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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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).
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!
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 what 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.