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I stole the following from a meme or maybe a T-shirt: Introverts. We’re here, we’re uncomfortable, and we want to go home.

That about sums it up. I’m often uncomfortable around people, and even when I’m enjoying myself, I’m looking forward to being home. I like socializing, but it’s also exhausting. That’s really the crux of being an introvert. I get tired just thinking about interacting with people.

It can be hard to be an introvert at work because communication is vital in business; heck, it’s vital in life. Our work and personal relationships depend upon it. And the fact is, introverts have a lot to say, but if you aren’t asking in the right ways, it could create unnecessary problems.

There’s a big difference between managing a team of hard-charging, fast-talking extroverts and cautious, patient, meticulous introverts. If you’re managing both groups the same way, half your people are miserable. And let’s face it, it’s probably your introverts. They aren’t telling you otherwise or fighting for what they need. You’ll know someone was unhappy when they send you a resignation email. By then, it’s too late, and you didn’t even know there was an issue.

So, I’m here to speak (or rather write) on their behalf. First, we’ve established that I’m an introvert. I also manage a team of introverts, and I’m in the personality assessment business. It’s up close and personal experience at your disposal. But just so you know you are getting your money’s worth out of this blog, I also polled some introverts and asked them what they need from their managers. And while nothing came as a complete surprise, it was helpful to get their point of view. They were also kind enough to share their rationale, which I didn’t even ask for. A bonus of working with detailed, introspective thinkers, you get a lot more than you pay for, like this blog. So here we go:

  1. After their initial training, build their confidence in their own abilities and knowledge. Rather than providing the answers when they come to you, encourage them to think through the matter and resolve it independently. This motivates with a sense of accomplishment and inspires self-sufficiency. Create an environment where reasonable mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities rather than disasters; a tall column 8 isn’t going to let themselves go overboard and misuse this leeway.
  2. Cautious introverts hate having to ask questions. They’ll do it because they want to do things right, but they’ll be worried about bothering someone or that they should already know the answer. They appreciate being independent in their fact-finding, so having places they can access answers (procedure manual, shared knowledge center) is really appealing. Still, always encourage questions and be a mentor.
  3. Check-in on them to see how things are going. Cautious introverts aren’t necessarily great at proactively bringing up problems. One-on-one conversations or private emails are where they may feel most comfortable discussing issues, but only if they feel you are genuinely interested, not just going through the managerial motions. Focus conversations on tangible ways they can resolve problems; don’t simply give platitudes. 
  4. Eliminate "brainstorming" from your vocabulary. It can feel more like blindsiding. Instead, ask them to think about a question or problem and get back to you with their thoughts at an agreed-upon time. They will have more and better ideas if they think it over. This turning it over in their mind might even happen outside of their normal work hours, for instance, when they are on their evening walk. Why? Because often they are too busy putting out fires at work to do deep thinking. Introverts do not do their best thinking in spontaneous groups or amid distractions. Plus, they won’t fight to be heard over the assertive extroverts. This is not to say that you shouldn’t invite introverts to brainstorming meetings. Send an email a few days before the meeting to allow those introverts to prepare. They’ll be more likely to speak up when they have had a chance to gather their thoughts.  
  5. Many introverts like to get and give difficult news via email first to promise a follow-up call or meeting. It gives them time to process and tame any emotions. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all situations, but when possible, it’s a great way to pave the way for a productive conversation.  On the flip side, when I ask an introvert to call me or have a meeting, I am sure to include something like: “It’s nothing bad!” Column 2 and 8 introverts go straight to catastrophic thinking.  How do I know? I have an employee, who is amazing, and she once told me that every time I ask her to give me a call, she thinks she is getting fired. 
  6. As a leader, proactively manage your own stress. Be careful not to transfer it to others. If you are on edge or feeling overwhelmed, your introverted employees will absorb that energy the most, and they already tend to take things seriously, so the tension can amplify painfully. Introverts internalize stress, even if it isn’t theirs. 
  7. Let them focus. You may want to do it all right now, but resist introducing more than one new challenge at a time. Introverts tend to prefer concentration and mastery over ASAP and "good enough." 
  8. Don’t assume cautious introverts do not want to grow or move up, or that they will be fulfilled working the same support job for the next 5 years. They often want to master their work first before they feel confident taking on more or something different. The key is to find professional development goals that stretch and challenge them without overwhelming them. Sometimes they need a little push to step outside of their comfort zone and risk making the mistakes that come from learning. 
  9. Cautious, detailed introverts want to feel that what they do makes a valuable contribution.  Get good at verbalizing to your team that what they do matters. Show them how it ties into a goal or project, talk about the outcome, give status updates, and be specific.
  10. Introverts like praise, especially if they have a tall column 8. But they don’t like to be put on the spot. If they’ve worked hard on something, acknowledge their work. A group email or an email where their manager is cc’d is cool. Just don’t make them get up and take a bow. 

So, there you have it, ten ways to lead a team of supportive introverts. Here’s to making them more comfortable!

Please tell me this has happened to you too. You go to Teams with thirty seconds to spare before the meeting starts to discover the meeting was set up in Zoom. Zoom says there’s a meeting already in progress (yes, and I’m supposed to be in it!), and it won’t let you in. Apparently, someone forgot to “open up the room.” What? Now I’m late, and I haven’t even gotten in my car.

I’ve also been blindsided (I’m a bit dramatic) with a GoToConnect meeting when I didn’t realize we were even using GoToConnect for meetings. Of course, I was trying to enter using Zoom. And to make things really interesting, I’m part of a 3-person special project team; we meet using Teams video chat. We call the team leader using that handy little phone icon. At least that’s how we’ve done it the last four times we’ve met. Only this time, after I click the phone icon, at the exact right time, I’m met with a “why didn’t you use the meeting ID link in the meeting, invite?” And now, for reasons that make no sense, I’m the one who has everyone confused.  Now, admittedly, it was on the invite, but who reads those whenever you’ve been meeting with this work team the same way for a month? Sigh. At least I had the right platform at that time.  Celebrate the little wins.

Being in the personality business, I can tell you; I have high attention to detail. That’s a tall column 8 on the Omnia profile. I like nothing more than being prepared and in the know on how things are going down. Also, although I am an introvert, I love our video meeting and collaboration tools. Each one has something about it that I appreciate. Teams is great for internal stuff, and the screen share is so easy; we’re about to experiment with break-out sessions next time, so that will be cool.  Zoom is great for both internal and external meetings. It’s easy to access, and everyone seems to know how to use it. But here’s my first piece of advice:

Tip 1: Have a consistent way of doing meetings. As a structured person, it would be nice to know that for all internal team meetings; we’ll use Teams, not Zoom, not Skype, not GoToConnect...Teams. And that we will use Zoom for meetings involving external people. Just some easy formula I can rely on. And truth be told, this is good for all personality types because likely your low attention to detail staff will only be skimming your invite and the high attention to detail staff want some structure, so it’s a win-win. Basically, if you’re throwing darts to decide which virtual meeting tool to use for your next meeting, someone is bound to get frustrated. If you crave a little spontaneity, leave the last-minute surprises to impromptu video chats with one or two other people. You could all play virtual rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to pick the platform. But the bigger the group, the longer it takes to sort out the issues when one, two, or three people make the same mistake and attempt to join a meeting using the wrong platform.

Now, regardless of what platform you are using, let's talk about ways to make the most of every meeting that plays into each person's motivators on your staff.  This is where behavioral insight can be so helpful.

Tip 2: Use the chat feature to appeal to your cautious, introverted team members. Ensure they know chat (typing, not talking) is available and that someone will be monitoring the chatbox for questions. It's best if the chat moderator is not the presenter/meeting leader. Get a volunteer who can alert the meeting leader that there is a question. We have the moderator read the question aloud, but we don’t call out who asked the question. The reserved analytics on your team will love you for this. They don’t mind being seen but talking in front of the group can be just as uncomfortable for them on a video call as it is in an in-person meeting. It’s too easy for people to feel like they are interrupting.

Tip 3: Always prepare feeder questions to get the ball rolling or to fill in dead air. Instead of asking if anyone has questions and crossing your fingers that someone does, throw out a question in the chatbox. This helps ease any anxiety people might be feeling about asking the first question or wondering if their question is too basic. This especially helps the more introverted, risk-averse people on your team. Of course, there are no bad questions. And if the meeting is on how to use a new software -or virtual meeting platform – you’ll get plenty of questions.

Tip 4: Gamify where you can. We meet monthly to sharpen skills on a wide range of topics, from new software and business trends to Omnia products and services; we call it the Omnia Learning Lab. Our last meeting was all about how to use SharePoint (a great collaboration tool), and we broke the ice using Kahoot, a fun quiz app. Most people enjoy games regardless of their personality type, though this is a great way to pull in the driven, impatient people on your team. We are also following up that meeting with a virtual scavenger hunt on SharePoint to encourage people to get in there and explore the application (and possibly win an Amazon gift card – as if Amazon doesn’t come to my door enough). So, sit back and watch while the competitive streak is ignited in your team. We have a week, and I’m in it to win it.

Tip 5: Use share screen; many people are visual learners and need to actually see what you are talking about. Plus, in remote meetings, you need ways to keep people fully engaged. If you happen to be meeting on a cloud-based collaboration tool, you can have people go directly to the application and give them tasks that you can observe. This way, people are doing the actions themselves, and you can diagnose issues in real-time. This is great for hands-on learners and keeps those fast-paced competitors on your team engaged in the process.

Share screen and collaboration tools are also a must for brainstorming meetings and special project teamwork so that everyone can be involved in the process.

So, embrace technology and provide your team with virtual meetings that are even more productive than in-person meetings, minus that one person whose audio never seems to work.

Remember, when I asked who reads the invite every time? Me. That’s who. I’m paying attention now, so pick your virtual meeting platform and send over that invite. I’m ready!

We've spent some time discussing the price paid when a manager hires someone wrong for a job -- we know the potentially devastating effects. But what happens when the person unfit for the position is the boss? It's the next step in the process; if people are promoted or placed in positions where they manage others, but aren't great leaders, it can have a widespread impact.

What happens when it’s the big boss...the manager who’s unfit? 

According to an Inc.com 2018 poll, a staggering 76% of workers think they have a “toxic boss.”  So, what does that mean for the company? A 2015 Gallup study found that 50% of people leave a job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their careers. So, promoting or placing one wrong person can have ripple effects far beyond the immediate department.

When the person in charge is a horrible manager, team morale suffers while company production and income plummet. If a very large group of subordinates is involved, there may be scores of miserable workers functioning on autopilot, commiserating, or threatening to leave en masse. And it can be even worse for small departments where angry underlings may feel so powerless they suffer in silence or mask their growing unhappiness with frequent illnesses and absences.

Unfortunately, bad managers can come deceivingly packaged as good ones. They may display what looks like desirable traits -- a friendly disposition, authoritative stance, accommodating attitude, and desire to succeed -- but none of these ensure management strategies that will be beneficial to a specific team.

Some of the seemingly most ideal managers can do the most harm.

4 Mistakes Every Bad Manager Makes:

Treats Every Worker the Same Way

One of the most common mistakes bad managers make is to neither recognize nor capitalize on each employee's unique differences. These managers consciously paint everyone with the same wide brush (perhaps thinking this is the equitable thing to do) and all but eliminate any chance for personalities to set themselves apart and bring their individual talents to the team. Most employees who are all treated the same way eventually start feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and overlooked.

For example, more assertive employees will jump at the chance to assume additional responsibilities or exercise their power. They need managers willing to quickly assign extra duties and develop any potential leadership skills. Passive workers, on the other hand, prefer to stay in the background. A manager who adds assignments more gradually and takes the upper hand will keep these more prudent workers on board.

Recognizing different traits and different needs, then managing them correctly, is important. Not only to the work environment but to the overall productivity and livelihoods of those working within the company.

Focuses on Weaknesses

Bad managers often get caught up in what workers can’t do instead of what they can do. They also talk brazenly about how they’d like to change people. However, identifying these "problem areas" does nothing to motivate improvement or skill growth when there are no solutions. Poor managers skip the work of uncovering what really motivates an individual and miss out on opportunities to benefit from innate talent and specific strengths.

For example, rather than growing frustrated with a worker who takes her time and prefers routine, good managers will use this person for repetitive tasks or tedious tasks. Chatty employees enjoy talking to people; good managers appreciate their social skills and routinely funnel client relations roles, or telemarketing calls their way.

When good managers uncover someone’s natural assets, they can more readily devise opportunities to help the person increase these skills.

Because one of the managers' primary responsibilities is to motivate and develop staff and offer managers extensive training on understanding human behaviors better. Consider having the whole team take behavioral assessments to see how they may interact and identify strengths and weaknesses. Ensure the person in charge of any size staff can be flexible enough to share at least some common ground with every team member.

Micromanages

Most workers are happiest if allowed to have at least some say in determining their own path when accomplishing objectives. They’ll want a varying amount of oversight from the boss, depending on their specific level of self-confidence and individual desire to take some calculated risks.

Good managers explain the ground rules to everyone then decide which workers might want extra guidance and which don’t. Self-directing team members need chances to devise their own methods, improvise, and learn from their mistakes. A manager's worst actions are to hover over them, tether them to stringent rules, and become a constant presence in their day. Of course, a general agreement on goals is in order and adherence to checkpoints or KPIs (key performance indicators) for feedback. Still, scrutiny of everyday actions and responses can make good; self-sustaining subordinates feel their manager doesn’t trust them.

More cautious workers will want extra feedback from and interaction with their boss. Functioning as a resource and giving advice when asked can boost lower levels of confidence. Provide clear instructions, backup, and reassurance that you know they can do the job. Monitor progress and provide input, but don’t do so to excess. Keep in mind that even the most fearful, self-doubting worker needs some room in which to breathe!

Consider rewarding managers who develop the abilities of others to perform on their own and meet personal goals.

Fails to Fit the Right Person to the Right Job

Any worker mistakenly placed in an ill-suited role will struggle, fail to meet expectations, and likely seek employment elsewhere sooner or later. Good managers know their team members' personalities and place each one in a role designed to play into their innate talents and interests. They set them up for success instead of for failure.

Not everyone can function in high-stress situations. Not everyone can lead. And not everyone can withstand others’ critiques or nasty remarks.

Be sure the workers hired to be collectors exhibit the levels of assertiveness, tenacity, and resilience that the job requires. On the other hand, your behind-the-scenes researchers probably need an analytical mind, penchant for details, and, perhaps, the ability to work alone for extended periods of time.

There are also environmental conditions to consider before promoting an employee or hiring someone new. Is the person you have in mind for the job apt to fit in with the existing team? Might there be generational issues to address? A more mature worker, for example, could have trouble taking direction from someone young enough to be a grandchild. And eager new graduates may expect fast promotions, immediate answers, or big rewards for their efforts.

Knowing who’s right for a job limits the risk of mutual misunderstandings, arguments, disappointments, and regrets.

Today, the typical workplace employs a wide range of individuals who are not only from various generations but also of different perspectives, cultures, backgrounds, and economic levels. With such an eclectic collection of sometimes conflicting personalities, it’s more important than ever that managers know how to correctly read people, trigger hot buttons, and adapt to changing needs.

Are all the managers on your team fit to do the job?

With an estimated 2.65 billion people using social media worldwide in 2018, the odds are good that anyone applying for a position at your organization has at least one social media profile. In fact, they probably have more than one, since the average person today has over eight accounts, more than double the average number in 2013. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that so many organizations are turning to social media screening as a way to learn more about potential job candidates.

What is Social Media Screening?

Social media screening is a process by which employers view and evaluate information posted on a candidate’s social media profiles to determine their suitability for a position. As one might expect, the term “suitability” is doing some heavy lifting in this situation. It could mean assessing whether or not someone has a demonstrated history of using the skills that are essential to the job function in question. On the other hand, it could also mean identifying a pattern of risky or otherwise problematic behavior that could potentially create problems for an organization that hires them.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder study, almost three-quarters of employers are using social media as a screening mechanism for new hires. Perhaps more importantly, 43 percent of them are also using it to monitor their current employees. Not every company is approaching screening in quite the same way, sometimes focusing narrowly on the candidate themselves and sometimes expanding out to look at broader aspects of their online presence (such as what other people have to say about them).

How Can You Use Social Media Screening in Your Hiring Process?

The idea of background screening is nothing new, of course. Companies have been conducting background and reference checks on candidates for quite some time, and there are many services available that make this process easier to conduct. There are cost and time considerations to background research, which is usually carried out by a third-party vendor. Social media screening, on the other hand, is much easier to conduct because the candidate’s information is publicly available on the internet.

A quick scan of a candidate’s LinkedIn or Facebook page will usually be sufficient to establish whether they possess the background and qualifications they claimed to possess on their application or resume. It can also provide a good idea of how the candidate conducts themselves publicly. Are they professional and respectful of others? Do they communicate effectively? Do they have a wide range of interests?

Although social media often blurs the line between a person’s private and professional life, many companies are understandably concerned that the same information will be available to their clients and customers. If a candidate is constantly posting about engaging in problematic (or even illegal) behavior or routinely sounding off about their employers or customers, most organizations will be understandably concerned about the implications of making that person a representative of their brand.

Problems with Social Media Screening

This ready availability of information creates some problems, however. Modern HR departments have carefully designed the hiring and candidate evaluation process to minimize the potential for discrimination and bias. There are many questions (especially where race and gender are concerned) companies are not even legally permitted to ask candidates. Organizations that fail to follow these strict guidelines open themselves up to serious liability problems.

Since social media information is freely provided by the candidate, employers sometimes think they can use it as a way of bypassing these restrictions. They may not be able to ask about a candidate’s age, marital status, or sexual orientation, but a quick scan of their Facebook profile may provide these answers (assuming the profile is truthful, which is a wholly separate issue). Unfortunately, simply knowing that information could expose the company to an accusation of hiring discrimination should they decide to not hire the candidate.

Even worse, social media screening can allow unconscious biases to influence hiring decisions. For instance, if a hiring manager learns that the candidate shares their interests, follows the same celebrities, or uses the same products, they could be unfairly predisposed to favoring them over other applicants. While there’s always a danger of this information finding its way into the interview process, it’s especially damaging when bias takes root during the initial screening before the applicant even has an opportunity to interview.

And that’s to say nothing of candidates who lack a social media presence to begin with. Eliminating a qualified applicant because they don’t have an Instagram profile, for instance, is hardly a sophisticated method of identifying a best-fit candidate.

The Do's and Don'ts of Leveraging Social Media Screening in Your Hiring Process

If your organization is going to use social media screening as part of its hiring process, it’s critical to have a few rules in place before doing so.

DO focus on professional details.

Depending on the social media platforms you’re looking at, there could be a strong temptation to plunge into the candidate’s personal life to learn everything about them. Unfortunately, digging for these details will result in far more trouble (potentially of the legal variety) than it’s worth. Looking for information about the candidate’s work experience and job performance can support details gathered throughout the interview and assessment process, which is usually far more valuable than knowing how someone likes to spend their free time on the weekends.

DON’T use it as the first step in screening.

Turning to social media as the first way to trim down the list of candidates is a bad place to start. First of all, it’s not based on any hard data or objective assessment methodology. Furthermore, unless the position you’re hiring for is focused on social media usage, there’s no reason to think there’s any correlation between a person’s social media profile and their ability to do the job in question. While some people are true “digital natives” who spend a lot of time cultivating their social media presence, others put little to no thought into their social media profiles. Eliminating people on this basis before the hiring process even starts is guaranteed to cost you some of your most capable candidates.

DO keep things in perspective.

Social media profiles are not necessarily an accurate depiction of reality. They are a carefully cultivated public image that someone has chosen to present to the world. It’s not uncommon for people to look far more interesting, capable, and engaging on social media than they are in their everyday lives. They may not be lying about details (although that’s always possible), but always remember that nothing you see should be taken for granted without corroborating evidence of some kind.

DON’T use just one platform.

If you’re going to look at a candidate’s social media presence, you should consider evaluating a number of different channels. Each platform offers a different experience and caters to different needs. A LinkedIn profile, for instance, is usually going to be more professional than a Snapchat account. Some people even cultivate very different online identities across platforms. A person with a perfectly boring Facebook profile might prove to be a confrontational firebrand on Twitter. If you’ve decided you want to use social media screening, you might as well be thorough to assemble a comprehensive picture.

DO familiarize yourself with the law.

Falling afoul of anti-discrimination laws at the state and federal level can put your company in an embarrassing and expensive situation. Make sure you understand what information you are not permitted to request from candidates and put controls in place to ensure your social media screening doesn’t circumvent those laws. It may be helpful if the screening is conducted by someone who has no involvement in the actual hiring process to keep the focus on specific, work-related details and reduce the potential for bias.

DON’T let it be the deciding factor.

Relying on social media screening to make your final hiring decisions is a recipe for disaster. While there’s nothing wrong with using it to create a more nuanced and complex view of a candidate, social media is not reliable enough as a hiring tool to justify using it for selection purposes. If something about a candidate’s profile strikes you as disqualifying even though nothing else in the hiring process supports that impression, you’re either making too much out of nothing or there’s a serious flaw in the way you’re assessing candidates. And if it’s the latter case, you’ve got bigger problems on your hands than just a social media screening issue.

Better Data Results in Better Hiring

Social media screening may not provide much in the way of objective data, but organizations looking for that data can find it through pre-hiring assessments. Unlike social media profiles, these tests are scientifically designed to generate meaningful results that tell you whether or not a candidate possesses the right skills for a position or will be a good cultural fit for your organization.

At the Omnia Group, we’re committed to providing companies with the right tools to make better hiring and employee development decisions. Our selection of cognitive and behavioral assessments are designed to provide you with actionable data that helps you hire best-fit candidates and ensure that your employees have the resources they need to reach their potential. To learn more about our assessment tools, contact us today and let us know about the unique challenges of your workforce.

If you enjoy reality shows in which competitors are charged with completing demanding assignments against extremely tight deadlines, you may recognize that the most serious mistakes are made right at the beginning.

Because there is so little time, teams rush into the work too quickly. They shortchange the planning step. They fail to collect enough information to proceed intelligently. They cut certain team members out of the discussion or dive in with insufficient consensus on how to function effectively.

Sometimes the workload is unevenly distributed. At other times, some members may not understand their assignment or do not receive even minimal instructions on contributing to the effort. While some participants may function effectively, the team as a whole does not function effectively or efficiently because it has unwisely rushed the decision process and failed to prioritize tasks.

The problem is similar when we work independently. We’re tempted to rush ahead without clearly identifying the goal we want to accomplish or considering what resources we’ll need along the way.

Where to Start?

Having a solid foundation in place is necessary for getting through the days—or even weeks—when everything is a top priority. While asking, “What should we do first?” may sound like a moment of panic, it’s actually the best place to start when considering how to prioritize

Unless a client is knocking at your office door asking for a deliverable you’ve promised them, the most immediate priority should be developing a plan to manage the situation. Make a quick inventory of pressing tasks and list out everything that must be done soon, so nothing falls between the cracks. Then pause for a moment and take a deep breath before reviewing the competing projects.

Once your head is clear, and your nerves are settled, it’s time to make the most of your prioritizing skills.

How to Prioritize: 6 Essential Questions to Get Started

1. Which Assigned Deadline is First? 

All things being equal, typical task prioritization means projects with the earliest due dates get moved to the front of the line. If several projects appear to have the same or similar deadlines, take a moment to do some additional research to determine if those deadlines are either firm or accurate. In some cases, hard deadlines are the result of a valid process and cannot be moved. Sometimes, though, deadlines are assigned arbitrarily on the assumption that the work could be handed in late. In these cases, it might be possible to push a project back to a later time or date to accommodate more pressing needs.

2. What Does Your Supervisor Think is the Most Pressing Work? 

Identifying which tasks are most important isn’t always obvious to every employee. This is especially true in teams operating in an agile workflow or scrum system where some team members can’t even begin certain tasks until other people complete theirs. Asking a supervisor or manager to clarify what absolutely needs to be done for the rest of the team to move forward can eliminate a great deal of uncertainty on a busy day. Although some managers might view such questions as attempts to avoid responsibility and delegate upwards, most of them will quite willingly discuss task prioritization with you. So ask if possible.

3. What is the Most Important Work Today? 

As General George Patton famously remarked, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” Urgency counts for a lot in any organization, even when the work doesn’t necessarily impact major, long-range projects. Simply clearing essential, “must-do” items off the list can clear up the bandwidth a team needs to refocus its attention on long-term strategic goals that will drive business results. If something is “on fire,” use your prioritization skills to put it out!

4. What is the Most Important Work in the Long Run? 

Speaking of the big picture, it’s important to recognize which tasks fit into an organization’s broader strategy. Constantly pushing tasks that aren’t immediate concerns to the backburner might make sense in the heat of the moment, but putting them off repeatedly could endanger the company’s future or possibly undermine your career. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to complete these objectives immediately (that’s why they’re long-term goals!), setting aside time to make progress on them can help keep the strategy moving forward even as you’re prioritizing short-term objectives.

5. Can You Delegate Any of the Work? 

Instead of digging in and doing it all, why not ask a fellow team member to help? Even if it takes a few minutes to explain the task, delegating simple tasks can still free up hours of your own time for other responsibilities and more high-value work. Delegating responsibilities also sends an important signal that you trust other people to be accountable and deliver results. It also opens the door for future collaboration. By empowering the rest of the team to achieve key objectives, you will position yourself as a leader instead of a martyr who insists on doing it all on their own.

6. Can You Put in Extra Time? 

The answer depends on many factors. One factor is your employment status and whether you must be paid overtime. Salaried employees often feel pressured to work late or over the weekends to get everything done. While having to put in a little extra work now and then is understandable, doing so regularly can actually be detrimental to an organization because it masks the reality that the company doesn’t have enough resources to complete work effectively efficiently. If everyone is consistently working extra hours, it may be time to add a new team member to ensure that quality isn’t sacrificed. 

When your workload becomes overwhelming, it’s important to focus on potential solutions rather than muddling through without a plan. Developing a strategy for prioritizing tasks can reduce the team’s overall stress level and make it easier for everyone to put their work in the proper perspective. Taking a moment to ask questions and identify what qualifies as urgent can mean the difference between keeping the team on track and letting critical tasks unfinished.

We can all think of a time when we have received horrible customer service, right? Unfortunately, poor customer service experiences are usually easier to recall than good examples. For instance, I once had a waiter spill water on me four times...during the same meal. My mother, a teacher, once had to retake an entire series of end-of-year student pictures because the photo printing company refused to send her prints. The reason given? She had not yet paid for her slide-show disk. One problem: the disk was included for free as part of the picture package!

The High Cost of Poor Customer Service

A surprisingly bad customer service moment can do more damage than a history of mediocrity. Those terrible moments stand out in people’s minds and are readily shared with others. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, the average dissatisfied customer shares their bad experience with 9 to 15 people, and 13 percent of them tell more than 20 people. Research estimates that companies could be losing as much as $62 billion each year due to poor customer services. 

Thankfully, though, other stories are told and retold, the ones about surprisingly GOOD customer service. Recent research has found that while 30 percent of customers report being likely to share their bad experiences, 49 percent of those same customers would be willing to share examples of good customer service situations. Truly going above and beyond can make the difference between a satisfied customer and an intensely loyal customer who gives you repeat business and sends other people your way.

Of course, everyone has bad days (including service providers and customers), and you can’t please everyone. Here are a few tips to avoid creating outrageously bad customer service experiences that are likely to get you called out on social media (you know, the ones that get nearly 20 million YouTube views)

4 DON’Ts of Customer Service

So what is bad customer service, and why is it so damaging to your organization? Perhaps the best way of understanding what poor customer service looks like is to stress how it takes any situation and makes it worse. Making a mistake is one thing; even people with good customer service skills will occasionally fail to meet expectations. What distinguishes poor customer service is the way people (and organizations) respond to those situations.

1. Don’t Make Things Unprofessional

One of the worst mistakes you can make is failing to be professional in the heat of the moment. This should go without saying, but there should be a zero-tolerance policy against any foul language or insults toward a customer, no matter how rude or insulting the customer is being. Remember that while customers speak for themselves, you (or your customer service employee) represent your entire company.

2. Don’t Create Obstacles

The process of obtaining services should never be more painful than the problem. Nobody likes long hold times, tons of complicated rules, multiple phone transfers, and/or untrained service people. If customers deal with this enough (and once might be “enough” for some), they’ll think twice about doing business with that company in the future. Good customer service makes dealing with your company as easy and frictionless as possible.

3. Don’t Avoid Accountability

As an organization, you should never go back on your word or try to duck responsibility. It’s important to think beyond the short-term incentives of standing your ground on an issue. When companies use loopholes to avoid honoring return policies/guarantees or flat-out choose not to honor them, they may keep that one sale, but they damage their reputation and lose future sales.

4. Don’t Focus on Who’s to Blame

When things go wrong, there is often a temptation to throw someone under the bus to absolve the rest of the organization of wrongdoing. However, in most cases, the customer doesn’t care who made the mistake; they want to know who will fix it. Good customer service skips the blame game. If a mistake was made, apologize, fix it, and move on.

7 Good Customer Service Examples

To provide the kind of customer service that gets people talking in a good way, every organization should take to heart a few features of good customer service.

1. Build a Culture of the "Customer Service Experience." 

Now more than ever, customers want to feel acknowledged, respected, and valued. Ensure everyone from reception to IT to sales knows how to get your customers the help they need. Cultivating good customer service skills is critical to delivering a positive consumer experience.

2. Always Follow Through 

Delivering on all promises and being unerringly reliable are core features of good customer service. If you say you are going to do it, do it.

3. Learn About Your Customers and How to Serve Them 

If you cater to busy business people, help them without wasting their time. If you provide technical products to people who are not technically savvy, focus on patience, and attentive training. The same information you used to win the prospect can be used to keep the customer.

4. Think of Ways to “Convenience” People 

Can you get them the product sooner than expected? Can you solve a problem they didn’t know they had? Train your service people to head off issues at the pass and build a positive experience from the beginning.

5. Exceed Expectations

Make it your goal to shock people with amazing service. Give them more than they expect, surprise them with contests or prizes, send thank you cards, follow-up, and endear them with personal touches.

6. Be More Than a Voice on the Phone 

Any time there is a chance to build a one-on-one relationship with a customer, take it. If someone tells you their situation, take notes. Being remembered is a big deal to people (and having to repeat the same info over and over is annoying).

7. Have a Plan in Place

Not everyone is so nice, and not every customer who complains will be satisfied with your response. Always have a plan in place to deal with the one who wants something for nothing and who will be unhappy no matter what you do.

As good customer service increasingly becomes a competitive differentiator, there’s no excuse for failing to instill good customer service skills throughout your organization. Addressing your customer’s needs, pain points, and complaints quickly and effectively will help you to create the kind of lifelong advocates who are so essential to growing your business.

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