It’s all the buzz. It’s in all the trade mags/blogs it’s like it’s new or something. “Great Customer Service” “Superior Client Relationships” “Treat em like family”…ad infinitum.

Now, more than ever our customers have choices who they do business with. How they are treated, how they feel about their interaction with us dictates whether we will see them again or send them shopping elsewhere .

So who is taking care of our customers? I mean all of our customers and are your employees not your customers also? What is the message they’re getting, feeling, experiencing, and who is giving it to them? Well, unless you’re the one doing everything, it is not just you, it is your employees, your staff, your ambassadors of good will, your ladies and gentlemen in service and even present clients/customers that are in direct contact with the public and each other.

We all know it starts at the top and if we’re persistent (if our people aren’t mimicking us it hasn’t been said enough) our message gets to everyone out on the front line. Do you think your people care about the customers as much as you do? Why would they unless you care about your people, encourage, reward and even empower them to go above and beyond the everyday ordinary service of just “doing the job”?

Recognizing, honoring and rewarding our people for creating the customer service experience we envision has to be paramount. We recently had the pleasure of visiting just that sort of company.Voted #1 Best Small Company to Work for in the U.S. by FORTUNE Magazine. Ruby Receptionists impressed us with how they are taking care of business. Jill Nelson founder and CEO was gracious enough to personally walk us around and give us a show and tell of how her people are encouraged and empowered to go way beyond the norm in performance of the exceptional client experience we are all raving about (WOWism as it’s coined).

Ruby Receptionists embodies consistent excellence across the entire organization . By treating their people as crucial to the company’s success it is a success.

So how about you, and your company?  How do you empower your people? We would love to hear your stories.

To your success and happiness
Corinne McElroy

Letting Go Of The Expert

When I first encountered this concept of letting go of the expert, I thought: That is crazy, I’ve educated myself and worked hard to become an expert, why would I let it go?!

Perhaps the most understandable way to start this discussion is to discover what is an expert. Webster’s defines an expert as: A person with a high degree of knowledge or skill in a particular area. Some synonyms: master, proficient, and whiz. The suggestion is that you have arrived, and your work is done. OK, that sounds pretty good, so why do I want to let go of that?

Let’s also look at the reverse of expert as in a learner and a discoverer. Learner: again Webster’s definitions: To gain knowledge or mastery of by study. Discoverer: to obtain knowledge or awareness of something not known before, as through observation, study listening.

So why let go? Because letting go could lighten your workload, reduce your stress and responsibilities and open the door to incredible discoveries and personal and professional growth for yourself and your team.  Are you interested?

Here are some ideas that have been shared with me. After all, I am not the expert. I, too, am in the learning process. Review the concepts and choose what works for you. There is no right answer only exploration into possibility.

Consider these options:
When we present ourselves in the world as an expert, whether it be at home: as a parent or spouse, or at work: as a manager, we are opening a communication channel, one that most often is one way. It is up to us the expert: to distribute the information in a way it can be heard and understood, weigh the consequences, to make the decisions, get cooperation or accomplish the tasks ourselves, set a timeline, determine what is success and take the credit for success and or the failure. Whew! Granted, we are basing our efforts on time-tested expertise, this is a good thing, and there are times that this is the best method, as well as the best use of our time, energy and resources. There is little room for growth for the expert or the team in this situation as the task is to disseminate expertise in an effort to create the outcome upon which we have decided.

When we present ourselves as a learner or discoverer we also open the channel for communication, and in this instance, the communication is more likely to be two-way. We listen, ask questions and receive input from various sources. We have the chance to make changes based upon the input we have encountered. We may discover a better method or process through this discovery. We will probably get a more thorough buy-in by our team if they have some input to the process and outcome. We are not necessarily alone in determining what is considered success, neither are we totally responsible for the tasks at hand or the outcome. The result can be a workload spread over several more willing members, less stress, and an excellent opportunity for both personal and professional growth. As a learner we can add to our pool of knowledge, and potentially grow through the experience of collaboration.

True, you no longer have total control of what the actual outcome may look like, and it could possibly be even better than you could imagine. And the trade off may be worth it: If you gain time to work on other projects, what if your team is more motivated with their role of contribution and accomplishes more, if the atmosphere in the office improves with their added input, almost anything is possible. Your team is also given the opportunity for personal and professional growth so they can potentially contribute even more in the future.

Here is a simple example of how I learned to let go of being the expert and the effect on my quality of life.

I dislike doing dishes; as a matter of fact other than eating brussel sprouts it is my least favorite task in life. My husband promised that if I did the cooking, which I love, he would do the dishes. Wow! He continued to explain that his Mom taught him how to do dishes and that she always said he was terrific at it! Double WOW! So the bargain was made. I cooked and he did the dishes.

What I immediately discovered is that if I stand at my place of expert and review his work, he doesn’t do it the way I would do it myself. I began to approach Michael on this subject of his expertise. Then I stopped myself and thought: If I get to be the expert here, I also get to do the dishes. If I become the discoverer and encourager, I get to have half an hour of quiet time for myself after the dinner hour.

The next time I visited with my Mother-in- Law, I mentioned what a great dishwasher Michael is and thanked her for teaching him so well. She winked at me and I realized she had always had that half hour of quiet time. We chatted and smiled while Michael did the dishes.

Coaching Challenge:

Look at your world and ask yourself if there are times when being the expert is holding you or your team back? Pick a situation and become the discoverer and learner and smile!