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How to Differentiate Yourself in 1 Minute FlatPosted Tuesday, September 20, 2011, at 12:44 PM
Can a single pivotal behavior elevate the culture of your entire organization?
It can if it's the right behavior.
Here's how a simple 1 minute act helped an organization outperform their competition by leaps and bounds:
My family and I were moving our daughter into Boston University last weekend. As we were standing on the street looking befuddled at the campus map, a friendly official-looking gentleman approached us asking, Can I help you find something?"
He introduced himself as the Dean of Students. He asked where we were from, told us he was delighted to have us on campus and pointed us in the right direction.
Keep in mind, this is a major university in the middle of a huge city with 4,500 freshman moving in on the same day. Yet the Dean himself personally approached us.
Here's the kicker, it's not just because he's a friendly extrovert. It's their official campus policy.
If a staff member sees anyone looking at one of the big maps they are expected to approach them and offer help. One staff member joked, "It's a fireable offense to walk by people at the map and not offer to help."
They didn't view it as a punitive thing. That single behavior -- help people when they're standing at the sign -- was exciting for them. It was emblematic of their organizational culture and how they perceive themselves.
This simple model can be implemented by any organization.
What would happen if an airline set a company-wide policy for all their employees? If you walk by someone in the airport who looks lost, offer to help. It doesn't matter if you're a pilot, a baggage handler or the CEO, be proactive and offer to help.
How long would it take before customers started to view that airline differently from their competitors?
How much more empathy would employees and executives have for weary travelers if they had more positive interactions with them before they started complaining?
How would the employees treat their customers if they saw senior leadership consistently modeling helpfulness and patience?
Here's how I observed it playing out at BU.
A staff member approaches the "customer" with a smile on their face offering to help.
The customer responds positively. The whole thing takes about a minute. The customer walks away happy.
But the customer isn't the only one walking away feeling great about the organization.
The staff member is able to successfully solve a simple problem quickly and be thanked for it. After they do it once or twice, it becomes self-reinforcing. They start to see themselves as problem-solvers and Ambassadors for their company.
The ripple effect this has on the organization's culture should not be underestimated.
That single policy tells everyone inside and outside the organization, our goal is to be helpful. We care about people and we place a high priority on interpersonal interactions.
When employees of every level personally connect with customers, they empathize with them and they carry that knowledge back to their job.
That single pivotal behavior -- help people at the sign -- ignites a process that makes customers and employees feel cared about and connected, and community forms quickly.
I'm delighted to be sending huge checks to Boston twice a year because they made me feel loved. Who doesn't want their customers to feel that way?
You can have the best product in the world, but the only way to evoke true passion is with people.
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.
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