They did what?

What do you notice about Omar?

What I noticed first was his mask. Clearly this ad was created in the last few months to show current safety procedures. Cool.

But what I also noticed was Omar’s tats and earlobe plugs (I think that’s what they are called). Why did this catch my eye?

Because for decades of working the in attractions industry, visible tats and ear piercings (on guys specifically) were not allowed. Now here is Fresh Market showing an employee with both IN AN AD!  

Why is this GOOD and IMPORTANT? It’s good because like many of you, Fresh Market has embraced recent personal appearance trends to increase, and in many cases improve, their pool of qualified applicants. It’s important because in this ad they are not just selling a salad (or whatever is in the plastic container), they are also selling the idea of an employee expressing themselves while also providing great service. Yes, it can be done. 

After seeing this ad, I looked at some websites from around our industry (yes, yours) and I found something interesting. I saw lots of smiling faces in perfect dress code, as you would expect.  I found diversity of gender and ethnic decent. But I didn’t see any tattoos, yet I know a lot of you allow them in your workforce. It sounds like a small thing, but what does this say to a potential employee?

If they don’t see someone like themselves, it might be hard for them to imagine working for you. Isn’t that why we show different genders and ethnic backgrounds? Should tats be any different?

In some ways, it feels like we have come full circle from when Walt Disney started enforcing the boy-and-girl-next-door appearance standards in 1955.  Well, it’s not 1955 anymore and it’s likely that the folks next door (including the parents) have more ink than Walt would have tolerated back in the day. 

So if you would hire Omar, tats and all, would you also put him front and center in an ad campaign?  Would it be his smiling face that not only sells the salad, but your jobs as well?  Food for thought.

Thanks for reading!

matt@performanceoptimist.com
407-435-8084

Book your FREE 30 minute call to chat about:

  • Dealing with COVID
  • Favorite roller coasters
  • Your 2021 leadership learning plan
  • Anything else that’s on your mind
Every business has a story about how they have dealt with COVID. Here’s mine.

I need your help

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtdumoqTsrG9YaiqyPZKFwuCsgFo40dIWP

I need your help.

I have decided to launch a brand-new (for me) learning platform that will provide a pathway for leaders to grow, develop, and ultimately become more promotable.

It’s a year-long program (to start) where you will achieve personal and professional goals, become part of a supportive community and transform your leadership skills.

Because I have never done this before, I need 20 brave souls who are willing to join the inaugural class of POC YOUniversity – where we will build lasting skills for your leadership journey. Catchy, right?

If you already know you would like to be put on the short list for this opportunity, let me know by clicking the button below.

 Put me on the list!

Need more info?  No problem!  Join me for a 30 minute informational webinar on Monday, Oct. 26. We will describe the program in detail and leave plenty of time for Q&A. There is absolutely no obligation to join the program, but if you are interested in learning more or staying in the loop, I will be asking for you to indicate that at the end of the webinar.

 Register for the Informational Webinar

Please let me know if you have any questions! Hope to see you all on the 26th!
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtdumoqTsrG9YaiqyPZKFwuCsgFo40dIWP

De-escalation Techniques – Webinar replay

This past Monday, Scot Carson, Josh Liebman and I presented a webinar where we shared guest feedback data around new COVID procedures and tips and strategies to both proactively and reactively de-escalate tough situations.

What is “proactive de-escalation”?  Push play and you’ll find out!

For the audio podcast version, click here: AP Podcast – Episode 156

Thanks for listening, watching, and de-escalating!!

 

Don’t wait for HR

I used to work in HR.  I liked working in HR. I know most of the people who dedicate their lives to HR are caring individuals trying to help their teams and organizations grow, not the policy-police overlords you read about.

That said, you SHOULD NOT wait on HR to recognize your employees and show that you care. You can do that anytime and anywhere… for FREE!!

So yes, this will be my second post in a few days that deals with employee appreciation. Why? Because literally the day after my conversation with “Shane”, I spoke to another manager (from a different company) about virtually the same topic. As we talked about how he was going to personally recognize and acknowledge his team, he said, “I’ll see what HR has in terms of scratch offs or recognition cards.”

And this is when I said, “Don’t wait for HR.”

Not because they don’t want to help. Not because they can’t help. Not because they are too busy to help.  It’s because for the kind of appreciation we’re talking about, you don’t NEED HR.

You need YOUR voice, YOUR eyes, a little of YOUR time and YOUR caring heart. That’s it.

When you see something worthy of recognition, here’s what you do:

  • Go up to that person (maintaining 6 feet physical distancing if that is still required) and look them in the eye to show you care and that you’re serious. Don’t look at your phone while doing this.  That’s rude.
  • Describe what you saw. “I noticed that you waved at every guest as they walked by, and many waved back. Thank you for doing that. It makes them feel welcome and that we want them here. It also makes you more approachable in case they have a question. Rock on with your great guest service!”

And look, that didn’t take very long and you didn’t need a recognition card from HR. Best of all, it was FREE and infinitely repeatable!! If you want to tie your recognition to an official HR program, fine. But you DO NOT have to wait to have that card in your hand to show your appreciation for a job well done.

A MUST READ on appreciation: Infographic “How To” Post 6: Appreciated

Back to our story… what about the caring heart?  Oh yeah. The above conversation CAN NOT be delivered nonchalantly. As I stated in that post from 2016, you have to genuinely appreciate your team so your appreciation comes across as genuine. Do you, deep down, really care about your team?  Like, for realz, I mean?

If you do, then you know that the power to recognize and appreciate your team does not come from a scratch-off card.  And, it’s not the scratch-off card that people appreciate.

When I was at Universal, we had a program called “Winning Moments”.  This was a way for team members to recognize each other. There were little cards that you would give to a deserving co-worker with a hand written note about how they had a positive impact on you. That team member would then turn that card in to Team Member Services for the chance to win a prize.

But guess what. Very few people turned in those cards. Can you guess why?  Because they were pinned up in their cubicles and lockers as reminders of how someone appreciated them. These were badges of honor, and worth a heck-of-a-lot-more than anything you could get in the drawing.

So, the Winning Moment form was changed.  A tab was added at the bottom so people could keep the part with the personal note and turn in the stub with their name on it. Brilliant.

This again should show you that you don’t NEED to wait for HR. People value the MESSAGE over the MECHANISM.  And you control the message.

After all this conversation, the manager I was talking to said, “So I just need to get out and look for it. While observing the operation and the guests, I ALSO need to be looking for the great things my employees are doing.  Maybe even make it a goal to praise a certain number of people a day.”

YES! (but with a caveat – they have to DESERVE the praise). Don’t be the manager who is praising just to praise with no specificity behind it.  That’s not genuine either.

So to sum up…

  • You have to appreciate people so you can appreciate people
  • Your genuineness is the KEY to great employee appreciation
  • You DO NOT have to wait on HR to praise or recognize your team

I am happy to talk to anyone about how to show appreciation for your team. Call or email anytime or if you prefer, grab a spot on my calendar: https://calendly.com/matt-810/30min

Thanks for reading!

407-435-8084

matt@performanceoptimist.com

In the near future, I will be publishing new articles on the AttractionPros site and on LinkedIn. I would love to connect on LinkedIn if we aren’t already, and I encourage you to sign up for updates from the AttractionPros site to get ALL the latest updates and relevant content!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This a problem that pizza can’t solve”

Someone actually said that. “This is a problem that pizza can’t solve.” Woah.

How did this come about?  A few days ago I had a conversation with a good friend and industry colleague (GM of an FEC, we’ll call him Shane) who called me because he was having issues with staff morale.  His team had told him they felt unappreciated, but when pressed about WHY they felt unappreciated, the staff really couldn’t put their finger on it.

So Shane and his management team did what any good, loving mom or grandmother would do when others are suffering… they fed ’em. Everything is better on a full belly, right?  This may work when you fail a test or you got picked last for soccer, but its actually not as effective as we’d like to think it is when it comes to true employee appreciation. It reminds me of this meme:

Oh. The horror.

I believe it was sometime after the pizza party that a member of Shane’s management staff said, “this is problem that pizza can’t solve.”

And why not?  Because as yummy as pizza is, it can’t communicate the value someone brings to the team or organization.  It can’t quantify a team member’s impact on the company or the guests, and it can’t sincerely thank a person for their extraordinary efforts.  Only another human being can do that.

But it wasn’t like Shane’s team wasn’t trying.  He shared with me some of the things that had been going on, and we quickly identified that while well intentioned, these actions may not be creating the desired results

Let’s take as look at some of the things Shane’s team had done (and how we decided to fix them):

  • They thanked people on Facebook – after creating an employee only FB group, the managers decided that each day they would go into the group and thank the team for all of their hard work.  Sounds like a good idea, until your team tells you they feel this isn’t very genuine.  Oops. It also potentially thanks or recognizes people who phoned it in that day. So their good intention was not received well. The remedy? Personal, in the moment, specific thanks and recognition to individuals to build trust and show that they genuinely care.
  • They built in flexibility in scheduling, meaning that they would schedule enough people to run the operation but didn’t decide what they were actually doing until they showed up. Flexible for management? Yes. Unstructured, unnerving and unsettling for employees? ALSO YES! This left the employees feeling out of control and haphazard. During these crazy times, employees crave clarity. They actually probably need MORE structure to feel safe. The remedy?  Think through assignments and communicate them prior to employees showing up for their shifts.
  • They helped out. What??? How could this go wrong? Picture if you will, a crew at a go-kart track who is busting their collective hump to keep things running smoothly.  Then, without a word, your GM shows up and starts wiping down the cars. Sounds nice, right? Helpful even?  But to that crew, they may take it as a message that they aren’t doing their jobs well enough, fast enough, or to the satisfaction of the boss, so now he’s got to come step in a take over. It could also be that the GM just took away the one position where the crew gets a little break and breather from the intensity of constant go-kart races. The remedy? The GM comes over, lets the crew know he is there to help and asks them how he can best assist them.

**Related story… Josh Liebman and I were talking about this last bullet point prior to recording an episode of the AttractionPros podcast, and he said he had a very similar situation when working for a photo concession. As the manager, he would jump in, grab the picture off the printer and hand it to the guest. Little did he know that he was taking away a special “moment” that the team really enjoyed. They had worked with this guest to pick the right photo package, etc, and they wanted the satisfaction of completing the transaction by handing the guest the final product. In trying to help, Josh was actually taking away one of the best parts of their job.

So if you are struggling with employee appreciation right now, remember that TRUE appreciation is about:

  • Communicating the value someone brings to the team or organization
  • Quantifying a team member’s impact on the company or the guests
  • Sincerely thanking a person for their extraordinary efforts.

And these come from you, not a pizza. So the next time you are inclined to schedule a pizza party, think about Shane.  Is there a better way to deliver your appreciation message than with dough, sauce and cheese?  I’ll be there there is.

If you’d like to chat about how to do this at your facility, grab a 30 minute time slot and we’ll brainstorm! Click here to schedule your FREE 30 minute call with Matt.

RELATED: Situational Employee Engagement Webinar Replay

Thanks for reading!

In the near future, I will be publishing new articles on the AttractionPros site and on LinkedIn. I would love to connect on LinkedIn if we aren’t already, and I encourage you to sign up for updates from the AttractionPros site to get ALL the latest updates and relevant content!

 

Strategic Conversations Online Workshop

“This is a great way to help with those leaders who may struggle addressing issues with employees. This gives them a clear guide and can take some of the guess work out of it.” – Strategic Conversations graduate

To learn more and enroll: Strategic Conversations Online Workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the importance of intentional communication into the very forefront of our lives. Whether you are communicating sensitive information to your teams, providing coaching to an individual team member or relaying critical material to your leaders, those leading intentional and strategic conversations need to understand and follow specific steps ensure these conversations will bring about the intended results.

This session will outline a model to lead intentional conversations and allow participants to practice the model in real time.

Our next session will be June 10 at 2 pm EDT.

  • This 2.5-hour program will be delivered online via Zoom and a specific link will be sent after registration
  • A worksheet and session pre-work will be sent to each participant prior to the session
  • A mic, webcam and high-speed internet are required to fully participate
  • This class is limited to 6 participants to ensure adequate skill practice
  • The entire session will be recorded and participants will receive the video for review

To learn more and enroll: Strategic Conversations Online Workshop

Thanks for reading!

 

Now is not the time for radio silence

I don’t know who needs to hear this.

Scratch that. I know EXACTLY who needs to hear this.

  • Managers who are afraid to talk to furloughed or laid-off employees
  • Managers who think they have nothing to say
  • Managers who want their teams to return to work engaged and enthused

I know you are a caring person if you are reading this blog. Tell me if this email I recently received doesn’t break your heart.

“I was furloughed 6 weeks ago. Access to my work email and information was removed. In addition, I have not heard from my boss and or employer during this period of time. In complete honesty, it has been a difficult pill to swallow because I am not in the communication loop. I recognize from a legal perspective why the communication line has been cut off, however I’m not allowed to talk work with anyone; that would include my seasonal staff. So I have a lot of concerns about staff engagement and retention.”

I wish this was the only example. I had a gut-wrenching conversation the day before this popped into my inbox with another friend who was in the same situation. And another just a week before that. C’mon people, we can do better. We have to do better.

If communication is the #1 thing that determines success or failure during the good times, it becomes even MORE important in the difficult times.

Even for furloughed employees, you ask? YES! It’s true you can’t talk to them about work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them at all!  In one conversation I had, a concerned manager said he was told by corporate that he couldn’t call to check in on his team, one of which had a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. Seriously? Where is your humanity?

I asked a lawyer about this and you know what she said? “You have a right to be human”. There. Make the call.

For those who don’t know what to say or don’t feel they have anything to talk about with your employees, just say something. Your employees are craving connection right now, just like your guests are craving entertainment. You’ve put up weekly youtube videos for your guests about home school resources and what you are doing to keep them safe. Put that same energy into your employees.

If you don’t think this communication/connection thing is important, you may also be under the impression that your best employees will want to sit at home on unemployment because they can make more money that way. If you are worried about that, you likely have not done a good enough job engaging with them, and dare I say, you may have a bigger employee retention problem than just competing with unemployment.

Why? Because people who are truly engaged, bought in, and share a purpose DO NOT want to sit home doing nothing. It might seem attractive in the short term, but that’s because you have not made your case for the long term benefit of coming back to work.

All this communication also gives you the chance to discuss with your employees what you are doing to keep them safe. It’s true that some people will not want to come back to work because they don’t feel safe. Don’t rely on them filling in the blanks about what they think you are or are not doing to protect them. Be explicit. Get their input. Understand their point of view.

While many discussions are turning to reopening at this point, we are by no means out of the woods.  It’s not too late to fire up the communication machine and get cracking. And by the way, I am NOT talking about a text or a blast email. I’m talking about real conversations where you can hear their voice and maybe even see their face.

RELATED: Situational Employee Engagement Webinar

Now is not the time for radio silence. We have to do better.

Thanks for reading.

To see what others are doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the AttractionPros COVID-19 Video Series.

 

Life with a canine guides us through the re-onboarding process

I’ve had and trained dogs before, and I’ve on-boarded people before, but never have these two concepts collided SO HARD as they have in the last month.

Meet Otis, a 4 month-old Border Collie/Basset Hound mix we adopted in late March. For those who know dog breeds, you can probably guess his personality: really smart but kind of lazy and stubborn.

So, we started with the dog training, which is NOT about training the dog. It’s about training the humans to learn to think like a dog so we can better communicate with him. This is where these worlds collided…

Organizational training should not be ONLY about teaching employees about their job and their roles… leaders should also be LEARNING about the employees so they can speak their language.

In other words, training an employee should NOT be a one-way venture. BOTH sides should actively be in the learning mode. Ah-ha!

This is especially true now as facilities are anticipating coming back online in a post-COVID-19 world.

So what I have learned from “onboarding” Otis that would help you as you onboard or re-onboard your teams in the coming weeks and months?

  • Like I said above, let’s look at the training process as a two-way proposition. You WILL NOT be able to bring your folks in and tell them the new information and expect results. Just because I tell Otis to sit, that doesn’t mean he is going to do it. Your protocols are not the same, and I would dare to say that your teams are not the same. More than ever you will have to focus on how your employees are reacting to coming back to work and the “new normals” in order to get the best performance.
  • This means you’ll have to be even MORE diligent and consistent with your messaging. One day Otis may respond well to a command followed by a treat, the next day maybe not. Over time, the more consistent I can be with my expectations, messaging and communication, the better results we’ll get. If you do not consistently reiterate your standards and expectations (in a few different modes) the performance of your employees will be haphazard.  If you are promising your guests that you will be cleaning and sanitizing on a more aggressive schedule (for example), “haphazard” doesn’t jive with that.
  • Encouragement is KING. Do you have any earthly idea how many times I’ve said, “good boy” in the last 1.5 months? I don’t, but I know it’s a TON. Why so much? Because dogs respond to positivity and a friendly tone of voice. They also respond to firm reprimands, which we have had to do, but the scales have tipped toward encouragement SO much more often. Encourage the behavior that you want – where have I heard that before? As your employees come back, they may be scared, they may be apprehensive, they may be unsure if they should even be at work. This is your time to summon up as much compassion and empathy as possible and encourage the behaviors YOU want to see.  Will you have to correct people, sure. But do that in an encouraging way, too.  Focus on getting better in the future rather than reliving a mistake of the past. Leave the firm reprimands for the stuff that really deserves it – like if their safety is in jeopardy.
  • While you are doing all of this, you will need to re-learn (or learn) how your employees communicate and the best way to respond. When we first brought Otis home, we didn’t know his “tell” for when he had to go to the bathroom. We had a few accidents, so we started taking him out just about every hour or so until we learned what he was trying to tell us. When there was an accident, did we get angry and stuff his nose in his pee spot? No. We did our best to remain calm, we picked him up immediately and took him outside. We can’t get mad at him because he doesn’t know the expectation, so we have to A. be consistent with our reactions and B. watch more closely for his signals so we could avoid the accident in the first place. I know you are going to have a lot on your plate when you re-open, and watching, caring for and anticipating the needs of your employees should be at the top of your list.

In some ways, I think if you have had to shut down you are at an advantage over places like grocery stores who have been open this entire time. They fell into a new normal, you get to plan for it.

And plan for it you should! Plan for your guests and their experience, but also plan for your employee’s experience.

If you need help navigating any of these preparations, I’m happy to assist. You can call/text 407-435-8084 or email matt@performanceoptimist.com.

Thanks for reading!

Did you miss the Situational Employee Engagement Webinar?  You’re in luck. We recorded it just for you! Click here or the picture below.

THE formula for employee retention

Had a few employee retention thoughts swirling around my head pre-pandemic.  They are still valid now, as they will also be when it’s time to welcome our employees back.

For a more in-depth exploration of this topic, check out my online workshop*: Engaging Humans, April 7 at 2 pm Eastern.

Video link: https://youtu.be/kBYRg2FVKKs

*There is a charge for this program. Like all businesses right now, I am adapting my business model to the “new normal”.  I will still offer lots of resources for free including this blog, the AttractionPros podcast and the ALL CLEAR group on Facebook. I can’t thank you all enough for your support!

Thanks for watching!

Having trouble knowing how to lead through this unprecedented pandemic? Need to just vent or talk about anything NOT related to COVID-19?  Sign up for a FREE 30 minute call!

 

Feeling all the feels

NOTE: This post was in the works prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however the concepts still hold true for our new normal of communication, and will be especially important once we are able to gather together again. 

Many of you have heard me talk about the model I use when putting training programs together: KNOW, FEEL, DO.  In a nutshell, when developing a training program on any topic, we need to have a clear idea of what we want the trainees to KNOW (information, facts), how we want them to FEEL (emotions) and what we want them to DO (actions, tasks).

When I went to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis recently, I happened upon another aspect of FEEL that we need to be focused on… how can we prepare our trainees for what they will FEEL when they are out in the real world of their job?

Unfortunately, I was there when the arch wasn’t open so I didn’t get to go up to the top, but I could walk all around it and up to it.  Now, I’ve seen many, many pictures of the arch over the years, but they pale in comparison to being right up close. Pictures also can’t convey what it FEELS like to stand right next to the towering structure.

When I looked up, like from the angle below, I felt a little queasy and that I needed to sit down.  My legs were a little wobbly and there was a pit in my stomach. As soon as I brought my gaze back to the horizon, I felt normal.  Of course I had to see if this was an anomaly, maybe just a one-time thing… nope.  I got the exact same feeling the 2nd and 3rd time I tried this. Some people call this vertigo and it happens whenever you look up at a tall building or structure.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it was an intense, visceral feeling that I could not deny.

It was that very REAL feeling that I was not prepared for that got me thinking about training…

Both customer service and leadership are full of emotional situations. And it makes sense, because both endeavors are built around human interactions.  We’ve all probably felt the frustration of dealing with an upset guest or the joy of reuniting lost parents and children. In leadership there is the satisfaction that all elements of the business are working well (even for a short time) versus the overwhelm of having too many things on your plate and not enough time.

In my experience, it’s the inability to deal with these REAL emotions, or the FEELS, that send people on the wrong path in either area.  This is why I think it’s important to include as many opportunities as possible for people to “feel the feels” in a safe training environment before they are thrown out to the wolves.

This means giving people a chance to practice their skills and get feedback on as many real-world situations as possible.  This could be done as the dreaded ROLE PLAY, or a situational assignment that puts people through the real experiences they are going to go through once on the job.

Why is the role play so hated?  I think it’s because it’s a little embarrassing to get up in front of people an act out a scripted scene. Here are a few ways to get around that:

  • Have participants come up with the scenarios and determine how they are going to act them out.  Ownership over the process helps a lot!
  • Don’t call them role plays.  I use the term “skill practice”.  It may word smithing, but practicing a skill you actually need is a lot more enticing than acting out a “role play” you aren’t connected to.
  • Make it a true learning experience, where you build confidence and competence with everyone, not just the people going through the skill practice.

Role plays or skill practice sessions are vital to get people to understand not only the mechanics of what you are asking them to do, but also how to get through it emotionally.

The reason I think all this talk about the feels and emotions hit home with me is because of the advancement of e-learning in so many organizations.  I do believe that e-learning has a place when it comes to knowledge or compliance, but it can’t replicate the real feelings someone feels when interacting with another human being. For that, you need to interact with another human being.

That’s where we need to take a cue from when we learned to drive.  There was a classroom portion and a driving portion. Both were important but for different reasons.  The classroom taught you the nuts and bolts of what it means to drive a car, the driving portion taught you what it FELT like to on the highway going 65 mph with other cars passing or cutting you off.  No way you could have learned that from a book or in the classroom.

So if you are having trouble getting your training to “stick”, or if your employees or leaders are failing because they aren’t prepared to handle the emotions and feelings of their job, then take this as your challenge.  Strategically include opportunities for them to experience as many true emotions in the training as possible, so they will be prepared when the reality of the situation kicks in.

Thanks for reading!

Having trouble knowing how to lead through this unprecedented pandemic? Need to just vent or talk about anything NOT related to COVID-19?  Sign up for a FREE 30 minute call!