“You should be a counselor.”

That’s what a friend said to me recently.

“You should be a counselor.”

What’s interesting is that I have heard that a number of times over the last few months from people I don’t normally work with.  This last time was just a few weeks ago.

Some friends from high school and I got together at a buddies lake cabin for a guys weekend. One friend and I sat down to have lunch one day and started talking about business.  He’s a business owner and he started sharing some things that had been going well and some things that had not been going so well.

I listened, asked some questions, and offered my perspective on a couple of his points. We spoke for about an hour and then he said, “man, that felt like therapy! You should be a counselor.”

I share this story for 2 reasons:

  1. If you are in a similar spot as my friend… maybe you’re stuck in a rut, or are looking to take things to the next level, but don’t know where to start, give me a call.
  2. This experience really solidified for me that if your personality, purpose and passions are fully aligned with what you do as a profession, work is no longer “work”, but an extension of your natural behaviors.

That second point really hit home because this conversation was not planned. We didn’t schedule a coaching or counseling session, we were just talking. But when my friend shared that something was bothering him, my mind immediately jumped to “helping” mode.

“How can I help him?  Or how can I help him help himself?”

And my PURPOSE, I believe, is to help people. It’s even in my tag line- Helping Leaders Lead. I learned early on that my greatest joy came when I could help other people be successful.

My PASSION is people (and the amusement park industry, of course!). I enjoy meeting people, hearing about their journeys and learning from their experiences. I could also talk for days about roller coasters, but that’s another story for another time.

And my PERSONALITY lends itself to serving my purpose and passion. I like having (and instigating) fun, but also enjoy listening to others, analyzing situations, and trying to connect the dots.

If your work is enjoyable and feels like a natural extention of what you do, there is a good chance your 3 P’s are in alignment.

Congratulations!!!

If that’s not the case for you, try this:

  • Passion – what do you care about? What do you go out of your way to learn about, or be involved with?  What are you constantly looking for or are aware of – no matter where you are? At a flea market recently, I found a tiny little toy bus that said Six Flags on it. It caught my eye right away and I had to have it. The people I was with said they never even noticed it. Probably because that’s not what they were looking for.  
  • Purpose – this is a big picture question… do you help people, build things (I.e. houses, roller coasters or kitchen cabinets), do you solve problems, do you communicate well or do you enjoy inspiring others? This is not an exhaustive list of “purposes”, but will hopefully give you an idea of what to ask yourself.
  • Personality– when are you at your most comfortable or productive? Are you on a stage, in an office or on a job site? Are you working with others or by yourself? Is the work largely cerebral or physically active? You can answer affirmative to more than one, and that’s okay. That means you can exist and thrive in many environments.

So if you are in a rut, trying to take things to the next level, or need help aligning your 3 P’s, give me a jingle.  We’ll see if my friend was right! :o)

Thanks for reading!

www.performanceoptimist.com

matt@performanceoptimist.com

407-435-8084

A bunch of Supervisors from Silverwood Theme Park went through the Myth of Employee Burnout Training Program – here’s what they had to say about it.

 

Is that coaster grease I smell?

Spring is a busy and wonderful time in the attractions industry! Seasonal parks are getting ready to open their gates and year round facilities are gearing up for a busy summer.  This means that you, as a leader, have to be ready to take on the challenges that will be put in front of you.  And yes, there WILL be challenges!

One way to do be ready for what comes at you is to continue YOUR development throughout the season, and I am super excited to share a few ways you can do that!


Attractions Mastermind Group

If you remember back to my first post of 2017 (and I’m sure you do!) you may recall me talking about the Attractions Only Mastermind program.  Well, the pilot program just concluded and I am happy to say it was a big hit!  Over a 6 month period, 4 leaders from various attractions gathered bi-weekly over Skype, and we networked, learned, shared, laughed, learned some more and gained incredible insight on business and leadership skills!

“The program is filled with everyone’s good days and bad days, advice of a lifetime, and guidance from your peers that is priceless. The education you takeaway from the program will really help mold you into a better manager professionally and a better person personally!” – Mastermind pilot program participant

We are currently putting together details for the next program… to learn more, click here!


Coaching discussions

Another way to continue your development is through facilitated coaching discussions.  That sounds complicated, but it’s not!  I’ve been doing quite a few of these recently and they have been tremendously impactful. Why? Because they are casual (so people are comfortable sharing) but also targeted to address specific issues. They can be done at any time during the season and are a great way to keep people engaged!

For example, I worked with Ken Whiting and his team at Whiting’s Foods recently and we talked about the leaders’ influence on employee retention.  People really opened up about their challenges, which allowed us to explore some pretty powerful solutions!

“We asked Matt to share some insights on leadership influence with our seasonal leadership team. Matt established a casual but professional environment right away and got everyone engaged in the discussion. He was able to have them uncover some deep truths that young leaders rarely discover, and we also talked about some very practical and actionable solutions to current challenges.  To see these leaders so enthused and energized was incredibly inspiring – this is a session that will have a long-lasting impact on our team!” – Ken Whiting, Whiting’s Foods

Give me a call to find out how a session like this could benefit you and your teams!


Ready-to-go Supervisor development course

On a recent IAAPA Webinar dealing with supervisor development, I asked the audience about the biggest challenges they faced when training new supervisors.  Here’s how the numbers shook out:

  • 68% – not enough time
  • 18% – don’t know what material to train them on
  • 14% – don’t know how to train another leader

If you fall into any of these categories, The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training Program may just be for you!

To save you time on developing content, this package includes everything you need to conduct your own 8-week development program with your leadership teams:

  • A text book (The Myth of Employee Burnout) for each participant
  • A leader’s guide with pre-formatted lesson plans
  • Workbooks for each participant to recap the assigned reading and prepare them for the upcoming lesson

The sessions don’t have to be long… 20 or 30 minutes.  You may already have a weekly meeting where you have everyone together. This is a great way to add some continuous development to your agenda!

Click here to read more about it!


So what do all of these have in common?  YOU!  These are all tools, but it takes effort and energy on your part to put those tools to use.  I encourage you to find some way to continue to grow, learn and develop each and every day.  Read an article, watch a Ted Talk, speak with someone you have never spoken with before… even if it’s something small… you owe it to yourself and your team to continue to strive to be the BEST version of you that you can be.  And only YOU can make that happen!

Thanks for reading – see you on the midway!

Do your leadership skills need a tune-up?

photo-640Everyone, meet Watson.  Watson, meet everyone.

Watson is what we affectionately call our Honda Element.  (Element… elementary… Watson).  It’s a great car that has served us well.  Recently we had to get the brakes redone and transmission flushed, but that’s all part of owning a piece of machinery like this.

It’s like my Dad would say… if you want something to last, you have to take care of it.  If we want Watson to be ready when we need him, we’ve got to take care of him.

See where this is going?  If we want our employees to last and be ready when we need them… I’ll let you finish that statement.

In all cases, this takes people who are qualified to perform the work. For Watson, that’s a mechanic.  For your employees, that’s YOU!

Do you FEEL qualified?  Most newly promoted leaders don’t, but they also don’t know what steps to take to remedy the situation. (Don’t feel bad, in many cases your manager doesn’t know how to fix it, either.)

Here are some things to think about (and talk to your manager about!):

  • Are you actually qualified?  Mechanics (the good ones) take classes and attend update and recurring trainings to keep their skills sharp.  What books, classes or seminars can you experience to hone your skills?  Is there someone you know that you can seek out as a mentor or coach?
  • Do you have the right tools?  A hammer won’t do you any good if you need a wrench.  What tools (skills, abilities) do you need in your tool box to effectively lead your teams?  (Look at the things you dislike to do the most – that’s a good starting point.)
  • How well do you use your time? When I first called the mechanic, they said they couldn’t get Watson in for another 3 days.  Do you have a good handle on how you spend your time, where it goes and how to maximize your efficiency within the time you have?
  • Are you a good problem solver?  When I first brought Watson in, I explained what the brakes were doing (according to me).  The mechanic then had to look at all of the surrounding factors and circumstances to determine the right solution. Are you able to identify the needs of your employees so you can provide them with what they need?  If not, what tools or skills do you need to be able to do that?

Leaders (the good ones) are constantly looking at ways to get better at their craft, and that means seeking out opportunities learn, grow, and be better at your job than you were yesterday. Some of your skills might be right where they need to be, others may need some attention, and that’s okay.

Cars keep changing, so mechanics have to continue learning just to keep up.  Your job as a leader ain’t that different.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: Over the last few months, I’ve taken my desire to Help Leaders Lead to the next level.  Along with my book about employee engagement and burnout, I also now offer professional coaching services and self-directed leadership development courses.  Oh, and don’t forget the FREE eBook I’m giving away on my homepage!

visit-me-wwa

Would you like to dance?

I’ve already written about the GREAT service we received while dining one day on our recent trip to California, and my overall impressions of the guest service at all of the parks we visited.  Today though, I want to explore an experience we had while waiting in lines that had nothing to do with how the employees treated us.

CNC Superman

Over the course of a week, we stood in lots of lines and waited for lots of rides.  What happened over and over again was the “dance” of large parties trying to get onto a ride at the same time.

Picture the “corral” set-up of most roller coaster loading stations.  There are chutes that guests get into that align them with the seat they are about to take.  This is where the dance happens, when people count the other guests in front of them and realize they may not be on the same ride as their friends.

So then this conversation ensues, “Would you like to go ahead of us so we can go with our friends?”

Let’s look at that.  So a guest is letting, in fact suggesting, that another group GO AHEAD of them in line.  At any other point in the line this would be considered “cutting” and not tolerated by the masses.  Yet, here it is encouraged.

And we saw this from guests of all ages and cultural backgrounds. It seemed that just about everyone was willing to wait a little longer for the chance to experience the ride their friends.

There is a special dynamic at an amusement park about sharing the experiences you have.  Even if you go on the exact same ride one cycle later, it’s not the same as going on on the ride WITH your friends.

Does this give us any insight into how people behave in the workplace?  I think it actually does.

The question about why people stay in a job, or what keeps them coming back, or what makes all the ups and downs worth it generally comes back to one thing: the people.

Of course we can’t overlook things like pay, benefits and working conditions, but so often people are driven by being around others that care about them, that support them and that THEY can have a positive influence on.  The more I am around people and get to study them, the more I truly believe that at their core, people want to GIVE as much as they GET.  That may not always be easy to do or articulate, but I do see it as a genuine human need.

As funny as it sounds, I think we sometimes marginalize what we allow our employees to GIVE us while they are working.  Yes, we get their time and usually their attention, but are we allowing them to give us their talents?

When people are unsatisfied in a job, is it because they haven’t worked enough hours, or is it because they haven’t been able to show what they are really capable of?

I’ve been a fan of Zappos for years.  Not necessarily as a retailer (although I have had good experiences) but as a company who has been able to sustain an amazing culture.  Look at their core values and tell me what you see.

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

I see that the majority of items are centered around how people work together.  They tap into the deep need we have to connect with others on a meaningful level and use that to propel their business forward. It doesn’t say so explicitly in their values, but they are also very good at placing people where their talents are best utilized, which makes upholding their values a bit easier.

If experiencing the “dance” while waiting in line has taught me anything, it’s that the need to connect and be human is so powerful for some that it trumps some of our shorter-sighted goals, such as being first in line on a roller coaster.  It sometimes causes us to sacrifice what we’ve worked (or waited) for, but in the end we know it will be worth it because of the deepened connections we’ve made.

Is it a stretch then to say that being part of a strong, cohesive team is more important than making a lot of money?

To some, it just might be.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: This is always the toughest part of the post to write – trying to tell you a little about who I am and what I do, all while not sounding pompous.  How about this? If you liked what you read and would like to talk about working together to improve leadership, customer service or team dynamics at your company, please contact me in the manner you see fit. The end.

They can smell fake

While waiting for a recent flight, I had the pleasure of speaking to a gentleman named Dustin.  He is a 6th grade teacher in Florida and I could tell that Dustin is a guy who loves his job, enjoys helping and teaching kids and truly wants to make a difference in the lives and futures of those around him.

At one point, the conversation turned to those teachers who didn’t display the same attitude, and how they seemed to complain a lot and generally blamed the kids, the administration, and the parents for their bad experience (and attitude) as teachers.

Dustin then went on to talk about how this impacts the students.

“The kids can tell.  They don’t respond well to people who don’t seem to care.  They can smell fake.”

My first thought was, “like a dog can smell fear”?

“Sort of”, Dustin said.  “They can tell when someone isn’t genuine, and they react to that with their behavior toward the teachers and fellow students, and you can even see in their grades.”

My second thought was, 6th graders aren’t the only ones who can smell fake.  Our employees are pretty good at it, too.

Which brings me to this: leaders are like teachers.  It’s a TOUGH gig to fake.  I think fewer people are successful at “faking it until they make it” than they care to admit.

But there are plenty of people in leadership roles who, for one reason or another, have no business being there.  The process that put them there is another blog for another time.  I would rather focus on identifying the fakes and finding a different path for their talents.

And by the way, I don’t necessarily fault the fakes (yet).  Again, the system that put them there might have been broken, or they may have thought it was the right move at the time.  It’s those that have identified that they are faking their way through that need a swift kick in the pants.

Here is what I have seen fake, ingenuous, I’d-rather-be-somewhere-else type of leaders do that impact their credibility, trustworthiness and ability to be respected.

  • Inconsistent behavior – The ol’ Jekyll and Hyde.  “I wonder who is showing up today?” is a common question from employees.  Employees find it hard to trust people when they don’t know what the reaction will be if they ask a question or make a suggestion.
  • Haphazard policy enforcement – probably comes from the inconsistent behavior above, but what does it say when a leader decides to enforce a policy, rule or deadline one day, but the next day completely ignores it? Hard to know where you stand.
  • Poor communication – In my experience, I attribute 99% of all leadership issues to communication… lack of, too much, or incomplete.  When your heart and mind really aren’t in the game, it’s tough to muster the energy and patience needed to listen, convey the proper message and listen some more.

If this sounds like you, please gather your belongings and head for the exit.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  You are not doing yourself or your employees any favors by being fake and inconsistent.  Should you quit without another job to go to?  That’s up to you and your bank account, but PLEASE start looking for something that will truly align with your strengths and interests.

If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your employees.  They deserve a leader who will openly communicate and LEAD them to greatness – not fake their way to mediocrity.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: In just a few weeks, Matt and his coaster nerd buddies will be embarking on their annual coaster extravaganza! This year they’ll be in California, visiting Disneyland, California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Blog, Twitter and Facebook posts to follow!

How can YOU help?

I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a Myth of Employee Burnout development session with a group of young leaders. Because burnout is not something that is fixed overnight, I asked the participants what they were committed to doing after the session. To take it a step further, I offered to follow up with them on a date of their choosing to see how things were going.

When I got home and read through their responses, two things were very evident.

  1. These folks are highly committed to taking their leadership skills to the next level.
  2. As leaders of leaders, this list gives us a wonderful bit of insight into how we can help develop the leaders that report to us.

Transitioning into a leadership role is hard enough, then when you realize that you are now responsible for developing other leaders, it can be very daunting.

Here is the list of things that the young leaders I worked with said they are committed to (and we can help with):

  1. Seeking out the opinions of my employees and listen to their suggestions.
  2. Help address issues before they become problems.
  3. I would like to have knowledge about what to do when a policy is violated. I would actually like to have knowledge of my job altogether.
  4. Be a better leader (4x)
  5. Keeping my visible anger outside of work
  6. Help my team perform at a higher standard and understand why.
  7. Grow to not feel behind the 8 ball and be more confident as a leader.
  8. Being more involved in the training of employees
  9. Doing more 1-on-1 development
  10. Provide a positive environment for both my guests and employees
  11. Become a better supervisor; learn how to talk to other leaders and employees when delivering positive and negative reinforcement
  12. I would like to have a better level of teamwork amongst my employees
  13. Finding the answers – never let an employees’ question go unanswered.
  14. Learning what goes on outside of my area.

The other thing this shows is that these leaders WANT the follow-up, they WANT to know how they are doing and they WANT someone to check up on them.  By filling out this form and turning it in, they are saying, “Please help me achieve this.” If you have read any of my other posts about feedback and thought, “they don’t really need or want that”… think again.  This isn’t ME saying it, it’s your employees.

In the spirit of full transparency, I will tell you that not every leader that was in this session turned in a commitment form.  It was a voluntary action, and some chose not to.  Doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t as committed as others, but it does prove that leaders at all levels are still individuals, and you may need to approach their development a little differently.

This also means that this list is a starting point, not the be-all, end-all. Just like your front line employees, leaders need individual attention and development, and it’s up to you to determine the best way you can help.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: Matt is constantly asking himself, “how can I help leaders lead?”  Hopefully this blog is a good start but if you need more help, say with a development session for your team, an interactive keynote at a conference or 1-on-1 coaching, Matt does that, too. For a veritable plethora of ways to contact him, click here.

Is it time to rethink the mission statement?

We’ve all heard our share of corporate mission statements. We’ve all seen them boldly emblazoned on a poster, in a handbook, or on a wallet card. Heck, some of us have probably even written them. A recent experience at Kennedy Space Center got me thinking about the way companies typically use the mission statement, and whether or not it is as effective as it could be.

Many of the mission statements I have seen are ahead-looking, just-out-of-reach statements that are intended to inspire people to continually strive for excellence in the pursuit of the overall goal.

That’s fine, except when you never actually REACH a goal, it can be pretty discouraging.

That synapse fired during my visit to KSC when our tour guide kept talking about the missions that NASA planned and completed, including Apollo 13, which was dubbed a “successful failure”.  The point that I got from this was… these missions all had one thing in common: an end.

They had a mission to go to the moon.  Check.

They had a mission to build a space station.  Check.

The corporate world got a hold of this concept, and we now have mission statements that look like this:

Our Mission: to deliver unparalleled care to our clients with employees who exceed all expectations of quality and cooperation and provide amazingly unbelievable returns to our shareholders.

Where do I put the check mark? How do I know when the mission is complete?

The real disconnect I have noticed is in translating that high flying goal into specific behaviors and tangible results.  Without a specific strategy, mission statements like this often dwell in the black hole of “I think we have a mission statement… something about making money and quality clients…”

And if that’s the case, your mission is doomed to fail.  Too many people have different ideas of what the mission means, if they think of it at all.

Case in point…

While in line to board the tour bus at KSC, a photographer gave us a “mission”.  Put your hands over your ears.

YourPhoto2We all did it, but clearly we had our own ideas of what we should be doing and why.  I thought we should be acting as if the shuttle was really right behind us, pumping out a deafening roar.  Apparently, I was alone in this interpretation.

But that’s my point – an unclear mission leads to haphazard performance.

For the record, I am not saying you shouldn’t have a mission, or a statement that encapsulates the essence of what we are trying to accomplish. But, we do have to be prepared for people to interpret it however they see fit if:

  • It’s so nebulous and full of jargon and non-speak that no one can understand it, or…
  • If the behaviors that uphold it are not role modeled or reinforced.

Is it time to rethink the mission statement?  If yours is incomprehensible, I would say yes.  If yours is easily understood, but people aren’t abiding by it, then it’s time to rethink the way you support it.

Remember, it’s not just a statement, it’s your mission.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: Matt’s mission statement for Performance Optimist Consulting is “Helping Leaders Lead”.  Leaders are supposed to lead, but sometimes they need some help, and that’s where Matt comes in – delivering interactive keynotes, customized training workshops and individual coaching.  Need help figuring out how to get your leaders to support your mission?  That’s one of Matt’s specialties!

 

What are you building?

My wife and I just got back from visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. If you don’t know about the Biltmore, it’s the world’s largest home and was build by George Vanderbilt in 1895.  It’s impressive in every way… from the vision to build it to the craftsmanship that made it a reality.

And of all the things we saw on the tour, it was this picture that made me go hmmm….

These guys are building something. And when they are done, something will be there that wasn’t there before.

So what are YOU building? What will, because of YOU, be there that wasn’t there before?

  • A business?
  • A life?
  • A team?
  • A customer base?
  • Future leaders?
  • Your skills?
  • A legion of fans?
  • Brand awareness?

Whether you are building a 250 room house (like the Biltmore), or a team of dedicated employees, what you need to succeed are largely the same.

  • Vision – you must be able to see where you are going before you get there… before there is a path to get there, and even before there is a path to the path to get there.  When Vanderbilt chose the spot for the Biltmore, there wasn’t a lot line or property survey telling him where to dig.  He saw a possibility out of nothing.  Can you see what you want your future to be?
  • Foundation – In house-building terms, the foundation is what everything else rests upon. It must be firmly in place otherwise the rest of your house crumbles to the ground.  If you are building a team, do you have the foundation to prevent it from crumbling?  Do you have people who are dedicated to the same goal, can communicate openly, and respect the efforts of others?  Or do you have a collection of prima donnas who are more concerned with self-preservation and self-promotion than the goals of the team?  That sort of foundation is bound to crack with the weight of most modern teams.
  • Materials and Tools – Can’t build a building without bricks, windows, doors, nails, hammers, saws, etc. Can’t expect a team to do their job without materials, either.  They may need information, training, other team members, guidance, feedback, coaching… all of the things needed to keep them moving in the right direction. Otherwise, you never know where those prima donnas are going to end up.
  • Help – in order for anything of great value to be created, it takes multiple people and perspectives to make that happen.  Vanderbilt had two trusted colleagues by his side the entire way… Architect Richard Morris Hunt and Landscape Architect Frederick Law Olmsted. These two helped Vanderbilt bring his magnificent vision to life.  Who is in your inner circle, who do you rely on, who do you seek out for advice?  Sometimes it can be tough to ask for help, but since you are not an expert on everything, it’s important to find the people who are.

Notice earlier I asked what you are building, not if you are building something.  We are all in the process of moving, changing, growing and building!

The real question is… do you have the vision, foundation, materials, tools and help to make your own masterpiece a reality? 

Thanks for reading!

Matt

 

 

 

About the author:  Matt’s failed attempts at carpentry projects when he was a teenager are the reason no one is trusting him to build a house.  Instead, he focuses on building teams, leaders, and engagement among employees and guests. This way, no one loses a finger!

Funny things happened when I stopped following people on Twitter

I recently hit the milestone… following 2000 accounts on the Twitter. Little did I know, but there is some algorithm that doesn’t let you follow any more than that if you don’t have enough followers yourself. So, if I found someone really cool that I wanted follow, I had to unfollow someone else first. That wasn’t too big of a deal, because there were people I followed early in my Twitter-hood that I didn’t necessarily want (or need) to follow any more.

So, for a few weeks I would unfollow people one at a time as I wanted to follow others.  That was annoying.  Last night I decided I would go through all of the people I follow and figure out who I could unfollow, all at once. This way, I could easily and quickly follow new accounts as they came across my consciousness. As I combed through my previous follows, I noticed a few things happening.

First, I became very aware that there were A LOT of accounts that I didn’t need to be following anymore. Some were inactive, some had no tweets, and others were just of no use to me.  I also saw that I was still following defunct accounts of people who now had a new active account that I was following, too. Jeepers.

Second, a criterion developed for whether or not I would continue to follow them. This is not scientific nor algorithmic, but it makes sense to me. Here is the hierarchy that organically made it’s presence felt.

  • Did I know the person? Above all else, this was the MAIN reason I continued to follow people. If I knew them in real life, I continued to follow.
  • Do I recognize the picture? Branding experts will love this one, because a large part of my decision to continue to follow was based on whether or not their picture was familiar to me. Even if I didn’t know the person personally, recognition of their face meant I had seen their tweets, and if I hadn’t unfollowed them because of their content, I would continue to follow them now.
  • Were they following me? Okay, it’s a little about me… :o) but this is supposed to be about relationships, which are two-way. I guess I just wanted to know that there was mutual investment in the relationship.  Now, if it’s a large company I like, for example ProMark drumsticks, I do not expect a follow. But, Johnny Appleseed musician/writer/speaker/biker, etc., if you can’t engage with me (beyond your auto-reply message – which will cause me to unfollow anyway), I’m not sure I have much use for you.
  • Do I like their description? If I don’t know them, don’t recognize them, and they don’t follow me, BUT I find their description funny, insightful, or unique, I continued with the follow. Benefit of the doubt and all that. If I read about one more social media expert who is a coffee addict, I think my head will explode.
  • Have they provided value? Even if they are following me, I unfollowed some people for being too much about themselves and pushing their product. I admit that at times I have probably used social media more like blast advertising, but I am working on that. Even when I send something out, the intent is that someone will find value in it beyond an offer or sale. I do appreciate the follow from people like this, but I do not follow back just because you follow me. Twitter has made it known that these spots are very valuable.
  • Do I want to connect with them? Is there something they offer that I want? Content I care about, ice cube recipes or a chance to connect with a possible client… I will continue to follow them. You can learn an awful lot about a company through their social media channels, and sometimes that leads to an opportunity to work together.
  • Are they a real person? As opposed to a group, a company, an association, a consortium, etc., I will give the benefit of the doubt (and a follow) to real people over a “brand”.  AND, I place a high value on people having pictures of themselves in the profile pic, not a company logo or cartoon.

The grand benefit to this exercise is that now as I look through my timeline, I find myself not scrolling past so many tweets that are meaningless to me. I am following less people, but am finding greater value in the people that I still follow.  Quality over quantity.

So there you have it. These rules are by no means hard and fast, they are not definitive, and they are not essential to your success on the Twitter. This is simply what I noticed about the evolution of a communication tool and how I use it.

How you use it is up to you… and that’s the beauty of it.

So how do you use Twitter, or any social media channel, for that matter?  Has your use of the technology changed over time?

Thanks for reading!

Matt

 

 

 

About the author: Matt has been on Twitter since January 2010.  He generally tweets about customer service, employee engagement, and leadership, but has also tweeted about being a drummer and a Seinfeld aficionado.  His tweets are his own and he does not drink coffee.

Nick proves your argument is invalid

Last week I posted this tweet after a wonderful experience with an employee at my local Apple store.

Nick TweetWhile sending this tweet satisfied my desire to provide immediate and public praise for an amazing customer care experience, I don’t think it did Nick’s performance justice. For his efforts that day (and I am going to guess everyday) he deserves much more than 140 characters.

Here’s the situation… my 4 year-old Mac was having issues.  I had visited the Genius Bar (in-person Apple support) before and had a good experience with the “genius”, but ultimately we couldn’t pinpoint the problem.  When I left that day, the next step (after trying a few things at home) was potentially going to be wiping my hard drive clean and starting over.

I came to terms with this, backed up every last PowerPoint, spreadsheet and email, and trotted off to the Apple Store in the Altamonte Mall.

When I arrived, I took a seat at the Genius Bar, and was quickly greeted by Nick.  He looked me right in the eye, shook my hand, introduced himself and told me he was going to take care of me.

I’m terrible at judging age, but I would guess that Nick is in his early-to-mid twenties.  I was happy for that, because while I don’t like to stereotype, I felt much more comfortable with someone like Nick working on the problem than I would have been if it were someone more like… me. (i.e Old)

Nick went to work, troubleshooting and explaining things along the way.  He made me feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and patiently answered all of them as if it were the first time he heard it.  Nick moved around the computer and keyboard with ease and speed, never stopping his motion or his thoughts about what to try next.

When he started a diagnostic program that was going to take up to 10 minutes, he asked if it would be okay if he got started with another customer.  He assured me he would be back to finish up, and I no reason not to trust him.

The next 30 minutes saw more diagnostics on my computer, and more time for Nick to help others.  Here’s where it gets good.  Nick was now helping three people, myself and a person to both my right and left.  Normally, this would make many service providers cry for help.  But not Nick.

He would start a process on one computer, have to hold a key down, then shift his body to the other computer, start a process there, explain what he was doing, answer a question, start another diagnostic, etc. This went on and on.  It was like he was three people. It was really a beautiful process to watch.

Much like a symphony conductor, Nick navigated his way through an abundance of situations, guiding us and the computers along with him, ultimately to a successful resolution (at least in my case – I left before the other two were finished).

Once my computer was fixed, we high-fived and Nick wished me a good day and a Happy Thanksgiving.  He was then on to helping the next person…

So what argument does Nick invalidate? The one we make when we say “we can’t find good employees”, “these kids have no work ethic”, “they would rather text than have a face to face conversation”.

Is Nick the norm? Maybe not, but he provides hope that rock stars are out there. But unfortunately, hope won’t help you hire the right people. Hope won’t help you train them properly, and hope won’t teach them to have a good work ethic.

That falls to you and your staff, and if a little tough love is what you need to see what it takes to develop the Nicks in your world, then so be it.

And here it comes.

Stop wasting your energy on what used to be and start figuring out how to deal with the here and now. Your products and services have probably changed to meet customer demand, so why wouldn’t your internal processes change to meet the changing needs of your employees? You may need to look into technology solutions, consider more people resources, or turn your onboarding/training/employee relations process on its head. Can’t pay a lot?  Okay, what other ways can you show your staff how valuable they are? (hint, a thank you goes a LONG way).

If what you are doing now isn’t working, don’t blame your employees… they aren’t the ones who came up with the system that is now obsolete.

Like many of the problems we face, we probably know what needs to be done, but something (most likely our ego or assumptions) is getting in the way.  Could you have a Nick on your team?  Yes!  Could you have a whole team of Nicks? Absolutely, but not if you continue to argue that it’s not possible.

So there, your argument for not having a team of rock stars is invalid.  Now, stop invalidating your team by not putting forth the effort, energy and resources needed to foster a rock star employee experience.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

 

 

About the author: Matt is not too fond of going to the dentist, but recognizes that DIY dental work is a really bad idea.  If you see that your people processes are broken, but don’t know what to do, don’t go it alone.  Matt can help. Click here to find out how.