Newsletter Vol. 10, #1

Workplace Enhancement Notes

Volume 10, Issue 1

[for a PDF version of this newsletter: WEN Volume 10, Issue 1]

Topics . . .

Emotional Intelligence: Leading with Heart

Not everyone is cut out to lead others. Leadership involves that special calling that involves creating a compelling vision of the possible, challenging the status quo, inspiring others to excellence through passion, and actively pursuing learning, growth, and discovery. The most effective leaders, however, don’t just pursue their vision – they bring others along; they engage their “followers” in a journey through change and growth.

A Different Kind of “Smarts.” Engaging others requires more than aspiration and inspiration. It requires a set of competencies that connect the leader to those she seeks to influence and induce toward the vision. These core competencies involve engaging the human spirit – making a visceral connection with another human being. This discipline of competencies has been given the term emotional intelligence, suggesting that a leader’s “smarts” involve more than knowledge of how to run a company.

How important is emotional intelligence to a leader’s ability to lead? The research suggests that this fundamental characteristic is perhaps the most important characteristic of an effective leader.
Emotional Intelligence Defined. As a concept, the term emotional intelligence was coined by Daniel Goleman in the late 90’s. Goleman identified this capability as people’s capacity for recognizing their own feelings and those of others, for motivating themselves and others as a result of this awareness, and for managing emotions within themselves and in others.

Why It Matters. A leader’s emotional intelligence matters because it directly affects the bottom line: research clearly indicates that leaders who have a refined emotional intelligence are far more able to get people to do great work. A recent study by the Hay Group indicates that a leader’s level of emotional intelligence is twice as important as cognitive (thinking) abilities in predicting outstanding employee performance. This research also suggests that a leader’s emotional intelligence accounts for more than 85% of star performance in the top leaders themselves.

Components of Emotional Intelligence. Goleman and those researchers who have followed him in this work have identified four broad competencies. Each of these EI competencies, in turn, is comprised of an array of specific behaviors that enable the respective competency.

  • Self-Awareness: This competency involves the leader effectively recognizing and understanding his moods, emotions, and drives – and the effect of these moods, emotions, and drives on others. This EI competency may be most important in that self-awareness is essential before one can work with and relate successfully to others.
  • Self-Management: Self-understanding may be the first emotional intelligence competency, but it is not sufficient, by itself, to enable a leader to be effective in relation to others. The best leader must also have the capacity to effectively control or manage her emotions and, when necessary, redirect or channel disruptive emotions and feelings toward more constructive ends.
  • Social Awareness: When a leader is self-aware and is able to effectively manage his emotions and feelings, he is now able to shift his focus toward others. This begins with developing the capacity to become aware of others’ feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The socially aware leader fine-tunes this capacity such that he is able to intuit the thoughts and emotions that others are likely experiencing. People who are socially aware are empathetic; they can easily put themselves in another’s shoes. This is especially important to a leader who is implementing traumatic changes – changes that are destined to negatively affect others.
  • Social Skills: The leader’s social skills are the proving ground of the other EI competencies. It is in this realm of emotional intelligence that the leader – by interacting effectively with others – influences their decisions and actions, enables them to learn and grow, inspires them to action, facilitates collaboration, and guides the resolution of disagreement and conflict.

Develop the Emotional Intelligence of Your Leaders. As with any core leadership competency, emotional intelligence is something that most people can further develop and strengthen. The leadership development programs of Russell Consulting – custom-designed to fit your business and culture – will help you create the kind of leaders you need to enable your organization’s long-term success.

Back to Top

Building Customer Loyalty

Satisfying customers is the number one job of every company. In fact, in today’s competitive marketplace, providing extraordinary customer service is the distinguishing factor between business success and failure. The question is . . . how can any organization build long-lasting customer loyalty in a world where customer choice reigns and where price can often seem to determine customers’ preferences?

The Keys to Customer Loyalty

Building and sustaining customer loyalty requires getting the customer’s attention. Why should customers choose your company in the first place as their service or product provider? Distinguishing yourself as a company involves:

  • Communicating value – Enabling customers to clearly understand how your product or service fulfills a fundamental need, meets a requirement, or enables them to realize a desired outcome. How does your product or service enhance the lives of current and potential customers?
  • Following through – Customers expect that promises made will be fulfilled – that what you say you will provide them actually occurs.
  • Exceeding expectations – Delivering a “wow” experience means going beyond what is expected and doing something positive for the customer that catches them off-guard. Exceeding expectations or delighting the customer is talked about endlessly; making it happen is what sets the best apart from the rest.
  • Ensuring consistency and reliability – Customers want to know that they can depend upon you to meet not just their current need but future needs as well. They want to know that, when they have a need for your product or service, you will be able to provide it to them – with the expected quality and timeliness.

More than Just a Fancy Package at a Good Price

Developing customer loyalty, however, involves more than simply communicating value, following through, exceeding expectations, and ensuring consistency of service availability and quality. More than just a customer’s preference, customer loyalty emerges from the relationship that evolves over time between the customer and those who provide the valued service or product. Developing customer loyalty, therefore, puts your employees at the core of your customer service strategy.

The key factor in customer loyalty that sets your company apart isn’t price at all – it is the quality of the human interaction. This is what separates the “great” from the merely “good.” If your customer service staff – and everyone else in the company for that matter – don’t view customers as central to their work, the goal of customer loyalty will remain forever elusive. The secret to building and sustaining customer loyalty, then, lies in the people you hire, the quality of your training, the incentives for quality service you provide, and the effectiveness of your performance management system.

It Starts with Defining Your Core Purpose

If customer loyalty and competitive advantage are gained through the people who work for you, then everything you do as an owner or manager must focus on helping your staff discover what’s most important. Here’s what you need to do to ensure that your employees know what is most important:

    1. Define your customer service vision – What is the profoundly positive value that your company creates for its customers? If your employees don’t know the focus of their work, they will be less likely to hit the target.
    2. Make fulfilling this customer service vision the central purpose of your company – Ensure that every employee understands that delivering upon this central purpose of your company is, fundamentally, the only purpose of their jobs.
    3. Hire people who can deliver the customer service vision – Identify the characteristics and qualities you need in your employees that will enable them to deliver on your customer service promise and then align your hiring process to select for these qualities.
    4. Train people to provide top-notch service – Once hired, ensure that you invest the time and resources that are needed by each new employee to provide that service.
    5. Reward results – What sustains topnotch customer service and customer loyalty is a performance management and reward system that reinforces employee behaviors that support exceptional customer service. If employees feel well-served when they serve customers well, customer loyalty will result.

Contact RCI to explore strategies for sustaining customer loyalty through good human resource management practices. Ask us for ideas on how to develop your staff to best serve your customers – for the long term.

Back to Top

We HAVE to Start Meeting Like This!

It happened again. For a brief second you nodded off at this, your fifth meeting of the day. But you aren’t the only one whose attention has drifted: Larry from Marketing appears to be working on his department’s budget and Sherri from Sales has drawn a remarkable likeness of your CEO on the back of the report that John (who is “leading” the meeting) is walking (more like crawling) the group through. You stifle a yawn while nodding your head in agreement to a point that John seems to be making while you scream to yourself: “There has to be a better way!”

There IS a better way to run a meeting – and it begins with deciding whether or not you even need to meet! The current meeting that you’re stuck in, for example, should never have even been called. Since John was just walking the group through his report and not asking for a decision – or even a discussion – it would have been better to have John simply distribute his report to those who needed to review it, accompanied by a note asking for comment, feedback, revisions, or whatever he needed from others.

There is a host of other things that you can do to start meeting as you should be meeting. Here are a few of our suggestions:

  • Have a Focused, Outcome-Based Agenda: Most meetings fail to achieve their objectives simply because the outcomes for the meeting aren’t clearly defined upfront. An outcome-based agenda includes everything from what we hope to achieve at the meeting overall to each item on the agenda having a clear definition of what will be achieved as a result of addressing that agenda item.
  • Make Sure that the Right People are Present: Given the agenda, who REALLY needs to be present at this meeting? The answer might mean that Larry and Sherri don’t need to attend at all – or if they DO need to attend – we should do a better job of indicating why their voice is needed in order to achieve the stated meeting outcome(s).
  • Manage the Meeting Dynamics and Flow: Be attentive to participant involvement and interaction. If people are fading, change gears, take a break, introduce a different discussion method, etc. Keep things fresh and energetic. Avoid death by PowerPoint. Pay attention as well to who is doing all of the talking and who isn’t. Actively manage meeting dynamics by drawing new voices out and asking some to take a “back seat” once they’ve had their say. Don’t just go with the flow, manage it!
  • Watch the Clock: Honor people’s busy schedules. Always start and end your meetings on time. Establish timeframes for every agenda item and stick to them. If you find that you can’t address an issue in the time allotted, then negotiate the time allocated to the other agenda items – but make your final end time absolute.

Contact RCI! We have lots of other ideas and strategies for running better meetings. Give us a call to discuss our training and consulting programs on meeting management. Time is too valuable to waste it in non-productive meetings! Start meeting like this today!

Subscribe to Workplace Enhancement Notes

Get a FREE subscription to Workplace Enhancement NotesSubscribe.

Back to Top