The 5 A’s to Dealing With Problems

As a millennial, I’ve grown into a world where people expect things to be dealt with quickly, and they want as much information as they can get in the process. Just look at Domino’s pizza tracker. Why just wait for your pizza, when you can check when it’s being prepped, in the oven, and out for delivery?

This speed, and thirst for information, is transposed onto complaints and problems. According to a Lithium-commissioned study by Millward Brown Digital, survey, 72 percent of people expect a response to a Twitter complaint to a company in less than an hour.

To make sure I’m always ready with a response when someone complains, I like to remind myself of “The Five A’s to Dealing With Problems”. They provide a simple process that I can follow to connect with the disgruntled person in front of me, make them feel better about the issue, and then actually do something about it there and then.

A scrabble tile

Acknowledge the problem – try to really understand why someone is complaining. Stop listening to them complain, and start hearing what the issue actually is.

Apologize – you can directly apologise if there’s something that you’ve done wrong; or you can make the apology generic. Try: “I’m sorry that you feel that way”. Either way, the apology needs to be genuine. “Don’t ruin an apology with an excuse”. Don’t apologise, and then say “…but”.

Analyze the issue –find the cause of the problem. Complaints contain insight, so listen to the feedback – it should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you’re still not clear what remedy the person stood in front of you is looking for, involve them in your resolution decision-making – use questions such as: “What do you think would be fair?”

Act – tell them what you are going to do about the problem. If it’s an obvious solution, you might be able to tell them there and then. However, sometimes it’s not as simple – if that’s the case, we can still provide an immediate response just by being up front and honest – if you need to get someone else’s input, explain that, and then give them an idea of when you might be able to give them a solution.

Appreciate the situation – check in with the person that complained, and invite their feedback to verify that you have solved the problem. Even if it is obvious that the situation has been corrected; the fact that you care enough to follow up makes people feel valued.

 

I use these “Five A’s” as a tool to building trust and effective relationships with, and ensure that no one is left with an unresolved problem. They provide a valuable insight into continuous improvement, by inviting feedback – and then people know you’ll take the feedback on board and do something about it. It’s a useful skill to have in your leadership portfolio – because, even with the best intentions – your team members won’t be happy all of the time. If they know that you’re willing to listen to their problem, apologise if you haven’t achieved and accept your own mistakes (or at least acknowledge how their feeling about things and empathize), and then take action on it – they can know that they can come to you with problems; and you’ll continually be able to grow and develop and take the feedback on board to improve.

That, or you could just buy your team pizza. I’ve just checked on my app, and mine’s “Out for Delivery”….


 

Jemma Garraghan is a Project Manager for EMEA at The Ken Blanchard Companies, and can be contacted on jemma.garraghan@kenblanchard.com

Create Your Own Placebo Effect

Blog Pic - Placebo 4

I was talking with a group of individuals at my running club and one of the ladies said, ‘isn’t it strange how you feel you can run faster when you’ve tied your shoelaces tighter’.

Other runners mentioned feeling increased performance after a decent warm up, pre-race rituals or times when a ritual abandoned before a run left them feeling heavy legged and lethargic.

So I was interested to read a column in Runners World (May 2015) by Sam Murphy on placebos. She mentioned a study by the University of Glasgow where volunteers injected what they were told was a new drug that mimicked a banned substance that boosted endurance. The performance of the runners over a 3K distance increased by 1.2% (9.7 seconds) and they perceived their effort to be lower. It turns out the volunteers were injecting a saline solution, providing zero benefits to their performance.

I have also heard similar examples of people with terminal illnesses who, when given a placebo, improved dramatically. Their symptoms decreased and some seemingly made miraculous recoveries. When they found out they were taking a dummy drug their symptoms returned.

This got me thinking about how our minds work and the effect this has on our performance, both in the sporting world but also in the world of work. I certainly feel my concentration decreases at work without a morning coffee, but would I have still had the same level of performance if someone switched my coffee for a decaff without telling me?

So, is it then possible to train the brain to make you believe you can perform at an optimum level every day? I think it is.

About a year ago Lily Guthrie, Office of the Future Executive Assistant at the Ken Blanchard Companies, provided a group of us with a virtual session on ‘Creating Healthy Habits’. This was mainly focused on habit forming activities in order to keep fit, eat well and increase the health and alertness of your brain. Applying this concept to your work day would also provide structure and your brain will believe these habits are fundamental to good performance.

If you always have a healthy breakfast, keep water by your desk and write a ‘to do’ list every morning before even opening your emails would this fundamentally increase your productivity? Possibly it would, as you are hydrated, won’t be hungry and are organised.

It could also be said that these habits make you feel more productive too – it’s a little placebo at the start of your day. Without these daily habits you might not feel you are working optimally, but with these habits you feel you have started the day as you should and are ready to face any challenges that lie ahead.

I would challenge yourself to think about your ‘best’ days; when do you feel in control, creative, productive and organised? This could mean recording in a diary or somewhere on your computer what you did each day and how you felt. Make your own placebo – take the best parts of your week and make them a reality every day.

Blog Pic - Placebo 3

Lisa is the EMEA Client Services Manager at the Ken Blanchard Companies. The Client Services Team specialise in delivery; Project Management, Learning Services (virtual learning and online assessments) and Staffing (trainer allocation).

 

Why Don’t People Talk Anymore?

Talking

I was having a conversation with a few colleagues about preferred types of communication. The 24 year old of the group only send’s emails and texts, no phone calls, I (30 years old) prefer emails and texts but also like a follow up with a phone conversation, and the 51 year old would respond to an email with a phone call. So why don’t we talk on the phone anymore? Is it a generational thing, technology advancements, or is it simply personal preference?

I do know that talking on the phone is becoming a thing of the past. People are now texting, communicating via social media or emailing. Whilst reading articles on this topic, I have come across very mixed reviews about talking on the phone. I wanted to share some with you, see if you can relate to any of them.

Why People Don’t Want to Talk on the Phone

  • Some feel unprepared for ad hoc phone calls, and prefer to feel in control. Emails help them document a conversation.
  • Some are apprehensive about dealing with emotions on a phone call, and they don’t know how to end a phone call conversation.
  • Interrupts their flow.
  • They can hide behind emails and texts.
  • Phone calls can take too long, and people feel emails are quicker.
  • Different time zones making it hard to communicate at certain times.

Why Talking on the Phone is Important

  • You get a response there and then. If you have an urgent issue that needs to be addressed talking about it will give you a quicker response.
  • Talking helps build relationships. Yes a perk of email is that you don’t deal with emotions, but we are human, emotions are part of our DNA.
  • It prevents conflict. Ever sent an email which didn’t get the response you were looking for? You should have phoned the person instead.

Just a few Facts for you!

BA2XJX Male hands using iPhone writing a text messageText Messaging: Results by ofcom report that text messaging is the most popular form of mobile communication. People send an average of 200 texts per month. Take a look at your phone contract, and tally the amount of minutes you used versus the amount of text messages you sent.

3d person and notebook on white background

Emails:  By the end of 2017 it is estimated that there will be over 4.9 billion email accounts. There are over 132 billion emails sent per day worldwide.

There is so much debate about what mode of communication is best. The truth is they are all good in the right situation; normally a mixture of communication methods is best. When you go to send your next text message or email, think would it be quicker and more beneficial for both parties to pick up the phone and talk?

It might be time you lay your assumed constraints of talking to someone to bed!

Sarah-Jane is the EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant. 

Statistics Taken from Radicati Research 2013.

The 3 Habits of Highly Effective Millennials

We’re doing something a little different this week.

Instead of a written post, Gus Jaramillo and I collaborated on a video post as part of the Leadership Quote vlog series. Subscribe for future videos!

Why Your Leadership Strategy Matters

Take a look at the model below. What do you notice is the end state? Results. Results are always the end state in every organization. That’s all that anyone cares about. One famous organization has a mantra of “don’t tell me, show me.” It may sound callous, cold, or unnerving, but it all depends on the mindset that takes you there. And really wAction Modelhat makes the good organizations great is they innately understand how the experiences and beliefs of the employee are the most instrumental part of creating results. In the same way that quality ingredients make a great dish, a wonderful experience can make impactful results.

So what’s the best way to impact your direct reports’ experiences? Your leadership style, of course. And by shaping their experiences, you are helping them form beliefs about those experiences (either being aligned or not aligned) which impact their actions and results.

It’s quite simple conceptually, but it’s often overlooked since people focus too often on just one part (particularly the results) and do not look at their leadership strategy as whole. What we often forget is foundation for those results. I’ve heard some say, “I want to hire someone with the “It” factor”, but there isn’t a psychological measurement in existence that accurately and reliably tests for that. A person successful in one role may fail miserably in the same role at another company. Instead, you have to consider the experiences and beliefs that person is bringing to the table and how well those will mix with the rest of the team.

And what is the culture of your team or department? Don’t think that’s an important question? Try to change it. It will be incredibly difficult and take significantly longer then you would ever imagine. This is because the culture is made up of, and held in place by, the experiences and beliefs held within your team or department. By providing the correct leadership styles, you can influence not just the results, but the organizational culture around you for the better.

Think strategically and act permanently.

Next time you head up a team or a project, understand what experiences and beliefs you are leaving for your team. You may be surprised at what results are yielded if you create a people-centered, result-oriented experience.

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Got Skills?

One summer afternoon, on the way to his favorite fishing hole, my grandfather took a short rest in the middle of a field behind house. He gazed upon his modest crop of corn that he had planted earlier in the spring as if he were Cortez, first looking upon the Pacific Ocean.

“You ain’t a man unless you own some land,” he spoke softly, as if it were a proclamation to the heavens, rather than an attempt to impart wisdom to his grandson.

Intellectual PropertyIntellectual Property

It wasn’t until recently when I heard a colleague and friend of mine, Dana Robinson, a professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law and author of several learning courses at lynda.com, talk about a new form of equity in our knowledge based economy—Intellectual Property.

“You probably know something about personal property. Your house or the things you probably have in your house. These are tangible things. That’s how we think of property in most cases, but what about intangible property? What about the things that are invisible that we want to consider property? We call those things “intellectual property.”

(See Dana Robinson’s course on Intellectual Property Law at lynda.com)

For generations, like my grandfather’s, land ownership was a significant and tangible asset to either provide or supplement a means to a living for much of the world. To this day, owning a home or physical property is still a valuable economic resource for individuals and families. But over the past quarter century, technology has pushed the light of the dawning knowledge revolution high into sky, dramatically shifting precious resources from the fertile fields of physical property, to the wellspring that reside in the minds of individuals throughout every level of today’s workforce—intellectual property.

40 years ago, the typical American company had about 20% of its assets in intellectual property or intangible assets. Today that number is more like 80%. Leveraging the 80% of today’s intangible assets within an organization is as great of a challenge as it is an opportunity for leaders and individuals.skills_cloud

Knowledge into Action

But intellectual property is not just about knowledge, it’s about how organizations and individuals leverage corporate and employee knowledge into action as a means to create revenue. If the acquisition of lynda.com by LinkedIn last week (LinkedIn to Buy lynda.com , NY Times) did not send sock waves through the business world last week from the sheer numbers, 1.5 Billion, than the fact that LinkedIn is preparing to transcend beyond the FaceBook of business and a real time resume resource, into becoming the leading provider of real time skills to polish up your LinkedIn profile, than you’re not paying attention to how the world of business is changing.

Gone are the days when executive leaders can simply make a decision and pass it down the chain of command for implementation. Gone are the days where you punch a clock, push some buttons, pull some levers and the company generates revenue like a well-oiled machine. And even perhaps more importantly, gone are the days when we hire and retain employees based solely on where they received their degree, or the level they attainted at a university, or the years of experience they have in the workplace—but rather how they can turn their theoretical knowledge from the halls of academia or years of experience into action through demonstrated real time skills that cultivate tangible assets for today’s knowledge economy.

Skills are the New Currency

In today’s highly technical job market, skills are quickly becoming the new currency for new hire selection and on the job performance. Mastery of job skills is more critical to personal and organizational success than degrees and certificates. The right set skills matched to the right job function is the difference between excellence and mediocrity in today’s workforce. Skills are the new currency of today’s workforce.

Perhaps while on the way to the local fishing hole this summer, I’ll take a rest with my son, pull out my iPhone, and open up my LinkedIn profile and look toward the sky’s and proclaim, “You can’t pay the bills unless you got the skills,” as he shakes his head at me with displeasure.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies and Cofounder of DiamondHawk Leadership & Media. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a powerful learning experience designed to help individual contributors to excel at work and in their career through critical leadership and business skills. 

 

Act Before You Think – The “OODA Loop” in Leadership

I have always been taught to “think before you act” – I should  consider what exactly I want to do; why; and what the impact is. This way, you have clarity on what you’re doing, and you can avoid making the wrong decision or upsetting people (especially important in leadership).

However, we’re working in business around the globe, using real-time communication, and keeping up with continuous improvements technology; and we need to keep pace with a constantly changing environment – and this means changing our decision making process to match this faster pace.

The “OODA Loop” is not new – it was developed by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd in the 1950’s, and refers to the recurring decision cycle of: observe-orient-decide-act. The quicker this cycle can be processed, the more an organization or individual can gain the upper hand, by being one step ahead of their “opponent’s” decision making.

The model demonstrates a four-point decision loop that supports fast, effective and proactive decision-making:

Observe Gather as much relevant information as possible. (In business, data becomes an important part of this process).
Orient Analyze the information, and use it to change the situation. The better and quicker the leader of an organization is able to gain clarity, the better the decision that can be made
Decide Determine a course of action. Having good data analysis and orientation allows organizations to make better and more repeatable decisions.
Act Follow through on your decision. Act with energy, discipline and drive. This is the heart of the execution process

You cycle through the loop by observing the results of your actions, reviewing and revising your initial decision, and moving to your next action. It needs to be a smooth, continual process, and the faster you can move through each stage the better. In fact, if you were to sit down and map out each step, it would slow down instead of speed up.

OODA Loop

The initial concept was based on military combat operations. Consider a fighter pilot trying to shoot down an enemy aircraft. Before the enemy is even in vision, the pilot considers information of the enemy pilot (level of training, cultural traditions, etc). When the enemy aircraft comes into the radar, our pilot gets more information on speed and size of the enemy plane. A decision is made based on the available information. Our pilot can then loop back to observation: is the attacker reacting to the action of our pilot? Then to orient: is the enemy reacting characteristically? Is his plane exhibiting better-than-expected performance? Based on these, he can cycle back through the loop to making a decision on his next course of action, and carry it out.

Fighter Pilot (TopGun)

If you’re looking to work on your leadership, and become a better leader, your first step might be to create an action plan. “In order to be a better leader, I want to do this, this, and this”. Whilst this action plan might focus your efforts, and provide a roadmap; it is just that: a plan.

When it comes to leadership, the way to produce the change of mindset – to improve the skills you require to become a better leader – is to act differently, rather than just think about it.

In fact, acting differently is more likely to make you think differently.

Someone once told me that, if I act like someone that I would like to meet, in time, I’d become a person that other people want to meet (and this is now written on a piece of A4 paper, stuck on the ceiling above my bed, and I read it every morning when I wake up). This is Boyd’s OODA Loop theory applied to being a ‘nicer’ person; but the same can apply to leadership. Act like the leader that you would like to have leading you, and in time, you’ll become the kind of leader that others want leading them.

You can try something new and, after action, observe the results – how it feels to us, how others around us react – and only later reflect on what our experience taught us.

In other words, we “act like a leader” and then “think like a leader”.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,530 other followers

%d bloggers like this: