clarify the dream of the organization, understand the motivations of our team members and intentionally build means to connect those values into something collaborative.
Jeremy Watkin - http://customerthink.com/incentive-programs-for-service-agents-a-pre-implementation-checklist/
In the world of business we constantly hear about return on investment as we like to discuss whether the strategies we are employing are effective at reaching the goals we have set out. What if there were a minimal cost measure that consistently yielded high returns, would you incorporate that item into your organizational systems? Before we dive into the subject matter, take two minutes out of your day to view this video from KollektivetTV2 which may help set the state for how your team members and possibly even yourself feel about how you are valued in your organization:
If you didn't find the video, apologies for wasting your time. Yet, can you empathize with the sentiment even as silly as it may be? How often do we as individuals, as team members, as managers, as leaders and even at home fail to provide sincere compliments for those around us? When was the last time that you received a sincere compliment?
Compliments are low cost and high yield investments in your most valuable assets as a leader, a coach, a parent and/or as a peer. A compliment requires no monetary exchange and yet it can brighten an individuals day, it can motivate them to carry out their work with pride and it can produce positively charged remunerative results throughout an organization. For years we have set aside time at the end of practice for our youth sports teams to have coaches and players compliment something positive that they saw a teammate doing, only recently did we attempt to incorporate this same practice within our work teams.
For some reason as adults this can be awkward, but as individuals begin to think their week through to find something to compliment another team member it brightens the room. Compliments need to be sincere, they need to be specific and to get good at them it may take a little time as many of us are out of practice. Organizations are always discussing effective methods for rewarding employees and these are positive conversations that should be considered in depth, but before the process gets too complicated, don't forget to invest in the simple things - from the top down and from the bottom up, lead by example and let loose with some sincere compliments.
Read more on this topic HERE. Tell us what you have tried and experienced with regards to this topic HERE.
There are few things in life that cost you very little and yet can have significant positive collateral impact in the life of another human. Paying someone a compliment will only cost you a few seconds of air and yet it has the potential to be a seed or a watering that flourishes in the life of a fellow human. We are well aware that words have the power to bring us to our knees, but words from the same stink filled sources also have the power also to lift spirits, raise confidence and inspire momentum.
We recently had a very pleasant experience at a local eatery with a new waitress. What this young lady lacked in experience she more than made up for with the eagerness of a human who enjoyed helping fellow humans. Our waitress was personable, she smiled as she worked and greeted patrons with cheer. Our waitress was busy but she did not allow that to inhibit her from communicating with care. For example, we had requested non essential items from the kitchen, she politely stated, "I will grab those for you as soon as I clear this table so these customers can be seated." We made sure to inform her manager of her value, to tip well and to express our gratitude for this customer service professional in the making.
For many industries, service is an essential component of the product offering. Those who interact with customers communicate with their attitudes, personas, body language, word choice, pronunciation, etc. When service providers create a positive experience for customers they create an atmosphere where patrons become those who will want to return to spend their dollars in the organization.
We try to celebrate our positive customer feedback as we understand how many layers are baked into the process of bringing a positively finished customer experience confection from the project oven. When a patron chooses to hire our company, appreciates the process, enjoys our people's efforts, awards our team with a payment in full and then ices that cake with positive feedback, that's a party. We keep those nuggets of human positivity on our Wall of Fame and incorporate the details of their experience in our weekly meetings. For those out there who have taken pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and have joined the positive posting fans of an organization that has done them right, many thanks!
As consumers of service and as humans of the same race, it is important that we vocalize our gratitude. The paying of an earnest compliment has few equals on return in human value. The example of paying an earnest compliment has the potential to create a tsunami of positive momentum, as those that directly experience its effect are awakened to a universe as it should be. Life can be simplified as well as dignified when humans treat humans as humans. Enjoy the art in life, positive practitioners of customer service are artists with a human pallet.
Get your compliment check book out and start making some payments.
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.