The Problem with Saying ‘That’s Not My Problem’

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You’ve heard it. Heck, you might even say or think it from time to time.

“That’s Not My Problem.”

It could be related to a customer issue or a flawed work process. Or another department or team member is responsible for a task or project you know isn’t progressing as it should.

Yet when a new idea is proposed, many people point out potential negatives or say nothing. The new approach is met with little or no support and even resistance.

These and other examples make the ‘Not My Problem’ Problem one of the biggest roadblocks to positive change.

When you learn of a new approach, ask yourself: “Does the current way maximize the opportunity?” If the answer is anything less than a resounding “Yes,” give the new idea a chance and work to understand the “why” behind it.

If you’re the person promoting change, present the rationale behind the idea and the metrics you will use to evaluate it. Remember it’s human nature to fear a loss of control or an increased workload resulting from a new process. Show how the new way helps each group impacted by the change.

Communicate clearly and often. Create a sense of urgency among the troops. Point out what they lose by standing pat and what they gain by moving forward. Think beyond your immediate area to how other departments will be impacted. Acknowledge there could be challenges during the transition.

Listen to constructive feedback but be firm with naysayers focusing only on the negatives. If you don’t hear from some people, a common mistake is to misperceive their silence as support of your idea. You need to probe to find out what they really think and flesh out potential roadblocks.

Your communication before, during and after implementing the change will have as much impact on the success as the change itself. Create a communication plan prior to implementing the new approach. Work the plan. Ask for feedback. Listen and adjust based on what you learn.

No problem, right?

Integrate March Madness Into Your Marketing

BillLumbergMeme

March Madness is upon us. The time of year when leaders motivate their teams to stay focused and avoid distractions.

But I’m not talking about NCAA basketball coaches and their players preparing for the postseason. Companies and their managers face the challenge of maintaining productivity while employees follow the NCAA tournament.

Research studies estimate between 70 and 80 million employees will devote work time to the NCAA tournament and their brackets. The NCAA is the big winner with more than $1 billion in tournament ad revenues. On the other hand, employers are projected to lose $1.8 billion in worker productivity.

Should companies fight the March Madness Mindset at work? Nope. That would be like picking your bracket based on team mascots. Instead, companies should integrate March Madness into reaching and influencing key target markets, one of which is employees. Here are your “starting five” tips to do so:

  1. Don’t block website access: Blocked shots are a good thing but blocked website access isn’t. The long term negative impact on employee morale will outweigh any short term productivity gains during the tournament.
  2. Create your own company pool: Leverage the NCAA Tournament to foster a team culture. Build your pool any way you want. Departments could compete against each other. Do a weekly or daily version of the brackets to increase involvement. It’s not so much “the how” as “the what”: Make March Madness a company wide event.
  3. Build a March Madness employee promotion: Create a goal oriented program for departmental productivity or sales during March and communicate it internally.
  4. Spread the word via Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media outlets provide vehicles to promote March Madness related employee programs or sales campaigns. Your company benefits from the exposure and goodwill.
  5. Focus on the team. Remember it’s all about your employees. Instead of becoming frustrated with potential lost productivity, leverage March Madness and score a couple points with your team.

 

MASSolutions President asks MASH East ‘What Are You Selling?’

“What Are You Selling?” That’s the question MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich will ask during the MASH East Networking meeting at Longwood at Oakmont on Oct. 17.

Mastovich will address the group at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9:30 at Longwood at Oakmont, 500 Route 909, Verona, Pa. 15147.

Marketing Admissions Supporting Healthcare (MASH) co-chairs/founders Sandra Harcarik of Gallagher Home Health Services and Kerry Beck of Senior Living Advisors formed the progressive organization nearly a decade ago with the mission to exist as a community resource for seniors, families and professionals through education, special events and networking.

Mastovich’s interactive program focuses on “real-world” solutions that lead to better planning, more meaningful calls, stronger relationships and more closes. He encourages the audience to embrace the fact that marketers indeed are “selling.”

Mastovich’s book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling will be available during the presentation and audience members will have an opportunity to subscribe to his column/blog Light Reading, which has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

RSVP’s are required for the MASH East Networking event. For more information, contact Amy Rabo at 412.826.6104 or arabo@srcare.org.

MASSolutions President David Mastovich Named to MSPA Board

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America (MSPA-NA) has named MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich to its Board of Directors.

Mastovich will be installed on the board during the 15th annual MSPA North America conference and exhibition. The Sept. 24-26 conference will be held at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Mastovich officially will commence as a voting board member on Jan. 1, 2014.

“MSPA North America is widely recognized as the leader in customer experience measurement and management, and I truly appreciate and embrace this opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors,” said Mastovich, who more than a decade ago founded MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Johnstown.

MSPA North America is the trade association representing the customer experience metrics (mystery shopping) industry throughout North America. MSPA has additional regions located in Europe, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.

MSPA’s goal is to improve and stimulate the acceptance, performance, reputation and use of mystery shopping services worldwide as a critical component of any customer experience metrics program.

A member of MSPA North America since 2010, MASSolutions helps clients build brands, tell stories, increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction.

Prior to founding his company, Mastovich held senior management positions with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Duquesne University and Dame Media, and has a track record of improving the bottom line for organizations in various industries.

He is the author of the book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling. His column/blog Light Reading has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

For more information contact MASSolutions’ Christina Grantz at Christina@massolutions.biz.

Four Ways To Stop Misusing “Reply To All” and “cc:”

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When I complain about the misuse of “Reply To All” or “cc:” in emails, heads nod in agreement and glaring examples are provided. It happens regularly because we don’t answer some basic but key questions.

Four Questions to Answer Before Responding To Emails:

1. Do I need to respond?

You don’t need to respond all the time. Sometimes you are just being updated or “kept in the loop.” Use judgment when deciding whether or not to respond. I’m not saying you can ignore emails. Simply use discretion to save everyone time.

2. What happens if I don’t include each person?

When you are writing an initial email, decide how each person will use the information. If it’s not obvious that they need the email, don’t cc: them.

When responding, you also don’t need to hit “Reply to All” if your response isn’t useful to  each person on the email string. If you have a quick clarification or constructive feedback that involves only the sender, you probably shouldn’t cc: everyone.

I realize some readers might feel the need to cover themselves by including more people on emails. But you’re also wasting people’s time by unnecessarily creating cluttered email strings.

3. How would you handle it if you were having a face-to-face conversation?

When multiple people are emailed via the “To” box, you should “Reply to All” unless something is confidential to only the original sender. Think of what you would do in a real conversation. If someone said something to you and another person at lunch, would you respond by whispering in that person’s ear? Probably not. You’d likely talk to both people. Do the same thing in an email.

4. Does everyone on this email need the information to do their job?

When three or four people are working on a project and your response impacts them, remember to hit “Reply to All.” Forgetting to do so frustrates everyone who is left out and stifles productivity. The converse is also true. Don’t add people to the recipient list unless you’re sure they need the information to do their job.

You might think these tips are obvious or common sense. Take a quick look through your Inbox and Sent folder. You’ll realize it’s not as obvious or common as you think.

Do what you can to change things. Start asking and answering these four questions and improving your email communications.

Email me  your favorite or should I say least favorite examples of people misusing the “cc:” or “Reply to All” and I’ll send you more tips on making the most of your email communications.

It’s Not Complicated. More Communication is Better.

I love AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” commercial where an elementary school girl tries to explain why more is better than less. After struggling to make her point, she finally just says: “We want more. More. When we really like it we want more.”

It’s memorable and makes an emotional impact. The ad also rings true for most of us when we buy. We tend to want more for less more often than not. And if we had to explain why, we might stumble as much as the girl in the ad too.

But what happens when we’re on the other end of the spectrum? We grow frustrated when our own customers or clients push back about price, scope, offerings or perceived value. It’s natural to do so and to think that the price or scope or something must be wrong.

How you respond to internal and external customers who seem to keep asking for more will dictate your level of productivity, profitability and personal growth.

The next time you think your customers are crazy, unreasonable or flat out asking for too much, remember:

  • It could mean more about their buying mindset than your price, quality or scope of services.
  • You tend to do the same thing when you’re the buyer.
  • They might not be convinced of or completely understand the value of what you bring to the table.
  • Sometimes you do need to change the scope, improve your offerings or adjust the price. But in many instances you need to help your internal or external customers realize what’s in it for them. 

Ask open ended questions. Listen. Clarify. If their concerns are clear and legitimate, show them how you will improve. When they misperceive the situation, communicate your value in their terms.

And next time you start acting like the girl in the commercial, remember it won’t be long until you’re on the other end of that conversation.

6 Things To Do With Emails

This is the first in a series of three posts based on content from presentations made to college seniors.

While preparing a speech for a group of college seniors, I focused on the importance of a lifelong thirst for knowledge and achieving positive, incremental change. The end result was a presentation with three key themes:

  •  Success, like beauty, should be in the eye of the beholder. You decide what you want to do, how you want to live and what you want to achieve.
  • Potential employers need to know what you are capable of and how you think. Use the Seinfeld PR Approach and tell your story. What you think is nothing can be interesting to others.
  • People will want you on their team if you are organized, efficient and get things done.

DM IUP ACME

For this post, here are some tips to improve your organizational skills.

6 Things To Do with Emails:

  1. Act–Act on it immediately.  If something can be done in less than 15 minutes, act on the task immediately and complete it.  Then, it’s done and off your ‘to do’ list.
  2. Tickle–If a task requires action within two weeks, place it in your ‘Tickle’ folder along with a due date. Your ‘Tickle’ folder should be reviewed two or three times each week with actions taken based on priority.
  3. To Do–If the item needs acted on within the next week and you can’t work on it immediately, put it in your ‘To Do’ folder.  This folder will contain multiple items  and  must be reviewed every day to stay on top of your main priority items.
  4. Delegate–Delegate or forward the email to someone. Provide specific timelines and action items for the person assigned the responsibility. Follow up as necessary on the progress.
  5. File–If it is important but not actionable immediately, create a folder and file it as soon as possible.  If you can’t file things quickly, at least file multiple items once a week.
  6. Delete–You need to get rid of emails if they are not relevant now or won’t be within six months.  Enjoy deleting. It should be a liberating experience.

The key is to touch the email once and then have a plan for it. Use these 6 Things To Do with Emails to become more productive and gain peace of mind.

But What If It Doesn’t Work?

When we have an idea, one of the first things we ask ourselves is “But what if it doesn’t work?”

How many times does this prevent us from trying something new? How often do we accept the status quo even though we think there has to be a better way?

It’s OK to consider what might happen if an idea doesn’t work as long as we ask two other important questions:

“What if it does work?”

“What do we stand to lose by sticking with the current way of doing things?”

We subconsciously fight change. Our self-doubt and negative inner thoughts prevent us from proposing or implementing new ideas. We avoid or ignore problems and make irrational rationalizations like “That’s not my responsibility.”

Whether you are a team member, middle manager or senior leader, you owe it to yourself and your organization to focus on creative solutions that improve your customer experience, operational processes and overall bottom line.

You have to do your part to foster an environment of creativity and innovation. Challenge assumptions. Offer solutions rather than just pointing out problems. Ask questions of peers, bosses, subordinates and customers. Actively listen and think about what you hear.

Try following the 5 W’s Technique used by journalists, police officers and market researchers.  Ask and answer: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

*Who do you want to reach and influence? Clearly define your target markets. Learn how they think. What makes them tick? Why do they say both “yes” and “no?”

*What are you selling? Not just the mission statement or website copy points. What are you really selling?

*Where do we have a competitive advantage? What makes us different? Why do they want and need us?

*When can we maximize our opportunities? When do they (your target audiences) want and need the solution?

*Why aren’t we making it happen?

Instead of convincing yourself a new idea might not work, ask the 5 W’s. The answers will lead to creative solutions that enhance your customer experience.

Better Listening Leads to Better Results

It seems like an organization exists for just about everything. My company belongs to the Society for Healthcare Strategy and the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. I’m part of the National Speakers Association. You can probably rattle off a few that are specific to your industry or area of expertise as well.

So I guess it makes sense there’s an International Listening Association. Their mission is to advance the practice, teaching and research of listening throughout the world.

I hear that.

But I just enjoy their statistics, gleaned from years of studying the good, the bad and the ugly of listening. Here are a few nuggets:

 

  • 85% of what we know we have learned by listening.
  • 75% of the time we are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful.
  • We only recall about 50% of what was said immediately after we listen to someone talk.
  • In total, just 20% of what we hear will be remembered.
  • Less than 2% of us have had formal education about listening.
  • People listen through one of four primary styles: people, time, action or content oriented. Females are more likely to be people-oriented and males are more likely to be time or action oriented.

Say what?

I’m thinking it means listening is vital to leading, managing, marketing and selling. Your personal productivity and your company’s success will be enhanced via betterlistening. With that in mind, here are…drum roll please…

10 Ways to Improve Your Listening

1.     Let the speaker finish their thoughts, don’t interrupt

2.     Keep an open mind, don’t judge

3.     Listen without planning what you are going to say next

4.     Give feedback

5.     Pay attention to the speakers posture and body
language

6.     Stay focused

7.     Show respect

8.     Take notes

9.     Make eye contact to keep the speaker at ease

10.   Put as much effort into listening as the speaker puts into talking

Better listening leads to better results. And you don’t even need to join an organization to improve…

Just listen.