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Richard Hadden

Richard Hadden

Richard Hadden is an author, speaker, and workplace expert who helps leaders create a better, more profitable place to work. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about Richard, Bill, and their work at ContentedCows.com. Or Hire Richard to speak for your next conference or leadership meeting.

Note: this post is best viewed in landscape mode. If linking through a social media platform, you may want open a browser and link directly to https://contentedcows.com/blog/item/191-four-words-you-re-gonna-have-to-stop-saying-to-customers.

 

There’s one simple change that you and your team can make that’ll yield happier customers right away, and it means simply purging your language of one four-word phrase.

Over the last few months, service providers who I’m sure didn’t mean to be rude, made each of the following pronouncements to me (and many more like them) while doing their jobs:

You’re gonna have to fill this out for me.

You’re gonna have to call back later.

You’re gonna have to go online and authorize the change before we can accept it.

You’re gonna have to move your bag on its back so we can close the overhead bin. (After being told, “You’re gonna have to put that on its side so we can accommodate more bags.”)

You’re gonna have to wait a few minutes for that.

You’re gonna have to go inside to the counter for them to make that change.

You’re gonna have to call your health insurance company and tell them they’re gonna have to call us about that. (How’s that for a double example?)

What are the four words? Did I give you enough clues?

My friend, business partner, and co-author Bill Catlette is passionate about many things, not the least of which is fishing. And he’s good at it. One reason for his success may be something he told me the first time he took this novice out for a day on the water: “I’ve never had a fish jump, voluntarily, into the boat,” he told me. “I always have to keep a line in the water.”
 
The same goes for recruiting talent to help grow and power your organization.
 
Audience members often tell us, “There’s no one out there who’s qualified to fill all these jobs we have.” Nonsense. They’re out there. They’re all just working somewhere else! Have you really been looking?
 
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that about 40 million people will quit their jobs this year. Not fired. Not laid off. Quit. Of their own volition. Presumably to move on to something better.
 
Furthermore, the BLS says that more than 25% of employees nationwide are actively looking for a new job. Right now. Both Forbes and Inc magazines ran articles recently, claiming the real number is actually more than 50%.
 
Think about that. If unemployment is at nearly at an all-time low, where are these people conducting their job searches from ? Gulp…
 
If so many people, who already have jobs, are actively looking, shouldn’t you be doing the same from the other end of the telescope?
 
  • Keep your line in the water, and your eyes wide open. The Associated Press recently published a story about Mycorporation.com CEO Deborah Sweeney, who was so impressed with a barista at her local Starbucks that she wondered if the young woman, who could obviously “manage an environment where there’s a lot coming at you and...stay responsive and keep a good attitude” might be a good fit for her company. She hired her, and Sweeney’s speculation proved valid; “She turned out to be a rock star,” the CEO reported.

It was Q&A time after a speech I’d just made to a large audience of small business owners, in a somewhat conservative retail field. As the speech featured some tips on how to be successful engaging younger workers (hint: “Complain that they aren’t like Baby Boomers” was not one of the tips), I wasn’t too surprised by this question:

 “What do you do about these kids who want to wear beards, nose rings, and tattoos?”

As is often the case, the best answers come not from the speaker, but from the audience. A hand shot up near the back of the room, and the fiftysomething woman attached thereto offered, “Well, I’ll tell you what we did at our company. We decided to get over it. Best decision we could ever have made.”

She went on to say, “We’d had this rule, since, like forever. No facial hair. No visible tattoos. No piercings except earrings. And only two. If you were female. None for the guys.

Convention season is in full swing, and if the groups I've been invited to speak for are any indication, one of THE heaviest concerns weighing on the minds of employers almost everywhere is this: Where, and how, am I going to find enough qualified people to grow our business? (Or in some cases, just to maintain the status quo...)

One association member, in a pre-event phone call with me, was pretty succinct: "The people who are applying...aren't qualified. And the ones we want...they already have jobs. It's not easy."

Of course it's not easy. And with unemployment running at historically low levels, and with many (as in MANY) of the most talented people opting out of the traditional workforce to do (quite successfully, thank you), their own thing, it's not going to get any easier.

And yet, some employers ARE able to find, retain, and engage the best. If you're not one of them, there are probably some reasons.

And so, with apologies to comedian Jeff Foxworthy of "You might be a Redneck if" fame ("You might be a Redneck if...you have ever financed a tatoo"), I'd like to offer some possible explanations as to why you, and/or your organization, might be struggling to get the best people to come and work for you:

January 25, 2018

"Wad some Power the giftie gie us,

To see oursels as ithers see us,

It wad frae mony a blunder free us..."

OK, so if you don't speak Scots, you might need a little help with that. What Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose 259th birthday is being celebrated today by Scots and their descendants around the world*, was telling us is:

Wouldn't it be great if some Power would give us the gift of being able to see ourselves the way others do? It would sure save us from a lot of blunders.

In fact, we already have that gift: Self-Awareness. Although most people seem to have returned the gift to the store, or perhaps not yet opened the package. They barely recognize themselves in a mirror. The particularly pernicious nature of hardcore lack of self-awareness is, by definition, self-reinforcing, and therefore self-defeating, as was pointed out in a Facebook post I saw recently (by a guy who thinks he's funny):

self awareness

 

Some, though, either naturally, or by paying attention to feedback from others, have a pretty clear idea of how they come across. These people, according to Tasha Eurick, author of the 2017 book Insight, account for only about 15% of those she studied. And yet, according to Eurick, those who are more self-aware tend to perform better at work, get more promotions, and lead more effectively. And companies with more self-aware professionals perform better financially.

Imagine that...

In 25 years of observing people in successful... and more blunderous organizations, I've known and observed a few keenly self-aware people (Dr. Eurick is probably pretty close with her 15% assessment). Based on what I've seen, here are some prescriptive ideas for those who want to develop their self-awareness:

There's No Hacking Leadership

One of my new least favorite words (along with “handcrafted” and “curated”, but that’s another post altogether) is the word “hack”. Not in the old sense of a taxi driver (remember taxis?), or even the newer sense of criminals who steal our online stuff. Or the even newer meaning, as in the Russians, and the, well, you know…

I mean hack, as in shortcut. How to make the inherently difficult easy. Or as one online source put it “A quick job that appears to produce what’s needed, but not well.” (By the way, that’s not real research. It was just a hack.)

I’m hearing it all the time. Ten hacks to make better coffee. How to hack your abs workout. Conversational Spanish hacking (which is a good way to say the wrong thing in the streets of Buenos Aires. I speak from experience.) Even Dr. Oz touting health and nutrition hacks.

Well guess what. When it comes to Leadership, there are no hacks.

And yet, in a day and age when leadership development at work is more likely than ever to be a do-it-yourself job, we’re seeing more and more people in leadership positions failing to do actual leadership.

Huddles or Hurdles? It's Your Choice
By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

Let's start with some locker room talk. No, not that kind...

This morning, at the Y, I overheard a conversation between two guys who were, like most of the rest of us, getting dressed and groomed in preparation for a day at the office. Guy Number One observed aloud that Guy Number Two seemed to be moving pretty fast, to which Two replied, "Yeah, I have to be in early today. We're having one of our 'huddles'," the latter word being punctuated by both air quotes and an unmistakable eye roll. "Or, as I call them," he said, 'hurdles'. My boss is on this new kick. It's total BS. What a waste of time."

Wow. Huddles. Hurdles. Pretty clever, I thought. But sad.

The Singular "They", and Other Things that Evolve

Richard Hadden

Today's blog post is a video post. If you'd rather read it than watch it, the transcript appears below the video box.

 

 

The longer I live, the more acutely aware I become that we live in an ever evolving world.

For instance, have you heard that the Chicago Manual of Style has just decreed that because the English language evolves, we can now use what’s called "the singular they"? That’s right, we no longer have to say he or she, or him or her, when we can’t or don’t want to specify the gender of the person we’re referring to, or when it doesn’t matter. So I could say “Go find a team member who’s been working exceptionally hard lately, and tell them how much you appreciate them.” I don’t have to say how much you appreciate him or her.

So Language evolves. And so does the world of work.

Speaking Each Other's Language

Richard Hadden


Let's face it. Communicating at work is tough enough when both the speaker and the listener speak the same native language. Add different tongues to the dynamic and, sacré bleu! You’ve just hit a wall, and not the kind that’s proposed for the US’s southern border.

To be clear, language, as well as literacy (the topic of a future post), are essential job skills for almost any work you can imagine. So how can we possibly hope to get the most from people whose language we don’t understand, and who don’t understand us?

I’ve heard the “This is America. If you want to live and work here, you should learn our language!” argument, and in an ideal sense, I agree. People who speak English in the US have an advantage, just as Italian speakers do in Rome. But we can “should” all over ourselves about a lot of things. Or – and this would be my suggestion – we can take competitive action, and in distinguishing ourselves from our rivals, both for customers and for talent, get better business results.

So, whether you think you should or not, here are two things you can do, if you want to increase the engagement of your team members who don’t speak your language: (These specifics assume your work takes place in English - but the concept works for any language.)

Good Leaders Look Beneath the Surface

Richard Hadden

One of the most remarkable people I ever worked with was a bank teller named Donna, at a bank branch I managed early in my career. Donna was a customer magnet. Brilliant. Hard working. Always went the extra mile. She was a single mother, and she’d been a teller for 12 years. I recommended to my boss, one of the bank’s Vice Presidents, that we promote Donna to the management training program. He dismissed the idea, ignoring her talent, and citing instead her rough appearance, lack of formal education, and even what part of town she came from.

Donna’s 12 year career with that bank ended when she was recruited into a very responsible position at a competing bank.

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