September 2017
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How Professional Are You?

 

How Professional Are You?

Unreliability is endemic in today's business world. That's a big statement, but nevertheless true.

When did business people stop having the common decency to do what they said they would do, by when they said they would do it?

For the most part, people today simply don't deliver. It's like they just don't care - that it's not important to them to be on time, to deliver, or even be polite anymore. Maybe they're busy, but that's no excuse. Or maybe, it's simply gone out of fashion; it used to be a virtue, it used to be important. These days we accept the vast majority of people will let us down; that we will have to spend valuable time chasing them down. Leaving a message on someone's voicemail is often like speaking into a black hole, and sending an email is akin to placing a book on a shelf in a library hoping someone will stumble upon it and take a look at it some time in the near future.

Here's a pop quiz

1. If someone calls you and says, "I'll call you back on Thursday for sure" do you expect to hear from them:

  a. On Thursday?

  b. On Friday?

  c. Sometime the following week?

  d. Never, unless you call them back?

2. If someone emails you and says, "I promise I'll get you those details by noon Tuesday" does that mean:

  a. I'll pull together the figures and get them out to you as soon as I can?

  b. I'll get around to sending them eventually?

  c. I'll forget about this the moment something else comes up?

  d. I'll wait until you call me back before getting around to this?

3. When doctors' offices and hair stylists call you to remind you of your appointment, are they:

  a. Providing a high level of customer service?

  b. Spending valuable time reminding people to turn up because a large percentage of people forget they have an appointment?

  c. Wasting their time because the majority of people do turn up for their appointment on time?

Find the answers at the end of the article.

How can you stand out?

Being 100% reliable has suddenly become a unique selling proposition - a way of differentiating your business.

  1. Systemize your call backs - set a time limit on how long it will take you to get back to someone who calls. Make it as short as is feasible for your business and tell callers that you will get back to them within 12-hours, the next day, or whatever and then stick to it!
  2. Check your emails regularly and when you do, answer them! Allowing them to drift farther and farther from the top of your inbox increases the chance they will be forgotten.
  3. If you say you are going to do something - do it! Diarize it and give it a time and date. Don't just keep it in the back of your mind.
  4. Don't make promises you can't keep. Period.
  5. When you create a timeline for a job do not make it unrealistically short to impress the client. What impresses clients is delivering on time or ahead of time. If you say it will take 10-days and you deliver in 15-days, your reputation gets a hit. If you say you'll deliver in 20 and you deliver in 15 you are a hero.
  6. Don't wing your day, your week, or your month. Plan ahead so you can be reliable. Build your reputation on reliability and professionalism.

As the business world becomes increasingly unreliable, it offers professionals a marketing opportunity. When you make a point out of being exceptionally reliable, you stand out from the crowd. Isn't that what you want in this highly competitive world?

ANSWERS

  1. D)
  2. Anything but A)
  3. B)
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How Professional Are You?

 

A Quick Look at the Current Generational Mix

Much has been said about the Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y, but what are the characteristics that set them apart? What do we need to understand about each generation, if we are to work side by side with them, or hire them?

If you are an employer it can be very useful to know what makes people tick; what motivates them, inspires them, and what they deem as important. Each generation requires unique handling in terms of management and leadership to ensure they are delivering at their best and overall morale remains high. If you treat all the generations the same you'll find yourself in deep water.

Baby Boomers

These employees are between 53 and 71 (2017) and they pride themselves on their work ethic and their values. Many are workaholics - they need to see things done well and on time. They look for personal fulfillment in their job - the 'experience' is very important to them, as it is in their personal life too. They won't stay around if they are not enjoying the work they do.

They tend to think they know best and will easily question authority. If they believe in something they will work tirelessly for it.

They like to work in teams and prefer consensus to other forms of decision-making. They are increasingly technologically aware but still prefer to talk to people in person, rather than by email or text.

Boomers want to be rewarded for their efforts - both in terms of recognition and money. Remember, they need to feel valued and they need to feel value in the work they do. Traditionally work has come first, but as they age they look for both work satisfaction and leisure time travel and adventure.

Generation X

Gen X'ers are between 37 and 52 (2017). They thrive in work environments that have a solid structure and good direction. They don't thrive on change and can be very skeptical of outside influence - they trust themselves to be correct, not others.

They don't see themselves as part of the company in the same way Boomers do - they see a business relationship - a contract between themselves and the company. Money in return for specific services delivered within specific hours.

They expect the workplace to be fair and equal and woe betide you if you show favouritism or overlook them for a promotion, or salary increase they think should be theirs by right. They will challenge owners and bosses and use their intellect to demand valid answers.

On the positive side, they are entrepreneurial, creative and innovative in their approach to work challenges. When managing them you will need to communicate directly and in a timely fashion. Gen X'ers need constant feedback - if you are not providing it, they will be in your office asking for it.

Unlike past generations, Gen X'ers don't feel trapped by a job, they need to feel free, to do things their way and they often treat rules as loose guidelines.

Work-life balance is important to this generation and you need to be aware of the high importance they place on their family and their out of work life.

Generation Y

Now between 17 and 36 (2017) Gen Y see work as a means to an end and little else. Even those in vocational occupations such as doctors, are looking at the financial rewards and long-term financial security.

In the workplace, they work hard, are great multi-taskers, are entrepreneurial employees (so listen to them) and will stick to difficult tasks to prove they can do it.

They are open to opposing opinions and will take everyone's views into consideration. Like the Boomers, they want to enjoy their work and feel they are accomplishing something worthwhile. However, they see it as a means to an end - the pay cheque funds fun! Like Gen Y's they demand fairness and if they discover an employee who has been at the company for a shorter time than them, but doing the same job, is being paid more than them, they'll just walk. Getting another job is not hard for this generation.

To be expected, they are big communicators and rarely have a mobile device out of their hands. They are passionate texters and don't email as much as the other generations. They value teamwork to a point, but not if it interferes with the quality of what they are doing.

Because they have grown up in a fast-paced world, they want everything to happen at lightning pace. This means raises, promotions, changes in routines and types of work, feedback from managers. This is a generation that can get bored very quickly.

Lastly, they are great givers-back, especially of their time. They take pleasure in helping people.


Understanding these three generations and finding a way to manage and lead each of them will pay dividends. Once you get to know their hot-buttons you will find it easier to; motivate them, increase their productivity, and help them work as a team. Treat them all the same and you'll be in for a tough time.

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How Professional Are You?

 

Coach's Corner - What Questions are We Asking?

Today's educational professionals are moving towards Inquiry-Based Learning. It is a process that we can all learn from as we grow our business, improve our team, or enhance our career. It's about the questions we ask ourselves and others, for instance employees, colleagues or supervisors. It's about having trust enough to allow others to take an active role and responsibility for their part of the business or a project.

"Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios-rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge." Wikipedia

Too often, as a boss, we adopt the role of telling people what-to-do or how-to-do with little reference to the why-to-do. In doing so, we take away their initiative and enthusiasm. They soon lose interest in taking responsibility for their actions, for their work. In other words, they continue to do the job with little feeling, fulfillment or meaning. How do we feel when we're told to do something as opposed to being asked how we might do it?

If we take the approach of using questions to help solve problems, overcome challenges, or create new and innovative ways of doing something, we may find ourselves with more enthusiastic team members and better ideas. Their feeling of empowerment will enhance their daily job, which leads to increased productivity and buy-in.

How might we apply this to our business? What lessons can we learn from this approach to learning and growth?

When using an inquiry approach in our conversations with staff, questions are the initial part of working towards a solution, or development of an idea. The questions need to come from everyone concerned, whether in a group meeting or one-on-one, to get a feel of how everyone concerned is looking at the situation. It is important to be cognizant of the types of questions we are asking and how they are "landing" with participants. Are we sounding judgmental and closing off conversation and shutting down ideas? Or, are we encouraging an open discussion and the sharing of ideas and solutions? It's all in how we ask the questions.

With this in mind, we need to think about what we want to learn and what type of questions we want to ask. Closed questions have a tendency to shut off discussion as the answers are either yes/no or very short with no elaboration, while open questions tend to allow discussion and sharing of ideas that may lead to solving the problem. Both have their merits, it is all about what we want to learn and where we want to go.

"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers." Tony Robbins

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach
Motivated Coaching

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Trenval Business Development Corporation
Small Business Centre
284B Wallbridge-Loyalist Rd.
Belleville, Ontario, K8N 5B3
info@trenval.on.ca
www.trenval.on.ca
www.smallbusinessctr.com

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