Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Appeal for Good Service

I was listening to the morning drive time radio program today. It was pretty much the usual stuff--lots of humor, weird news, interviews with stand-up comedians, and the occasional smattering of rock-n-roll. To me, one of the appealing qualities of these kinds of programs is that the hosts can become very familiar and will be very open about any and all things, even very personal matters. This morning was no different.

But, something interesting occurred. One of the hosts began to complain about not receiving his morning paper, repeatedly. He suggested that the delivery person had forgotten where he lived. As is often the case with radio personalities, he used his forum to rant about his poor experiences. Mind you, he described himself as a newspaper lover and does not like to receive his news in other formats. So, he is the core newspaper audience.

Because this program has a very large audience, it took no time for someone at the Newspaper Company in question to send an e-mail to the program. The hosts read the e-mail on the air. Guess what? No apology for the break in service, no offers to correct the problem in a personal way, only the standard corporate spiel about having over 1M readers, a delivery failure rate of less than 1%, and a better performance rate than the industry standard. Then the e-mail went on to offer the 1-800 number to call when you do not receive your paper.

Can you guess how the radio personality responded to the e-mail?

Is this a missed opportunity for the Newspaper Company in question?

What could have been done differently?

(By the way, someone at the Newspaper Company in question gets it. They e-mailed 15 minutes later to personally apologize, provided their direct number and told the host that they would personally take of the problem and ensure that it does not happen again. Was this too late? Had the opportunity already passed?)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Great Presentations

Yesterday was the first LEAP presentation opportunity. While I was unable to see all of the presentations due to a schedule conflict, I was very impressed with the five I did observe. It was evident that everyone put a great deal of effort into making the presentations engaging and informative. In particular, everyone seemed relaxed and comfortable while in front of the group. This is an important hurdle for many when faced with the prospect of public speaking, but it does get better and easier the more you do it.

A couple of specific positives that I observed:

1. Leann's flannel board presentation was creative, engaging and so on target given that she was presenting about the Youth Services Coordinator's role. I loved the flow and the "story book" approach. And, it was short, but powerful. Shorter, focused, high impact presentations leave the audience with exactly the message or information intended. This is something to strive for!

2. While all of the presentations effectively told either the story of the role their mentor plays or about their mentor as a person, Nathan's presentation was very effective in bringing those stories together. When he was finished, we knew what was involved with being a Regional Manager, and we also gained a lot of understanding about how his mentor invests himself into the role. Nathan did this with humor and a very comfortable conversational style. Many, many seasoned speakers work for years to achieve that conversational tone. Employed correctly, this presentation style really connects with audiences. However, one drawback is that it is easy to lose focus. Keep that in mind.

Take the peer evaluations very seriously, as they are critical to improving your presentation abilities. Integrate them with how you felt while making your presentation. Reflect on the style and pacing. Think about your observations of the audience as you were presenting. Doing these things will help each of you improve on already solid foundations.

I am really looking forward to seeing the next round of presentations.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What to Do about Burnout?

What would you, as a leader, do when one of your most loyal, knowledgeable, and productive team members, with one of the most vital functions to your mission comes to you wanting to quit? Let me clarify here. This person doesn't really want to leave the organization. They have not secured another position. They are not having difficulties with other team members. Simply stated, they are burned out with the routine nature, and sheer volume, of the work they are doing.

I am prompted to ask this question because this is the situation my wife finds herself in. She has worked for an organization for 10 years. She is on the agency management team. She has developed a reputation for excellence and is one of the "go-to" people. Because of her accomplishments and acumen for the field she is in, she was "rewarded" with the responsibility of taking care of a vital quality assurance function of the organization. Simply put, she was good at this function, and nobody else in the company wanted to do it.

Over the last two years, she has had two important conversations with her Director regarding the insane volume of work and the fact that it is not stimulating. To her Director's credit, she did make several adjustments that provided some relief in the volume. However, none of the steps taken alleviated the core issue: the work, although crucial to the agencies viability, is boring!

My wife is no longer interested in talking about solutions to the problem. She has decided to leave the organization. Nothing will change her mind.

What would you have done differently if you were her Director? I'd love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Career Development

Happy New Year! As you start 2007, it is a great time to do an assessment of your career aspirations and make the necessary adjustments to meet your goals. With this in mind, it is important to understand how organizations design and structure HR processes in order to develop and maintain the best teams possible, and how you can position yourself to take advantage of opportunities.

Organizations conduct a baseline level of training in order to ensure that staff understand the philosophies, values and core expectations in order to ensure success in a given field. In addition, the organization has developed a framework by which departments are organized with a goal of ensuring leadership occurs (succession planning.) There are job descriptions that define the basic expectations or competencies for positions. Advertisements are worded carefully to attract a strong pool of applicants. And, interview panelists and questions are chosen to ensure that successful candidates possess the necessary experience, competencies, and desired attributes to match the position. The desired result is that there are good matches to positions and a high level of success is attained.

Within MPLIC, we make sure that our training program gives staff the necessary tools to perform in their positions. However, attaining the experience and skills necessary for an advanced position, and providing evidence of accomplishment that warrants career advancement is the responsibility of the individual staff member.

What can you do to demonstrate success and provide evidence of accomplishment?

  • Learn to “Talk the Talk.” Assess organizational terms that are most acceptable for the promotion, position, or organizational competencies in question.
  • What have you done that relates to the job you are seeking? Identify position elements that are transferable skills, e.g. communication skills, teamwork, organizational skills.
  • Assess your readiness. Determine the level or knowledge/experience you have in the competency areas in question.
  • Résumés are targeted. Write résumé position descriptions using terms consistently under job titles.
  • Indicate evidence of accomplishment in skills areas in résumé entries.
  • Bring something to the table. Provide evidence of accomplishment in portfolio, advancement, promotion, or application package.
  • Use skills statements in cover letters.
  • Discuss skills and accomplishments in response to interview questions.

Other important things you can do:

  • Dress for the job you want—not for the job you have.
  • Don’t sit on committees, participate in them.
  • Take the lead! Ask for the responsibility, volunteer to do the task.
  • Be visible. Attend professional events, conferences, FAN, Adult Enrichment, etc.