Author Archives: Addie Solutions

Be present; don’t run the red light!

Red traffic lightIn an unpublished essay, “Lessons Learned From the Masters”, written by a wise mentor of mine, Robert J. Brinson, he shared some valuable lesson learned over the years during his professional career. One item of discussion was “The Three Be’s”: 1) Be on time, 2) Be prepared, and 3) Be present. I totally related to being on time and being prepared, since those two “B’s” are my own pet peeves. However, to be present is one I had to ponder, process and put into practice. Of course, most of the time I make a conscientious effort to change my behavior, I’ve had to learn a valuable lesson the hard way through my mistakes.

We live in a society that connects us in so many ways to so many people. Unwritten expectations include immediate gratification or receiving a response 24/7. So how can we focus on the present when we have way too many items on our plate to handle? We multi-task. Is that being present? We can trick ourselves into believing the present has our full attention, but nothing could be further from the truth. This reality hit me one day. While driving to an important meeting, I was thinking about all the tasks on my to-do list for that day. I was so totally distracted by my own thoughts that I suddenly realized I had driven straight through a red light. How in the world could my thoughts have drifted so far that I neglected to notice the light at the intersection was red and that I failed to stop the car? Fortunately, I was not involved in an accident. But let me tell you, it got my attention. I was so shaken up I had to pull over and process what had just happened. It was one of those “aha” moments, and I immediately knew what it meant to truly be present. I was so overwhelmed with all the demands on my plate that I was just going through the motions unaware of what I was doing. I changed that day. My thought process changed, and I began to eliminate bad habits that I had allowed. Not every fault has been completely eliminated, but I’m definitely more conscientious of being present to one task at a time, and I work very hard at making sure I am always present with people. People always take the number one priority.

Giving Feedback

feedbackFeedback can be difficult to give to others. Receiving feedback can be even more difficult to accept. In both circumstances, negative feedback, or constructive criticism, is the most difficult to give or receive. Our natural instinct is to avoid or procrastinate providing negative feedback. My own rule of thumb for providing feedback, especially negative, is to do so only if it is first of all solicited, and secondly if the position that I have been given requires it.

If someone directly asks or solicits your feedback, clarify and confirm that your honest feedback is indeed what they are asking you to provide. By confirming their desire, you will know that they are truly ready to receive your feedback. Sometimes people may not actually want your feedback; they may just want to unload their own thoughts while you listen. Some may just want to talk through a problem solving the issue themselves. I have learned that in this situation, my best option is to keep silent and truly listen.

Now, if your position requires that you provide feedback, take a pro-active approach. Roles that require your feedback include manager, parent, business coach, teacher, consultant, customer, etc. These jobs require that you provide frequent feedback, and your intent should always be for the good of the recipient.

In order to take a pro-active approach, make sure those receiving your feedback clearly understand your expectations up front. Schedule routine evaluations to provide feedback. If you manage people, have a monthly one-on- one meeting and discuss three things: 1) What is going well, 2) what is not going very well, and 3) action items for the next 30 days. Create a comfortable atmosphere for sharing information with open communication. This type of pro- active approach will help in two ways: 1) Since any issues were addressed throughout the year, you will not have a surprised employee at the time of their yearly performance review; and 2) The employee will be happy to get regular positive feedback as well as appreciate the opportunity to know what they can improve to better impact the business and their performance throughout the year. This same pro-active approach also works with helping your child and their grades in school. Have check points in place throughout the semester or quarter. Don’t wait until the end of the semester to discover a problem when it is too late to fix it.

When you do provide feedback to others, be humble and place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Practice the Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Encourage and show love. You could be a positive influence to someone else’s professional growth and development. By just giving regular feedback you have the ability to help someone become better than either of you ever imagined.

We Have Not Because We Ask Not

“It doesn’t matter if you try and try and try again, and fail. It does matter if you try and fail, and fail to try again.” – Charles Kettering

Ask, believe, receive on blackboard

The next time opportunity knocks at your door, open the door and see what happens. Or better yet, be the one to knock first. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own imagination of what might go wrong that we fail to leave our comfort zone and give that desire a try. Of course rejection is not fun, but neither is beating yourself up for not even trying. If you keep trying and do your best, eventually you will see positive results. When you accomplish that desire, your satisfaction will be worth all your effort.

In my sales and customer training classes, I always encourage the participants to at least ask for what they want. My philosophy is that “we have not because we ask not.” Think of asking for your desired result more as offering your skills instead of selling a product. Let the person in charge make the decision whether or not to accept your offer. Do not cheat someone out of the opportunity to benefit from your abilities.

The results of failing to try hit home for me at a class reunion. During a conversation with a classmate, he confessed that he had always wanted to ask me out on a date but did not ask because he thought I would say, “No.” Even after all those years, he still remembered not asking. I probably would have said, “Yes.” Asking and facing the potential of rejection is a risk; however, keep trying. In sales, the rule of thumb is that it takes nine “no’s” to get one “yes.” The more you practice asking while improving your skills, the better your odds become. Whether you are selling a product or offering your abilities as a service, you are seeking a positive response. Next time, take a risk and ask for what you want. Asking gets easier the more you practice. Remember, “we have not because we ask not.”

Inspire Others

“We look into mirrors but we only see the effects of our times on us—not our effects on others.” ~ Pearl Bailey

Words have power My family and I were moving with the crowd of fans toward the entrance gate of a minor league baseball game. From the distance I heard someone calling out my name. I stopped and waited for the young lady and her family to catch up with us. When I trained customer service representatives in a call center, she had been one of my students whom I had not seen in over five years. We were happy to see each other and re-connect. She thanked me for having such a positive influence on her confidence and career, grateful that I believed in her abilities even when she did not believe or see them herself. Thanking me for all the encouragement I had given her, she then explained how she had earned a promotion at work and had become a team leader. I will always hold dear to my heart her words, “If it weren’t for you, I would never have had the confidence to pursue the leadership position.”

I was truly blessed to learn how I had made a positive impact on my former student’s life. Often we never have the privilege to see the positive effects we have had on others. She gave me a precious gift that day by just telling me the impact my efforts created for her.

When was the last time you acknowledged or thanked someone for the positive impact they had on you and your development? Regardless of the significance, take time to let people know how they have inspired you. That thankfulness is one of the greatest gifts you can give to inspire them.

Lessons Learned from the Boss – Part 1 “Work yourself out of a Job”

Succession planningYour work manager has profound influence over your professional development. A great manager can have a positive impact on your growth in skills, knowledge, and attitude. When a manager takes a genuine interest in the success of the employee, that manager will invest time and energy into developing employees in their current position while preparing them for advancement. On the other hand, a terrible manager will have a negative impact on the professional development of the employee, which also causes high turnover rates in a company. When I find high turnover rates within a company, a majority of the time it is the fault of a terrible manager. People truly do quit managers, not jobs.

During my 34 years of work experiences, I have been privileged to learn from some great bosses. However, I have also had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from a terrible boss. Take time to further your professional development by learning from each person you report to at work. In the long run, these lessons will prepare you to lead others and become a great manager.

I recall one great lesson I learned from a great boss—prepare your successor by working yourself out of a job. Unfortunately my boss learned this lesson the hard way, but her experience made a profound impact on me. I began to think differently about my obligations to the professional development of my direct reports.

My boss was up for a VP promotion. She had prepared for the promotion by working hard, building a successful training and quality department across multiple locations. I will never forget the day she got the news that she did not get the promotion. She failed to train an internal successor to move into her current position. The department and company would have suffered negative consequences by not having the proper employees aligned to take over specific roles. That was an “Aha” moment for both of us and a hard, but valuable lesson learned. We immediately began to prepare the whole team for advancement. We were basically working ourselves out of a job and training each of our direct reports to do the same. A year later, she received the promotion. I was then promoted into her position and others within our department also advanced. I learned a great lesson from a great boss. Invest in people and prepare them for advancement.

#IgetDISC

A lot of people tell me they have completed a DISC assessment at some point in their lifetime and can normally recall something general about the assessment results. Some might even remember their main behavior as a D, I, S, or C.

Companies do use DISC assessments in hiring, communication enhancement, and/or team building. Individuals and companies need to understand the importance of correctly interpreting the results of these assessments. When used properly, information obtained from the DISC profile report helps people better understand themselves, understand and value others, and blend the differences. DISC assessments can be used to build cohesive teams and strengthen relationships. Correctly implemented, DISC helps individuals and companies assign tasks properly, empowering individuals to work within their strengths.Behavior

DISC is “how” we like to do things. It examines our observable behaviors and why we choose to perform a task in a certain way. If for instance you asked a person to dismantle and dispose of an office desk, each person would tackle the task differently.

From a DISC behavior perspective:

  • The “D” or Dominance—would get rid of the desk and be ready for the next task.
  • The “I” or Influential—would get rid of the desk but would want to have some fun with peers while carrying out the task.
  • The “S” or Supportive—would get rid of the desk but would want to make sure you support the directive, probably asking a few questions before carrying out the task.
  • The “C” or Compliance—would get rid of the desk, but before doing it would have several questions making sure he/she is correctly disposing of the desk.

Each person would accomplish the task; the difference is in “how” each person completes it. It is important to understand that we all display the four behaviors, but one will be more prevalent. As a leader, you need to understand and consider the strengths of your team members when assigning job tasks. You will then be better able to provide support and select team members appropriately for group projects.

Do you get up when you fall?

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

The old saying, “you can’t win them all…you win some and you lose some” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your best foot forward giving your complete effort and being into what you are doing. You do. Always do your best. Whether you’re playing a simple mobile game like “Words with Friends” or a more complex game like “Scrabble,” you give everything your best effort with the desire to win. Even then there are times your opponent will finish with the most points and be declared the winner.

You may also experience disappointments when you are not the one selected for the new job, promotion, or you don’t get the order for the products or services your company offers. You may find yourself asking, “why not me?” Instead of dwelling on the loss, decide to get up and move forward. Take a few minutes to assess the situation, but move forward quickly.
dgu1
I like to go through a process in my mind and examine the “why not” by asking myself three questions:

  1. Is it just the tiles I was dealt? As in the game “Scrabble,” sometimes we have to say that it was just the “tiles” I was dealt. Nothing could have been done differently to have changed the outcome. I am not at fault here; this is just a fact of life. Better luck next time. Try again!
  2. Was I at my best? We all have off days or times when we wish we would have handled something differently. Take some time to really think about what you learned and how you might apply those lessons learned to the next time you find yourself in the same or a similar situation. Think through it—What went well? What did not go well? What will I do differently or better the next time? Use the information you gather to change, tweak, or improve.
  3. Could this have been a win someone else needed? Sometimes our “win” is just simply not meant to be; someone else needed to win. Your next opportunity is around the corner.

Get up. Stay your course. Do your best and your win will come!

What is your learning style?

Have you ever thought about the different ways people learn? Have you ever noticed that you can teach the same thing in the same way to different people and some understand and others seem confused?
Blended Learning
If you are conscious of the ways you learn and the way others learn, it will help enhance communication and increase the effectiveness of transferring skills and knowledge to others. Could you or your company benefit from more effective training of others? If so, read on.

Although it could be expanded on even further, there are three basic ways people learn.

  1. Visual (seeing)
  2. Auditory (hearing)
  3. Kinesthetic (doing)

A visual learner learns best by:

  • Taking notes and making lists to read later on
  • Reading information to be learned
  • Learning from books, videotapes, CD’s and printouts
  • Seeing a demonstration
  • Seeing all the study materials

The auditory learner learns best by:

  • Talking aloud
  • Listening to a lecture
  • Discussing in small or large groups
  • Hearing music without words as a background in the learning environment
  • Hearing all material clearly

A kinesthetic learner learns best by:

  • Doing, hands-on approach (manipulations, objects, simulations, live events)
  • Physical involvement in learning
  • Field trips to gain knowledge
  • Small group discussions (2-3 in a group)
  • Doing hands-on what is in the manual

There is no right or wrong way to learn and most of us have a primary and secondary preference to learning. The key factor is to understand the three different learning styles and make sure that you cater what you are teaching to the learning needs of the audience.

If teaching a group, it is best to incorporate all three learning styles to have the most effective training program. If you are teaching your staff how to use the new phone system, you will want to have an instruction manual and demonstration (visual learner), clear lecture & small group discussion (auditory learner), and hands-on use of the phone system (kinesthetic learner). Your training curriculum would include an instruction manual to review prior to the training, a clear lecture with demonstration in training and then the opportunity to have hands-on practice using the new phone system. This would be an effective training program to enhance the learning of all your participants.

We all have a tendency to teach in our own preferred style of learning. Next time you teach someone else, make sure you are meeting their learning style needs. By using the guidelines provided and making sure you incorporate the needs of each learning style, you will see the difference of how quickly others are able to learn when their needs are being met.

Lessons Learned from the Profit Club

At the end of each semester, the Profit Club does a brainstorming session and shares the lessons learned.  This semester was twelve 4th and 5th graders, 8 boys and 4 girls.  They never cease to amaze me how much they learn and apply what I teach them.  I could not help but share the things they documented on the dry erase board during our classroom meeting time.  Captured in their words:
Lessons learned from Profit club
What have you learned from working at the profit club store?

  1. Making money
  2. How to sell
  3. Giving change
  4. Got a lot of business
  5. You have to be nice to everyone even those people you may not like and normally would not even talk to.
  6. Customers can be brats and they spelled it BRatz.  Basically, saying the customer can really be a pain and you have to be nice to them anyway.
  7. “The early bird gets the worm” – they quickly learned that if you are late for your work shift, the person who is at school early can take your place.   Working the store for 20 minutes before school was their favorite part.  A lesson for all of us that hands-on experience is the best way to learn and apply the objectives of the class.
  8. Good customer service
  9. Pricing

A great list for fourth and fifth graders running a profit club store selling healthy snacks 20 minutes a day before school.  They were open 25 days, 20 minutes a day.  The results:  $402.79 profit deposited in their account to use toward helping others.  They definitely met their objectives of learning about pricing, picking products to sell, and helping others “being a prophet” to donate to missions.

What is the most important question to ask your Customer?

One of the services offered by my business is customer satisfaction surveys. I’ve worked with several clients to design, develop and implement surveys geared around questions that they are seeking the answer to in or in order to improve the business performance. I’ve designed surveys that are short and some that are very lengthy. No matter the length of the survey or the details of information gathered, there is one question that must be answered by the customer. All the information gathered is important and must be used to drive improvements. However, the most important question by far to ask your customer is “how likely are you to recommend (insert your company)”? The responses to this question should drive the initiatives of the company to improve upon the products and/or services being provided. When the responses to this question are anything other than highly likely, finding out “why not” is essential. The answers to why customers would not highly recommend your company provides an opportunity to improve upon the performance gap of the business. Acting upon and resolving the key issues identified by customers will drive the key initiatives to improve your business performance.