Nice post

Hossam Aldin sent me his post below comparing Costa and Cilantro:

http://hossamaldinblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/costa-caf-vs-cilantro-caf-consistency.html

After he read my two posts about their customer support compared to Starbucks:

https://dohashawki.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/46/

https://dohashawki.wordpress.com/2007/12/13/comparing-starbucks-cilantro-and-costa/

I find his post very interesting as he mentioned a critical point which is consistency. In his paragraph:

As I left, my unconscious mind, told me not to go back. It really wasn’t the latte, it has been always tasty, not the waiters/waitresses, they actually were kind and helpful. It was that I simply can’t predict what to expect at each experience, I cannot count on the resources out there. Simply there was no consistency in my experiences. “

he said it all, if you can not predict what kind of service you will be getting from a company, you would rather not deal with it at all!

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The Magic of Motivation

Do you feel you are not getting the best out of your employees? Do you have a high turnover rate? Are you always behind on schedule? Are you always under stress from facing angry customers? Are you constantly overloaded? Do you feel you can do better but just can’t understand why the performance is not up to your expectations? Do you suffer from a lot of absenteeism from your employees?

Well, ask yourself are your employees motivated? If you want to ensure the best quality and productivity out of your employees, do two things:

  1. DO NOT de-motivate them.
  2. DO motivate them.

How can you de-motivate your employees?

    ist2_3082856_business_conflict1.jpg

  1. Not paying them satisfying salaries (compared to the market)
  2. Delaying raises, promotions and bonuses.
  3. Not allowing them to take their vacations.
  4. Calling them to cut their vacations and come to work.
  5. Promising to compensate for the vacation they never took and failing to do so.
  6. Not providing a proper parking place for their cars.
  7. Not providing a clean, nice, well furnished, with sufficient light and atmosphere for them to work at (including air conditioning, well chosen furniture colors, wall colors,…..)
  8. Not providing appropriate office equipment.
  9. Not providing a clear, well understood and communicated company policy and Not abiding by it if it is there.
  10. Not providing shuttle service if the company location is not convenient.
  11. Not providing a company car if employees need to make customer visits.
  12. Not providing a healthy and friendly environment in the office.
  13. Not providing decent and very clean rest rooms.

How can you motivate your employees?

    ist2_4801857_partnership_and_team_work.jpg

  1. Treat your employees with respect. Show them that you care about them as human beings and not just employees.
  2. Give each employee the recognition he deserves.
  3. Praise and acknowledge good work in public and in private. Everyone has to know that you are happy with a work well done. At the same time the person who did the good work deserves some of your time in private to know how happy you are with his accomplishments. It has to be prompt as well i.e. once you know about it. Delayed praises are meaningless.
  4. Punish and criticize in private ONLY.
  5. Praise good attempts not only final results.
  6. Reward based on performance. Do not think that if you do not offer raises, rewards and bonuses you are a good manager because you are saving the company budget. You are not because you are loosing your employees and on the long run all the good ones will leave and you will end up with a weak staff that will make you loose much more than what you thought you were saving.
    In this article they say that Opera Winfrey offers her employees new cars and trips around the world! 🙂
  7. Involve employees in plans and decisions. Do not be a dictator and take all the decisions on your own. Make your staff feel that you respect their mentalities and that they are involved in every step their company or department takes. This will make you gain your employees’ loyalty because they will feel that the company is theirs and they are taking the decisions.
  8. Create an inspirational environment where your employees can be creative. This can be done in different ways. For example: by getting involved socially with your employees, by organizing trips, organizing family gatherings, having a monthly meeting for instance for exchanging ideas about how to enhance your performance and implementing the ones that are agreed upon….and many other ways.
  9. Create opportunities for employees to learn new skills and grow. Many managers are afraid of helping their staff grow. This is very wrong, the more leaders you create the better manager you are. If you insist on making your employees your followers you will live and die unrecognized.
  10. Actively listen to your employees’ concerns whether work related or personal and take appropriate actions to resolve them if you can.
  11. Provide something new all the time….New challenge, new skills to learn, new title, new responsibilities, new privileges…
  12. Spend some time with each and every employee regularly. This is crucial to understand what motivates each one of them. Take care that every person is motivated by different things, so you have to know how to motivate each one of your staff. You might find someone who does not care about praises; he is only motivated by a promotion or a bonus. Someone else is motivated much more by being praised and by acknowledging his work in front of everyone than by being paid a bonus. You have to discover the best way to motivate each member of your staff.

I read in a book titled “Motivating People”, by Robert Heller that it is important to measure the morale around the office regularly to make sure that your employees are motivated. The ways of measuring the morale as mentioned in the book are:

  • Attitude Questionnaires: to be filled by all staff members regularly. This is an expensive option because it has to be created by experts who can advise which questions to ask. You have to follow up on them to make sure that everyone filled the questionnaire. And they reveal trends around the office rather than an entire situation.
  • Opinion Polls. A random sample of employees to be chosen each time the poll is done. Can be repeated more often then the longer attitude questionnaires. Good for follow up on management performance. Lacks depth because not everyone is asked.
  • Unstructured Interviews. Arranging for some selected employees to meet with external interviewer to talk about the company.
  • Focus groups. Arranging for some selected employees to meet with external interviewer to talk about the company but this time in groups not individually. The interviewer has to be careful because in groups people influence each other and problems can be exaggerated or under-stated.

There is a nice test at the end of the book titled “Are you a good motivator?” if anyone is interested send me an email and I will send it to you to take the test and see how good you are.

The following paragraph is a quotation from this article.

In a survey for American Express, pollsters asked employees, “What do you want most from your employer?” The results? 46% of employees said they wanted personal feedback and 32% stated financial rewards would motivate them. Personal feedback involves communication on a regular basis. Sound simple? Here ‘s a startling statistic: In a study of 22,000 shift workers, almost 70% said there ‘s little communication between them and management. Communication can be walking the halls and asking, “How ‘s it going?” Tim Van Houten, director of Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Washington State says, “We (myself and my supervisors) motivate through our personal example…modeling eye contact; smiles; name recognition; caring and concern for both our internal guests (fellow team members) and our external guests (those visitors we have the privilege of serving.) If it works for a casino, it can work for your staff!” — end of quote

The magic of motivation is that by very simple techniques and small gestures you can get remarkable achievements out of your employees. It is really magical how a couple of minutes of your time to thank an employee for his good work will encourage him to do his best to keep earning your appreciation. You will be surprised if you pay a bonus or offer a promotion to an employee by the amount of work you will get out of him after it.

How to interview your future Boss

The article below is very useful for those of us who want to make sure they will not get stuck with a bad manager.  You can ask some questions in the interview to help you sense whether this possible future boss is good or bad.  Although I do not see that it is that simple and straight forward because some people can talk well.  So after asking the questions below, you can still be fooled.  But it is better than nothing.

Andrew Rondeau of greatmanagement.org wrote the nice article below about this issue:

How to Smell a Bad Boss in Just One Interview

You have been invited to attend an interview. You have been waiting a long time for this one. This could be the perfect job. The company has a great brand and future and the vacancy sounds great as well. Good pay, great prospects, great perks. This is the job to die for. You can see yourself in the job and your career finally taking off.

The big day arrives

You have all the answers ready with all the examples, you look great, are well groomed and your clothes are sharp (that recent shopping trip will be worth it). You are feeling confident and fully prepared.

But are you?

The relationship between managers and direct reports is the number one factor in morale, productivity and retention of high performers. One thing which causes high stress in individuals at work is the management style of their boss. You get use to the pay, the perks and the prospects, but they become very insignificant if your boss is a bad manager.

You do not get used to bad managers, especially very bad ones.

How do you define a ‘bad’ manager?

We all have different definitions for the term ‘bad’. Some may say their managers are bad because ‘I never get any praise’, others may say it’s ‘because you never see them and they don’t communicate’ or because ‘He is so arrogant, always believing he is right and everyone else is wrong’.

Much has been written about the habits or traits of bad managers, but how do you tell if your prospective boss is ‘bad’?

You are just about to be interviewed for the job of your life, but how do you know whether you want to work for the individual (assuming they will be your boss). You have to remember that interviews are a two-way process, as much for the potential employees benefit, as for the employer.

The interview begins

The time for the interview has arrived. The interviewer (the prospective manager), meets you in the glamorous reception 30 minutes late and the handshake is weak and clammy and no apology is forthcoming for them being late.

In silence, they lead you to the interview room which is a few minutes walk from the reception and there is no offer of a drink.

Their mobile phone goes off. It is a friend, well you assume it is because they has a five-minute conversation about last nights TV, with quite a lot of swearing going on throughout.

You are thinking this is a test, isn’t it? ‘They are seeing how I am going to react’. It’s not, this is how they are.

The interview eventually starts late. Standard questions are fired at you, with no eye contact taking place. They don’t even look at you when you are talking, just look down whilst taking a few notes.

Your gut is telling you something – this is not the job for you. However you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt, as they might just be having a bad day and this isn’t how they really are.

Now it is your turn to ask questions. How are you going to know if they are a great, or at least a good manager? Here are some important questions you need to ask to find out.

6 ways to test your next boss

Ask them what their management style is?

Are they silent? Do they have to think about it? Are they vague? Do they mention words like ‘supportive, approachable or decision maker’?

Ask them when they last took forward an employee suggestion or idea?

Are they struggling in their answer? Is the example worthy of a great manager? Bad managers don’t follow up on employee ideas. If they do provide a worthy answer, it shows they are supportive, approachable and they listen. A great manager removes all obstacles to help their staff do the best job possible.

Ask them when they last praised an employee or team and why?

If they haven’t ever done this then be wary. Bad managers withhold praise. One of the biggest staff motivators is praise from their manager.

Ask them for their opinion on individual development and training?

Have you ever been denied a professional development opportunity, because your own manager said that it would take too much time away from work? Is that why you are thinking of moving roles? Bad managers ignore professional growth needs, whilst great managers support their staff’s development.

Ask them when they asked for feedback on their management style and what were the results?

A good manager will always be looking to improve their performance and style and one of the best ways to do this, is to ask their staff for feedback. If they have asked for this feedback, ask how have they used it to improve their style?

Ask for their views on delegation. How do they delegate? Do they delegate? Do they micro-manage?

Great managers build trust in their staff. A quick and easy way to do this is to delegate pieces of work, which uses and exploits individuals’ strengths, all with the right level of control.

Conclusion

Just remember the interview is two-way. You are interviewing your manager and the company as well as them interviewing you. You can ask any questions you want and if you ask the right ones, you won’t end up working for an incompetent and bad manager and your career won’t suffer.

The Manager’s Cheat Sheet: 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders

I read the article below and I find it interesting.  It summarizes the basics of successful management in a list of points that managers can use as a reference.  The points written in the article can take several posts to be explained.

http://www.insidecrm.com/features/Manager-Common-Sense-Rules-082207/

I thought I would comment on some of the points mentioned in the above cheat sheet.

  1. In meeting deadlines, the author says “Only promise what you can realistically deliver.”   This is crucial.  A lot of managers think that if they promise to deliver on a squeezed schedule, then they are good managers, their boss will like them and the customer will be happy.  In fact what you are doing is you are lying to everyone, including yourself, because you will not be able to deliver on the promised date.  Accordingly the customer will be mad, your boss will be mad and the employees under your management will hate you for stressing them.


  2. In meeting deadlines: “Organize a team.”  Most managers fail in this point.  Some think that if they make all their employees able to do everything then they are stars.  Some think that if they make everyone have a certain specialty and work all the time in that point only then they are great.  Well, both are wrong.  You have to make use of your employees’ talents.  Find out what each one of your employees can excel at and use it to get the best out of him.  Assign employees to projects wisely to make sure that everyone is working on something that he can excel at “not just deliver.”  Making everyone do everything is a distraction and making an employee buried in only one type of task is boring.


  3. This point I loved! In Getting along with employees, “Don’t make employees come in on days they are normally not scheduled to work or call them while they are on vacation.”  This is completely abused in Egypt.  Some managers think that they have the right to call their employees whenever they want.  You even get the stupid comment “You are a professional! You are supposed to come to work whenever we need you and stay as late as we want”  and if you complain …”You are not professional!”  Well, this is totally absurd.  On the contrary, your employees have the right to have a personal life and enjoy their vacations.  Do not wear them out to be able to get the best out of them.  If they hate you and come to work only because they have to, they will not deliver the quality you want.


  4. Also in Getting along with employees, I will combine here two of the mentioned points “Do not micromanage” and “Do not interfere with employees’ work”.  These two points are very important.  If you are looking over your employees’ shoulders all the time, you will loose them because they will feel that there is a lack of trust.  And if you tell them how to do everything all the time you will suffocate them.  Yes, you have to keep up with their work and make sure they are on track.  You also have to make sure of the quality of work, but do not interfere in every single step.  I had a manager once who used to interfere even in how to write an email! this way you are bound to loose your employees.


  5. In manage yourself,” Be open to constructive criticism.”  You have to accept criticism even from your employees.  Being a manager does not mean you are god.  You are human and you are bound to make mistakes.  You will definitely not find the right answer all the time.  So accept appropriate criticism that will make you a better manager.


  6. In manage yourself,” Improve your skills.” Yes, I agree, being a manager even on the strategic level does not mean that you are great and you know it all.  You have to keep learning.  You have to keep improving yourself or else you will die out and loose your status faster than you expect.


  7. In go above and beyond, “Lead by example.”  Do not ask your employees to do things that you do not do yourself.  If you want them organized and precise and they find you extremely reckless, they will never be organized.  If you want them to show up on time and they find you coming in late everyday they will not respect their working hours. If you miss your deadlines, it is an open invitation for them to miss their deadlines as well…and so on

I want to add also an important point to the article.  It can go under “Getting along with employees” OR “Boosting Productivity.”  Create leaders not followers.  Some managers want to make sure that all the time he/she is the only star in the team and every one is working by his command.  Some are really afraid of exceptional employees so they try to suppress them and hide all the time.  If you do that you are a failure as a manager.  On the contrary, the more leaders you create the better you are.  It requires self-confidence to accept to create leaders who some day can take higher posts, but it is the real measurement of how a successful manager you are.