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How to Get Your Employees to Own Their Job, Not Just Do It

employee As business owners, we’re told that we should work on our business, not in it. But how do you do that when you’re just getting started? How can you do that if you don’t have any employees? Here’s the secret …

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At first, you work on your business by working in your business.

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george
Mary-Lynn’s always trying to get me out of the business!

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Seriously though, you begin working on your business by documenting your procedures, position by position, as you work in your business. Before you hire your first employee, it’s essential to put this structure in place so that, when you do hire someone, you can train him or her them effectively.

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marylynn My favorite General Managers in radio had worked in all areas of the business. They had been on the air. They had produced commercials. They had sold commercials. So they knew the business because they had worked the whole business.

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As a new business owner, you do that anyway, right? All you have to do is document what you do, position by position. Maybe you don’t do it all – you’re not comfortable with accounting, for example. So you get a partner who documents the procedures for those positions. Or you outsource them.

You’ll work through each position that your business will need. As you do, you will document every task that your business performs.

This leads to your employees OWNING their jobs

Now you’re going to build upon the work you’ve done. Put together two or more procedures and you have a process. Two or more processes start to build your system. You’ll end up with a full-fledged Operations Manual.

You get there by working on your business as you work in your business. Because while you’re doing that, you can test your procedures to make sure they are effective and efficient.

Assume you own a retail store. You would want to greet your customers as they come into your store. Here’s a typical conversation:

You: “Hi, may I help you?”

Customer: “No, I’m just looking.”

End of conversation.

Michael Gerber, in his great book The E-Myth Revisited, said he has consulted with retailers who increased sales by 10 to 16 percent when the following question was asked:

“Hi, have you been in here before?”

Now, if the customer says “Yes”, you can offer a special program for repeat customers. If the customer says “No”, you can make another offer for new customers.

So you set up one procedure to greet your customers. Then you test it. That’s working on your business. You’ll have a separate procedure to promote your special offer for customers. These two procedures are the beginnings of your process.

Keep doing this, procedure by procedure, process by process until you have a complete operating system. Document that and you have your Operations Manual.

Now when you hire an employee and start to train him or her, you can involve them in the process because you have it in writing. You’re ready for the five step process for training your employees.

Since you’ve tested your procedures, you can tell your new employee why you do things the way you do. This helps them understand the idea behind the procedure which helps get their buy in.

You’ll also tell your employee that your testing isn’t over yet. In fact, you want them to help you test new ideas. You’ll emphasize that it’s important to follow your system, but you also want them suggesting ways to improve how you do things.

That’s how you get employees who don’t just do their jobs; they own them!

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Next time, we’ll look at an inexpensive way for families to connect and compete. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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5 Steps to Make an Unhappy Customer Happy Again

love We’ve all heard the basic rules of customer service. But they deserve repeating before we discuss how to resolve a customer complaint.

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Rule #1: The customer is always right.

Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1.

These two rules are sufficient most of the time. However, sometimes we must realize:

Rule #3: The customer may not always reasonable.

You must know your boundaries in dealing with an unreasonable customer. If you’re a leader, you must communicate these boundaries to your people so they are effective when customers complain.

5 steps to make an unhappy customer happy again

Step #1 – Let the customer vent.
Before you can attempt to resolve the situation, you must understand it. Find out exactly what is troubling your customer. 

Step #2 – Listen attentively.
While this is really part of Step #1, it is so important that it bears special emphasis. Pay attention to what your customer is and isn’t saying. What are his or her specific objections?

#3 – Restate the complaint or complaints.
Wait until he or she has completely “unloaded”. Then, repeat back to your customer the complaints he or she has registered.

You may say, “Please let me make sure I completely understand your concerns.”  Then restate the complaint.

Step #4 – Assure them.

This is not to say that you agree with him or her. It simply lets your customer know that you recognize how they feel.  There is a difference!    You may say things like:

* “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
* “I can see your point.”
* “I can appreciate that.”

#5 – Find out what they want.

Everything has led to this point.  Simply ask the customer this question: “What would you like me to do?”

If you have handled yourself correctly up to now, you will find they will usually ask for less than you would expect.  If so, give it to them! If not, offer them a reasonable option to resolve the issue. 

Let them decide how they can be happy again.  It will be rare when you can’t find a good solution that makes both of you happy.

Complaints are an opportunity

Good things can come from a customer complaint. You can learn how to improve your procedures.

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georgeI once owned a carpet cleaning business. I remember a customer complained because we didn’t get the furniture put back exactly where she had it. We had a chair misplaced by about an eighth of an inch. From that day on, we asked every customer to look at the room before we left to make sure we had everything in the right place. Our customers were thrilled at this simple change in process!

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Remember this, if a customer is unhappy, they’ll usually do one of two things:

Take their business elsewhere or complain. Which do you prefer?

Research shows that customers, who have had problems resolved to their satisfaction, produce three times the revenue of a customer without a problem. On top of that, they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Sounds like a good reason to try to make unhappy customers happy again!
 

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Want more tips to help you be a BIGG success?
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we’ll discuss what you have to do BEFORE you hire an employee. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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How to Get Better Results When You Train Your Employees

loveFor anyone starting a business, we highly recommend reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth. In the book, he tells a story that goes something like this …

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The Master Baker

There’s a young woman who loves to bake cakes. Her friends raved about her cakes; they told her that she should go into business. So she opens a little shop. She mixes each cake with tender, loving care. She is meticulous about her craft. And her customers love it!

So they tell their friends who tell their friends. Before she knows it, she has more orders than she can handle! So she hires her first employee. She shows her employee how to make the cakes. Then she turns her new employee loose.

Freedom! Now she has time to work on more important things. But it doesn’t last. Before long, she’s getting complaints from her customers about the quality of her cakes. That never happened before. She’s hearing from her customers that they’re not getting the same kind of service she gave them.

So she steps in and starts closely supervising her employee. But she still has her own work to do. Now she’s busier than she was when she didn’t have an employee. This just isn’t working out like she planned.

Show and tell doesn’t work

So it goes with many of us when we hire someone for the first time. We hire them because we’re so busy. We often find that we spend more time once we have them.

We’re all familiar with on-the-job training. The new employee watches as someone else performs a task. We expect that they’ll just pick it up, almost by osmosis.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says:

“Show me and I’ll forget; tell me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

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Get the tips and tools you need by subscribing to
The Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Use this 5-step process

Step 1 – Tell them what they need to do. Explain to them how to do the task, step-by-step.

Step 2 – Show them how to do it. You perform the task step-by-step, talking about it as you progress.

Step 3 – Review and repeat as needed. Keep repeating Steps 1 and 2 until your trainee says he or she completely understands it.

Step 4 – Involve them. This is the part we often forget or pass over. We assume Steps 1 and 2 are sufficient. But they’re not. You want your trainee to actively participate.

So have them tell you how to do it, step-by-step. Then have them do actually do it, step-by-step, explaining the process as they go through it.

Step 5 – Review and repeat as needed. Discuss what went well and what didn’t. Then repeat Step 4 until you’re satisfied that your trainee knows how to do it.

But there’s something you should do before you do any of these steps. We’ll discuss that next Thursday! Come back and see us again!

 

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How Honest Should You be with Your Employees?

questionsClinton Korver wrote a great article for Harvard Business Publishing. He talks about his experience running a start-up and why it’s especially important during tough times to share information with your employees.

He says that he went against the advice of his venture capitalists. They feared losing employees, customers, and other investors if the bad news got out. Clinton found that being completely forthright strengthened his relationships with his employees.

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marylynn One of my radio managers did that when our company wasn’t doing so well. I appreciated the honesty and how it put all of us on the same page.

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Honesty is high on most of our lists of core values. However, do we really think that we should always be honest?

For example, picture yourself standing with your best friend adoring her newborn baby boy. You think he’s the least attractive baby you’ve ever seen. She’s going on and on about him, when she asks you the dreaded question …

Isn’t he the best looking baby you’ve ever seen?

Would you tell her what you really think? Or would you pick your words carefully to avoid hurting her feelings?

Of course, this is a different situation than the first one presented – being honest with your employees, even when things are not going well.

But it illustrates that there can be a second value at stake – the desire to not cause undue harm.

Is there a reason to tell your friend what you really think? What good will come from it?

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georgeI’ve come to believe strongly in open-book management. As a general rule, I think the more you share with your employees, the better. Having said that, I have found you also have to know your employees. Open-book requires a higher level of maturity from your employees. If that’s not present, sharing more just creates undue emotional distress.

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The reason an ethical dilemma is a dilemma is because two or more core values at odds with each other. These situations flow up to the leader. You have to find a good solution.

It’s a personal decision. There likely will be disagreement on the best way to handle it. That’s why it’s so important to have a framework in place for these kinds of decisions.
This framework will help you:

  • be more efficient in making decisions like this
  • make decisions that are consistent instead of all over the board
  • build goodwill with all affected parties
  • respect the face you see in the mirror at the end of the day

We have a great resource that helps you set up the framework so when an ethical dilemma comes your way you’re prepared. It outlines the three steps to solving an ethical situation:

  • Know your core values
  • Select an ethical model that helps you apply those core values
  • Use a problem-solving process to work through the situation at hand

So we’ve presented an ethical dilemma today … should you share all news with your employees, even the bad stuff? What do you think?

 

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Is Your Schedule Overloaded Like A Dishwasher?

dishwasherSome couples argue about whether the toilet paper should roll over or under. Others squabble about whether toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom or the middle. We might be unique, but we have a running disagreement about how full the dishwasher should be.

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marylynn If you’re keeping an eye on the news, you see that a lot of large companies are cutting marketing and even customer service. They’re cutting jobs and even entire departments. They’re streamlining.

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georgeAnd Mary-Lynn doesn’t fill it up enough … we spend money we don’t need to because we waste water and electricity.

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marylynn Well, we spend money when we have to wash the dishes again because some of them didn’t get washed in the overload.

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So now you see where we reach an impasse!

More importantly, this whole dishwasher discussion made us think about our schedules.

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marylynn My theory is that if you put too much into your schedule, just like the dishwasher, you can’t get it all done.

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georgeI don’t disagree that you have to be careful about overloading your schedule. I may be guilty at times of doing that, just like I overload the dishwasher according to Mary-Lynn. But you know the old saying – if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

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marylynn It’s the old 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the work gets done in 20 percent of the time. It is true that when you’re super busy, it seems like you are more productive. However, when you get too overloaded, you may not achieve what you set out to do. The result – you get frustrated and discouraged. It can even paralyze you at times.

4 ways to keep from being overloaded

#1 – Plan for reaction time

georgeWhen I first started managing people, I often overbooked myself because I didn’t allow for time to respond to my employees. I’ve seen a lot of first-time managers make this same mistake. The closer you are to the front line, the more important this is. Allow time to react to customers and employees or you’ll find yourself with too much to do in too little time.

#2 – Understand your patterns 

marylynn George is more of a morning person … I’m more of an afternoon person. So we just don’t work together at all! Seriously, plan your schedule so you’re working on your most important activities when you’re at your best.

#3 – Work at human capacity

georgeThis is a tough one. My dad, who’s one of my heroes, always thought he could get done more in a day than he actually could. He taught me well! Make sure you’re not planning ten hours of work if you only have eight hours to do it. Realize that you’re human, too. There will be times when you need to slow down or take a break.

#4 – Sometimes it pays to procrastinate

marylynn A prime example is the post you’re reading. Yesterday, we were trying to get this show done and I just wasn’t feeling well. We felt like if we pressed on, our end product wouldn’t have been as good as what you’re reading now.

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georgeSo we decided to put it off for a day. There was no reason not to … and hopefully, you’ll agree that we did alright!

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marylynn Now if I can just get George to stop loading the dishwasher so full!

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