I Left Post-It Notes of Praise On Each of My Employees’ Computers. Here’s What Happened Next.

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When I managed a small call center in Tulsa, I was always looking for creative ways to motivate my employees. One evening I was working late and I picked up Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees book from my bookshelf. One of the tips in the book was called Post-It Note Therapy. The concept was simple. Write a note of praise on a Post-It Note for each of your employees and stick the note on their computer monitors.

So, I did it. I sat down and wrote out praise for each of my employees and I left the notes on their monitors. Then I went home.

The next morning I had an out of office meeting and I didn’t make it into the call center until early in the afternoon. The second I stepped into the call center, I felt an energetic vibe that startled me. There was movement, smiles and warmth and mostly an amazing energy. What was the deal?

After taking in the scene for a few seconds, I went to my office. I opened my door to find my computer monitor covered with Post-it Notes! Every one of my employees had written me a note of praise! I nearly cried as I read the heartfelt praise. I had forgotten about my Post-it Note Therapy from the night before. I went out into the call center and saw Post-It Notes everywhere! My employees really got into this therapy. They praised each other and even praised people in neighboring departments.

If you’re looking for a genuine, yet super easy, way to praise your employees while upping the energy in your work team, consider Bob Nelson’s Post-In Note Therapy. The investment of time is small and the rewards are potentially huge.

 

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I took my client on a field trip to the Apple store today – Customer Experience Design Strategy

Barnes and Noble Field Trip 2

This morning I took a team from one of my client’s branches on a field trip. We’re working to create the best possible customer experience in my client’s organization and I believe one way to achieve this goal is to learn from the best. So, I got everyone out of the office and we went to the Apple store and Barnes and Noble.

Before the fieldtrip, I gave the team a list of questions and observation points so that we’d make the most productive use of our time. At the Apple store, my team observed greeting upon store entrance, analyzed employee interactions and even got to see an Apple employee eloquently handle a not so happy customer. After the fieldtrip, we met in a circle in the mall and discussed our observations and explored ways they can take back some great ideas and adopt and apply them in their organization.

Apple store field trip

We left Apple and headed across the street to Barnes and Noble. The people at Barnes and Noble were so gracious and allowed us to explore, take up a lot of space, meet to discuss our observations and they even let us take photos. My team really walked away with a lot of customer service insights from Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble Field trip

I love what I do! It’s great to make customer experience training and consulting hands-on, relevant and even fun.

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Motivate Your Employees Like Fans Motivate Their Sports Teams

woman working at a computer

Managers can learn much about praise from the sports industry. Critical to the success of any sports or corporate team is praise. Here’s how coaches and fans motivate athletes and (and what you can learn from them!):

Cheer your team. Perhaps professional athletes would play simply for the money, but can you imagine a basketball game with no fans and no roaring cheers? It wouldn’t be the same without the fans. The cheering of fans energizes athletes. Fans cheer to motivate, encourage and show support for their teams.  Athletes, like your employees, are motivated by both money and praise. Never assume money alone is going to motivate and keep employees.

Praise progress, not just results. Football fans don’t wait until a touchdown to cheer. They cheer when their team moves the ball to first down and when the opposing team is stopped on third down. Many managers withhold praise until the goal is accomplished and some only give praise during an annual performance review.

Point out the positive, even when your team misses the mark. In an interview after a loss, coaches always state what their team did well, highlighting the effort and talent of their players. Coaches summarize things the team could have done better and quickly point out the strengths of the other team and they do this without slamming their team.

Here’s a creative idea you might want to try. One day I got my entire team involved in praise. I sent an email to the group and asked each employee to take a few moments to leave a note for a fellow employee stating why they appreciated them. The next morning I had 12 notes from employees thanking me!  The notes kept coming throughout the day and every employee took the time to thank every one of their co-workers. The department buzzed with energy the entire day.

Everyday you should look for opportunities to praise your team. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.

Related:

The Psychology of Employee Motivation

The Psychology of Employee Motivation

Motivating Employees

Abraham Maslow developed the concept of the Hierarchy of Needs and it has been extensively applied to managerial situations. Maslow suggests that people are motivated by 5 levels of needs and higher level needs do not motivate until lower level needs are met. That is, if the need for adequate money is not met, even the most creative employee rewards program cannot motivate employees. Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and think about where your employees are today and determine what you’ll need to do next.

  • Physiological Needs. The lowest and most basic needs in the workplace, and in life in general, are physiological needs. Physiological needs are usually associated with money; that is, people use money to satisfy basic motivations. If a person’s physiological (financial) needs are not met, higher level needs are relatively unimportant. If employees don’t earn enough money to comfortably meet basic financial needs such as rent, healthcare, etc., it is difficult to focus on creating value in the workplace Are your employees consumed with the salary issue? If so, conduct market research to ensure your salary is competitive and fair.

 

  •  Safety Needs. Safety and security needs in the workplace involves job security factors. This doesn’t mean that employees need assurance of lifetime employment, but rather that reasonable precautions are being taken to minimize risks. (Of course, in today’s economy there are no guarantees.) You can meet employees’ needs on this level by keeping them informed of the company’s health and financial position and keeping them in the loop on all company matters that affect them.

 

  • Social Needs. Not surprisingly, most people are concerned about their social relationships and want to belong and be accepted by others. Managers must expect that employees will want to satisfy the need for social relationships on the job. If the satisfaction of social needs is hindered, employees may become apathetic, uncooperative, and even aggressive toward the manager. Years ago I brought in a consultant to my call center who told me that one of the biggest problems facing my group was that they did not have the opportunity to meet their social needs (on the job). I had to learn to provide opportunities for socialization through staff meetings, employee luncheons and even venting with one another between calls.

 

  • Esteem or Ego Needs. Esteem needs relate to individuals’ achieving the confidence and respect they desire in themselves and want to be recognized by others. These needs include the desire for recognition, promotion, achievement and accomplishment. Failure to meet these needs can result in apathetic behavior and substandard work.

 

  • Self-Actualization or Self Realization Needs. The highest level of needs in Maslow’s hierarchy involves the development of full potential. Self actualized people want to use their capabilities to the fullest and continue to grow. We all have the need to express our full potential in life and in our work, but according to Maslow, most people don’t become fully self-actualized because they expend their energy trying to meet the lower level needs. In order to help your employees express their full potential, you must first create an atmosphere that supports the first 4 basic needs.

Employees are motivated by needs that are not satisfied. In other words, it is what employees are seeking that is motivational, not what they already have. As lower level needs are satisfied (physiological/financial and safety/a sense of job security, etc.) they retain less motivational value in an individual’s behavior. Once a level of needs is satisfied, you must move to the next level in order to truly motivate your employees.

 

 

 

My Keynote at the 2012 Contact Center Association Conference

For Zappos it’s all about delivering WOW. This presentation delivers powerful insights into the unique ways Zappos approaches screening and hiring, quality monitoring, social customer service, and making emotional connections with customers – all with the single goal of consistently delivering a WOW customer experience.

In this keynote I share the 5 keys Contact Center Managers and frontline employees can adopt and apply to create an engaging and unforgettable customer experience. (Live and Deliver WOW, Customer Experience as the #1 Priority, Make Emotional Connections with Customers, the Speed of Light, Treat Employees Very Well). Plus, discover how Zappos is able to WOW customers with no call scripts and no talk time targets and learn why Zappos pays employees $2,000 to quit. Enjoy!

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Here’s Why You Need to Let Your Employees Cool Down After a Busy Period

My son cooling down after a family game of basketball Sunday afternoon

I started running a little more than a year ago. The running training program I started with insisted on a 5-minute cool down after each run. Sometimes I’d cool down and sometimes I wouldn’t. I didn’t notice any problems when I didn’t cool down so I really didn’t think it was a big deal. For weeks I ran 2-3 miles with my indifferent attitude toward the cool down. Then one day I ran 4 miles, my longest and most vigorous at that point. I was so proud of myself and I felt amazing. I felt so good that I didn’t “cool down.” After my run, I showered and resumed normal activities. Or, at least I tried to resume normal activities.

Within an hour of my amazing run I was feeling dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t shake the feeling for hours. It was that day that I learned the importance of cooling down after a run. I now know that physiologically, cooling down helps the body transition from intense activity to normal activity. Cooling down helps prevent blood from pooling in the legs, which I now know can happen after a hard run. This limits blood flow to the heart and brain, and can lead to the dizziness and nausea I experienced that day.

What happens when employees don’t cool down after a busy season?

When employees come out of a tremendously busy season such as a large product recall, holiday season or a new product launch, the mental toll is not unlike a vigorous run. Just because they “survived” the busy season doesn’t mean all is well. I survived my first 4 mile run, but I didn’t transition to normal activity well at all. Provide your employees with a “cool down” period so they can transition into normal business activity.

How do you cool down after a busy season?

Offer paid time off if you can, celebrate accomplishments, award your employees with gift cards, have lunch brought in or bring fun into the office. Get creative. The important thing is to acknowledge the sacrifice and challenge and to provide a transition into normal activity.

Cooling down after a busy period helps your employees de-stress and refresh. Failing to cool down can lead to burnout and low morale. Proactively provide a corporate cool down and you’ll avoid potentially serious problems later on…and your people will be better prepared for the next busy season. (I now cool down after every run!)

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.  ~Ovid

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Carlson Hotels Worldwide

“I just viewed the replay of the webinar you did not long ago with citrix online and I was so enlighten and amazed to hear such outstanding information. I am a marketer and I knew surface level some of the information you shared but you went deep and took it to another level of understanding for me, the light bulbs of ideas and solutions have been bombarding my mind ever since. I simply desired to say thank you.”

 James Stuart

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