Caring For Employees

IMG_3419 copyOne of the most rewarding experiences for me as a manager has been my employees’ satisfaction and contentment.  Seeing my treatment of a coworker bring a positive change in his or her attitude and motivation has been one of my favorite aspects of management.  I’ve had employees go from fire-worthy to being indispensable to the company.

Vast amounts of research and countless articles have been written about the correlation between employee happiness and productivity, yet so many people are unhappy in their jobs.  A successful manager needs to be focusing as much on employee relations as he does on operations.

I like to keep things simple. The simpler they are, the easier they are to remember and the more likely they are to be accomplished.  I’ve boiled my thoughts on employee satisfaction down to two points: compassion and support.

Compassion

Employees are people.  They have lives outside of work. In their lives they experiences joys and pains.  People want to know that they matter as individuals.  Getting to know your employee on a personal level builds rapport and trust.  If they know you genuinely care for and are interested in them, channels of communication and relationship will be opened up.  They will feel freer to share with you their frustrations with the job and how they could enjoy a more positive work experience.  You may be surprised what you uncover.

Support

Employees need to know that you support them.  They need their manager to trust them and advocate for them.  If they are getting blamed for a mistake, they need to be given the benefit of the doubt.  Standing up for your employee when they get “thrown under the bus” allows them to feel safe and secure in their position and job.  Mistakes do happen.  A manager needs to create an environment where it is safe to make mistakes.  Allowing employees to make mistakes reduces stress in the workplace and allows for problems to be remedied more quickly.

It is much easier to change systems, procedures and policies to affect change in a workplace than change the culture. Creating a positive working atmosphere is a challenge because it involves changing peoples’ attitudes and motivations. For a manager, achieving employee satisfaction makes management fun and fulfilling.

Sales

IMG_3043 copyBefore I got into sales I had no idea how much I would enjoy it.  I had thought that it would be stressful to try and sell a product, but it turned out to be an exciting challenge.  As I gained confidence I began to figure out what was important and universal to selling a product.

Here is what I learned.

1. Get in contact with a customer

People can’t purchase your product if they don’t know about it.  That sounds pretty obvious, but it is the basic problem that advertising and marketing tries to address.  I ask myself questions like, “Where are my potential customers?  How can I make them aware of my product?  How can I get into a conversation with them about my product?”  Putting yourself in their shoes will help you develop your marketing strategy.

2.  Know your product

There’s no point in talking to a potential customer if you don’t know what you’re talking about.  When you are confident in your product and in pitching it to customers, it gives them confidence.  Not only is it embarrassing to not know your product, but the lack of personal confidence will hijack the sale from the start.  Knowing your product is a controllable variable in the sale and there should be no excuse for not knowing it or not knowing the answers to questions about it.  Your confidence in the product will rub off on your customer as well as allow yourself to focus on your customer.

3. Know your customer

It is important to get to know your customer before you try to fit them with your product.  When you get to know your customer you are building a connection with them.  When you find out what their interests and needs are you can tailor your pitch to fit them.  You can mention the aspects of your product that will resonate with them.  In learning about your customer you may discover that your product is not a fit for them and can keep from wasting time trying to sell to them.  I find that when I am open and personable with customers they are more likely to consider buying and I am more likely to enjoy my job.

4. Ask for a decision

By the end of your time with a potential customer you have created a story with them.  You have connected your product to them.  You have described how your product fits their unique interests or needs.  After recapping this story with them, give them the opportunity to make a decision.

the Bones of a Restaurant

the bones of a restaurant by Ryan Crossett

I’ve only had a couple years of experience working in food service, but it is something that I really enjoy.  Even in my free time, I like to watch television programs about food.  One of my favorite shows is Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey where Ramsey helps failing restaurants relaunch.

I recently got the chance myself, to get involved in relaunching a restaurant.  Before starting the relaunch, we took some time to consider who our main customers are.  In this case, they are western tourists wanting to eat local food in a more comfortable setting.  I wanted to be careful to maintain that “local feel” while improving the key elements of environment, food and customer service. (more…)

Accomplishing Tasks in a New Environment

accomplishing tasks in a new environment by Ryan Crossett

Every time I move to a new place, there’s a huge learning curve figuring out how to get things done.  I don’t know where to buy the things I need or get connected with services.

I already talked about how helpful neighbors can be.  Often they are the first people we ask our questions, like how to get drinking water or how to get internet installed.  Neighbors not only know the town, but they know your neighborhood and how it works.  They are your first connection to your new community. (more…)

Websites that Work for you

building a website that works for you by Ryan Crossett

I recently helped redo our company’s website.  I say “helped” because I found someone much more experienced than I am to do most of the work.  We cleaned up what had been a pretty cluttered site and made easier to navigate.

It may be difficult to know where to start with your company’s website.  Your website should work for you.  The time, energy and money you put into it should produce the results you are looking for.  Know what you want your website to do for you and build it off of that.

There are so many articles about what makes a good website.  The website building site, Yola put together a great article that gives very simple and practical steps to creating a good site.  I like simple and practical.

Here are Yola’s tips: (more…)

Teaching Job-Related English

teaching job related English by Melissa Crossett

Months ago, Ryan Crossett developed an English curriculum for the staff.  Twice a week, I, Melissa, have been involved in helping teach that curriculum.  I enjoy working with each of the staff members and watching them progress.  Some have moved through it very quickly, while others have needed encouragement that they are capable of learning new things.  It’s fun to cheer them on and help give them the confidence they need to learn English.

Bridging the Culture Gap

Bridging the culture gap by Ryan Crossett

Entering a new culture is always a challenge, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.  So, how do you move into neighborhood, a new town, in a different culture from your own?

In the years we’ve lived in Asia, we have had some wonderful neighbors.  Some have turned out to be very helpful and some have even turned out to be great friends.  I always wish that when we move into a new place that the neighbors would take the initiative to come over and welcome us.  What is usually the case, however, is that we have to be proactive and make a point to meet people.  I try to put myself in their shoes and realize that it must be intimidating for them to introduce themselves to the new foreigner living next door, especially if they think that they won’t be able to communicate with me.

We have found that we need to be the ones to make the point of meeting people and showing ourselves to be friendly.  Even though those first few meetings can be awkward, it sets us up for good relationships that can be a real asset to adjusting to a new place.  Although I’m sure that we’ve unknowingly offended some at times, we’ve found people to be very gracious and accepting.  Taking the effort to show yourself friendly always pays off.

Knowing your Customer

knowing your customer by Ryan Crossett

Here where I live in Northern Laos, we have some local ladies who are ferocious saleswomen.  They peddle their bracelets and bags to any tourist walking by or trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant.  What they are selling, more than the bracelets and bags, is peace.  Because, if you shell out for one of their products there is the hope that they will be satisfied and leave you alone.  Their technique may not be the best and probably isn’t based on customer satisfaction, but they’ve perfected it.  They know how to get their customers to cave.

Not all customers are the same.  Each person is looking for a different type of product and value.  While some customers look for a good price, others look for quality, convenience or some look at social impact.  I think that most people would say that all of these things are important to them, but not all valued the same.  Take for instance a university student who has limited finances.  He is going to sacrifice quality and convenience for price.  If your customers are primarily university students, you will want to take this into account and provide the best product for the price that they would be willing to pay.  You can have a wonderful product, but if you aren’t paying attention to who your customers are, you won’t end up having very many.

Toolkit Essentials

toolkit essentials by Ryan Crossett

My dad worked in home improvement, so he was always well-stocked with tools.  I got a little spoiled growing up always having the right tool handy.  Working in Asia, I don’t have that luxury.  I’ve had to limit my toolkit to the essentials.  A few years ago, I bought myself the Bucket Boss 16 inch Gatemouth tool bag.  I decided to try to limit myself to what I could fit in the bag. So here’s the list of my essentials:

  •  cordless drill and bits
  • hammer
  • screwdriver set
  • vice grips
  • socket set
  • tape measure
  • needle nose pliers
  • torpedo level
  • square
  • chisel set
  • hack saw
  • hand saw
  • quick grip clamps

I’m happy to recommend particular models or brands if you’re interested.