Isn’t is funny always to see children jump into a cold pool without thinking twice? Have you ever stopped to wonder why it takes kids to go in first? Children do not have the same fear or limiting beliefs that adults have to hold us back. In contrast, you see the person that walks down one step at a time (about 20 minutes apart) that complains the whole time. They see others in the deep end and say “there’s no way I could that” or “you’re crazy.” The funny thing is that everyone in the deep end is enjoying the pool and to them, the temperature is not an issue. Once people are all the way in, they realize that the temperature is pretty comfortable. Then you have the people that sit on the edge and put their feet in the water. These are the people that want you to think that they are in the pool even though they have no intention of going in. The truly ironic part is that when you get out of the water, you realize that being in the water was warmer. To close this thought, we need to remember that we can drown in only six inches of water.
- I believe that this is how many people live their life. They see an opportunity, and they have to choose to step all the way into the opportunity or to put their toe in. The people that seem to have much more long term frustration are the ones that do not fully step into the challenge. We need to attack life and create our future. It is funny when people do not put themselves all the way into a situation, and then they become the ones to complain the loudest. The sad part is that they have the power to change their outcome if they would only fully step into the challenge.
- I feel that most people can be broken down into two categories: those that make it happen and those that make excuses. Those that always want to play it safe and only dip their toe in can give you five reasons why they won’t jump in. Those that make it happen simply jump in. If the water is cold, they view it as an inconvenience, not as an excuse to not jump in. People that make things happen don’t hide in the middle, they move to the front lines and show up ready for battle every day. People that make things happen would rather say “oh well” than “what if.” The best time to grow as a person is when we are forced out of our comfort zone; this is how to be truly alive and experience life.
- One of my favorite leadership stories that relates to this philosophy is the story of how when Cortez landed in Veracruz in 1519 he ordered his men to burn the ships. Cortez knew that they were facing great odds and that if the men had no chance of turning back, they would jump in with total commitment. I don’t think there was a single excuse uttered under his command. We know that the order worked as this legendary act of leadership lives on to this day. Reflect on how many opportunities we have in our lives to fully immerse ourselves into an activity. Think about how much more meaningful all of our daily interactions could be if we were fully present and engaged.
Lagniappe is a French Creole term that I learned quite a few years back while living in the Southeast. It means a small gift given with a purchase. The original use that I can think of when I was young was when a bank would give away a free toaster for anyone that opened up a new account. Today, of course, we see all kinds of gifts offered with a purchase in a variety of businesses. This term also goes hand in hand with the Law of Value that was discussed a couple of weeks back in the Go-Giver blog post. The restaurant industry is changing, and every restaurant out there has to fight and claw for every sale possible. The question becomes what can we do as a company to give the “lagniappe” or little something extra to earn that business from our guest?
- I was listening to a fantastic interview with Jon Taffer the host of Bar Rescue on the Entreleadership podcast a few weeks ago and almost went off the road taking so many notes. He had discussed the idea of the third visit. He talked about how the percentage of likely to return by a guest would increase from visit one to visit two and ultimately to visit three. His key belief is that if you can get the guest to visit number three, you can become part of their routine. Once you become part of their routine, you have a regular guest. At each of the first three visits, his company would give a little lagniappe to get that guest to return. On the first visit, their company would give the guest a red napkin. This napkin would signal everyone that they all had an opportunity to make a great first impression. The manager would also personally stop by and greet the guest during the visit. At the end of the visit, they would offer the guest a bounce back coupon for a specific offer only given for a second visit. Then when the guest would return with that specific offer they would welcome the guest back and again everyone would know that they could again make a great second impression. Then at the end of the second visit, the manager would ask how they are enjoying the business and offer the guest another unique bounce back for the third visit. To me, this idea seemed so simple yet so brilliant that I am planning to work this concept into my upcoming full team meetings. How can we take all of our first-time guests and turn them into regulars? What can we offer on each visit as a little lagniappe to keep them choosing us over the competition?
- I think that this concept ties in nicely with the idea of building relationships with our guests. Learning their name and remembering their face goes a long way. One thing that always helps keep Culver’s on top is our hospitality. Our hospitality is a natural point of lagniappe that we need to use to our advantage even more so than we currently do. The strength of Culver’s lies in its dedicated owner-operators and great management teams. I think that we have the ability to connect with our guests, unlike many other brands. My challenge to all of our teams is that every manager should be spending at least 1 hour per week of scheduled time working either in the dining room or greeting and talking to guests cueing up in the drive thru line. What a way to make sure that we are connecting with our guests and building that long term relationship. As an owner/operator that should always be one of my main focuses. As an owner, I have an opportunity to not only connect in the dining room but in the community as well. If people in the community can put a local face to a business, it helps build that personal connection. This idea ties directly into the idea that was mentioned last week about trying to have at least 1,000 loyal, raving fans turned into walking billboards for your business. Imagine the power of momentum that this can create, especially in the digital age.
- The last piece of lagniappe I would like to touch on is how we can apply this to our team members. As the labor market continues to tighten are we doing everything that we can to be the employer of choice? Does our team feel valued? Does our team believe that we go above and beyond what is expected to create relationships? As leaders we often want others to sign the dotted line to follow us, but we forget that we must earn that signature in our blood, sweat, and sacrifice. As mentioned above, it is our team that sets us apart, and it is our team that has the power to make every visit memorable. We need to remember to spend as much time and effort in building our relationships with our team as much as our guests.
- Ask yourself what you are going to do on your next shift to offer that “lagniappe” and make everyone you come into contact with feel valued.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.
- As we have been talking about influence vs. authority and being “people smart” over the past couple of weeks, I felt that this one statement summarizes the heart of the message. When people make decisions based on emotions, they are not always even rational choices. If I could give any manager only one piece of advice it would be that statement. How do you make others feel when you have an interaction?
- Let’s look at this from a customer’s point of view. At Culver’s our mission statement is that every guest that chooses Culver’s leaves happy. Our mission statement is based on emotion. In the Go-Giver mastermind, one of the rules is that our worth is determined by if we provide more value than the price paid. Value is determined by the customer and is driven by the what emotion they feel when they leave. Whether or not a customer returns is based on how they felt from their last visit. If a customer comes in and says last time they were here they were disappointed, they are giving us a chance to save them as a regular customer. They are most likely one of our raving fans that didn’t leave happy last time. What can we do to make sure that they leave happy today? We need to filter every interaction we have with a customer through this filter. How did they feel when they left? If we can add emotional value, we will always have a leg up in the value equation.
- Our goal is to create loyal, raving fans of our business. Our raving fans will go to the ends of the earth to tell others how great we are. Here in lies the rub, we couldn’t pay people to talk this good about our company if we tried, and these raving fans will do it for free. All we need to do is make them feel valued every time they are in our business. Seth Godin argues that if your business has 1,000 raving fans then your business would be unstoppable. Here is the challenge for the next few months, start to build and identify your 1,000 loyal, raving fans. If you have 50 team members, challenge each of them to connect with 20 customers to get you 1,000 fans.
- Let’s look at this from a team member’s perspective. Think about how we treat our team members and how we make them feel. If we want to influence our team members, it does not come from authority; it comes from how they feel about us. If we want better team engagement, our team needs to feel good about coming into work. This thought goes directly back to our idea of the “director of happiness” title. If our managers are happy, then our team members are happy. If our team members are happy, then our guests are happy. We can say or do a lot for our team members, but if they do not feel that we value them as people, they will never fully buy in. This is why some team members work better for individual managers. Some managers value team members more than others do and the team member can feel it. It is often said that most team members don’t leave their job, they leave their boss.
- On a personal note, this statement holds the key to our personal relationships as well. As a parent, this is particularly the case when it comes to our relationship with our children. We can say and do a lot with our children but how do they feel when we are around? If we can build the feeling of love and trust with our children, we will gain influence. How we make our loved ones feel determines if we have a rewarding relationship or a toxic relationship.
- It would be interesting if we would filter all of our interactions with others through this lens. Would we say or act differently if we wanted the other person to leave the interaction happy every time?
I recently had an opportunity to attend an incredible mastermind that focused on the book called “The Go-Giver” written by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It is a great book that goes over five straightforward yet effective laws of success. These rules of success can be applied to a business or even at a personal level in your daily life. The real key, once you learn about the laws, is to practice and live each core value every day.
- 1. The Law of value. The law of value states that real worth comes from what you give in value versus what you receive in payment. Is the service or item that you have to offer people worth more than what they pay? Do your customers leave feeling like they got a great deal or do they feel ripped off? In your job, do you provide more value than what you are paid? What makes people about buying your product or using your service? If you consistently give more value than what you charge you will have an endless supply of customers that will happily pay you for product or service. Value comes first, the money that follows is a bi-product. In your job, the value comes first, the promotion and raise that follows is a bi-product. One question I like to challenge our team with is if we had to double our prices tomorrow what would we do differently to make it worth the price. Then the challenge is how do we start doing those things without raising our prices.
- 2. Law of Compensation. The law of compensation states that your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. This idea is very true in a setting like a restaurant or a service provider. In our restaurant, we can serve up to 1000 people per day. Each guest that comes into our restaurant can have up to 20 interactions with our team. We have the opportunity to create 20,000 moments per day. The key is to create positive moments and work on building the relationship with each guest. People want to do business with those that they know, like and trust. The more we can remove the friction or pain points from the guest experience, the more they will want to return. We also need to remember that we also must serve our team members as well. Wouldn’t it be great to have a line of people just waiting for a chance to work at our company due to our reputation!
- 3. Law of Influence. The law of influence states that we can only gain influence by placing the need or interests of others first. How well do we serve others? We need to figure out what others want and help them solve their problems. Take a drive thru transaction for example. People want the correct order, and they want it to come out fast. If we can execute on these two priorities, our influence grows as a choice for their business when they are in a hurry. We need to go out of our way to put their needs above ours. One of my favorite parts in the book talks about a 50 / 50 result is a loss every time. So many times in life and business we try to win or if we compromise we try to get a to a 50 / 50 result. When we end up here, we have already lost. We want the other person to leave feeling as though they won. If they feel as though they have won, they will be back!
- 4. Law of Authenticity. The law of authenticity states that we need to be genuine and be true to who we are. This goes as both an individual as well as a company. As a business owner, I always try to be true to who I am both inside and outside of my business. I want people that come into contact with me to be treated the same way no matter what. We all have a unique gift to share with others, and we can achieve this by being ourselves. I challenge myself every week in my journal by looking at myself as a personal brand. Did I live up to my brand standards during the week? Does my personal brand match my business? I also write down one thing I want to do to work on improving my brand for the following week.
- 5. Law of Receptivity. The law of receptivity states that we need to be open to receiving the things in life that we want. There are two sides of the coin on this law. The first side is that of what we think about comes true. We need to remember that as humans we tend to live up to (or down to) our expectations. I once heard that the best way to predict the future is to create it. I love that idea. The other side of the coin almost can be classified as karma. The laws of the universe always seem to come back to us. We reap what we sow. The more give, the more you can receive. The more you receive, the more you can give. The most common mistake we make is that we reverse that two statements. We say that we will give more once we receive more but then we never end up receiving more so we never end up giving more.
- If you ever have the chance to attend a Go-Giver mastermind, I would highly recommend it. At a minimum, this book should be on every leader’s “must read” list.
I thought it would be interesting to start a blog post off with a quote from South Park. I can still picture Eric Cartman yelling at people and hitting them with a club. It is worth a quick youtube hit if you are unfamiliar. He would expect people to simply do what he would say because he was in charge. He would continually say “you will respect my authority” if people would question him.
- I remember as a child playing king of the hill. To be the king of the hill you needed to push others off that were already at the top of the hill. It is sad, but some people view this as their leadership journey. They think that they need to knock others down to reach the top. Great leaders are those that get to the top and stay on top by helping bring others along the journey with them, like a Sherpa on Mt. Everest who has reached the summit hundreds of times.
- I wanted to expand on the thought of authority vs. influence. So many times people feel that they cannot lead others until they are in charge. This is the same excuse given thousands of times per day in companies all around the world. People say that they would act different or make better decisions if they were the one in charge. Most people sit around and wait for authority to be handed to them. The reality is that we are all in charge of something. Even if your job is to answer a phone, you are in charge of answering that phone. You can make that entire experience great or mediocre based on how you act. By embracing that role and becoming the best at what you do have control over, you can then gain influence. One way you can gain influence is by getting more responsibility because someone above you in the company sees how responsible you are for answering the phone. When people look to promote others or give others more responsibilities, they often look for those that are doing the best job for which they are currently responsible. The other side of influence is that others that work with you will start to count on you, look up to you, ask you for help and ultimately see you as a leader in that area.
- Authority begins with you. We all are in charge of our own lives and the decisions we make every day. How do you lead yourself? This is the best starting point to learn and grow as a leader. The founder of IBM, Tom Watson, once said: “nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” The problem is that it is also easiest to deceive ourselves. We believe the lies and excuses we give ourselves every day for not making better choices. What one thing are you going to do today to be better than you were yesterday?
- The number one way to start building your influence with others is to bring a positive attitude and a high level of energy to every interaction that you have on a daily basis. The more you can be positive and have a higher energy level, the more natural it becomes. Take every opportunity you can to be the thermostat in the room and set the temperature instead of being the thermometer and simply reacting to the temperature set by others. Attitude and energy are very contagious, make sure that yours is worth catching. I will close with one question that we should all be asking ourselves every day.
- How SHOULD I lead with the authority that I do have?
Follow your dreams. If you only had a dollar for every time someone told you that when you were younger. I have put together a few steps below to help others hopefully begin the process of realizing and following their dreams. I am a person that believes that you can achieve almost anything you want if you have the right plan and a good mix of the hungry, humble and smart qualities discussed over the past couple of weeks.
- Step #1. Believe that you have a purpose. Everyone is put on this earth for a reason. I like to think that if we are still alive we still have the potential to become a better version of ourselves. We are all unique, and no one has the same life experience as we do. We all need to tap into our unique potential and past to help us succeed in the future.
- Step # 2. Get over yourself. Pride is one of the biggest dream killers that we all have to deal with every day. Pride can blind you from both your talents as well as your weaknesses. On most successful journeys people need help from others. Don’t let your pride hold you back from asking for help. It is amazing how many people want to help others succeed, all you need to do is ask.
- Step # 3. Embrace the suck. Discontent and pain are one of the key driving forces in change. Most people do not change until the pain gets to point where they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. The journey is not quick and easy. The number one cause of failure is that people tend to give up too soon. The messy middle as it called is what separates success from failure. If you get knocked down, figure out why then get up and try again. If you don’t realize what knocked you down and make a change, you will most likely get knocked down again.
- Step # 4. Get away from the norm. It sounds a little odd, but it is amazing how much success comes when we step out of our comfort zone. Doing what you always did will usually get you what you always get. Steps 3 and 4 can help you have an “ah ha” moment where clarity hits you square in the face.
- Step # 5. Get rid of the noise, do what matters. It is amazing how much just one choice we make can change our future. We all need to be aware of our choices and ask if they are moving us towards our dream or moving the dream a little further out of reach. One practice I do each day is called “OTED,” one thing every day. Each day when I write in my journal I write down one thing I need to do to move my business goals forward and I write down one thing I need to do to move my personal goals forward.
- Step # 6. Focus. Follow one course until success. Go only one inch wide, but go one mile deep. So many times we stretch ourselves out and either try to achieve too many goals, or we make our goals too broad. We need small wins to create momentum to get us moving forward. As mentioned in previous posts, momentum can be either our best friend or our worst enemy.
- Step # 7. Understand that you do not deserve it. When you are free from entitlement, success is closer. So many times we tell ourselves that we deserve something and all that does is hold us back and let us think that we do not have to earn it. Entitlement is not a millennial problem; it seems to be an American problem.
- In summary, I feel that it takes vision and passion to help define your dream, discipline to make the correct choices to achieve your dream and then good personal character to make the dream endure the test of time.
I thought I would take an opportunity to share a bit about my past and my journey as it relates to my series on the three main attributes of hungry, humble and smart and how they have shaped my life and career path. Everyone has a story and I believe in our lives there are a few key moments that define our future that we don’t even realize until we look back at how it all unfolds.
- The biggest strength of the three that I have had ever since I was young was hunger. Even as a little boy when I was young my father was pulling me out of bed by my big toe bright and early every morning. If it wasn’t for school, it was to help him do yard work or even worse, shoveling snow from our 1/2 mile long driveway by hand. He taught me from an early age that if I wanted something I had to work and earn it. My parents were also very humble people so I learned this quality as well from a young age.
- After high school I went to culinary school and became a chef. With hunger driving me, I ended up becoming a chef at the highest rated restaurant in Wisconsin by the time I was 25. The downside to becoming a chef was the lifestyle. All of my humbleness and smarts went out the window. As a chef, I was taught that it was all about the food and the people didn’t matter. For people that think Hell’s Kitchen is fake, I can say that it is quite normal. I actually laugh some days when I watch that show and think how easy the people have it on the show. Kicking, yelling, swearing, throwing plates was a normal night during my training.
- Fast forward to my first business opportunity. My hunger and drive was able to get me an opportunity to be a partner in my first restaurant in Alabama in 2000. I worked crazy hours, seven days a week to get the store off the ground. It started off as a huge success and we even opened a second location. The problem was all I was operating on was hunger and having two locations made it impossible for me to run both at the same time. I didn’t care at all about the people. I put zero importance on humble and smart. Needless to say I had high turnover and terrible guest service. Even though we had amazing food, the sales eventually dropped and we had to close our doors.
- I ended up opening a wholesale Italian Ice business with a partner that had a lot of humble and a lot of smart attributes. As we would go to trade shows, I learned that every sale that we made may have started with tasting the product but it wasn’t closed until we had built the relationship. Some sales took over a year to close and that only came by building the relationship with the customer like learning about their children and favorite hobbies.
- The next step in my journey was having children. If you ever want to find a sure way to humble yourself, have children. I quickly learned that I needed to use my humble and smart qualities to even stand a chance at being a parent. Parenting, like leadership, is about influence more than it is about the power of your position. If you have influence your children will do what is right because it is right, not just because you said so. Having a family and mouths to feed increased my hunger once again so I decided to take a leap back into the restaurant business.
- Then I got involved with Culver’s. As I went through my training process, I was impressed with a very unique feel that every Culver’s has right when you walk in. I couldn’t really put my finger on it at first but the more I would talk to people within Culver’s, it was clear that the focus was on the people. As I learned the hard way in Alabama you cannot lead people with hunger alone. I watched Craig Culver and was amazed how he seemed to know everyone and treat everyone like they were family. From a day one team member all the way up to a vice president in the company, to him they were all equally important. This led me to learn as much as I could about servant leadership. I joined an audio book club and started to listen to as many leadership books as I could when I was in the car. I credit this time in my life as how I was able to really round out all three of these qualities.
- I then formed a great partnership with Brian who was an experienced Culver’s operator and together we opened my first Culver’s in Chandler, AZ. I made a promise to myself when I opened the doors that I was going to do everything I could to put the people first. Treat both the guests and the team members alike. I was committed to a top line approach to business where I would make my decisions based on how they would impact our sales and guest retention. We even started a policy in our store where it takes two people to say no to a guest but only one to say yes. The small cost that some decisions carry can have a 10X impact on long term sales and eventual profitability. The easiest way to increase the bottom line is to increase the top line.
- To sum it all up, I would say that my hunger can get me an opportunity and drive me through any obstacles to achieve the desired outcome. My smarts help put me in a position where I was able to meet the right people and form the right partnership to help me succeed in the Culver’s model. Over the past year I have really focused on improving my humble qualities and I can say that I have never been happier. I feel that as I have been able to shape and improve all three of the qualities my success has blossomed. I am not by any means close to perfect but every day I wake up with the goal to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. I have learned to only compare myself to myself.
- After reading this series of posts, ask yourself what area is holding you back from achieving your goals and dreams. When someone really focuses on all three of these qualities, they become unstoppable.
Over the past few weeks we have had a few guest issues surface so I wanted to take a minute and review the H.E.A.R.T method that we use at Culver’s to make sure that every guest leaves happy. In dealing with guests we need to remember one main thing, the guest may not always be right but our reaction to the guest MUST be right every time. Below is the 5 step method that we follow at Culver’s. Even before we use this method we must have the right attitude and frame of mind. For our company to be successful we need to have loyal raving fans. We are lucky, Culver’s is a passion brand. As a passion brand it is even more imperative that we do everything we can to help make sure that everyone does indeed leave happy.
- Hear – The first step is to hear what the guest is saying. Maintain open and relaxed body language and establish good eye contact as the guest is talking. Actively listen to the guest in a way that lets them know you understand their situation by using appropriate facial expressions and head nods. Be attentive without interruption, listen to the facts. Be sure to allow the guest to finish speaking before you respond. Do not interrupt.
- Empathize – After the guest is finished speaking, you have the chance to diffuse the situation by showing you understand their feelings. A good way to do this is to paraphrase what you heard the guest say. For example, “I understand you’re disappointed, your order took longer than expected.” Acknowledging their feelings prevents you from getting drawn into an argument. Don’t fight. Make it right!
- Apologize – The next step is to apologize. Most guests tend to relax immediately once they’ve received a sincere apology. Becoming defensive, making excuses or blaming another team member for the mistake won’t help. Guests don’t really care whose fault it is, they simply want their concern resolved. The power of a sincere apology can earn their forgiveness.
- React / Resolve – Think about what you can do to make it right. Take the discussion from negative to positive by asking the guest to identify a possible solution. You could say something like, “We want you to be completely satisfied. What can I do to fix this for you?” Or consider offering a solution you feel would be appropriate. For example, “Let me have this remade for you.” Guests don’t expect us to be perfect. They do, however, expect us to make it right.
- Thank the Guest – Most guests are truly uncomfortable sharing a concern, which can make their behavior seem defensive or even confrontational. That’s why the last step should always be to sincerely thank the guest for bringing the concern to our attention. It shows we truly care. You could say something like, “Thank you for your patience and allowing me to make it right.” Remind the guest that our goal is that every guest leaves happy and thank them for the giving us the chance to still make this happen.
- We need to take guest comments seriously but not personally. One tip I have learned when dealing with a very difficult guest is to smile and say to yourself “I like you” if you feel yourself getting frustrated or annoyed. The simple question of “what can I do to make it right” goes a long way. We have seen many times in the past where a guest that had an issue can actually become a more loyal guest than others. How do we make the guest feel when they leave? If they leave upset or frustrated we have failed in our mission. I always like to feel like we are one up on the guest when they leave. I never want the guest to feel that we are even or worse that we still owe them something. Even after fixing an issue I will often times throw in a little extra like a free desert or a certificate to use on their next visit. If the guest can leave happy and feeling like we went above and beyond they will be back. We need to remember that the lifetime value of the guest is worth far more than what it will cost us to make the situation right.
To follow up on my series about the “right stuff,” I have created a self assessment that focuses on the three major areas that can help you succeed and become a better team member. Please rate your self as “Usually”, “At Times” or “Rarely” in each of the following areas for your work.
- 1. On time / early for every shift
- 2. Call out once or less every 6 months
- 3. Do more than what is asked during your shift
- 4. Cover others’ shifts, come in early, stay late when needed
- 5. Follow policies and procedures
- 6. Ask to learn more, move up, cross train
- 7. In position, ready to work at all times
- 8. Want to work when busy, do not complain about # of hours
- 9. Do you want to be here? Passion / Fire inside
- 10. Willing to work on holidays and special occasions
- 1. Compliment and praise others
- 2. Serve others, jump in and help others out
- 3. Happy to make it right for someone (with a smile)
- 4. Admit you are wrong (be accountable)
- 5. Share credit with others (use “we” more than “I”)
- 6. Treat everyone the same (team members and guests)
- (People above and below you in the company)
- 7. Never say “It’s not my job”
- 8. Grateful, not hateful (never complain)
- 9. Kind, positive and nice to others
- 10. Put others success before your own
- 1. Able to get along with everyone
- 2. Do not get annoyed by others
- 3. Change leadership style in certain situations
- 4. Empathetic to others and their situation
- 5. Get to know others on a personal level
- 6. Good listener, ask follow up questions
- 7. Do not quit or walk away when upset
- 8. Listens to other points of view and discuss
- 9. Defuse tense situations, do not escalate
- 10. Do not gossip / spread rumors
- Scoring: Go ahead and score each area separately. Give yourself 2 points for every “Usually”, 1 point for every “At Times” and 0 points for any “Rarely” answers. Look at which area is your lowest and focus on those habits first. If you really want to improve ask someone that you know to rate you as well in these areas. Sometimes we are blind to what some of our own opportunities are because we live with them every day. The key to this assessment is not to compare yourself to others but to use it to simply impact your own situation. Pick one area to focus on and in 6 months take the assessment again and see how you did. The only person to compare yourself to is yourself!
This is part 3 of my current series where I am taking a closer look at each of the attributes outlined three weeks ago that make up an ideal team player: humble, hungry and smart. Last week we took a deeper dive into “hungry” and how to spot that quality in our company.
- The third virtue or quality to discuss is smart. Smart does not refer to book smart; it refers to people smart. In business this is also known as someone’s EQ or emotional intelligence. Smart refers to how well people get along with others. Does this person have conflict with others or can they work in any situation? You don’t have to get along with everyone that you work with, but you must be able to unite for the common goal / mission to get the job done. Smart people are able to get the best out of other team members. Smart people learn not to take comments that others make personally. They can adapt to others and spin most interactions into a positive interaction.
- One habit that creates enormous impact is to have a genuine interest in others. People don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care. Leadership is about influence, not about position. If you can build real relationships with those around you, your influence elevates. This is true both for our guests as well as our team members. If you build a relationship with a guest, they will give you the benefit of the doubt if something is amiss during a visit. With no relationship, they will most likely take it personally and never return. The same is true with a team member. If all you have is power or position over a team member, they will not listen to what you say once you leave the room. If you have influence, they will follow your directions even when you are not in the building. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a manager is if you do not treat your team members as good as your guests.
- Along these lines is the idea of empathy. A smart person can demonstrate empathy by understanding how and why someone is feeling a certain way. They can talk to that person and show that they really care about that person. They can alter their leadership style at certain times based on the temperature of the people in the room. A manager that can only lead one way cannot connect with everyone. A smart person understands how to really communicate with everyone. People that lack empathy get annoyed by others and don’t try to take the time to understand and learn why someone is acting a certain way.
- One of the best ways to improve your empathy skills is to become a better listener. One of the best ways to become a better listener is to ask follow up questions that dig a little deeper into the subject. This helps others feel that you really do care and that you are interested in what they have to say. People’s favorite subject is themselves. Try not to cut people off when they are talking. Don’t spend all of your time figuring out what you are going to say next. Don’t try to one up them by talking about your life. One of the easiest ways to do this is simply say “tell me more” about ____.
- Smart people are also very good communicators. Along the line of communication comes coaching and giving feedback. Smart people can coach and give feedback in a way that is not resentful. Having influence and making sure that others know that you care about them helps feedback become helpful to others, not hurtful. I wanted to touch on the 5 to 1 rule one more time. I think that this is key to keeping any relationship in positive territory. For every one time you need to coach or give negative feedback, you need to make sure that you praise or give positive feedback at least 5 times to that person. Over the past few months since I have learned about this technique I find myself looking for positives on a regular basis. Think about relationships in your life. Which ones make you feel good about yourself? The ones with positive interactions always make me feel like a better person.
- The final tip to help spot a smart person is to ask yourself the question. Would you want to work for this person? Most smart people come across to others as a type of person that they like and that they would want to work for someday. This is a new question that we have added to our 2nd interview process. This is a question that I ask myself when I look at our general managers and potential mentor candidates.
- I hope that it has been worth your time reading about these three qualities over the past few weeks. As hiring, training and retaining is one of our key priorities I felt it was important to dig a little deeper on this subject. I think that there is some real magic to this formula as it relates to building a better team.