Author Archives: Paul LaRue

Knowing When The Customer Isn't Right

“The customer is always right.”

A great premise that isn’t always true.

A great leader should be able to discern this.

A great leader will discern when the customer isn’t right, and when the employee is.

A young man who worked in retail told me last week how a customer approached him and asked about buying a display item, which was not for sale. But due to store policy, the display item had a price tag on it, although invalid. The customer persisted to tell the employee it was for sale, and after explaining a few different ways, the retail employee asked “How about I get my manager to find out?”

The customer agreed and the young man radioed his manager. When he looked up the customer was gone. He looked around for them, and they were no where to be found.

About 5 minutes later, his manager approached him and asked about the situation. The manager had just left the customer and they had told the manager that the employee said the display item was for sale. The employee relayed the truth of the situation.

The manager said that’s not what the customer said, and employee replied “But that’s not what happened.” After a pause, the manager said “You’ve never lied to me before, so I’m assuming you’re telling me the truth here.”

The employee was frustrated becuase during the exchange with his manager, he felt his manager’s doubt and taking the customer’s side before getting his input.

While the manager ended up doing the right thing by taking the employee’s side in the end, he should have been neutral in his judgment until he heard both sides.

In our efforts to take care of the customer at all costs, we sometimes forget to take care of our people.

We never want to lose a sale, a customer, or have a bad reputation because we didn’t take care of the customer. But when the customer isn’t right, and we chose their side to the expense of the employee, we oftentimes lose more than that customer.

We lose higher costs through turnover, lost productivity due to disengaged employees, lost trust and credibility, and loss of influence in your leadership.

With the increase in employees going online to research both companies and individual leaders and choosing to work in places where employees are valued, not listening with neutrality and finding when the customer isn’t right will prevent people from seeking employment with your company, or you as a leader specifically.

A great leader will discern when the customer isn’t right, and when the employee is.

It all starts with simply valuing your people and asking them.

How will you approach the next situation like this? Leave a comment below!

(image: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

#ThursdayThought – EI, Not AI or BI

If you look for top leadership trends in the coming year, there is a lot of overlap among the following themes of what employees expect from their leaders:

  • Change Leadership
  • Training and Professional Development
  • Connection, Respect, Open Conversations
  • Collective Leadership
  • Transparent Workplace Culture
  • Deepening Engagement through Communication and Trust

Now here are some of the top business trends for 2020:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation
  • Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data
  • Nano Technology emerges into the workforce
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more commonplace
  • Data on employees to track productivity and output

In the first group, employees want better leadership to emerge. They want leaders of integrity, servant mindsets, and most importantly, Emotional Intelligence (EI).

In the second group, business wants technology to run things. If business leaders can use AI and BI to make a better workforce, they expect success on their terms.

In spite of the advances in technology, business is and always will be about people. And leaders who recognize this will double down on their being a leader of serving and integrity, rather than bullying through old school methods and newfound technology.

As tech-savvy as the modern workforce is, they want EI over AI and BI, every time.

The evolution of business is and will be predicated by the human spirit, and how people can be connected through a vision versus micromanagement of farming out the spirit to technology.

Wise leaders will meet these needs to greater success than those who do not.

How will you make your EI evolve to become a better leader, and make those around you better?

(image: pixabay)

Choosing One Focus For The New Year

Many people have created, or are creating, their resolutions or goals for the coming year.

Sales, health, increased net worth and network, financial manuevers and areas to improve one’s personal and professional development are usually among the many that people list out in anticipation of a fresh start in a new year.

And most resolutions, and many goals, fall short for a variety of reasons. Much of it has to do with being too ambitious instead of more focused.

Having goals that impact the varied areas of your personal and professional life are necessary. But could they be more impactful if you also chose one goal, one mission, one state of being that had a thread through all of your goals and carried you through the next year?

Think if you will of a person who has the following resolutions for next year: personal development (reading, podcasts), making sales goals (prospects, sales, quotas), better communication, increased network, reduced stress and regular exercise. This seemingly normal amount of goals can also be at odds with competing forces in one’s life as the new year unfolds.

But if another goal, or a core focus, was given to tie these together, say the goal of personal planning, how could this focus impact the other goals in their life?

This focus could take on significant impact in the other goals. If the individual took 20 minutes in their morning routine for just personal planning, they could set the actions needed daily and weekly to make a strategy for attaining the other goals.

Going even deeper, part of the planning focus could be 10 minutes stretching every morning, or meditating, or in prayer, or mind mapping. The mental refreshment and clarity this creates could resonate throughout everything that this person does in their day. This could also meet some of their goals for health, mental acuity and reducing stress.

With a common thread of focus that you commit to never deviate from, you can create a disciplined synergy within yourself that might make this your best year yet.

Find the focus. Connect the dots through your goals. Make that your mission for the new year and see how your goals become easier to attain.

(image: pixabay)

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