[Authored by Dr. Susan Williams] Massey alum Ford Simpkins has taken his negotiation abilities to a new level and has written a helpful guide for negotiators in the HEOPS publication Scientific Cowboys. He gives good advice on preparing for negotiation, particularly in the healthcare arena. It is good reading and an easy-to-follow refresher for those of you who want a succinct preparation framework. Click HERE for the article.
I was so happy to find out Donald Miller, author of Searching for God Knows What, Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, among others, will be speaking at Belmont on September 1st. In his latest book and talks, Miller challenges his audience to “live a better story.” The last time I heard Miller speak, he gave what I thought to be a great management lesson when working to accomplish a project/goal. Miller says it is important to start by developing a single climatic scene, a “fleshed end goal that is compelling to instill sacrifice.” To get everyone on board, you have to explain the “why” behind the process and help communicate what the results will actually look like, not just give figures. Miller explains “engagement goes up when connected to a climatic scene.”
He offers the following questions/comments to think about:
•What project do you need to create a storyline for?
•What outcomes are you responsible for?
•Why is this good for your organization, customers, community?
•Describe a scene that can only take place if you're successful. Use the answers to write scene.
•From your associates’ perspective, why might this not be engaging?
•Is it something they can envision?
•Can people make an emotional connection?
•Does bringing about the scene mean we've accomplished all we are responsible for?
Miller encourages us to think through our inevitable conflicts, by asking ourselves “what are the most obvious major conflicts we'll encounter?” and “how will we respond?” After this is determined, it is time to hire the characters and assign them conflicts to respond to. Miller concludes that story is designed by God, and He “increases conflict so [people] will value what they pursue.”
We will all continue to face challenges and opportunities in all aspects of life, but it is up to us to take responsibility and “live a better story” that engages others and positively transforms the world.
Scarlett Leadership Institute founder Joe Scarlett reminds us in yesterday's The Tennessean editorial to "Remember the Good Guys" who have built our U.S. industrial powerhouse. As Joe points out, in light of today's well-publicized incidents of corporate greed and abuse of power (still, a very small proportion of U.S. businesses), it's easy to forget about the thousands and thousands of business leaders who have been ethical and successful and continue to do so as we still enjoy the world's most successful economic system. Joe's entire article can be found by clicking on the following: 'Good Guys' Built U.S. Powerhouse.
If you’ve ever heard of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, you probably know about one of the most popular Christian animation series ever produced – the VeggieTales. VeggieTales is a creation of Big Idea, a company started by Phil Vischer about twenty years ago. As interesting as his creative ideas is the story of the rise and eventual fall of Big Idea.
I encourage you to read the account by Phil Vischer here and consider the lessons to be learned from his experience.
Our good friend and Massey Board Member Joe Scarlett, in his Open Letter to business leaders, provides a wonderful reminder to all of us on the importance of "personal integrity" as we go about making life's daily decisions. I encourage you to check it out as you begin this new week.
BusinessWeek just published their top 25 list of Customer Service Champs (March 2, 2009 issue). Check out the slideshow, which includes “Ideas from the best” as reported in the magazine. We should all look for ways to learn from the best.
Since a cost-cutting mindset can put good service at risk, the article shares four ideas for “Safeguarding Service” in a difficult economy: flex your workforce, spoil surviving staff, invest in simple technology and baby your best customers. We must never underestimate the value of delivering on/exceeding customer expectations.
Now is the time to set your business apart by wisely investing in areas that foster customer loyalty.
Poor service opens the door for great service when things are made right.
Last night, my husband and I had dinner with a few friends at one of our favorite restaurants. The evening started out nice as usual, until our food started coming out, or didn’t. We all patiently waited, as our food started to cool, on the last plate to arrive. Ten minutes later, we flagged down a different server who found the cooled, missing plate and brought it to the table. With no apology, our server later brought us our checks and a to-go box for the late arriving meal. Needless to say, we were not pleased.
Before leaving, my husband brought the situation to the attention of the manager, allowing him the opportunity to make things right. He did just that. While my husband clarified he did not want anything in return for the poor experience, just to bring the situation to his attention for future correction, the manger still generously gave each of us at the table a combination of gift cards and coupons along with his sincere apology. It was clear that we were valued as customers.
Instead of leaving upset, with the resolve “never to return,” we all left smiling, pleased with how management handled the disappointing service. In fact, we may have been happier with how things were corrected than we may have been with no mistakes to begin with. We’ll certainly be back and will continue recommending the restaurant to others.
Good customer service is so important, especially in a proliferated industry where choices abound. One bad experience, if left uncorrected, can turn one disappointed customer into many, as word of the situation spreads and negatively influences others. Every customer counts, and in a lot of situations, if they are not for you, they’re against you.
May 19, 2008 - Written by Ryan Arthur
Ring Ring…Ni Hao. Well if you didn't believe in language barriers, after today you would have seen or heard that they indeed do exist. Today was our real immersion into the Chinese culture sans tourist stops.
Our morning began with a presentation from Cory Grenier, Marketing Project Manager at Lenovo. Lenovo is attempting to become the first Chinese company to be successful in the global market. And from touring their facility it is clear to see they have the capabilities of achieving this goal. With an extremely impressive automated warehouse, computerized inventory monitors, and computer aided manufacturing lines, Lenovo has an excellent infrastructure established that is similar to its non-Chinese competitors. What sets Lenovo apart from its Western competitors is their management style. In Western Management, the employee review process is kept private. Employees are reviewed by their supervisor behind closed doors so that employees are not embarrassed by poor performance. However, Lenovo implements a public review system. The Grape system, as referred to by our guides, allows for all employees to see how each employee is doing in relation to their fellow employees on a daily basis. This system coupled with Lenovo's new product line was an interesting view to the way businesses grow in China.
The latest buzz in resource conservation involves the switch to a four-day work week. While schedule flexibility is not a new concept, it is gaining more attention as managers look for alternative rewards to give in place of bonuses. With gas prices around $4/gallon, a shorter work week could certainly be beneficial.
But will it work? Concerns about employee productivity at the end of a 10-hour day are worth weighing, as is the need to respond quickly to client requests and market demands. For example, it probably won’t work for an ad agency already pushing its employees to contribute long days to meet tight deadlines. On the other hand, an extra day away from the office could enhance the level of commitment and creativity expressed inside.
If successful operations won’t accommodate occasional telecommuting, flex hours or switching to a four-day work week, it is important to continue looking for other creative ways to offer positive reinforcement and ongoing appreciation. The perception of whether management “cares” or not can make a huge impact on employee morale.
[Contributed by Joe Scarlett, retired Chairman of the Board of Directors, Tractor Supply Company and founder, Scarlett Leadership Institute at Belmont University] The recent tainted meat scandal in California further demonstrates why uncompromising ethics in business is the only path to long term business success. One-hundred forty-three million pounds of meat were recalled all because of a lapse of ethics. Who wins in this mess? Absolutely no one. Was it avoidable? Certainly.
Since so many of the senior executives of Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco, etc. were exposed and subsequently jailed, you would think that every businessperson in America would have learned the importance of maintaining a high level of integrity in business practices. It is a real shame that some still have not seen the light and grasped the obvious. High standards, honesty, and ethical leadership all pay off in the long run, and the opposite is simply a path to ultimate failure. Wake up business leaders!
In February Westland/Hallmark Meat of Chino California issued a recall for 143 million pounds of beef – six times larger than any previous recall. The company slaughtered cattle that could not walk and failed to notify an inspector, which is a clear violation. Cattle that cannot walk have a higher risk of mad cow disease and bacterial contamination. What were they thinking? Where is the leadership?
Federal inspectors did not identify the problem nor did the company report the problem from its own control processes. A video provided by the Humane Society showed employees attempting to get sick cattle to stand up using forklifts, electric cattle prods and high pressure water hoses. And now speculation suggests that the plant will close. Owners will lose their investment, executives will lose their salaries and perks and the workers will all be unemployed. The only good news in the story, if there is any good news, is that there have been no reports of illness or meat contamination.
Employees clearly violated the rules, so you have to ask a few questions. Were the rules posted, communicated and discussed? Was there a clear path to discuss and report dilemmas and violations? Did the employees believe that the company strived to operate with a high degree of integrity in all aspects of its operations? The obvious conclusion is that the answers to some or all of these questions is no.
The ethical and moral direction in any organization must be set by the CEO and the senior executive leadership. When that direction is set according to high standards and then communicated effectively and repetitively, the organization invariably lives by those standards. We follow our leaders; when they set the right direction, we follow; when they set the wrong direction, or more commonly no direction, we wander into “no man's land.”
Leadership in business is everything. We follow with pride and confidence when our leaders set a clear path that embraces high ethical standards. Workers at every level deserve the right to work for leaders who demonstrate business and personal integrity. -Joe Scarlett, March 2008