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I miss flying Continental Airlines

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence but it was the first time we flew Continental, under United name and we had a bad overall customer experience.

I have been a loyal customer of Continental Airlines for many years now. My family and I use it for all our vacation and business travels. Although I could find other airlines offering more competitive air fares, I would still choose Continental. I have always found comfort and satisfaction flying Continental. The merger of United Airlines and Continental was announced in 2010. This union formed the largest airline in the nation, under the name United. I still patronized Continental during the post merger transition. I was remarkably surprised that they had maintained the consistency of their service level. I continued to be a very happy customer.

Until…

Last week, my family traveled to California for vacation. Of course, we chose to travel Continental. This time, the name on the plane was noticeably changed to United. Also, it said  “Premier Access” on my boarding pass instead of the usual “Elite Access”. I expected our flying experience to be the same or better. A merger of two companies usually means the best practices of both established firms are retained. The outcome is usually the best of both companies.

I was wrong…

I flew back to Houston from Ontario, California last Monday. My wife and our twin infant boys were travelling with me. As can be expected when travelling with two infants, we had a bulky stroller with lots of baby stuff (formula, diapers, the works) in preparation for the three-hour flight.

What would you expect when boarding a plane with kids or infants? My expectation is to have a bit of consideration — maybe priority boarding. I understand that first class goes first (they paid for it), then military and passengers needing assistance — typically those in wheelchairs. But aren’t people with strollers and infant children also in need of assistance?

We were in boarding group 5. I don’t know if it was just me or because of the experience, but I feel bad about the  number tag on priority boarding. This was printed prominently on the boarding pass. So groups 1 to 4 board before us. Usually, it does not matter to me if I were to board last;  but since I am travelling with my twin babies, it certainly mattered now. I want them to be comfortable. So it became more personal.

More than half of the passengers were already boarded and we were still waiting for our group 5 to be called.  My wife went to ask the gate service attendant because normally, in any flight (and not just with Continental), the people with infants were among the first to be boarded. But she got an unfriendly response and told to just get out of the way and wait for our group to be called. During our actual boarding, I asked the same attendant and got the same rude response.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence but it was the first time we flew Continental, under United name and we had a bad overall customer experience.

Here is another…

Arriving in Houston, we got our baggage and were surprised to see that one of our bags had a broken handle. The handle was destroyed in such a way that you could no longer use the luggage. It was a relatively new bag that we bought last January. It was only the second time that we used it.

We went to the United Baggage Service office in the airport. We were attended to and were given a reference number and a claim number. We were given a contact number and instructed to call it for follow-up and further assistance.

My wife called the number later,  only to be referred to another office. That office asked her to call the United office at the airport instead but could not give her the contact information. On Monday, after we got home from the airport, she had received an email from the claim case that was filed and on it was contact information. She called that number and was told that the case was closed and she should call the United office at the airport if she had questions. At this point, my wife had to use a search engine to find another contact number for the Baggage Service office of United Airlines and get a clearer response to the status of our bag damage claim. She had to talk to several people and was passed on to several offices giving her conflicting information about the case. They damaged our bag and we had to go through all these just to get an answer that the claim is still in process. So far no resolution to it yet!

As you can imagine, this was such a frustrating experience for us flying United. The front-office customer experience was already bad and the after flight back-office service was just as bad!

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Five Ways to Improve Your Customer Service Center

Read full article in Associated Content: Five Ways to Improve Your Customer Service Center

Gain Customer Loyalty by Improving Customer Services

Connecting to current and potential customers is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Significant resources are invested in creating and improving customer experiences. Even at this time of economic uncertainties, it’s hard to find a business that is not actively pursuing customer service improvements. The competition is stronger than ever as the economy begins to show signs of recovery. Initiatives related to customer relationship management are embraced by many companies as a critical component of their overall business strategy. Organizations continue to spend heavily on CRM — $11 billion annually starting 2010 according to Forrester. But how do you improve your customer service center besides investing in CRM applications and tools? Here are five ways:

1. Understand your Purpose and Establish a Clear Mission Statement

2. Set the Right Expectations and Be Consistent in Your Service Delivery

3. Develop Your Service Offer

4. Have a Culture of Continuous Improvement

5. Foster a “Customer First” Attitude and Strengthen Your Back-office Support Groups

Read more

Business Lesson 2: If You Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”

February 22, 2011 7 comments

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves.

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team.

This is part two of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions

Business Lesson 2: If You Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”.

Ira once told me, “This isn’t a school test where, if you don’t know the correct answer, you take a guess based on what you think is the best answer. If you don’t know the answer, then simply say ‘I don’t know.’ The worst thing that can happen is that decisions will be made and actions taken based on wrong or incomplete information.” Admitting that you don’t know something is taking responsibility and having accountability. 

This second lesson is about attitude. I once overheard Ira telling someone, “You’re lucky you KNOW that you don’t know. You now have an open mind and the opportunity to learn something new and find a real solution!”  This is simple and yet so difficult for many people to practice. In this article, we will look at two perspectives of this essential lesson – (a) learning to say “I don’t know” per se; and (b) openness to learning through the humble attitude of genuinely “not-knowing.”

Saying, “I Don’t Know”

The fact of the matter is, it is so difficult for people to say, “I don’t know.” Of course, it’s normal that you would always want to project yourself as knowledgeable to others; showing that you know (all the time!) is one of the best ways to look good. Most of us don’t like it when we ask subordinates at work to explain what went wrong, and instead of getting facts we are met with three little words: “I don’t know.” It’s frustrating, isn’t it? It’s worse, though, when you get “answers” composed of hardly verified truths and opinions. What happens when you take what you are told as fact and respond accordingly – for example, a customer complaint – and later find out that something completely different happened? By then, conflict has been created and it has further complicated the problem.

Of course, you can’t expect somebody to know everything. Here are two simple ways to say “I don’t know” and still be accountable:

  • The obvious – say: “I don’t know.” You can include an action or commitment, though, so say “I don’t know, but I’ll take responsibility to find the facts, or answers, for you and I’ll suggest a solution.”
  • If you have some knowledge to begin with, but you need to verify it, you may say, “I’m not as informed as I would like to be but this is what I think, based on the information I have. I will look into this further and get back to you right away.” Here you are being honest about the fact that what you think you know may not necessarily be accurate. So, if you are asked to speak out, your audience knows that it’s an opinion.

We grow up afraid of our own ignorance and terrified that it may show. I admire people who have the ability to admit, “I don’t know.” There are many ways to say this, but the most important thing is to be honest, concise and responsible about what you say.

“Not Knowing” as a Powerful Openness to Learn

Think about going to a meeting, seminar or training with the arrogant attitude that there is absolutely nothing new to be learned. Surely, you will arrive disinterested and full of your own perception of the subject matter. Chances are, you won’t learn anything new. The advantage of not knowing is the opportunity to experience learning. Genuine “not-knowing” is a sign of humility and openness that precedes the leap into finding true meaning. We question not only whether we’ll find answers to questions, but also how to learn new things. How many times have you gone to similar work sessions or training programs but learned something new every time? Maybe it’s from hearing someone else’s perspective and how they applied the knowledge. Maybe it’s an insight that helps you link multiple ideas together and come up with a new way of applying the knowledge to a problem. Or maybe it’s an open attitude that allowed you to listen in a new way.

Being open to new ideas shows a willingness to transcend what you know, to look beyond the conventional and obvious view, and to come up with new insights and use these to find solutions.

When people talk about innovation – this is what they are talking about!

Business Lesson 2 Takeaways:

  • Acknowledging that you don’t know something is akin to taking responsibility and having accountability.
  • People should not be discouraged from saying “I don’t know” in a company.
  • There are many ways to say, “I don’t know,” but the most important thing is to be honest, concise and responsible about what you say.
  • The positive side of not knowing is the opportunity it provides to experience learning, gain insights, and come up with a better solution.  
  • Genuine not-knowing is a sign of humility and openness that can lead to expanding one’s knowledge.

Link to Lesson 1: Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it). Be a mentor (someone is watching you).


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various post merger integration projects. 
 
Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

25 lessons for work (and life)! — 3-minute coaching sessions

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

” You can have as many mentors as you need – people that excel in different disciplines and that exemplify different values. In my career, I’ve learned that mentoring is a process of engagement and inspiration, in as much as it’s a process of learning from someone. Truly successful people raise others up. They don’t feel threatened. Instead, they find reward in seeing others succeed. “

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves.

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. I consider myself fortunate in having had the opportunity to work in his organization. Our collaboration continues, even today. I continue to learn from Ira, and he says he continues to learn from me! I believe that people thrive best, and succeed, when they have the opportunity to develop under the tutelage of those who precede them.

This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. They were learned the hard way: through experience. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. The lessons changed slightly, over time, as new ideas emerged and new learnings were incorporated. In this series of 25 short articles, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team.

The series is split across five sections.

  • Section 1 is about continuous self-improvement. In any endeavor, change begins with oneself. You cannot create a successful organization, nor be successful yourself, without the drive to do better and be better.
  • Section 2 is about creating a better work environment, and leads on from Section 1: Improving oneself means improving one’s professional atmosphere; no real change can be achieved without this.
  • Section 3 is about customer service: Every business unit has a customer, whether internal or external. And just because you don’t have direct dealings with the company’s external customers doesn’t mean you don’t have customers of your own. If you work for the payroll department of a large fast-food company, your customers are the employees in the payroll, and you need to know how to provide good customer service.
  • Section 4 relates to improving productivity. This includes eliminating bureaucracy and other things that hamper good service delivery. Let’s say you have great products and can provide good service. If it’s not affordable, easy to use, and timely to the customer, then it just doesn’t matter. 
  • Section 5 involves competitive advantage.  Much has already been written about competitive advantage, I know. But you’ll be surprised at some of the simple things you can do.

Section 1: Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement

Each journey begins with a single step. In terms of change, this means starting with oneself. The six business lessons in this section suggest that everyone, irrespective of the successes already achieved, benefits from continuous self-improvement.

  

Business Lesson 1 : Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it). Be a mentor (someone is watching you).

 

Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it)

Most guides to mentoring start with advice on how to find the right mentor. This generally takes the following approach: (1) you have to look for a mentor with broad knowledge about the industry as well as expertise in the area you specialize in; (2) you have to find a mentor who is successful and on whom you can model your career; and (3) you have to formalize the relationship between mentor and mentee to make it long lasting and successful.

Given all that – how can you have a mentor(s), and they don’t know it?

Ira explains his philosophy: “Formal mentoring programs are great but why wait for one to come around? Mentoring is about  behavior. It’s about doing the right things in the workplace, because first and foremost, it’s about personal integrity and character – as well as the fact that someone is watching you, and will emulate your behavior. I was extremely lucky, early in my career, when I was able to work with some great co-workers and supervisors who had a solid set of personal values coupled with results-oriented work disciplines. I emulated many of these behaviors and they helped shaped my leadership style.”

What you do in the office is observed by the people you work with. Positive behavior creates positive impressions, which people will emulate. On the other hand, consistently below-par behavior can cause problems in the organization by creating dysfunctional teams.

Having a mentor means finding someone to emulate and learn from (even if they don’t know it). You can have as many mentors as you need – people that excel in different disciplines and that exemplify different values. In my career, I’ve learned that mentoring is a process of engagement and inspiration, in as much as it’s a process of learning from someone.

At its very core, mentoring (whether mentor or mentee) is about wanting to improve yourself, in alignment with your goals.

Be a mentor (someone is watching you)

The shared services organization that Ira established and led for many years was the first recipient of the SSON’s “Best Mature Shared Services” Award in 2003. How did the organization earn this prestigious award? Ira has always attributed success in shared services to excellence in providing service to customers at an overall value that is better than other options. We have a very strong customer service culture within the organization, and this culture actively encourages mentorship.

Ira explains: “If you choose a positive attitude, show respect towards your customers, and treat them as if they are the reason for your organization’s existence (which they are!), this behavior develops into norms and values and permeates your culture, subsequently becoming the core of your service culture.

“But creating an excellent service culture requires that you practice the positive behaviors that will govern the value system of all the members of the organization. Mission and values statements are all well and good, but it’s the consistent behaviors that are emulated and put into practice, that become the values of the organization.”

This lesson reminds me that I can become a mentor simply by doing the right thing. And I can do this in every aspect of my life, wherever I interact with people – in the office and at home. Mentoring is two-way, or multi-way, each individual learning from the other. However, if I want to be a mentor, I need to understand myself first. I have to work hard in pursuit of excellence and integrity, and I have to be generous in sharing my knowledge.

Douglas Lawson describes it well: “We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”  I believe truly successful people raise others up. They don’t feel threatened. Instead, they find reward in seeing others succeed.

Being a mentor means inspiring commitment, building insights and motivating people to focus on the goals and behaviors that matter.

Business Lesson 1 Takeaways:

  • Mentoring is about behavior and doing the right things in the workplace; not just because it’s right, but because someone is watching you and will copy your behavior. It becomes the norm, and the norm underpins the values of the organization.
  • Positive behaviors create positive impressions and people emulate them. Consistently observed poor behavior, on the other hand, could spell problems in the organization and create dysfunctional teams.
  • Creating an excellent service culture requires that you practice the positive behaviors of the organization’s value system. “Customers” are the reason you are there! 
  • At its core, mentoring (or having a mentor) is about seeking inspiration to improve yourself in alignment with your goals. Mentoring is two-way or multi-way, each individual learning from another.
  • Whether you know it or not, you are a mentor to someone right now.

 We encourage you to write (as comments in the post) your own thoughts and experiences about mentoring (in business and life). This will enrich the topic and discussion for all the readers. Thank you.

 


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various post merger integration projects. 
 
Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of www.ssonetwork.com.

Of Donuts and Pep Boys – My Most Bizarre Customer Experience Ever!

Can you remember your most bizarre customer experience ever? Let me tell you mine.  It just happened today! There are lessons to be learned in all experiences — even the most bizarre one. After reading this, I encourage you to write your comments or share your own customer service story. 

I went to a Pep Boys car service center for routine service maintenance today. I parked my car outside and immediately proceeded to the service counter. When I walked in, there was only one service staff member at the counter and he was busy assisting another customer.  So I waited in line. Soon after, he greeted me warmly and told me that he’ll attend to me shortly. As a customer waiting in the line, it feels good to be acknowledged. After a couple minutes, it was my turn. I told the service staff member that I was there for routine periodic maintenance. He asked me for pertinent information about my car, the mileage and went on to suggest maintenance work recommended for my car. He provided me with valuable information to help me decide on a service option. After that, we chose a service package. I didn’t have to spend time giving other additional information; they’ve got my data in the system from my previous visits.

Aside from taking my car for maintenance, I had another motive for going to Pep Boys today. I needed copies of my previous maintenance service documents. My car dealer, where I purchased my car a few years ago, needs proof of periodic car maintenance for a service warranty issue. So I asked the Pep Boys service member for my maintenance records in the last two and a half years. I was impressed on how he was able to quickly pull up information and print records. He even explained to me – one by one — the types of maintenance service my car has gone through. I thought it was really impressive service—above and beyond expectations. It was so much better than I thought it would be. I was a happy customer.

At the end of that initial interaction, the service member told me that my car will be ready in 45 minutes. I normally ask how much time it would take, but this time the service staff beat me to it. He gave the promise promptly and so I told him I will come back in 45 minutes.

When I left the service center, I was their happiest customer.  I walked to the nearby Dunkin Donuts store to get myself some breakfast. I was so overjoyed with the customer experience that I even bought a dozen donuts for the service staff member who assisted me and for the other service crew working at Pep Boys. I thought it was the least that I can do to express my appreciation for the excellent service they provide their customers. If I can’t give monetary tips—for sure a dozen of donuts will express my gratitude.

While waiting at Dunkin Donuts, I wrote a tweet on my Blackberry that I intended to send shortly after I leave Pep Boys. I was tempted to send the tweet right away, but decided at the last moment to save it as a draft and wait. The draft tweet went like this:

“Today I bought a dozen Dunkin Donuts as a gesture of appreciation for the Pep Boys staff and service crew for their excellent customer service.”  (Tweet that I never got to send)

I ended up staying an hour and a half at Dunkin Donuts as I enjoyed my cup of coffee and worked on my book. I got so preoccupied with writing that I lost track of time. I only realized that more than an hour had passed when my wife called me. She was at her baby shower, was packing up and ready to go. She told me that I could pick her up as soon as I was ready. Because I was so sure that my car was ready and waiting for me at Pep Boys, I told her I will pick her up shortly. It was almost two hours since I left Pep Boys and I was promised the car would be ready in 45 minutes.

I walked back with my dozen donuts and looked forward to giving it to the staff and service crew as a token of gratitude. Opportunities to affirm service personnel for their excellent service always make me happy. I always look forward to opportunities where I can affirm people for excellent work that they do. Upon entering Pep Boys, I noticed my car was parked just outside the store, so I was assured that the service was finished and the car had been waiting for pick up all this time.  So I walked to the counter where two service personnel were talking. They were not assisting anyone but I thought they were discussing something work-related. Unlike earlier that morning, no one acknowledged or greeted me. I thought it was a big difference from that morning’s experience.

I just continued standing by the counter and observing the personnel carry on their conversation, with my dozen donuts now on top of the counter.  I didn’t say a word. After a couple of minutes, I saw the same service staff member who assisted me earlier. He walked past me and went back outside. He didn’t acknowledge me and I thought that maybe he was just busy.

I decided to just stand there by the counter and wait (ever-patient customer that I am). Finally after waiting for several minutes, one of the service personnel (perhaps realizing that I have been waiting a while) at the counter finally asked, “Has someone attended to you already?” I answered, “No, but I am here to pick up my car that was serviced this morning.” She asked for my name and immediately tried looking for my paperwork. I had a feeling something was wrong when she could not find my papers on the pile of finished work. The lady started asking around if someone had serviced an Audi. It was only then that my original service person responded and told me that they haven’t even started work on it yet.

What?!  I had reason to be mad as hell but I wasn’t. I could complain to the manager but I didn’t.  Instead, I very patiently reminded the service person that helped me earlier that he promised the car will be ready in 45 minutes. It was now nearly two hours later. As a customer, I just expected an apology and explanation. But to my surprise, he became very defensive and explained that the service crew busy servicing other cars and 45 minutes was just an estimate, not a promise. He did not apologize and was very close to being rude.

I did not argue nor complained; I just told them that I will wait. So I took my dozen donuts and sat in the waiting area. I took out my tablet and proceeded to write about my experience – most of what is written here – and waited for another 45 minutes.

It was so strange. My customer experience form earlier that morning to what happened afterwards was as different as night and day. I thought about how things could change so abruptly in just two hours — how inconsistent and how bad. But this is not the end of the story—you will be surprised at how it concluded.

My plan was to just get my car after the service, drive home, eat my donuts and post this blog. I approached the counter after 45 minutes and a different service person arrived with my car key. He sincerely   apologized. He told me that I did not owe them anything for the service and they were sorry for making me wait for so long. I thought it was a nice gesture. I surely did not expect to get something out of it because I kept my cool and did not even complain. How did they know that I was furious and so frustrated inside? I thought they read the situation well.  I also thought that the last service person I spoke with responded well and turned things around a bit.  I tried to explain to him what happened earlier that morning and even told him about the donuts intended as a token of appreciation for the excellent service I anticipated (but sadly did not get).  In the end, I wasn’t completely satisfied but decided to give the donuts to the hardworking service crew (that did the actual work on my car) and left.

As you can imagine, this was such a weird customer experience—a definite roller coaster ride. I wouldn’t wish anyone to experience what I went through today but I learned a lot. I took the opportunity to observe rather than complain. I did this with the intention of writing about it and providing customer service insights to my readers.

From today’s experience, here are my customer service takeaways:

  • Customer service delivery must be consistent. That is how you will win customer loyalty.
  • Don’t make promises unless you will keep them. Be careful of what you promise to your customer. That will create the expectation of the service. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. Try to keep your promise or exceed your promise as best possible. That’s how you wow customers with your service.
  • When you fail to deliver, it is very crucial to acknowledge, empathize, explain and give a sincere apology. More importantly, don’t be rude and defensive.
  • When a mistake is made, customers want it to be handled quickly and to their satisfaction. They want some kind of action that acknowledges a mistake was made and every effort is being done to correct it. When you recover, you may find that your customer is even more loyal than before.  

What do you think about my experience today? What would you have felt or what would you have done if you were in my situation? Have you had the same bizarre customer experience before? Would you return to Pep Boys if this happened to you?

Photos courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

What Prioritization and Planning Can Do for You

Prioritization and planning are two sides of the same coin. Planning is thinking about the tasks required to achieve the desired goal on some scale . Prioritization is ensuring you are doing the right tasks. Planning and prioritization are two of the best skills a manager can have. They ensure good use of your own efforts and those of your team. 

Prioritization is making the best use of your limited time and resources when demands are seemingly limitless. Every single day a manager is bombarded with demands with “ASAP” written all over it. Unending meeting requests, continuous daily reports, pressing operative issues and urgent project tasks — you name it—the list goes on and on and on! If you get into that vicious cycle of trying to do everything, you’ll end up burned out, frustrated and unhappy.   

Prioritization in principle means doing “first things first;” as a process it means evaluating a group of items and ranking them in order of importance and urgency.    – Business Dictionary

Your day only has a limited number of hours, this is the same for your week, your month, your year etc. There is a maximum number of things that you can possibly do (with good quality) in a period of time— therefore you need to prioritize.

If everything is important then nothing is important. If you qualify the “not-so-important-tasks” as very important it devalues any other “more-important-tasks”. 

Start your day by devoting a fair amount of your creative energy to planing your day. This will jump start your day on the right track. You will know your action items (things that matter) and backburners (tasks that can wait).

Perhaps a year is a much longer period but even though, there is a maximum number of things you can do in a year—therefore, you still need to prioritize. Annual planning sessions are important endeavors for companies wanting to set priorities right for the year and align objectives with strategic goals. Nothing beats starting the year in the right direction; you have a game plan and you understand what needs to be done to accomplish your goals.

By planning ahead you are in the best position to adjust priorities. Proper planning is building enough room into your plans for additional demands. New demands pop-up and they may also be important. Adjusting priorities is commonplace; you should always assume that there will be unexpected requests. Set aside time for them. As long as they are important tasks that bring you closer to you goal, they must be done!

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Learning IT Organizations

November 18, 2010 3 comments

We’ve all heard the saying that leading by example is one of the most powerful ways of leadership. But ironically, it’s often the most overlooked. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Gandhi once said.

The best way to create culture is to transmit culture. The most obvious ways to transmit culture is through teaching and coaching. IT managers and staff look up to their senior leaders for directions.  IT leaders should not limit their engagement with their employees with discussions about operation work. They should engage their subordinates in other meaningful ways so as to help them develop themselves.

The best IT teams must have a culture of continuous learning.  In IT organizations, developing employees is not optional, it is a necessity. Development is necessary to acquire the skills and learn the knowledge needed to keep up with new technology and processes in order to achieve business goals. Additionally, development programs in volatile and competitive organizations like IT are important in attracting and retaining employees. 

Information Technology needs future-oriented leaders. Arguably, it is the most unpredictable and most innovative area of the company. If the CIO is not forward-looking, IT will most likely neither be as competitive nor at par with competitors who are relentlessly pursuing innovation. IT leaders are fascinated about the future. They are relentless about change and impatient for progress. CIOs should always be looking forward to new technology and practices that are developing, searching for new processes, tools and methodologies and experimenting how it will make sense in business in the future.  

  • How many types of developmental conversations occur in your organization?
  • How can you create a culture of learning that goes beyond traditional classroom training?
  • In what ways do your communication tools and practices help build your team’s skills for participating in conversations about goals, changes, and barriers they face?

Photo coutesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

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