Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Company Culture’ Category

Seven Elements Of A Good Culture

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership on July 25, 2015 at 6:22 am

You’ll learn a lot about marketing from the new book, Does it Work?, by Shane Atchison and Jason Burby. Most important, you’ll discover their 10 principles for getting digital marketing right.

What also really caught my attention was the book’s discussion about the elements of good culture. Culture created from as high up in the organization as possible. A culture particularly well suited for digital.

Those seven elements are:

  1. Stay Flexible –  create a continuous learning environment with flexibility and a certain disdain for roles.
  2. Hire Learners – individuals who are curious and willing to learn on their own.
  3. Empower People to Share – cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable bringing up bold ideas and are encouraged to speak up.
  4. Encourage Thinking Outside Roles – to help you capture every perspective from all your team members.
  5. Make Sure Problems Come with Solutions – don’t just point out what’s wrong. Find solutions.
  6. Make it OK to Fail – failure promotes learning, and the faster you can fail, the better. If you don’t accept failure you make it difficult to shift gears and come up with new ideas that work.
  7. Foster a Culture of Achievement – make it easy for employees to know they’ve made a difference through proof of measurable results.

Building An Effective Company Culture

In Company Culture on March 4, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Teamwork Eric Jacobson Leadership

Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective company cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective:

• Leaders led by example on a consistent basis and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times.

• Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference and how their contributions made the organization either more profitable or more effective.

• The workforce included a blend of long-term employees with a rich company, product/service and customer history, employees who had been at the company for five to seven years, and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players.

• Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace.

• Employees were challenged and rewarded through growth opportunities, education and training and pay increases.

• Leaders provided opportunities for the company and its employees to give back to the community. Sometimes it was through company organized volunteer projects. Other times it was by encouraging (and rewarding) employees to volunteer on their own.

• A group of employees served on an activities committee with as little top management influence as possible, to plan at least monthly team-building, networking, education and charitable activities. This grass-roots approach helped ensure that the culture was shaped and influenced by employees and not only by top management. In this way, employees owned the culture as much as the management did.

Encourage Peer Coaching

In Coaching, Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Employee Retention, Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Peer Coaching on November 1, 2013 at 5:46 am

Do you create an environment at your business/organization that allows peer coaching?

Hopefully you do. If you don’t, encourage peer coaching among the members of your team. Peer coaching can be formal, informal or a combination of both.

You’ll likely find that everyone on your team has a skill, technique, behavior that they can teach a fellow team member. That coaching is rewarding for both parties, and it helps everyone to learn an important skill for being a successful leader — coaching.

How To Delight Your Customers

In Company Culture, Customer Service, Engaging Customers, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills on October 26, 2013 at 11:26 am

If you want to delight your customers, then the book by Steve Curtin, Delight Your Customers — 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary, is a must-read for you and your employees.

Published this summer, the book explains the seven ways for you and your employees to demonstrate exceptional customer service:

  1. Express genuine interest
  2. Offer sincere and specific compliments
  3. Share unique knowledge
  4. Convey authentic enthusiasm
  5. Use appropriate humor
  6. Provide pleasant surprises
  7. Deliver service heroics

“Exceptional customer service typically costs no more to deliver than poor customer service,” explains Curtin.

For example:

  • How much does it cost to express genuine interest in customers or to anticipate their needs?
  • Does it cost more to display a sense of urgency or to pay attention to detail?
  • Do you pay your employees more to smile, to make eye contact, or to add energy to their voices?

Curtin reminds readers that:

  • Customers don’t establish relationships with businesses.  They establish relationships with the people inside the businesses.

And, here are some of Curtin’s recommended best ways to express genuine interest in your customers:

  • Offer personalized greetings
  • Use names
  • Practice assertive hospitality
  • Ask questions
  • Anticipate needs
  • Remember preferences
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Display a sense of urgency
  • Solicit feedback
  • Offer personal farewells
  • Follow up on service

And, finally, when soliciting feedback, do so without marginalizing your customers’ suggestions or sounding defensive.

Culture Is Every Employee’s Responsibility At SWA

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Employee Retention, Employee Satisfaction, Engaging Customers, Engaging Employees, Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership on May 27, 2013 at 10:20 am

Eric Jacobson Leadership

If you’ve flown Southwest Airlines you know they’re tops in airline customer service, driven by a leadership style that creates a company-wide culture where all employees own that culture.

According to SWA Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly, as reported in the company’s in-flight magazine, “every company has a culture, whether that culture is supportive or stifling, active or passive, fun or discouraging.”

“One way we do culture differently is by making Southwest’s culture everyone’s responsibility. In fact, we ask everyone to ‘own it,'” says Kelly.

Here are some of the ways that SWA keeps its winning culture in the forefront that you can also do to keep employees motivated and to drive great customer service:

1.  Form a corporate culture committee and a local culture committee that organizes low-cost employee events throughout the year.

2.  Include a section related to culture on each employee’s annual performance appraisal.  This goes for every employee in your company, including the entire management team.

3.  Explain your company’s culture on the first day of each new hire’s orientation and training.

4.  Foster a culture that encourages celebration.

USAA’s 10 Guiding Business Principles

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Guiding Business Principles, Leadership, Management on May 14, 2013 at 5:48 am

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I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company USAA lives by:

  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect)
  • Be a leader
  • Participate and contribute
  • Pursue excellence
  • Work as a team
  • Share knowledge
  • Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together)
  • Listen and communicate
  • Have fun

Too many companies don’t make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to:

  • Buy from you?
  • Make returns?
  • Get pricing and terms?
  • Receive timely responses to their e-mails?
  • Quickly get answers when phoning your company?

You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

Seven Ways To Define Meaningful Work

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Employee Engagement, Employee Retention, Employee Satisfaction, Engaging Employees, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Management, Meaningful Work, Motivating Employees on March 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Eric Jacobson Leadership

There are so many good things to learn in the book, Helping People Win At Work, by Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge. Among those is the section about how to define meaningful work.

Their definition consists of these seven attributes.  Work is meaningful when it:

  1. It is conducted in a manner that is “good and proper” in all respects.
  2. It positively affects our company and our communities, giving our work an impact that extends beyond ourselves.
  3. It provides learning and growth, offers challenges, requires creativity, pushes us to surpass limits, and creates exciting results.
  4. It provides recognition and rewards for our achievements.
  5. It allows us to succeed as a team while excelling as individuals.
  6. It allows us to enjoy the ride, bringing humor and fun into our work.
  7. It fuels passion!

Book Review: Change-friendly Leadership

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Satisfaction, Engaging Employees, Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Quotes, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Management, Motivating Employees, Setting Goals, Team Building on November 18, 2012 at 10:27 am

Because Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan delivers so much timely, straight-forward and relevant wisdom in his new book, Change-friendly Leadership, reading it is like talking with your trusted best friend. Or, listening to your favorite teacher.  Or, soaking in the thoughts from your respected mentor.

That’s why you’ll want to spend plenty of time reading the book.  Reflecting on the messages.  Absorbing the discussion,  And, then likely re-reading it.  Or, at least certain sections.

Duncan demonstrates in the book how humanness, approachability, and friendliness are necessary but often overlooked elements of making change successful in an organization.

He teaches leaders the foundation for effectively engaging people’s heads, hearts and hopes — all necessary to enable effective and lasting (sustainable) change in today’s constantly changing world.  Duncan refers to this as leading the whole person.

According to Duncan:

  • Change must accommodate people’s feelings–feelings that involve trust, confidence, passion, and all those other intangible but very real things that make us human.

Duncan’s change-friendly leadership approach includes knowing how to leverage the Champions, Agents, Sponsors and Targets within your organization.  And, how to combine tough love elements into the process while always operating from a platform of respect and caring, not intimidation and contention.

Readers will appreciate the “Bonus Points” offerings at the end of each major section of the book where they learn how to access free white papers, diagnostic tools, videos and other items by going to a URL or using a QR code via their Smart phone.

You’ll also likely enjoy as I did all the great leadership quotes sprinkled throughout the book, such as these:

  • Losing good people is costly.  But the number one most expensive thing that can happen to your organization is for your best and most capable people to quit and stay.
  • It’s often the stress that people resist, not the change itself.
  • A transactional leader focuses on routine and regimented activities.  A transformational leader focuses primarily on initiating and “managing” change.
  • It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change — Charles Darwin.
  • The key to change is to let go of fear — Roseanne Cash
  • Amateurs practice until they get it right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Thanks to Cave Henricks for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Non-typical Questions To Ask Your Customers

In Company Culture, Customer Service, Effective Communications, Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Listening Skills, Management, Thanking Customers on November 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

As you gear up for the busy holiday shopping season, consider this advice from author Paul R. Timm.  He recommends a different twist on asking your customers questions:

  • stop asking your customers the “typical” questions and instead ask them open-ended questions.

Here’s specifically what Timm recommends:

Don’t Ask:

  • How was everything?
  • Can I get you something else?
  • Did you find everything you need?
  • Will that be all?
  • Was everything satisfactory?

Instead Ask:

  • What else can I do for you?
  • What else can I get for you?
  • What else can I help you with?
  • What else could we do to better serve you?
  • How else can we be of help?

These open-ended questions will let your customers really express their ideas, opinions and needs.  Timm is the author of, 50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use To Keep Your Customers.

How To Provide Excellent Customer Service Via The Phone

In Company Culture, Customer Service, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Management on October 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees — because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here’s a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization’s customer service via the phone:

1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?

2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?

3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?

4. Was the employee’s tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?

5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?

6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?

7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?

8. Did the employee thank the caller?

9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?

10. Did the employee use friendly and tactful words?

11. Did the employee accuse the customer of anything?

12. Did the employee fumble when transferring the call if making a transfer was necessary?

13. Was there distracting background noise on the employee’s end during the call?

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