Resolution…Or Goal?

new-years-resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right about this time of year, many folks around the country (if not the world) form one or more “New Year’s Resolutions” to accomplish something or things in the coming year.

I’m going to eat better and lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking.

I’m going to go to church more often.

I’m going to…(insert well-meaning objective here).

You’ve done them.  I’ve done them.  It’s almost a ritual in our society.  Yet for as many people who actually make them, only 8% are considered successful in achieving their resolutions (according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, December 2012).  Is this fairly low success rate due to lack of commitment?  Maybe, but I’d also like to offer that another reason for such a ridiculous success rate is that people are creating resolutions that are merely great ideas (if not wishes), rather than a concerted, concrete goal to achieve in the coming year.

Rather than create another resolution that, statistically, you’ll most probably bomb on in the next 30 days, try creating a SMART Goal for yourself.  SMART is an acronym that goes something like this:

S – Specific.  Give it some thought…what do you actually, really want to achieve?  Losing weight, ending a bad habit or creating a new, positive habit?  Take a trip to your dream destination?  Throw the most amazing birthday party of your life?  Those are all things you could do, but the first step is to figure out exactly what you want to do.

M – Measureable.  You must have a quantitative measure to know if your goal is a success.  I want to lose weight is not enough, because with that all you have to do is lose an ounce and you’ve technically achieved your goal.  A better goal would say I want to lose 30 pounds.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

A – Attainable.  I had an old boss who used to tell me about my wide-eyed, bushy-tailed goals, “Scott, no ‘pie in the sky’ goals.  You’re setting yourself up for failure.”  He wasn’t being a pessimist…he had just had the experience and worked with enough guys like myself at the time to know that I was shooting myself in the foot.  What’s the point of setting a goal that you can’t reach.  Yes, I’m all for creating stretch goals and really having to work to achieve something truly worth the result.  But don’t put your goal so far out of reach that you end up missing it and discouraging yourself.  I want to lose 30 pounds in the next 30 days. Morale fail.

R – Relevant.  The goal ultimately has to matter to you in some way, shape, or form.  You have to find some kind of benefit to help you realize that the juice was worth the squeeze (as it were).  Whether your success is tangible or intangible, you need to be able to savor the thrill of victory…or the sting of agony if you miss it.  Losing 30 pounds carries all sort of health benefits to me, so it’s very relevant.

T – Timely.  Your goals must have some kind of deadline attached.  I want to lose 30 pounds is a great start, but it lacks any kind of finish line. (Otherwise, if I attain it in 30 years, then technically I’ve succeeded…but let’s face it, if you need to lose 30 pounds, then 30 years probably isn’t a realistic timeframe.)  However, if you say I want to lose 30 pounds in the next six months, then you’re onto something.

One more thing I want to add that’s not a part of this equation…find yourself an accountability partner to keep you honest and on-track to achieve your goals.  Very few of us possesses the discipline to make it happen on our own.  Find someone you can check in with maybe weekly or every other week, and give them permission to ask you the tough questions about your progress.  You just might find yourself crossing the finish line with your New Year’s SMART Goals in 2013.

QUESTION:  What are your SMART Goals for 2013?  Respond in a comment below.

Where’s the Passion?

Hands in pockets.  Shoulders slumped.  Expressionless face.  Closed body language.  Basically, everything about these salespeople was screaming, “If you want to buy my product, that’s fine.  If you don’t that’s fine, too.  Whatever, just follow me on my tour as I tell you stuff.”

Watching these people was a terribly underwhelming experience.  Each and every single sales rep from this company was missing a key ingredient from their sales schtick (I couldn’t quite tell if they were asking questions and matching needs with solutions).  That one ingredient is this…

Where’s the passion?  I’ve written about this idea before, but then I see it happen again and again wherever I go.  Lack of passion is a plague and it’s not showing much, if any, signs of improving.  I’ve heard it suggested a couple of times recently that wages and salary caps are to blame.  (Which, of course, begs the question, At what salary can we expect excellent customer service and effort?)  Lack of incentive might also be a cuplrit (in this economic climate, however, the primary incentive should be receiving a steady paycheck).  I have a different theory personally.

Management.  Pure and simple.

Managers, if you want passionate sales and customer service reps (or all team members in general), you need to do three things:

1.)  Train the passion.  Granted, I can’t give somebody passion as if it’s a Christmas present (though I wish I could).  But I can show my team how to express passion in two words: body language.  Open posture and gestures.  Smiles on faces.  “Yes” phrases instead of “no” phrases.  Genuine interest in a prospective or current client’s questions, and wanting to let them do most of the talking.  Train your team on expressing passion…and you could see an uptick in your closing ratios.

2.)  Foster the passion.  Maybe you can’t pay higher salaries or fat bonuses.  (Of course, if your sales team closed more sales, this might not be an issue.)  But you can do more to encourage people to get jacked up on their jobs.  Contests, incentives (doesn’t always have to be about more money…find your team’s hot buttons and get creative), and other morale boosters can get your team excited about their jobs and give them more reason to come into work each day.  Share your vision, your goals, and how your team members contribute to the success of the company.  Try some transparency and trust that they’ll catch on to what matters.

3.)  Model the passion.  It starts at the top.  There isn’t a manager on the face of the planet who could possibly expect his or her employees to have passion for their work if they, themselves, don’t personally model it.  I tell middle and frontline managers to suck it up and show their direct reports their own passion for their work and company, even if the higher ups don’t do likewise.  But upper level managers, if you’re reading this, believe this to be true…if you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it, either.  They’re watching you and will resent you if you don’t practice your preach.  You want them to model passion?  You be the first to model it.

If your team is currently lacking in the passion department, there is no easy fix or turnaround.  But you can right the course of your vessel if it’s off by following these three principals.  It’ll take some time, but the results will be noticeable.  And profitable.

QUESTION:  How can you best model passion for your team (regardless of your position in the company)?

It Starts at the Top

I was recently at a convenience store attempting to purchase my weakness: Coke Zero and a Twix.  I had just finished pumping some gas outside and was ready to get back on the road after presenting a class on customer service.  I might have made it through the checkout process a lot faster if it weren’t for the fact that the clerk was engaged in casual conversation about his new SUV with custom rims.  But it wasn’t his buddies or a girl he was trying to impress with his bragging.It was his boss and store owner.  And the boss was fully into the conversation.

Are you kidding me?  Here’s a buying customer, cash money in hand, waiting patiently (yet aggravated) at the register for the conversation to break just long enough for the transation to happen.  I literally waited for over a minute.  And it’s not like I’m a little dude who would be hard to notice in a crowd.  They both knew I was there and did nothing to put the customer first over a conversation that should not have been happening in the first place with buying in customers in line.

I confess to being a bit taken aback by the whole situation.  Had that been myself or any of the other business owners I know, the conversation would have been shut down until the clerk had completed the sales that were right there in front of him.  I probably would have rolled up my own sleeves to help move the line myself.  But that’s just me.  All I could think of was I should be inviting the guy and his whole staff to attend my next customer service training in that area.  They clearly needed it.

Managers, it begins with you.  What kind of customer service culture are you fostering and promoting in your business?  Are you there to talk about an employee’s car…or are you there to help that guy earn his salary to put gas in the car, pay his other bills, and build a living?  I see it time and again amongst employees, and it aggravates the tar out of me every time.  To see it come from the manager/owner is an even greater sin.  Go ahead and neglect the customer…next time you’ll see him get his Coke Zero and Twix across the street.  Those $3 sales add up.

QUESTION:  How do you foster a customer service culture in your company?