Posted by: Ron Loza | August 6, 2010

Fix It Or Forget It?

I saw this article that intrigued me. Bilou Enterprises Blog Fix It Or Forget It?.

It never ceases to amaze me how so many unqualified individuals end up in leadership positions. Take a look at these stories, have you seen this behavior in your workplace?

My inclination, to any situation (personal or professional), is to talk it out. There should always be a win-win scenario. However, when a supervisor’s behavior or leadership style is lacking it almost always is a function of poor leadership all the way to the top.

Your supervisor’s supervisor should already know about the faults of your supervisor without you having to tell them. If they haven’t fixed the problem then they are either avoiding the problem or they are clued out, neither of which bode well for you. Trying to fix a problem in this case would almost always be a waste of time and even worse may come with punishment.

I’m curious if you’ve experienced this in your work environment?

Posted by: Ron Loza | July 30, 2010

Empower Your Staff

I talked about hiring the right people last week. Without the right people you cannot provide great customer service. There are many books and articles written about providing great customer service but most fall short when it comes to implementation.

One of the best suggestions I’ve read about is to “empower” your staff to solve problems but it often fails because it is hard for a supervisor (I’ve been guilty also) to let go, or even worse, find fault in the decision an employee made.

It took me a couple of years to realize that, 1) the age of an employee directly affects how they resolve a problem, and 2) almost every employee tries to do the right thing.

There is no debate that the older you are, the more life experiences you have and the more information you obtain which gives you a leg up in resolving issues. This is true in business and personal relationships. Compare how you would handle a situation with a girl friend or boy friend in high school verses what you would do today. How many of us have said to ourselves, “boy if I knew then what I know now…” The older you are, the more tools you have at your disposal for making decisions. So when it comes to empowering an 18 year old you need to remember that he or she will make an 18 year old decision, right or wrong.

One of the more facinating things I’ve learned by observation is that most people want to do the right thing. It’s like a major league baseball player, they often strikeout, some more than others, but they are all trying to hit the ball. I don’t believe any player is trying to strikeout. Also, none of these players have reached this elite level without great coaching. This is true of employees, they want to make things right, they may not have had enough life experience or great coaching. I have yet run into a single employee who wants to make a situation worse.

One of the things I try very hard to practice is to empower my staff AND allow mistakes in a safe environment. They might handle something poorly but it is a teaching moment not a time to punish. If I punish I create a fear to make decisions going foward.

I have had to work with a customer, now and then, who was dissatisfied on how something was handled by our staff and in almost every case, when I explain that, “I am trying to contribute to society, a group of ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’.” the customer has thanked me and became even more loyal.

On a sidenote, this is of special interest to me. I see a very different way parents are raising their children. Known as the “hoverer” these parents are not allowing their children to experience failure or disappointment in any form. They fight to get more playing time for their child on a team or they complain to their child’s teacher if their child receives an “A-.” These kids are dropping out of college after only a semester because they are illequiped to handle an form of failure. This does not bode well for our future leaders. But this is for a later discussion.

Empowering also works wonders on a sports team. Someday soon I will talk about how this has allowed me to coach several groups of average athletes to undefeated seasons.

Posted by: Ron Loza | July 23, 2010

Hiring for Customer Service

So much has been written about customer service. How do you provide great customer service? Can you compare customer service from the 1960’s to now?

My first job at 15 years old was working at an independently owned grocery store. Before the advent of the credit card we used to ring the groceries and hand write a tab for the customer. At the end of each month the customer would receive an invoice. We knew most of the customers by their first name.

When we went to a gas station we were met by four individuals all dressed in white. One would fill the gas tank, another would check the tire pressure, the third would look under the hood to check the oil and water levels, and the fourth would wash the windshield. At the end of the experience they would usually hand us a glass with a San Francisco 49ner logo or some other parting gift.

As you can imagine, teaching customer service today is a challenge. Kids today can only read about it in history because it just doesn’t exist on any large scale. They have little, if any, examples to emulate.

So where do you begin? I’ve always believed in the Bill Walsh (coach of the SF 49ners) theory of hiring. Find the best athletes and we’ll find a place for them. I’ve always subscribed to hiring the best “attitude.” I can teach most people how to accomplish a task, I cannot teach them to smile.

One tip to hiring is to hold a group interview. Have up to five people scheduled for the same time. Leave them in a place where they have to wait, preferably standing up, and preferably a large area. Make them wait for 10 to 15 minutes. You need to be in a place where you can observe their behavior. Watch who introduces themselves to the others and watch who is texting or standing off to the side. Also note who is annoyed with you when you finally show up. This technique alone is the single most powerful tool to weeding out weak prospects quickly. I’ve always hired the outgoing friendly person and have had great success with that type of person.

What techniques have you used? Anything out of the ordinary?

Posted by: Ron Loza | July 17, 2010

What! Another Blogger?

Blogging is so ingrained in our society I thought it time for me to jump on board. As with many people, after you’ve lived a little bit, you realize you have a lot to offer in life experiences…some good some bad.

I’ve coached youth sports for over 30 years, been a CEO, worked in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and taught and coached many fine people [athletes and employees] over the years and most importantly been happily married for 25 years.

I’m not saying every day of my life has been blissful, I’ve had my share of the athletes that were too good to listen to my wisdom, the employee who thinks they do all the work and deserve all the money, and yes, my wife who, during an argument, will bring up something I screwed up three years ago!

So how have I dealt with these things? How do you deal with business or life issues? I’d like to provide a forum for sharing ideas on successful conclusions to typical issues. I am a “cup-is-half-full” guy. There are always multiple solutions to any issue. Within these solutions there is always a positive or negative outcome. It is your choice what outcome works best for you.

As time permits I will post a weekly topic along with my thoughts. You are welcome to participate.

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