Tag Archives: quality

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finished

Are You Finished or Just Out of Time?

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Many people accomplish a lot during their workday. For the project, new product development, or the marketing campaign, is the work finished or are you simply running out of time?

Procrastinating students do it, they wait too long to start and they must turn in their work on time. It may be true for your workout, doing your hair, or brushing your teeth. There is a deadline, and then everything stops.

I believe it was the famous American football coach, Vince Lombardi, who said, “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”

It happens for the blog post, the graduate dissertation, and the cabinet maker. One axis of measurement for the product always seems to be connected to time. When time is up, it is finished.

If we are almost out of time, the quality or level of innovation may suffer.

Standards or Efficiency?

Consider that your standards are your standards, and how you measure quality is conditioned by time.

It happens in manufacturing and it happens in healthcare. Time is always working against quality and is inclusive for the measurement of efficiency.

People claim, “We need more time.”

The response in one form or another often is, “Time is money.”

What is the most useful metric? What axis of measurement are you using?

Are You Finished?

The best work always seems to happen when the builder claims the work is finished. An alternate claim is, “I ran out of time, and so, I’m finished.” When this happens, something suffered.

For your next project, brainstorming session, or the report you are about to turn in to your boss, ask yourself how it would be different if you removed the axis of time.

Will it change the finished work? Should it?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace speed

Workplace Speed, Advantage or Disadvantage?

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Are there consequences to workplace speed?

Hurry to finish that project. Skip lunch and work late, it must be finished by tomorrow morning. Don’t read the directions, it is a waste of time.

It seems that everyone knows time is money. Additionally, most would quickly suggest that productivity and efficiency are key indicators for success.

Is speed always an advantage?

It probably always boils down to one question, “What are you giving up?”

Workplace Speed

Most pros have a con, most cons a pro. Speed may not always be the most valuable factor in your workplace contribution.

Here are five examples:

1. Finish the project in the final hours.

Pro: Less waste if the project becomes unnecessary. Allows changes up to the final minute.

Con: Procrastination may lead to inferior work. Not enough time was allocated. Mistakes made by being hurried.

2. No talking, just work.

Pro: Assumed productivity increases. Working means movement, movement means results.

Con: Failed or ineffective communication creates rejected work or rework.

3. Email is a waste of time; a quick scan will suffice.

Pro: The box is checked. Email is read and return email actions are up-to-date. Time saved by scanning.

Con: Scanning creates miscommunication. Critical or vital information is missed or assumptions are made.

4. Don’t ask any questions just get started.

Pro: No time wasted reviewing details that may not be relevant for the work at hand.

Con: Misunderstandings create a bad customer experience. Incomplete or inaccurate work creates additional waste.

5. Faster workers finish slower workers assignments.

Pro: It is teamwork. This is a team. Everyone contributes what they can.

Con: Demotivating to those who put in more effort. Slower workers use this as a crutch for everyday behavior.

Have you recognized the advantages and disadvantages of workplace speed?

Perhaps patience should be a core team value.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace resilience

When Workplace Resilience Turns to Brilliance

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What does being resilient mean? It is a question I often ask in leadership seminars. It is a thought starter, something to get people thinking. Do you have workplace resilience?

Resilience may be described as the ability to bounce back quickly. We may suggest that a Nerf ball has resilient properties. Baby Boomers may think of Timex watch TV commercials, and someone may suggest that the character of Rocky Balboa from the Rocky film series was resilient.

Leadership Means Resilience

Being resilient is an important leadership quality. Whether you are a team lead, front-line supervisor, or a Senior Vice President, workplace resilience matters.

In any position where you lead, which by the way doesn’t necessarily imply that you have direct reports, all eyes are on you. What you say, what you do, and your attitude matter. People are watching.

Leading means forward motion, holding things together, and energizing the team.

Things are going to go wrong, missteps will occur, undesirable situations will arise. Are you going to bounce back quickly or become stuck? Are you going to dramatize the situation or move on?

You can aim to achieve the highest levels of six-sigma. You can even plan to make everything perfect. Working towards doing it right is never a bad idea.

What happens when things go wrong?

Workplace Resilience

Finding balance should perhaps be an organizational value. All of the effort towards perfection may not prepare people for resilience. Persistence matters, but persistence arguably may not happen if you are not resilient.

Too much focus on perfection may not prepare you for resilience. Too much focus on resilience may not propel you towards perfection.

Understanding that your work is likely always a work in progress tends to balance the scale. Even after the standards have been set, the tolerances calculated, and the metric is ready for measurement, something may fall.

Ensuring you are resilient is not a waste of time. It is brilliant.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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response time

Response Time Expectations and How to Manage Them

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Perception is reality. At least that is what we are often told. It is true, what people expect or perceive is what they measure against. Internally and externally, response time expectations condition satisfaction. Are you managing them or are they managing you?

Perceptions of Response

What are your expectations for response time? It is often a critical measurement. People evaluate and judge your acceptance or not by response time.

When will the wait staff realize I need a refill of my iced tea?

How many rings until someone answers the telephone?

How long do I wait while on hold?

When I send an email how long until I get a response?

How quickly can emergency responders get to my area?

This webpage takes forever to load.

Where is my pizza?

How long until the medicine starts to work?

When will the eBay seller ship?

What time will dinner be ready?

There is an important question to ask about all of these scenarios, “What are your expectations?”

Response Time

We can go through a McDonald’s drive through lane quickly, especially once our order has been placed. The pizza delivery guy is only minutes away after the pizza leaves the oven. The on-line merchandise order is typically less than two days away, and shipping is advertised as free.

Patience may be important for the recipient but it is still based entirely on expectations. Those expectations often develop from past experiences. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those past experiences are working for or against your perceived level of service.

Today expectations are shorter, faster, or quicker than ever before. We can get a loan for very little cost, very fast. Our pizza can be hot and ready, just stop in the store. Our burger is fewer than ninety seconds away, and researching to find answers to our questions are at our fingertips in under a minute.

Managing Expectations

How does the service provider manage expectations? Typically, information will help manage expectations. It may be the notification on the technical support line of the number we represent in the queue. The same is true for the help chat.

The pizza shop will often tell us the wait time when placing an order by phone and we expect the medicine to work in just minutes.

It still remains a two-way street. Push the employee, vendor, or service provider too hard, and you’ll likely find errors or rework is necessary. While you often measure with response time, perhaps patience is another metric to consider. It is the push and pull of quality and problem resolution.

Expected Wait Time

People wait for hours in line to get the new iPhone. They tailgate at the big game for more than triple the time the game is actually played.

Not so long ago a mail order businesses (today’s dot com) once shipped in 30 days, or call from a friend or relative only happened when they had access to a landline telephone.

When we expect an immediate response we may have to remind ourselves about our expectations. We may have to consider our patience, which often allows for better quality. A fix it once correctly is better than a fix it wrong or part of the way for two or three tries.

Information is Key

Keep communicating. Respond to email, text messages, or telephone calls. Provide updates, status reports, and historical data.

Expectations are guided by perception, perception becomes reality, it is all based on past experiences and information. When in doubt, practice patience, it matters.

Do you want to be a step ahead of the competition? Find ways to do your best work faster, it is what everyone expects.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service voice

What Is Your Customer Service Voice?

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Most of us have one, a voice that offers our opinions, expresses our values, and sets our desired expectations. Your voice may be more impactful than you realize. What is your customer service voice?

Internal and External

Keep in mind that customer service is both an internal and external part of your organizational culture. What is said, discussed, and believed is a big part of what sets expectations and creates outcomes.

Ship it anyway, the customer won’t notice.

I can’t find their telephone number on their website.

They completely rearranged the supermarket again, now I can’t find anything.

Your voice may be more powerful than you realize. What people say, even to themselves sets the expectations for future outcomes.

Power of Voice

When we believe the customer won’t notice, we’ll allow our work to have less quality. Believing that they won’t notice also signals that they don’t care. The belief becomes that they will continue to buy out of need, buy based only on price, or buy because they are sloppy or not frugal.

Certainly, the idea of fewer customer service oriented calls conceptually saves money. It removes the human cost. Similar to the auto attendant signaling us to “press or say one for sales, two for…” so that we are directed to the correct department.

The real problem may be that people are calling only after the website or help chat has left them with unanswered questions or additional frustration. Better yet is the system that demands your customer number, order number, or telephone, only to get a live person and have to repeat it all again.

When technology drives better service, when the investment is expensive enough to make it better, not cheaper, typically service will improve. Unfortunately, many efforts to remove the human factor are an immediate attempt to cut costs, not improve service.

The supermarket may measure profit and margins by what shoppers select and where they can find it. Single piece candy bars aren’t in the back corner of the store, that is where the milk, meat, and seafood is located.

The store may not care about the amount of energy required for your shopping experience, but they certainly want you see all the high margin items you can conveniently buy from them. In contrast, the e-commerce store allows sort, filter, and easy reorder, plus it arrives at your door.

Customer Service Voice

What we say, what we discuss, and most importantly what we tell ourselves and others will condition our expectations. This is our customer service voice.

When we believe that cheap is all that matters, that is probably exactly what we’ll get.

Perhaps our customer service voice should change. It may require more talk about what we buy being connected with what it is worth, not just connected with what it costs.

These are the businesses that are focused on doing what matters, not what is cheap.

They are out there. Their employees and customers both have the same voice.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Good service

Good Service Done Right, Can You Find It?

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It seems that there are universal truths about many things in life. Are there universal truths about customer service? Can we still get good service done right?

Many believe that it is a very interesting time for small businesses, franchise holders, and non-profit organizations. Likely, there are no limits on size, shape, or even sector. It could be your small town dentist office, a large-scale telecommunications provider, or the 1940’s railcar dinner.

Today, as frustrations mount with poor service, the desire for good service increases. Repetitive breakdowns cause people to seek something better. Rejection may lead to obsession, and stories of poor service lead to a new quest to find the exceptions.

Universal Truths

What are some of the universal truths about good service? What are organizations doing to deliver?

They are:

  1. Timely
  2. Responsive
  3. Caring
  4. Kind
  5. Honest
  6. Trustworthy
  7. Valued
  8. Considerate
  9. Forthcoming
  10. Well-managed
  11. Respected
  12. Active
  13. Participative
  14. Decisive
  15. Resourceful

Perhaps this represents just a handful of the qualities that make things go more right, instead of wrong.

Wrong Things First

It is easy for organizations to focus on the wrong things first. By choice, they often focus on self-protection, cheapest to spec and good enough to close the sale.

These choices often become values and traditions. The traditions the organization holds on the inside. Their dirty laundry and the things they stuff in the closet.

They aren’t broadcast or made public, at least not in the written form. Customers quickly figure it out though, and they are just as quick to tell others or jump to a social media channel to spread the word.

Unfortunately, it is the evolution, the life cycle and a self-created destiny.

Good Service

For the organization that wants to change, the one that wants to grow its base, build a new reputation, and deliver good service, it often becomes about a process of unlearning.

Unlearning the bad habits, unlearning the self-protection factors that restrict quality and removing of the mindset of building or delivering to the cheapest spec wins.

Why is all of this important? It is important because there is a difference between done and done right.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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front sided customer service

When Front Sided Customer Service Creates Back Sided Experiences

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Service after the sale, is that the selling point? Is a culture of service after the sale the right culture? Do you have front sided customer service or back sided? Is your customer service scale balanced?

“This should work but if it doesn’t we have an excellent support department, or you can return it.”

“This has a lifetime warranty. If it breaks just bring it back.”

One of my favorites:

“Would you like to purchase the extended warranty?”

Sometimes you will hear complaints about customer service on the front side. Often though, the mindset is to prove your worth before the sale, to close the sale. Can your culture have too much focus on the front side?

Back Sided Experiences

Quickly some may argue that you can never have too much focus on either side. On the surface that seems appropriate but is there an underlying principle, an ethical challenge, and self-fulfilled prophecy looming?

Lifetime warranties once implied that it would never break. Today, it may be more about statistics. Sell enough product with just enough quality to just enough (or more) consumers that mathematically we can cover any failures.

Is that front sided customer service or a back sided focus? The better question may be, “Is it a customer focus?”

Customer Focused

Do you give service that is just enough? Is it just enough to cover any problems or just enough to close the sale?

When is the promise so good that it is never tested?

Should the cost of the extended warranty be balanced in the price of the product? What is the failure rate?

Does anyone ever ask why he or she needs the extended warranty?

How does an extended warranty business, stay in business?

Does the opportunity to buy the extended warranty lower the quality delivered?

When was the last time a major automobile insurance carrier went bankrupt?

Do casinos payout more than they bring in?

Front Sided Customer Service

Many consumers may decide that they don’t care about these questions. It might be the very reason the expectations are lowered, the quality becomes just enough, and the best customer service happens before the sale.

For the consumer: Be very careful about the offer on the front side, it may be a signal for the rest of your customer experience.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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done through culture appreciative strategies

Getting Things Done Through Culture

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Teamwork and teambuilding were once popular words and so were TQM (Total Quality Management) and TIM (Total Improvement Management). Some of the names may have changed but many organizations continue the search for getting things done through culture.

Organizations want to have a dynamic, engaging, and productive culture. Sometimes however, the cultural norms lead to their own destruction.

People

Cultures have symbols, espoused values, and even their own language. Everyone knows what they are and most abide by the rules of the game.

Workplace culture might be one of the most powerful tools of the organization. It might be considered full of peer pressure, pride, and for many thriving within it, motivation. Workplace culture might also be the catalyst for change. Exist within it, follow or you’re out.

Most workplace cultures aren’t about fear though. In fact, they’re probably about the opposite. They hold the comfort and energy that keeps things going. It is what everyone believes in and how they keep the faith during the toughest times. It is people getting things done through culture.

History

Cultures branch out, they change, they grow and move along. Some cultures succeed while others might fail.

History tells of Khufu, Tutankhamen, and Ramesses the Great in Egyptian history. We also know of Easter Island and the Mayan civilization.

In American management, we might recognize names like Henry Ford, Peter Drucker, or Jack Welch.

Pyramids, cars, or other outputs they all got things done through people. Your workplace culture might be the only way to pivot, create lasting positive change, or during challenging times stop the bleeding.

Done Through Culture

It might not matter what you call it or even who the legacy belongs to. I don’t see anything great happening without culture.

Getting anything done, or nothing, probably has something to do with the people, the people who form the culture.

The best question though might not be about who. It might be about why.

What is your pyramid?

Why will it get built?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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help a perfectionist

How to Help a Perfectionist

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Many people might quickly agree that the drive to do things right is a good quality to have. Can it go too far? How do you help a perfectionist?

Many psychological studies have found that perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Interesting stuff, but for the most part I’ll leave that to the professionals in that field.

Perfectionist at Work

Perfectionism is an interesting part of our workplace. While it is almost always important to strive for exceptional quality we are also challenged with time, efficiency, and meeting the demands of the bottom line.

Perhaps the hardest part for the perfectionist is letting go. At least that might be the presenting problem. The real problem though might be overcoming fear.

Here are three common problems for workplace professionals and perfectionism:

  • Productivity. Time management is often out of balance for the perfectionist. They spend so much time perfecting the work that they lose track of the delicate balance of exceptional quality and speed.
  • New Projects. Often there is a reluctance to start new projects. Not only does the perfectionist feel a loss of control over the work, but they are extremely fearful that the outcomes might not be good enough.
  • Delegation. When they recognize how hard they have to work to produce the quality they feel is required, they might feel certain others won’t measure up.

Help a Perfectionist

Helping a perfectionist has its challenges. Getting them to let go is important but it is not the act of letting go that has to be overcome. It might be quelling their fears about negative outcomes.

Try illustrating these points:

  • Sometimes there is value to releasing work for additional feedback. This is most helpful before spending hours on something that might be rejected, or worse no longer needed. Think draft.
  • Professional growth often doesn’t come from just from their individual contribution but more from replication and team efforts. Others can learn to do the work. Teach them.
  • Encourage them to consider that perfect is more about creating exceptional results in minimal time. Therefore, mastering the balance of quality and time is the true perfection. Release more work.

Sometimes the best way to help a perfectionist in the workplace is to give them something different to focus on.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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getting things done habit

Getting Things Done Habit and Your Workload

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Some days we look at our schedule and we can’t imagine how we will accomplish what needs done. Do you have a, getting things done habit?

Most people seem to operate from one of two schools of thought.

  1. Work hard, be determined, get quality work accomplished and check it off the list.
  2. Work hard, be determined, second guess the quality, find doubt in the quality, set it aside for later.

Either case might have value or seem like the right decision at the time. What is your habit?

Getting Things Done Habit

You absolutely never want to deliver or turn in work that is of poor quality, but sometimes we have to be okay with the current quality. The truth is that we have to find the right balance. In some circles we might call this tolerance.

I often suggest to people that for nearly any task you can accomplish eighty percent of the work in twenty percent of the total time required. However many people will spend eighty percent of the total time required trying to achieve perfection which is only twenty percent (or less) of the finished product.

I find two things to be true:

  1. The strictest people, the perfectionist, those with doubt that overshadows confidence might need to release more work.
  2. The people who believe the check box is more important than the quality need to seek more perfection.

Your Workload

When you really need to get a lot accomplished you might have to rethink your strategy.

Having a strong work ethic is important. Caring about delivering exceptional quality might be even more important. In some cases though, you have to label the work as finished. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

Find the balance in your getting things done habit.

Someone mgiht think you four it, or perhaps not.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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