Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Over the past year, I have been spending a lot of time traveling on planes (thank goodness for Qantas frequent flyer benefits!)  Airports are a fascinating place, full of hustle and bustle as people go about their lives trying to get from point A to point B.  This flurry of activity (along with flight schedules and the chance of missing a flight) is filled with people from all walks of life from business owners, employees, and families going about their lives.

As our pace of life (and work) continues to speed up I am noticing that people are starting to fall into 2 distinct categories.

One group are the ‘Takers’.  These are the people that are always pushing to get things their way.  The energy that they spread is one that is often self-centered and quite often full of tunnel vision.  I noticed someone getting off a plane yesterday that was in such a hurry that when they got their bag from the overhead compartment, they just pushed it into the person behind them.  No word of apology, in fact, they were not even aware as they also grabbed their jacket and flung it over their shoulders -hitting the woman behind them in the face. It was as if they did not care, or even worse they had no awareness.

The other group is the Givers.  These are the people that look at you and give you a kind smile.  They are also busy, however, they take the time to help the other person get their overnight bag out of the overhead compartment.  On the same flight, I had the pleasure of a businessman offering to hold a 6-month-old baby to provide the mother with a chance to easily stand up from her seat and grab the baby’s toys from the seat pocket in front of her. This kind gesture of giving was a powerful example of what we all should be doing.

So who is winning the current race of life?  The Givers or the Takers? If we read and listen to the news and media headlines they will promote the negative things that are occurring by the Takers.  However, if you start looking you can see the Givers that are there helping others.

My question is what would your footprints tell me about you over the last 7 days?  Were you a Giver or a Taker?

At Work:  Make a conscious effort to be a Giver.  Check in with the people around you and look for opportunities to assist them.  This can be something as simple as making them (or buy them!) a cup of coffee. Ask them how their family is doing and show an interest in them as a human being, not just another staff member.  If you can start this and get others to pass it on, the positive impact on your work culture will be incredible. It all starts with a step of kindness and giving to someone else. Small gestures make a massive impact – especially when you are giving to others.

At Home:  Take a minute or two and write down on a sheet a paper your activity over the past week.  Make 2 columns and title one column “giving” and the second column “taking.” Now write down the touchpoints that you have had with your family/partner/children over the past week.  Be honest. Also recognise that some of your activity may be neutral, which means it is neither giving or taking. The question you need to ask is where do you want your activity to be?  And more importantly, take a few moments to identify some things you can do to start giving. Remember it does not have to be financial giving, in fact, the most powerful gifts are those that have a true connection and show that you really do care.  

If we can get everyone to do more giving than taking we can make the world a more positive place.  More importantly, you will know when you are making this difference to others when you get that warm feeling inside – deep in your soul.  This is your inner vision letting you know that you are ‘on path’.

As many of you know I will be speaking at the Future of Leadership Series in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand.  

You can get a 10% discount by putting in the code FOLSPEAK when you register.  

Click here to find out more.

What Staff Want

I was talking with a CEO about their challenge around keeping staff engaged.  The questions we were discussing was “What do they want?” He had been focusing on the multiple surveys as well as the salary benchmarking for their industry.  I remember asking him “Have you asked them?” The CEO just looked at me (possibly a little frustrated, but also curious).

This is something that I encounter quite often.  Leaders of an organisation wanting to do the right thing and looking after their people, or by putting some type of staff retention strategy in place.  They often forget to ask their staff what they want in order to provide something that is valuable to them. I remember one salesperson complaining about the targets that they had and said it makes no difference if I exceed my target because there is no real incentive, so I just do the minimum amount.  On top of this, she was bored because she feels that she had reached her top level of performance and was now thinking about looking for a new job.

So what can you do to find out what your staff want and keep them engaged?

Here are some strategies to ID what staff want and also how to keep them:

  1. Ask them.  Rather than guessing what you think your staff want actually ask them.  Don’t just use the typical staff satisfaction survey results, but go to some of the key influential people across your organisation.  Ask them what they think staff would appreciate to keep them motivated and engaged.
  2. Offer Value – not just money.  Too often leaders make the assumption that staff just want more money, which is the least effective method of retaining good people.  Ask them what they enjoy doing outside of work and then put together some options that they could want. Recently the ANZ bank has just introduced a ‘Loyalty Leave Program’ for its 40,000 employees. For staff that stay for 3 years, they get an extra week of holiday time (on top of their other accrued benefits).  
  3. Offer Experiences for them and their family.  Most people work to provide for their family (or save up for the next holiday together).  Rather than offering typical incentives, give staff an incentive that offers an experience for them and their family.  This could include a weekend away at a hotel, a family dinner voucher or movie tickets. The added benefit is that their family members also get to benefit, which often builds loyalty even further.  

As many of you know I will be speaking at the Future of Leadership Series in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand.  You can get a 10% discount by putting in the code FOLSPEAK when you register. Click here to find out more.

Are You Upgrading Your Customers to Business Class?

This week on my way to the US for work I received a pleasant surprise from Qantas when I checked in for my flight – they had upgraded me to Business Class. For anyone that’s done the long 14-hour flight from Sydney to LA, having a seat in Business Class is a wonderful way to travel.

I guess the question is why did Qantas upgrade me? Simply – loyalty. They know that I spend a very large part of my schedule flying around Australia and the world and that my preference is to fly their airline (it’s the best in the world!) They also know that the business traveler spends a significant amount of money with the airline and will often stay loyal if they are receiving value and being looked after. 

So what does your business do to reward loyalty? Do you have a customer tracking system that allows you to identify your loyal customers and look after them? What is your staff doing to improve the customers’ experience?

Strategies to Reward Customer Loyalty:

  1. Ask them. Rather than guessing what your loyal customers would want to be rewarded with, ask them. You will find that often what you thought they’d want and what they really want may be different. There is nothing worse than providing something that your loyal customers would not view as valuable.
  2. Offer value—not discounts.  Everyone knows that discounting does not equal loyalty. I could fly Virgin Australia because they are cheaper, however, I don’t because they do not offer the same level of service. Most people would rather receive something of value that recognises their loyalty rather than get a small discount.
  3. Build a Customer Focused Culture.  To ensure that the experience is truly customer focused, take the time to build a staff culture that encourages them to find ways to look after their customers. If staff don’t feel valued, it is very hard for them to value customers.

As many of you know I will be speaking at the Future of Leadership Series in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand. Early bird tickets close tonight the 31st May and by putting in the code FOLSPEAK you also get a 10% discount. 

Click here to find out more

Are You Losing Key Talent?

It is incredible how quickly an organisational culture can change from leading edge and attracting talented people to one that is in chaos and shedding staff. I was talking to a middle manager about the recent shifts within their business. Given anticipated competitive headwinds the Senior Leadership decided to change the way they operated. The field staff across the country noticed that something had changed but were not sure what it was. 

Then people started leaving. It is common for there to be a natural attrition of staff but when one of the most highly respected middle-level managers suddenly resigns, ripples were sent throughout the company. 

“Why did she leave? She was one of the most loyal and committed staff here if she left something must be really wrong.” To try to replace the hole in the skill and respect that she’d had – they replaced her with two other people but it was too late. Once this very talented person left numerous others started to leave, including one department having a 100% turnover in just over 6months – ouch!

Too often Senior leaders don’t recognise the importance of key staff and their impact on the organisation overall. There are a number of strategies that they could have taken to ensure that their culture stayed positive and kept their talented staff.

Strategies to Keep Your High Performers:

  1. Check in With them. Once the culture started to shift this high performer shared a number of concerns with her Manager about the shifts and the negative impact on the business. Rather than having regular check-ins to listen and keep them positive the Manager mentioned that they were “too busy” to have their check-in’s.
  2. Give them new Challenges.  For your high performers, you need to ensure that you keep stretching them and providing them with new challenges. Too often high performers are limited to traditional areas of responsibility, by giving them special projects it can keep their enthusiasm and commitment levels high.
  3. Minimise the Impact if they leave.  No company should be dependant on any one person. However, some staff are seen as the heart and soul of a company and when they leave others start to question the values of the company. If one of your high performers is leaving identify who can step up in their place and take the time to check in with staff to share how the shift will enable others to step up.

If you are looking for some inspiration around leadership I invite you to attend the Future of Leadership Conference that I will be speaking at in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand. Early bird tickets are still available and by putting in the code FOLSPEAK you also get a 10% discount. 

Click here to find out more

Why We Need More Rituals

Our family has a number of rituals that we follow based on the seasons. We just returned from our yearly Easter camping trip at The Basin – a wonderful outdoor spot on the water North of Sydney that enables us to reconnect as a family. We spent plenty of time unplugged as we kayaked, paddle boarded and played heaps of card and board games, not to mention having time for deep conversations about life and the world with our kids.

It made me remember how important rituals are for us to reconnect with one another. With all the busyness and disconnection around the world, I can’t help but notice how many of the rituals that gave us connection and meaning have been lost. My mother used to make homemade blueberry bread when a new neighbour moved into the street, now many people don’t even know who their neighbours are.

This is the same at work. I remember when I first started working when a new person started everyone made an effort to be available and eat lunch with them. It was a ritual and a way to make them feel included and get to know them. I believe that this created a more unified sense of commitment to the new hires—as well as a faster integration into the supportive culture that was being created through this ritual. Nowadays managers are even too busy to eat lunch with their new hires and many other rituals have been left behind. 

Rituals provide a sense of connection and strong meaning. For my family spending time together camping and playing card games will provide them with wonderful memories of being together. For new staff sharing a meal with their CEO or manager when they first start will also be remembered for many years to come and can create a deeper level of loyalty in less time.

Take Time for Your Rituals:

  1. At Work. Identify what rituals you can start having to help everyone reconnect. At TLD we have an annual 2-day conference for our staff and their partners that involves some planning and some play. I also work to have lunch with my admin manager as a treat to celebrate when we have been working particularly hard (Kat we are due for another one!) You can create your own specific events or rituals that are significant to your business and the culture that you desire.
  2. At Home.  Make sure that you create rituals for your family. It may not be practical to have dinner together every evening (we have too much kids sport on) however you can take time to have a weekly dinner together (we have a ritual of a chicken and chips from our local chicken shop on a Saturday afternoon). The specific ritual can be anything that creates a sense of connection and common experience that can be shared together.

Don’t wait for a ritual to come around, take action now to ensure that your rituals occur. If you are looking for another work one I invite you to attend the Future of Leadership Conference that I will be speaking at in August & September this year occurring across Australia and New Zealand. Early bird tickets are still available. 

Click here to find out more.