Start. Stop. Continue — three Powerful Words for Goal-Setting, Process Improvement, and Self-Improvement.


I end all of my customer service workshops by asking participants to write down three words. Start, Stop, and Continue. Then I invite them to reflect on the day by jotting down:

One thing they will START doing based on something they learned in the training

One thing they’ll STOP doing because they’ve discovered this thing is not useful, or it’s holding them back

And one thing they commit to CONTINUE to do because I know everyone is already using techniques that work well, ideas more profound than what I could teach them.

My Start, Stop, Continue activity is a goal setting and reflection exercise in one. By reflecting on the day and successes, and setting goals, my workshop attendees are more likely to adopt and apply their insights, and this makes my training more effective.

But I also use Start, Stop, Continue as a 360-degree feedback tool, and a process improvement instrument. Here’s how you can use Start, Stop, Continue for self-improvement and process improvement. Continue reading “Start. Stop. Continue — three Powerful Words for Goal-Setting, Process Improvement, and Self-Improvement.”

Things That Happen When You Go From Employee to Supervisor


I got my first management title when I was twenty-six years old. The person I’d beat out for the position had been with the company 26 years, and in one hiring decision, this woman, who wanted my job, become my direct report.

She’d been with the company since before I was in kindergarten. And now I was her boss. Nobody said my new management job would be easy.

And it was not. Easy, that is. Managing a person old enough to be my mother, was just one of the challenges I faced in that job. I had peers who resented me leaving the familiar flock and joining management. I was seen by many as too young, too inexperienced, too favored – based on my education.

When I look back at the decision that took me from employee to boss, and all that followed, I realize I did several things right. I made lots and lots of mistakes, but I managed to do some things right. Here’s my story. Continue reading “Things That Happen When You Go From Employee to Supervisor”

Are Your Employees Blocking Your Customer Satisfaction Surveys?

Customer Service Feedback Happy Rating

Are Your Employees Blocking Your Customer Satisfaction Surveys?

“In about a week you’ll get a survey from us. It’s pass or fail. If you don’t give us all perfect marks, I’ll be penalized. So, if you don’t like your experience today, please don’t fill out the survey.”

Actual words from an employee seconds after completing a sale with me.

If you’re not getting back as many customer satisfaction surveys as research says you should be getting, you need to check to make sure your employees aren’t blocking feedback. Continue reading “Are Your Employees Blocking Your Customer Satisfaction Surveys?”

The Truth About Transitioning From Employee To Supervisor


Your communication ability, leadership strengths, ambition, and people skills got you this promotion. Now comes the hard part – dealing with conflict, giving feedback, toxic employees, and managing your time.

You can’t lead your company in delivering exceptional customer experiences if you don’t get first the people management down.

Here are 4 things you can expect to experience during the first phase of your transition from peer to supervisor.

1. Your biggest challenge is going to be managing friends and close associates. You’ll be nervous about leading them and giving constructive feedback. They’ll expect you to cut them slack.

2. You’ll be accused of being unfair and inconsistent, and this is just because you’re new at this giving feedback thing. Continue reading “The Truth About Transitioning From Employee To Supervisor”

3 Useful Tips for Talking To An Employee About a Problem

Group of young happy people discussing business plan

1. Label the Employee’s Emotional Reaction

When you merely label what you think your employee is feeling, you show your understanding while at the same time expressing empathy. Labeling is just naming what you observe. Don’t judge or harp on the issue. Here’s what labeling looks like.

“It sounds like you disagree with my perception of you coming across as terse.”
“It seems like you feel this expectation is unfair.”

Most employees respond to successful labeling by giving you much more detail as a way to justify their feeling. You can then take the information they hand you and have a dialogue about the real issue – their unacceptable behavior or performance.

If you don’t label and instead jump right into disciplinary action, you’re going to get resistance, so label as a way to invite dialogue and honest communication.

2. Put the Responsibility for Improvement On the Employee

Continue reading “3 Useful Tips for Talking To An Employee About a Problem”

The 3-Prong Method To Get Customers Who Think They Need a Manager To Calm Down and Let You Help Them

Portrait of business executives talking on headset in office

Let’s say have a customer who right out of the gate demands to talk to a supervisor. You can take the three easy steps I teach in my workshops to keep some customers from escalating.

1. Recognize/Acknowledge

When a customer immediately asks to speak to a supervisor, not wanting to give you a chance to assist, you can Recognize emotions like this.

“I can certainly understand why you’d want to speak to my manager. I want to get to the bottom of this just as much as you do.”

By saying this, or something similar, you acknowledge the customer’s perceived need to talk to someone else.

2. Reframe

Continue reading “The 3-Prong Method To Get Customers Who Think They Need a Manager To Calm Down and Let You Help Them”