We’re All In the Customer Service Business

All of us are in the customer service business. Your customers may be your boss, co-workers, clients, or vendors. When you take a customer service approach with everyone you work with, the results can be transformational.

Some benefits of using a customer service approach:
– Better relationships. When you can demonstrate empathy for others, the favor may be returned. You’ll find more people want to be a part of the solution vs territorial blame.
– Improved reputation. You’ll be recognized for being positive and part of the solution. People will want to work with you.
– Increased happiness. When you choose to acknowledge and focus on the positive in the situation, you’ll begin to find there is more positive than negative in your world.

Tips for the customer service approach with a co-worker:
– “The customer is always right.” Start with the assumption that your co-worker is sharing the truth with you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
– Be understanding. Did they put a lot of effort into their part of the project? If they worked on something for a week straight and you found one typo. First, demonstrate that you know all the work that they did. Secondly, reinforce that you’re a team and everyone shares the same goal. Thirdly, correct the error.
– “Thank you. Come again!” Demonstrate your gratitude for the work that they do. A simple thank you and acknowledgment for their effort, collaboration, and partnership. When you can all our specific positive behaviors that you notice, you will see more of those positive behaviors.

What does the customer service approach look for you?

Man, I Wish I Could Do​ That

I’ve taken a few risks in my career. Well, I don’t see them as risks but more as twists and turns. About every 5-7 years, I have taken a sabbatical. One time I spent 7 months volunteering in Peru. And just recently my husband and I traveled extensively in our Airstream. Over the years (and adventures), people have said, “Man, I wish I could do that.” And the reply is simple, “You can.”

Sometimes people put these arbitrary boundaries on their career and life.

  • They need to keep climbing a ladder and can’t hit pause.
  • They live paycheck to paycheck and need a certain amount of money to live.
  • Everyone always works a full-time 40 hour/week job; it’s what you’re supposed to do.
  • Credit card debt, student loans, a mortgage, kids, pets, family, anything

However, all you need to do is prioritize and make some sacrifices. If you want to take a sabbatical, start planning it out.

1 – Sabbatical Budget.  There are three things to focus on with your budget: Save Money, Reduce Expenses and (possibly) Identify Alternative Income. What are those things you are currently spending money on where you can stop or put on pause?  Easy ones: stop buying clothes, stop shopping the aisles of Target, reduce your subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BirchBox, StitchFix, Gym), reduce eating out or bar tabs.  Even if you don’t get to your sabbatical quickly, it’s powerful to have a Freedom Fund stashed away in an investment account or high-interest savings account.  Research some Alternative Income Ideas.  Are there ideas for passive income (rent out your condo/home on Airbnb or a long-term rental, rent out your car on Turo)?  Is there some Extra income you can develop while you’re saving up for your sabbatical (drive for Lyft, dogsit on Rover, freelance)?

2 – Sabbatical Goals.  Write down what you want to achieve by taking a sabbatical.  Anything from learning something new, furthering your education, traveling, giving back, spending time with family and friends or caring for a loved one.  Why do you want to do this?  Print this goal out, write it in your planner, hang it on the wall.  Keep your goal front of mind because this will be the guide to make the most of your planning and your sabbatical.  With every decision, you should ask yourself, “Is this decision in line with my goal?

3 – Sabbatical Ideas.  Once you’ve established your goals, then narrow it down to 2-3 ideas for how you want to make the most of your time.  If your goal is furthering your education, that may be getting your MBA.  YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest are full of inspiration.

4 – Sabbatical Plan.  Here’s where you add a Timeline and Action Plan – make it real.  When do you want your sabbatical to start: will that be when you hit a savings goal or a certain time period?  What are the Action Items you need to complete to make it real?

Develop your plan and find an accountability partner to help you achieve your Sabbatical Goal!  Be flexible and pivot when it makes sense to pivot.  Commit to making this a reality.  In the end, you either take a Sabbatical and have the experience of a lifetime or you’ve saved up that Freedom Money to use in the future.

You’re Not Stuck, You’re Empowered

Each day we get to show up: for our families, our peers, our company. We make the choice to get up and go to work. We make the choice on how to respond to emails and in meetings. We make the choice how to react to good news and bad news.

And most of all, we make the choice on actions to make it better. It’s really powerful when you can shift your mindset from “stuck,” to “empowered.”  I’m empowering all of you to take 15 minutes and thinking about a situation when you felt stuck.

1 – Write out the situation.
Who was involved?
What was the problem?
Where did it take place? (in a meeting, over email)

2 – Reflection on some factors.
Why did this happen?  (What were the internal and external factors that created this situation? How did the way you “showed up” in this situation contribute to the situation and/or outcome?)

3 – Analyze how you could have acted better.
How did you wish it ended?
If you could have given advice to yourself at that moment, what would you have said?
Is there an opportunity for you to change the outcome? Or will you show up better if a similar situation arises?

When we can make a conscious effort to show up at-your-best every day, you’ll have stronger relationships, feel more accomplished, and grow in your career.

For a limited time, you can receive this free BGSD Stuck to Empowered Workbook by completing the form below!

The Value of Having a Dream Job

I’ve had many dream jobs throughout my life. Some dream jobs that have been on my list were an Executive Director for a non-profit or to run an agency. While I haven’t officially had either of those titles, these positions have been incredibly valuable to my career growth and development.

Here are three strategies where a Dream Job can be valuable:

1 – Skill Development.  I firmly believe that own your own skill development is essential to your career growth.  Find some job descriptions for your dream job.  Look at the job requirements and create a plan for how you will acquire those requirements.  Look through the roles and responsibilities and identify which skills are needed; add to your plan how you will develop those skills.

2 – Build Connections.  LinkedIn shares that 71% of job seekers will earn their next job through a connection.  What communities do you need to be involved with to be successful in your dream job?  Who do you need to network to be a part of your dream industry?

3 – Ask Advice.  Find some people that have your dream job and ask their advice?  Aside from the skills you found through job descriptions, ask them what skills are essential for success in your dream job.  What were those pivotal moments in their career that lead them to their role?  What advice do they have for you?

Even if your dream job changes, the skills (technical, soft, leadership) that you developed will be valuable for the rest of your career.  The connections you created can become key members of your tribe or inspire you to a new dream job.  The process of ask advice will help you with emotional intelligence, interviewing skills, and increase your confidence the next time you ask advice.

Dream big and work intentionally towards having the career you want!

Were you “At Your Best” today?

We all want the chance to be at our best at work and we know when we are at our best.

  • Can you easily identify who you are at your best?
  • Do you take the time to celebrate when you really crush it?
  • Can you identify professional parameters/environments that allow you to be at your best?
  • What are those 3-5 words that describe you at your best?

Now, who’s keeping you in check to be at your best?  Do you have an accountability partner?  Or maybe a block on your calendar for some self-reflection.  Bring out those 3-5 words and see if you’ve been living it out each day, each week, each month.

Being in tune with when you’re at your best will help you feel accomplished and happy at work.  It will also give you clarity as to how you want to grow in your career.

Diversity & Inclusion: International Women’s Day

This Thursday, March 8, is International Women’s Day.  It’s a great day to celebrate women, understand their unique challenges, and build some new connections.  If you would like to do something in your office for International Women’s Day.  Here are a few ideas.

Goal: Celebrate women

Idea: Share stories of amazing women.  If you have a monitor in your office, create a PPT slideshow to keep looping all day.  If you use Salesforce Chatter, post about 1 woman/hour.  Or print some pages out to put up around the office.

Goal: Build awareness of women inequality

Idea: Share facts about women and inequality or tips on how to get involved or do something about it.

Goal: Create a community of strong women

Idea: create an employee resource group or an informal group that meets once/month.  There are some amazing communities I am a part of where I get to connect, learn, and mentor like Ladies Get Paid and Everwise Women.

Take a moment on Thursday to celebrate the women in your tribe!

3 Ways to Nail Your Performance Review

Performance Reviews are an amazing time to focus on your professional development. Here are three strategies to make the most of them.

1 – Listen. Naturally, there will be positive and negative feedback shared during your performance review. And you may want to figure out who said that about you or what situation someone was referring to which lead to that feedback. It’s important to stay in the moment and listen. Take it in, process and revisit later if needed. If you feel that in your review there’s a situation that wasn’t accurately represented, there are two ways you can respond: (1) ask your manager for advice for how you could have better shown up in that situation and (2) share your intentions and present solutions for how you could have handled it better. Remember your review is about YOU, not what others have done to you. Keep it focused on how you handled yourself, how you could have been better. Feedback is a gift, use it to understand what your work perception. And improve it!

2 – Develop. Many companies have great development opportunities that employees may not take full advantage. Your performance review is a great time to learn what they are and how you can take advantage of them. Focus on your development and how your manager and company can contribute to your professional development.

3 – Negotiate. Congratulations if you are getting a promotion and/or raise. Be grateful that your company appreciates you. But don’t be afraid to negotiate. Ask for more money (and demonstrate the value and contributions you have made to your company). If you can’t negotiate what you want during your performance review, share that, “this raise/promotion is not in line with the value you bring.” Your manager may have authority to give you a raise of $X and will need to get approval for anything above that. Schedule a follow-up meeting to allow for your manager to have the needed conversations and offer to provide your manager with anything that can aid her/him in their negotiation with leadership. If they can’t hit your number, understand what is needed to get that promotion, co-create a development plan with your manager/HR and schedule a mid-year review in 6 months to formalize progress and re-commit to what is needed.

Ultimately, you want to be at a company that is helping you develop into the best you can be. If your company is not invested in your development, own it yourself, and look for people, and possibly a new company, which will support your development.

What Skill will you Develop this Year?

Your career development is solely your responsibility.  You get to develop the skills you want.  You get to apply for the roles that you can use those skills and develop more.  You get to seek out mentors and accountability partners who can help you achieve your goals.

Now, sometimes it may feel like our development is someone else’s responsibility.  There are influencers and decision-makers that are needed to get you that next role, title, promotion, or pay increase.  There are mentors and managers that will give you insight into areas of improvement or give you opportunities to stretch yourself.  But sometimes, we give all these other people too much power in our career development.  You do not need permission or an invitation to grow.  Remember they are team members in your development, you are the team lead on this! Build relationships in your career, learn from others, and get advice.  Work with your manager and HR team to see what’s available.  Some companies do tuition reimbursement, will send you to conferences and events, or have subscriptions to Harvard Business Review or Lynda.com.

What is the most important skill for you to develop this year? Here are some thought starters.

Leadership Skills: Who is a leader that you admire?  What leadership skills do they have that you want to emulate?  Think big and create an action plan to develop these skills!  Keep yourself in check.  At the end of each week, set aside 15 minutes for a reflection.  Celebrate the successes from the week and replay when you fell short.

Team/Relationship Skills: Most of us work in teams at work.  Even if you don’t work directly in teams, other people contribute to your success.  How can you improve your teamwork?  How are you currently perceived in team settings, and more importantly, how do you want to be perceived?

Technical Skills:  Is there a software you want to master?  Does your boss have a task that you don’t understand but want to learn?  As a business owner, do you wish you were better at P&Ls, insurance, or marketing?  What are some technical skills future-you needs?

If you are ready to commit to your career development, it may be time to hire a career coach!  Reach out to me for a free 15-minute introductory call to learn more about coaching.

Diversity & Inclusion: Listen & Learn During Black History Month

There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth. Think about when two kids get in trouble and their parent asks each of them what happened. It’s usually two different stories and neither is the complete truth.

I’ve been in conversations with people recently: “why do we need Black History Month? It’s one History!” But it’s not one History; it’s generally one side of the history. When the textbooks are all written by one side (those in power), the movies from that era are directed and produced by one side (those in power), and the laws are created by one side (those in power).

Now, we are fortunate to celebrate Black History Month. There are books, articles, and movies that offer multiple perspectives and allow people to share their experience. It’s an opportunity for us to be empathetic to someone else’s experience and perspective.

While we may feel like that’s so far in the past, our parents and grandparents lived through it. And our peer’s parents and grandparents lived through it too, and maybe had a much different experience. Even today, you may be surprised to learn about experiences your peers have that don’t even cross your mind.

One thing I spent some extra time learning about recently was Voters’ rights.

For example, the 15th Amendment passed in 1870 which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

However, that amendment was poorly enforced and there were consequences for those that did vote (you can hear stories about loss of bank loans, loss of jobs and destruction of property). Then Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enforce the 15th Amendment. In 1965, when the Act passed, there were no African-American U.S. Senators and only six African-American U.S. Congressmen.

This month, listen and learn something about the Black Experience. Read articles, watch movies, or even better, have a conversation! Listen and learn from someone you know. When you approach a conversation willing to listen and learn, share your intentions and ask if they are willing to share. It may be a very powerful conversation.