Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Success Like a Pirate!

My daughter looked up from her homework and asked “Do you know why I don’t need to learn algebra?” “No, why not?” “Because only pirates need to find X” (insert groan here).

The Harvard Business review published an article this month about using the pirate hierarchy as an example of job design. In What 17th Century Pirates Can Teach Us About Job Design by Hayagreeva Rao . I believe we should take this example a different direction. Old school pirates knew where they were going. They had a map and they knew that X marked the spot.

Do you know where your organization is going? If you stood in front of your peers and asked “Are you with me?” What answer would you get? A resounding YES! Or a Where are we going?

If you do not have a plan you are in trouble. STOP everything you are doing and figure it out. Do you have a definition of success? If not how will you know when you get there? Assisting new franchisees with a start up operational plan is one of the training sessions I hold several times a year. I ask the questions in a couple different ways. What is your definition of success? Leaders probably have a couple definitions.

One would be personal, maybe it is to have your operations self sufficient enough so that you can sneak away and golf a few mornings a week, or maybe it is being able to take your family on a vacation each summer. What are your business goals? Is it a certain number of clients? Is it a defined dollar amount in the bank?
If your organization is so overwhelmed with the day to day of keeping business afloat, then you are lost at sea.

Let’s get started

Define your goal in quantifiable words
Share your goal with your team
Determine who is on board with you
Decide what each person will do to help the organization achieve this goal
Each person should then submit a plan, in writing, with steps, numbers and deadlines to reaching their part.
Determine re-evaluation dates and milestones
Celebrate your milestones and reward goals met
Follow your map and find X

Friday, October 22, 2010

Motivate Employees with Common Sense

I was talking to a friend who works for a large national company with a huge inbound call center, he told me a few things that shocked me.

• No drinks at their desks
• No family pictures in their cubicles
• If you don’t reach your goals, You’re gone

If this company were to hire me to help with employee morale and increased production, these are the first things I would change.

No drinks – These employees are talking all day long. They need to speak clearly and be understood. If you do not want them constantly wandering away from their desk, let them drink. Obviously the company is concerned about its hardware. If moms can get a no spill cup for toddlers, this company can find no spill cups for its employees. Buy them, logo them! Or better yet, have your corporate mission statement printed on them.

No family pictures – this needs to stop. Now going all Google, like this picture,at your office is probably not your goal. It works for the creative minds at Google, but not for the service industry. My first rule of managing happy employees is to KNOW that your company is NOT your employee’s first priority. You may think that you are paying them, so for 8 hours the company should be priority one. Let me tell are not paying them enough to put you above their family. How much would YOU have to be paid to put company first?

Best practice according to me is to let them have a reminder at their desk as to why they come to work each day and get the job done. I have an awesome year at a glance calendar in my office that I can slip my own pictures into, and a similar desk top blotter. These are professional, I can see the pictures of my kids and do not turn my office space into my living room.

No Goals, you are gone – Obviously, I am not saying keep poor performers. Hiring new employees is expensive with recruiting and training. It would be best to keep your current employees comfortable and motivated. Provide a beverage and look at a baby or two, I think you will be glad you did.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What was significant to you in the 20th Century?

My final project for my humanities course is to put together a virtual time capsule for my life time. I need to include the things listed below and I was wondering what was significant for you.

In case you were wondering - I haven't figured mine out yet.

A significant literary work (poem, short story, or novel)
A significant example of art or architecture
A significant song or group of songs
A significant film

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Social Media Can Make You Stronger

Social media and social technologies have added a new dimension to our marketing and PR efforts. It has broadened our scope of what it means to provide customer service.

I have found it to be most valuable for building relationships within our organization. There are those that would argue in Franchising that the franchisee is our customer. However the franchisees that I work with are business partners. I support them from the corporate office, providing operational and compliance guidance. A large part of my day to day includes coaching, and some days it is more like cheerleading. It can become frustrating. Our franchisees run their businesses from home, so home comes into the equation a lot and I start to think I should have gotten that Psychology degree.

Using social media has allowed our relationships to become more developed. The franchisees and I follow each other on Twitter and they are my friends on Facebook. You may think that this is highly unprofessional, and if I were a doctor or lawyer you would be right. But in my case, the sick kids, the visiting in-laws and the soccer finals are all directly related to the lives and issues that we deal with in our coaching calls.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw your teacher at the store? It seemed weird, when you realized they didn’t live at the school and had lives of their own. I believe that this aspect of ‘friending’ my business partners has strengthened our relationships too. They now know when I may be dealing with a problem that is bigger than me, or realize that we are experiencing the same things as parents, or adult children. These commonalities bring us closer.

We have built closed LinkedIn groups for our franchisees and for their employees. These are spaces where they can ask each other question about best practices. They share frustrations and challenges. They cheer each other on. The corporate team monitors and participates in these groups with franchisees from all over the world.
Social technology brought us together and spawned a “we are all in this together” culture in which we all help each other to thrive.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I am sitting here in my living room on Saturday afternoon. The website went ‘live’ yesterday. This past week was crazy and stressful. Not bad stressful, good stressful, eustress ( I learned a new word in college), like conference. My body hurts, and I woke with a headache. I was reading my email before I could see well. As I was waiting for my coffee and Excedrin to kick in I asked myself “why are you doing this?”

I reflected on a conversation with a franchisee this week, as we looked at the new website. She said “look at that! ‘Find a Technology Consultant near you’, this is going to make us all look so good! This is so good for my business.” Then I thought of the reaction of those of you at conference when Michael St. Jacques first used those words “Technology Consultant”, there was an audible sound of agreement, you could almost hear the light bulbs going off.” The sound rose even louder when Michael said “We are the elite in education.”

Flashback almost 20 years, I was working in a Jr. Sr. High School, working one on one with one ‘troubled kid’ after another, I kept telling myself there has got to be a better way to provide education. Yet, It was painfully apparent to me as I worked there, I AM NOT A TEACHER!

Again, as I raised my brilliant son, I fought with the school district, I argued with teachers, and again, I thought, there has got to be a better way. I considered homeschooling, but lacked the time and resources…and again I AM NOT A TEACHER!

“So Lorri” I said to myself, “this is why you are here, this is why you do what you do. Working with CE, you are part of a better way to provide education. Your forte is communications, and your passion is education. Now make it work!”

Why are you here?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Professionalism vs. Me

This week we launched our new website successfully, yes there are bugs…there are always bugs. I attribute our success, an ongoing positive attitude about the extermination of said personality not professionalism.

Yes, the job is getting done. Issues are being reported and dealt with. The timeline is being discussed. Priorities, training and strategy are ongoing concerns. I don’t think our programmers have slept in days. I KNOW the Director was at dinner and back in the office within 6 hours in the last 24.

To accomplish the end goal, we knew we would be performing personal magic, we would need to break out the tiaras and super hero capes…and we did. They became a running joke in our emails. They did not slow the process, they made the process better. They made asking for yet another thing and being told where that one more thing was being put on the priority list easier to manage.

I do not believe that professionalism comes with a tie and wingtips, or with buttons and hose. It comes from performance. It shows in efficiency, attitude and end product. If the process is accompanied by humor and personality…so be it.

This is why true transparency is so important within your business. It is the people to people interactions that run the world. Not the spreadsheets and databases…they are not always going to upload right.