- Are you a leader that is out front?
- Do you have an open door policy?
- Do you know what your staff are thinking?
As a subunit commander in the Army Reserve I have been taught to lead from the front. “Push forward and see what is really happening on the front line.” The greatest military leaders would push forward regularly and see what was really happening. Meanwhile some of the greatest military disasters occurred due to commanders making decisions and plans from the rear, without a good situation awareness of what is really happening in the front line.
Does this apply in the civilian workplace? I say YES… I am amazed at the number of managers, senior managers and executives that do not “talk to the troops”. Yes, I believe in the chain of command and that direction and taskings comes through that chain, but you need to develop situational awareness from the front line staff. There are a number of ways to achieve this. Some that I employ are:
- Saying hello to staff on arrival in the morning and make a habit to talk with staff in the building throughout the day. These discussions should occur at times without an agenda.
- At my Army Squadron I have directed that once a month we hold a BBQ at the end of the parade night that all personnel are to attend. This creates an informal opportunity for all ranks to mix and talk. This has contributed to a large break down of barriers in communication within the Squadron.
- Another method of pushing forward is to visit your staff in their workplaces. Visit all the sites that you are responsible for on a regular basis. Doing this regularly without an agenda builds trust and relationships with all the staff.
A good example of why pushing forward works was when I was responsible for a number of Children Services, which were located in over ten locations. On one of my visits I was talking to one of the educators which had nominated for some upcoming training. As far as I was aware the training was all organised and the staff that had nominated had all been informed. I found out that day, that this was not the case. The situation was easy fixed at that point, however if left longer, it would have been a bigger issue.
Another benefit of pushing forward aside from listening to the staff, their concerns and victories, is that you can share your vision. You need to be careful how you do this as you do not want to be seen as pushing forward just to sell your idea. However, when listening to your staff and answering questions the opportunity will come up to share your vision….
- When is the last time you had a conversation with a staff member without an agenda in mind?
- Have you served your client directly as you stand side by side with your front line staff?
- Do your staff see you as approachable (note: this is about what your staff think, not what you think)?
This last week I popped into Officeworks to pick up some office supplies and was amazed at the level of customer service I received. It was a quick trip to the store, however the staff were very friendly and helpful. As I entered the store the staff member behind the counter that had just finished serving a customer looked over, smiled and said “hello”. The greeter at door was busy serving someone else when I walked in. However as I headed to the area I was after he came to find me. The greeter offered his assistance… By the time I left the store every staff member I came in contact with smiled, said hello and offered their assistance. It was a textbook experience of customer service. On leaving I told the staff member serving me that everyone was so friendly and happy today. She responded with another positive comment.
It was a great experience and certainly left a good taste in the mouth. With an experience like that I will be going back there and telling my friends about it….. Just like I am telling you about the experience through this blog. So I guess delivering good customer service makes good business sense. It builds your brand by word of mouth and has your customers coming back for more. But how do you build good customer service in your team??? Did I hear training??? Well I think that training is good, however staff morale is first. If your staff are not happy and do not have good morale then no amount of training will create a culture of customer service. As a leader I believe that your front line staff serve your clients, while your leadership serve your front line staff.
So what makes for good customer service? In the case of my Officeworks example above the staff all smiled, were friendly, said hello and offered their assistance. They all had a focus on serving the customer and helping the customer to achieve what they came in the store to do. It is amazing how the small things make a difference….. A smile and a warm greeting goes so far in connecting with others. Each and every day I encourage you to smile and say hello to people you do not know. I find it not just brings a smile to others, but also makes me feel happier.
- What good customer service experience have you had in the last week?
- In what ways do you build a good culture and morale in your team?
- Do you smile and say hello to people that you don’t know?
In recent times, I have had a few moments to stop, observe and review… Or in another term, to ponder. In a fast paced world I have found that it can be difficult to get time alone, with nothing to do, but think. When it is the last time that you have taken time to just ponder?
On of my favourite things to do while pondering is to people watch. I enjoy sitting down in a public space and watch people interact with each other. Even without hearing the conversation a lot can be taken in from just watching. Watching the actions, reactions and the body language. So much can be learnt through observing others.
Another benefit of pondering is allowing the time for one’s own brain to think in a creative way. To think without an agenda is a freeing experience. It allows us the ability to think outside the square, to come up with new ideas and ways of doing things. I encourage you to take the time out of your busy schedule to just ponder….
- When is the last time that you took time to let you mind wander freely?
- What great ideas have come to you when you least expect it?
- What is the a favourite place for you to ponder?
Last weekend I did a fitness and swim test. I used this tests as a gauge on my fitness levels. As you may be aware I have been on a health kick in recent times. I am eating healthier (with more improvements to come), sleeping more and have been exercising more. Though I am not the fittest person, I am fitter than I was three months ago. After all fitness and health is a not a competition with others, it is a competition with self.
Last year I did not look after myself. I did not exercise regularly, had little sleep and gained a fair amount of weight. My pants started to tighten around my waist and I knew that I had to do something about it. So for the last two months, I have been walking the dog (he was getting fat too), exercising regularly, sleeping more and eating healthier.
The results were clear. My fitness test was easier to do and I achieved results at a level that I have not done for years…. I still have a way to go and my weight is still a little high, but I am on track….
- Are you neglecting your health?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you eat healthy?
Last week my youngest daughter had her swimming carnival at school. She entered three events. She was first in backstroke, second in breaststroke and seventh (last)in the freestyle. She had a fun day and I a, proud that she gave the events a go. With the freestyle event, Anna focused on telling me all that things that went wrong. Her goggles were loose…..
It is interesting how we focus on what goes wrong and not focus on what went right. I asked Anna about her other two events. She had less to say…. In the end we celebrated her wins too.
After the conversation I took away three key points from the day, that can be useful in life in general:
- Have fun, give things a go!!!
- Review what went wrong and focus on the solution.
- Celebrate your wins.
This last week we had a huge downpour of rain in a short period of time. Though not as bad as some of the previous storms we have seen in the recent years, it was a big one. One of the offices I work out of is on Lake Tuggeranong, with great views of the lake. In the hour of so of the storm the lake rose, flooding the jetty.
The storm also caused havoc on the roads. There was mini flooding of roads and accidents resulting in some roads being closed. There was also property damage to a number of homes and even my children’s school sustained considerable damage.
So, with all the damage and negative impacts, did anything good come out of it? Yes, there was. The drains that have been dry for a while and had various debris fall into them were cleaned out. All the debris flowed downstream into the lake. This filled the lake with junk. However 24 hours later the lake was clear too.
Another benefit was for the garden. Until the storm the garden was dieing. Within 24 hours the grass changed from the brown dusty patch to a bunch of green shoots. The trees whose leaves were going brown and falling off the tree, started to shoot new green leaves. So after the storm, there is new life.
So though the storm caused much damage it also resulted in cleaning up the debris and helping the growth of new life…..
- Are you experiencing a storm in your life?
- If so, what are the destructive impacts and how can you minimise these impacts?
- What are the cleansing effects and the areas of new life, resulting from the storm in your life?
It has been a big week…. and a fun week…. In addition to my normal schedule of business, work and studies I got to do some awesome things. On Thursday morning I was the master of ceremonies for the “Achieving NQS Symposium” for the ACT Professional Support Coordinator and Children’s Policy Regulation Unit. I was fortunate to be asked to do this and it was good to work in the the Children Services sector again.
Then on Sunday I did The Color Run in Canberra…. It was the first time I have run at a public event and it was heaps of fun. I look forward to doing it again. The theme was the happiest five kilometres on the planet was so true to the event. There was a real festive spirit at the event and everyone young and old was have a good time.
For those that do not know, The Colour Run is a fun activity, where you run or walk along a five kilometre course. Along the way there are colour stations that as you go through them hit you with colour….. So by the finish line you are covered in different colours. As you cross the finish line you are given a colour packet to throw up in the air at the finish line festival…… It is a great experience and I encourage you all to participate in one.
I was thinking about the Colour Run and how it was a good way to encourage people to exercise and be healthy in a fun and festive environment. there was also the social aspect of The Color Run and as you passed through each colour station there are people there encouraging you on…. So all in all it was a great experience in terms of friends, fun, fitness and encouragement.
Since the beginning of the year, I have had a change in lifestyle and moved towards a healthier lifestyle. One of the things that I have changed is regularly walking the dog, Sparkle. My aim is to walk Sparkle everyday. Honestly, this does not happen, but we go for a walk at least 4 times a week. I am amazed in the change in Sparkle.
Sparkle over the last two years has slowly risen in weight, he has been lethargic and also barking more. When I first started walking him regularly in January, he was so tired after the walk that he would come home and laid down. On the walk he would have his tongue hanging out and puffing. Though he enjoyed the walks, he was out of shape.
However, in recent time Sparkle’s whole life has changed. He is more energetic, he barks less and is really focused on the walks. On returning home he does a victory lap or two around the yard. Each morning he is at the door waiting for his walk. In addition he is looking really good, in terms of weight and overall health…..
How applicable is this in our lives….. Does regular exercise add to our….
- physical wellbeing?
- mental wellbeing?
- emotional wellbeing?
Do you take things personally?
Do you get upset when people joke about you?
Can you Laugh at yourself?
At Cuboree last week I played a big prank on my youngest daughter Anna. Anna called it an Epic Prank. I have written an article about it as it had a great lesson for all of us about how we decode messages from others. We can choose whether we get upset or have a laugh. I outline the prank in my article in which Anna, took the whole prank very well and has promised to get me back….. Enjoy the article “How do you take things…. The Epic Prank”
Are you proud of your country?
I hope you answered yes to the above question…. If not, maybe you need to find a new home. As I travel the world I am always impressed to find that people are proud of their country and where they are from. They are proud of their culture, their nations successes and also their nations sporting victories. I am also proud of my nation, Australia. Yes, there are many beautiful places around the world and I could live in many of them, however I think it it is important to feel part of a nation and be proud of that nation. Not because the nation is perfect, but because it is my nation.
Today is Australia Day, it is not just a national day and an excuse for a public holiday, it is a day that all Australians can be proud to be an Australian. It is a day that all Australians can celebrate what is good about Australia. I believe that we should all be proud of who we are and where we are from. I hope that you are proud of your nation, just as I am of mine. Here are some reasons why I am proud of being an Australian:
- Australia is the land of opportunity
- Australia is full of friendly and fun loving people
- Australia is a country that respects diversity
- Australia has a diverse and beautiful natural environment
- Australia has a stable democratic political system
- Australia has a stable legal system
- Australia has a world class medical system
- Australia has a world class educational system
- and so much more….
In summary I believe that Australia is one of the best places in the world to live and I believe we have a great way of life. So today being Australia Day, I sit here at home thinking about the things I am proud of Australia and things I am grateful of that I live in Australia. That said I hope that you are proud of your country and where you are from.
- Where are you from?
- What are you proud of about your country?
- What are you grateful of about your country?