Yes, YOU Need To Read And Share This

It is the very best single thing you can do to stand out from your peers, and it’s also the single best thing you can do if you’re looking for job security. For employers, it’s the single thing they get most exasperated with and the source of almost all complaints by their customers. What is it? Customer service.

Think about it. What company doesn’t place a high value on satisfying their customers? When customers are treated properly, the experience they have is so positive it is only natural that they would like to repeat that sensation. If that same positive experience is repeated time after time, not only do they become loyal customers, they also tell their family and friends because they want the people they care for to share a similarly positive experience.

Customer service excellence shifts priorities from your needs to the needs of others.

It’s so obvious, it’s amazing to see so many people who don’t get it or understand it but choose not to act on it. Employers can give their employees product knowledge, design spaces that people enjoy being in, provide support and training, impart customer service expectations, but it often doesn’t result in sustained customer service excellence by the employees themselves.

Some people think customer service is exclusively reserved for the Retail sector. Not so. You expect great customer service when you go to the Dentist, meet with a Funeral Director, approach a Crossing Guard or visit a Police station to obtain a criminal reference check. We expect timely, courteous service.

Customers in fact aren’t exclusively the people who purchase or consume our products and services; they aren’t even always on the other side of the counter. If you are a Manager, consider your staff as customers. You have opportunities with each working day to show them respect, learn their likes and dislikes, listen to them express their needs and wants, and you have numerous opportunities to be helpful. Doesn’t that sound like the customer service experience?

Let’s break down the interaction with customers into these segments:

1)      Greeting

A customer should never feel they are disturbing you or holding you up. Yet how often do you see staff in a store chatting and entirely ignore the person who just walked in and is browsing merchandise? A common defence these employee use is that it’s not really all that busy so they were chatting. Why aren’t they busy? Customers are shopping elsewhere where the customer is valued and service is better! Acknowledge their presence, greet them with sincerity, extend an appreciation for their visit.

2)      Determining

They may be on an exploratory trip, learning with no immediate plans to use your services or purchase your products. It may also be someone on your team speaking with you who is trying to determine how much they can trust you with something sensitive. It may a customer checking out the store for the first time.

Focus your attention on that one person at that moment for how you act imprints the first impression. Extend an offer of assistance to determine your next steps. When they feel engaged, customers share more. If their instincts suggest you are not genuinely interested in helping them, they will go elsewhere or conceal what they really want to share.

3)      Responding

Having heard what they want or need, assess your own capacity to fulfill that need. If you can, do so and if not, state you’ll either locate that information for them or direct them where they can get what they want. While they may not remember the exact content of your words, they will remember the overall response they received and how your words and actions made them feel. They will seek you out again if your response creates a favourable impression and ignore or shun you if your response is indifferent or dismissive.

4)      Concluding

A relationship is built on a series of interactions. It is imperative to conclude each conversation or interaction taking care to ensure that the customer has received the best service you are capable of providing. A series of positive experiences builds your brand. Often the best way of checking this is just to ask, “Is there anything else I can do?” We all want to feel appreciated and so it’s no surprise those who excel in customer service smile, make direct eye contact and thank customers for visiting, trusting them with their business, or in the case of a co-worker, thanking others for their help at the end of the day.

5)      Reference The Future

“Thank you come again.” “We have a sale starting next Thursday.” “Thanks for opening up, we made progress today. Let’s pick up here next week.” Whether you’re a Receptionist, Doctor, a Palliative Care professional or a Sales Clerk, leaving the customer with some anticipation of their future contact bridges this one experience with the next encounter.

Customer service excellence when done well can truly make you indispensable and a valued commodity not only in your current position, but also in positions of greater influence in the organizations you work with. Show some enthusiasm in your work, appreciate the ‘customers’ you interact with everyday, and never overlook your co-workers, boss, peers, and visitors as your customers.

Ask yourself, “What more can I offer?”, “How could I make their experience a better one?” You’ve experienced mandatory service and exemplary service and know the difference; choose to excel!







Positioning Yourself For The Future

I suspect at some point we all consider leaving one job for another. Whether with the same employer, achieved through promotion, a lateral move or quitting, it’s safe to say we’ve imagined what it would be like to make a career move. It’s like the lottery; we dream of what we’d do if we won.

So if it’s a safe to say that all of us – you included – are at some point going to make a career move, would you agree that you’d like to be in the best position possible when that time arrives? Let’s work from that basic premise; putting ourselves in a position where we can legitimately compete for the jobs we want in the future.

Whether it’s because we are mistreated and want to quit, ready for a change in environments, wanting more responsibility, burnt out, moving to a new community, or changing fields entirely, we’re going to have our own reason(s) for experiencing change. So the real issue is how to actually get ourselves ready for that change at some point in the future, under circumstances that we don’t know in the here and now.

One thing you can do with great certainty is take stock of your likes and strengths. Write down what you’re good at and what makes you feel good, which may not be the same. For example you may be great at selling, but find no joy in selling items people don’t need. You may be great at counselling others, but you wish you could feel a passion for it like you do when you’re working on your car. Maybe the peace of mind and pride you feel when you’re painting the interior of your home is something you wish you could experience in the workplace.

Notice I’ve omitted recording your dislikes and your weaknesses at this point. While important to know, let’s leave those two for now. Brainstorm your positives; likes and strengths and don’t limit yourself to the paid work environment. Consider leisure and personal time, how you choose to spend your vacations, weekends, time off and your moments of greatest pleasure throughout the day. You might find the best part of your entire day is when you’re cleaning the house, adding to your journal, talking with children at the crosswalk or when you flip the, ‘open’ sign at your cash drawer in the bank. Where are you when you catch yourself smiling and feeling good?

So armed with a list of what you’re good at and what makes you feel good, the next thing to do is give yourself permission to imagine. If you have a clear picture of your desired future employment, look at the functions of that position and compare your likes and strengths lists. How well do you match up? You want a job that will be enjoyable and play to your strengths and likes after all. If it’s a good match all the better for you!

A common mistake people make is only looking at educational requirements and courses they must have to compete for their dream job and then enrolling in those courses. While logical, it’s much more important to identify the personality traits of successful people in that job and seeing how you compare. Would your natural personality be a good fit for the requirements of the job? Can you make tough decisions, exercise patience, empathize with others or remain calm under pressure?

If you aren’t sure what the future holds, you can still take steps to help yourself out in the here and now. Knowing your likes and strengths, you probably are aware of things you’d like to build on and improve. Not necessarily weaknesses in your current job you understand – but areas you’d like to develop, interests you like to fuel. What you’re doing is self-identifying areas you want to explore and skills you want to add, without necessarily going about it from the point of view of picking up skills required for a specific job. As you acquire these skills, qualifications and pursue your interests, opportunities may arise which will only come about because of your developing interests. You meet and network with people sharing your passion.

Looking ahead need not be akin to that dreaded, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” interview question. It may be that you look at the next season on the calendar instead. “What would I like to do in the coming year or this winter?” may be more realistic, tangible and therefore meaningful to you. For example getting yourself in better physical shape and feeling better about your appearance might be your main motivator, but it would also make you more attractive to some employers.

The crux of the matter is to identify and feel good about what likes and strengths you have now, and pursue the things which will build on your happiness. When you do the things that bring you joy it shouldn’t only be on your own time. The happiest people find joy not only in their personal lives but their professional lives as well. When you play to your likes and strengths, you’ll find purpose in your work and your future self will appreciate the actions your present self takes in your immediate future.

Put off this critical process and when opportunities arise, you may neither recognize them for what they are, nor be qualified to seize upon them.

Resumes No Longer Required

As you’ve made a decision to read this piece, I suspect you’re interest in doing so is from one of two perspectives: 1) you’re a job seeker who is elated with the thought of no longer having to put together the dreaded resume or 2) you’re a resume writing professional who is interested in knowing what’s going to replace it.

The traditional resume hasn’t dramatically changed a great deal over time; it’s still that 1-5 pages (“5 pages!” I hear some of you gasp) which lays out your qualifications, current and past experience and education. The resume has traditionally been your personal marketing document, hopefully making you one of, if not the most attractive applicant to have in for a chat. It’s been your first impression on an employer; on paper anyhow.

Some months ago now, I read a job posting on a very traditional employment website. It was remarkable only by the method of application. Instead of requesting people apply with a resume, the posting advised applicants to write them a, ‘get to know me’ essay, the subject being to share some major accomplishment. The ad even went so far as to say and I quote: “We’re not really impressed with resumes”.

Well, that caught my attention. First thing I did after reading this was to zero in on the employer to find if this was a minor or major player. Turns out it was for an outdoors adventure store that has a chain of operations. I was intrigued with this approach enough to contact the employer and have a conversation in order to determine what has prompted this approach.

The company noticed the many resumes they were receiving looked very much the same. The words they included in their job postings were showing up consistently in the resumes they received, but when invited in for an interview, few of the applicants actually possessed the right combination of personality and passion in addition to experience in the outdoors. The standard resume isn’t a good tool for communicating personality, drive and passion. Their essay style of application is their attempt to hear people’s enthusiasm through their words. Grip the reader and you’ll grip the customer.

A second indicator that times are changing has to do with the increasing emergence of Recruiters in non-traditional areas of the employment market. In the past, they generally worked with senior executives; those in high income brackets and high on the organizational chart. With many people out of work, many have created their own jobs and become Recruiters themselves. As more and more Recruiters spring up, the market they have traditionally tapped into had to expand, and so you’ll see them at every level, working with people in mid and entry level positions too.

When these Recruiters go about their business, they certainly want a paper resume but it’s what they do with the information on it that is impacting and changing the application process. These folks are not approaching employers with resumes but rather with conversations that build relationships. By building relationships with employers, they come to know what the employers are looking for, their issues and challenges and their hiring needs. They then have further conversations referencing those they are working with to find employment that have what the employer is looking for. In short, the Recruiter advocates on behalf of a job seeker with the employer, and ensures the applicant knows the employers expectations and needs. The Recruiters livelihood depends on making a solid referral that turns into a hired employee.

The resume is a formality in the above scenario, where the company is intrigued because they trust the Recruiter to refer people who will be a good fit. This process saves the company time to advertise jobs, scan resumes, create short lists, interview applicants, and further interview applicants just to get to the potential employee.

Now imagine a third way that makes the traditional resume redundant. A company posts a job opening, with a brief description of the requirements. No resume is required to be transmitted. Instead they request interested applicants send a recording video of themselves, stating their qualifications and their motivation. In addition to employment accomplishments and qualifications, the employer gets to see and hear the person. Now they are assessing tone of voice, enthusiasm, communication skills, appearance, technological skills, attention to detail and the ability to show themselves at their best. You’ve heard you should smile during a telephone interview as it affects your presentation. Now they can hear and see the impact of your smile – or the lack of it. If they don’t like what they hear and see, they’ve only invested seconds.

Best get prepared now for the major changes that have already started and are going to be the norm in the near future. You can already view applicant’s photos on their LinkedIn profiles, and in some cases, watch recordings of people self-marketing themselves to potential employers – again on their LinkedIn profile pages.

As a job seeker who may hate making a resume, you may applaud or be upset with changes coming. As a professional helping the unemployed find work, it is important to stay up on emerging trends and help your clients with cutting edge advice.

Sure beats photocopying and distributing 50 copies of a standard resume and hoping for a bite. Now that’s really getting old.

Stressed About An Under-Performing Co-Worker?

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. What do you do however when you work in a setting where one of your co-workers is not providing the best service to your customers or clients? What if anything do you do about it and exactly how do you proceed?

Can we make two broad assumptions?

  1. Most of us get better in a job as we spend time in the role.
  2. Most of us genuinely want to improve.
You work with others on an assembly line, in a restaurant, on a team or at an office; you someone is underperforming regularly. They may be friendly, love a good joke, be a fun person to be around, but the quality of their work is questionable.
Now there’s one line of thought which is that as a colleague, you should just worry about your own responsibilities and doing your own job the best you can. After all, if the customers or clients have a problem it’s up to them to complain or question the value of the services they receive and up to management to do something about it if and when it comes to their attention. The problem with this is that you may be aware of the inferior service people are receiving from that individual but the customers and management may not; especially in settings where employees have the latitude to work alone.
If you believe in customer service excellence, knowing customers are receiving inferior service where you work will bother you; be it because it reflects on you too, you have high personal standards, or you know what management expects. If and when those customers or clients realize the poor quality of service they’ve received, they may not just be critical of that one employee, they may generalize and paint all employees (including you) with the same brush, telling others they’ll get poor service if they get products, goods or service where you work.
You can bury your head in the sand and pretend you don’t see, hear or know about the poor service a colleague delivers. In a perverse twist, you might even be somewhat glad that the co-worker is underperforming because it makes you look good by comparison. This in my mind is very short-sighted, because while you are providing superior service to your customers, the total number of clients or customers bringing their business may drop substantially if the reputation of the poor service spreads. You are guilty of being complicit, or enabling the poor service to continue by doing little or nothing about it.
So the problem is what to actually do. Should you share your concerns with management and let them take whatever action they see fit? You may or may not want to remain anonymous because you have to work alongside this person every day. No matter how you visualize the situation you feel you’re squealing. The uneasiness you feel is actually because you yourself wouldn’t want a co-worker going to management over your own poor performance as a first step. Yet if you speak with the co-worker first and there’s no improvement, going to management as a 2nd step, makes it certain it was you who identified them.
One option is the straightforward meeting with the person and sharing your issues. You might fear backlash, worry that you’ll damage a relationship with a co-worker and have elevated tension in your workplace making it no longer a place you enjoy working due to stress you’ve created, but doing nothing is causing you stress too.
First identify if the other employee is in fact meeting company expectations. Could be time has made you wiser, better, etc. and the person is performing much like you yourself when you were younger. So is it the learning curve, poor service, a bad attitude or an indifference to improve where they’ve plateaued and are not improving that’s a problem?
You could check with other colleagues to see if your concerns are shared, but what if they are not? Be aware you run the risk of having one of those people pass on your opinions to the co-worker in question. That could get ugly so you definitely need to make it about the service not the person.
And here we’ve hit upon the answer. De-personalize the problem so you’re not focusing on the individual but rather, the gap between expected service standards and the service delivered. When you come at things from wanting to standardize service excellence across your team, you provide a non-threatening way to address issues. You always need to remember however that discipline and training issues are probably not your areas of responsibility or authority so don’t go there.
Offering to provide support, guidance, the benefit of your own experience and being helpful may get you much further than appearing to attack the person themselves. Your focus should be on what you want to improve – the overall service levels received by your collective customers. You can also achieve positive results by praising and re-enforcing good behaviours when you observe them.
A last suggestion may be a team review of performance expectations and standards where everyone present takes responsibility for doing more, being better and providing better service. Sometimes the people who need this most tune out and those that are already doing excellent work may feel unfairly targeted but it may be an important step.
Please, weigh in with your thoughts and ideas.

Why Volunteer? Take Me For Example

There are many reasons for volunteering in your community, and while many people advise job seekers to volunteer, it isn’t always immediately clear how that volunteer work is really of much help. I thought therefore I’d use my own volunteer experience as an example; share what I put in and what I get out of it. See what you think.

If you find yourself seated in the Academy Theatre tonight in the town of Lindsay, Ontario Canada, you’d be entertained with an amateur production of the play, Mary Poppins. Among the cast, you’d pick out my name in the programme, and I’d be one of two gentleman singing a song that opens the show. Yes, for the next two weeks, I’ll be one member of a cast of local people who will bring this musical production to life.

So how does volunteering in a local musical production on my own time in any way advance or promote opportunities for professional development, networking and any career aspirations I might have? (And of course, that you may have if you were similarly involved?) That is a great question.

For starters you have to look at the kind of people who are attracted to these kind of productions. In our cast, we have Teachers, Lawyers, a Judge, local business owners, Musicians, Social Services Workers, a Municipal Director, Attorneys, a Yoga Instructor, a President of a local non-profit association – and that’s just to name a fifth of the cast. In addition to the adult actors on stage, there are a number of child and teen performers who have parents in attendance. There are the stage crew, the orchestra, Set and Costume Designers, Painters, Seamstresses, theatre personnel, make-up people and Lighting Technicians.

Think about all those people with whom you could interact with over a few months right from the first casting call to the final curtain and cast party. That’s an awful lot of opportunity to mingle, introduce yourself, forge a relationship, share a beverage with, learn your lines with. The play becomes the vehicle which brings you together and gives you common ground to start those conversations.

In addition to donating your time and raising some funds for the theatre or the larger community, you just feel good having some fun. It can be a creative outlet for those who need it, a pressure release valve for those who work in stressful day jobs, and it provides some work/life balance. Another interesting thing you’d find is that families often share the stage together; this year as in the past, I’m sharing this experience with my wife who has a small role and is also a Stage Manager in the wings when she’s not on stage. In years past, my daughter was also involved and the three of us bonded through the musical productions.

Good people join these productions. The students are only those who excel in school and can handle the rehearsal schedules while keeping marks up. The actors are good people, many of whom are leaders in their community. With no one getting a single dime for this experience, the people are invested because they want to have fun and love it.

Okay, so here I am networking with all these people. Remember that old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” And have you ever said to someone, “But I don’t know anyone! How do I get to know the right people?” Volunteering is one way to go about it. The best time to actually volunteer is long before you actually need those contacts for your personal gain. In other words, now is the best time to get involved and volunteer in some organization where you live and where you want to work.

Now while I’m not actively asking my theatre friends for a job, imagine if I was looking for work. With all these people available to me, I could certainly put out the word that I was looking and would appreciate any leads on jobs or the opportunity to interview for one. Ah, the opportunity to interview…. The entire time I’m interacting with these people, they are seeing what I’m like to work with, whether I’m positive, helpful, supportive or self-absorbed, aloof, critical etc. Every rehearsal with them is a little piece they gather and add to whatever opinion they are forming of me. In other words, my entire volunteer experience with them is a long interview.

I could also draw upon these fellow thespians and ask them to stand as a reference; they could speak to my dependability, friendliness, community service, character etc. Sure I may not see them ever again, but I can tell you I’ve acted with some of these people for over 20 years..

So here it is opening night. I’ve made some new friends, had lots of fun and laughs, helped mentor some new to the stage, benefitted myself from others suggestions and look great due to the efforts of the Costume Designers. I’m at the stage where I’m the guy helping other men do their makeup; something I don’t get to say very often!

This volunteer work is on my LinkedIn profile; it’s on my resume / CV, and I have a separate theatre resume I use when auditioning for roles outside my local community too.

If you are looking to work or advance your career, consider investing in volunteerism.

The #1 Mistake Employment Coaches Make

You don’t have to be a rookie on the Employment Counselling team to make this error in judgement, but it does tend to happen to those new to the field more often. However, even the most seasoned worker will have the occasional encounter with a client go wrong and only after some reflection immediately zero in on the problem.

So what is the number 1 mistake Employment Coaches and Counsellors make? For my money, it’s listening to a client tell their story and suddenly – almost unconsciously – begin to solve their problem for them. We fail to remain actively engaged in the listening process; we remember all the other people with similar challenges we have encountered in our work and mentally start plotting out the steps required for this person to move forward based on what has worked in the past for others.

Sounds logical doesn’t it? We’ve encountered people just like this person before. So the solution will be the same solution we’ve shared with others. The problem however is that we may fail to accurately gauge both where this client in front of us is at the moment and also fail to discern the skills they have to effectively implement any plan created. We may assume that what we would do in their situation is what they will see as the appropriate course to take as well.

However, isn’t it true that what clients actually do after we give them the divine plan differs from what we agreed they would do? When we speak with them the next time and they haven’t moved on the plan we say something like, “I thought we agreed you would…” The truth of the situation is that the client never really bought into the plan in the first place. They may have signed some paperwork with OUR plan all neatly laid out, nodded their head at the right moments, even perhaps voiced their agreement. Really what occurred is that they didn’t buy in, and they didn’t have the assertiveness to challenge the plan we were so enthusiastic about. After all, if we are the experts it must be a good plan, but it was never, ‘owned’ by the client as their plan.

Now when we assess that same client in the future and gauge their commitment to put a plan into action, we may further compound our relationship by branding this person as problematic. After all, they say they want to work or move forward, but they are clearly not acting on the advice we have so cleverly shared with them. This can create mistrust in the relationship for both client and Employment Coach.

To avoid this pitfall, it’s absolutely critical to tune in to the clients words and hear them as if you were hearing this tale for the very first time. You may have heard others voice similar barriers and challenges to getting hired, but you’ve clearly never heard this client tell their story. Not only is the client entitled to tell their own story, but in the listening, we as Employment Counsellors and Coaches have to assess their capacity to put any plan into action. How do we make that assessment? We ask open-ended questions that help us gauge their comprehension, literacy, attitudes and their ability to articulate their needs and current situations.

The plan we want to eventually devise not only has to have an end-goal that both parties buy into completely, but the plan has to have steps which this client in front of us is capable of achieving based on their existing skills. Bottom line? We mean well and want the best possible outcome for our client, but they may not be able to move at the pace we’d like, they may need smaller goals, greater supports in place to reach those goals and ultimately more time to realize their end goal.

I believe it is significant to remind ourselves that a client who is unemployed but wants to work is experiencing a heightened degree of stress. When they are in front of us, we should never forget that the outcome of our meeting may either ease their burdens and give them hope of success, or may compound their anxiety. If they leave with a plan they don’t own, it’s only going to result in coming up short. This leads only to a lower self-image, because they have one more person who had higher expectations of them they’ve disappointed. Ironically, we’ve set them up to fail.

Sometimes – in fact most of the time – a client isn’t able to articulate what they really need. They may say, “I need a job”. However, really talk with them and really listen to them and what you get is, “I feel like a failure, I don’t value myself, I don’t have anything to offer.” Small achievable goals which they can tangibly realize build their self-confidence and they experience a positive change in their self-perception. This is a precursor to their ability to actually get and keep a job.

You may also find a client initially wants, ‘anything’ as a job. ‘Anything’ is one clue that may suggest you are listening to someone who not only lacks career direction, but the necessary self-confidence to get what they perceive as a meaningful job. Help them build their self-esteem, and soon they’ll name a position that would make them happy.


Elevating Performance

There’s room for improvement when it comes to your customer service performance and it’s in your own best interests to do better. Whether you want to hang on to your present job, gain respect from peers, are hoping for a promotion or want to feel better about the work you do, now is the time to rearrange your priorities and make customer service number one.

Do you find yourself thinking someone in your workplace should be reading this? Fine; share with them. However, name the person who is proving such superior customer service that there is no room for improvement whatsoever. Those who provide the very best customer service are always striving to offer more, do what they currently do better, and their biggest fear is not doing enough. Those that provide mediocre customer service seldom if ever worry about elevating their own performance.

Think about your own experiences when you’re the customer. Whether in a store, at the Doctor’s, dealing with the person who picks up your garbage or talking to the Newspaper Carrier, you can tell when you get great service vs. poor or even average service. When there’s a problem with the service you receive, often a senior employee assigned to address your concerns will ask point-blank, “What could we do to make things right?” At this point, you find yourself sharing with the person your expectations, and the gulf between those expectations and the customer service you actually experienced determine your degree of dissatisfaction.

Now think about what you would expect if you were the customer experiencing the level of service you currently provide. Would you be thrilled, happy or dissatisfied if someone provided the same service as you currently provide? That is certainly one way to evaluate your own performance. There is of course another way to measure your performance that is much more personal; your moral compass. Your moral compass is something you carry with you every day and it’s always there, indicating whether your service was exemplary, good, average, underperforming or flat-out poor.

Allow me to use myself as an example, because like you, I too have a moral compass that I carry with me day in day out. When I sit down with someone who comes to a resume workshop, the first thing I know is that they didn’t come expecting to leave with a resume. You may think I made a typing mistake there but I assure you I didn’t. No they don’t come expecting to leave with a resume; they come expecting to leave with a great resume. No one walks in and says, “Can you just throw something together – it doesn’t even have to be good.” Their name is at the top of the page; this is their personal marketing document, and I’m the resume professional. The term professional dictates that I act in a professional way and do the very best I’m capable of – no less.

If I were to do a rush job, say because my colleagues invited me to go to the local coffee shop and I put our relationship ahead of this client and their resume, I’m clearly not doing my best. My moral compass would swing around in another direction and point to ‘poor’ in terms of my service to this person. While they might not have the knowledge or skill to know the difference in the quality of their resume, I certainly do.

There are many people who completely ignore their moral compass of course. They could care less about what they know to be customer service excellence. They strive for customer service mediocrity. “Let me do the least I can to keep my job but I expect to be paid the same as the best of my peers. I just don’t see why they push themselves to do more when less gets you just as far.” What I’m pointing out here of course is a poor attitude. Do you see yourself or someone you work with like this?

Now those that don’t need this post are likely providing great customer service already; well done. The people who under-perform on a regular basis may indeed recognize themselves, but shock of shocks won’t feel any inclination to make any changes in their performance; after all it’s probably break time. That’s sad for their customers of course and the businesses that employ them.

However, let’s be optimistic here and believe that at least some of those who could and should elevate their customer service do want to improve and provide a better experience for those they serve. It’s the little things you could do. Treat customers just as you yourself would like to be treated – as if they were in full possession of the knowledge you have. You can tell when you’re doing your best and when you’re under-performing and doing the minimum required.

Give the customer your full attention. If they are right in front of you, focus on them, look at them, smile and hear them out. If you work on an assembly line and never see the actual customer who will end up with your product, picture them buying it and expecting a defect-free product. Do your very best.

The best provide superior customer service because it’s the right thing to do. Customers and employers have every right to demand and keep the best. Elevate your performance; heed your moral compass.

The Boss Who Replaces Your Boss

Work long enough for an organization you’re bound to encounter a time when your boss moves on, replaced with someone else. If you’ve worked together for many years, it may seem odd to suddenly find yourself devoid of that relationship, especially if it was a productive one built on mutual respect.

I say it may be odd because when you spend years working together, you develop trust in each other, you know what to expect from each other, and you mutually invest in the relationship. It’s not policies and procedures that define a supervisor; it’s the little things like conversations at the start of the business day, inquiries about your family, your hobbies etc. It’s not so much the role of the person, in this case the boss; it’s the departure of someone who you came to develop a close working relationship with. You’d feel this same void if it was your office mate, the title of boss just adds a layer to the change.

Make no mistake, while your job didn’t change, with a change in supervisor, you still experience change. How you adapt to that change defines how well or poorly you perform moving forward. If you had a great boss – even a good boss, you will find yourself happy for them, especially if for a promotion or a lateral move they sought out. If they weren’t the best boss, you may find yourself grateful for the change, even euphoric; hopeful that the new boss will be a welcomed change from the former boss. Change however, it remains; change you must deal with.

Who replaces your boss is out of your control. Upper management usually determines what is needed in the office, factory floor or district. They may think a shake-up is required, some control re-established, or perhaps things need to remain exactly as they are. Depending on what upper management believes is required; you’ll find yourself with a new person in the role who best brings what is perceived to be needed. So you could find yourself with a new Sheriff in town if order needs to be restored, a Visionary if new direction is desired, a Whip Cracker if production needs increasing and some personnel changes are in order.

You could however, also discover that a clone replaces your boss; someone with similar characteristics in the role who doesn’t appear to be rocking the boat, making sweeping changes of any kind. This could be a strong signal that the team you work on, the department you work in, or the shift you work on is doing just fine the way it is. Not that complacency is encouraged, but this kind of change would indicate performance of the group you work within is appreciated.

There is an opportunity here for you when there is a changeover in your supervisor. In the first few days and weeks of the transition, you have a distinct advantage in knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your team. You could request a, ‘get-to-know-you’ meeting with the new boss, where you sit down and share your role, your strengths and what motivates you. It’s also where you can demonstrate some genuine interest in the boss; where they came from, what motivates them, what’s their leadership style, their expectations. Yes they probably schedule some team meeting, deliver some message to a larger audience, but this 1:1 meeting is about defining your personal relationship with the new boss.

What a great opportunity to mentor the boss! This could be where you share an individual project you are working on, any unofficial role you play on the team, where the team looks to you for leadership. It’s also a wonderful chance to share your motivation, what makes you tick, your philosophy of service, priorities; preferences you have for getting feedback.

The most important thing about this changeover and your encounters with the new boss is that you be genuine. If you are playing up your role on the team, inflating your own importance or being overly flattering of the new boss, they’ll likely spot you for what you are; disingenuous. It’s probable that they’ve already been briefed on the personnel on their new team anyhow.

One of the best decisions you can make early in the transition to a new boss is to get on board with the plans they have. Being resistant; possibly even defiant isn’t going to win you any favours or put you on solid ground. You may have the advantage of time on the team, but they have the legitimate power to effect change which comes with their position, and probably have the blessings of their superiors too. Unless their plans fly in the face of the organization or will cause you to lose your job, the sooner you adapt to the new direction and the new way of doing things, the better for you.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll have a new boss you’ll come to value as much as the previous boss you enjoyed working with. If the departure of your previous boss is good news for you, see this as a fresh start. People are never identical and it’s important not to compare the new with the old. See and evaluate the person for whom they are and support them as you would any new member to the team.

Trapped In A Dead-End Job

Are you trapped in a job that’s draining your life away? Stuck in a job with no future, no chance for advancement or worse yet, not even some variety in the work you do?

To people on the outside it might seem a simple solution; find something else to do and quit. Ah, if only it were that easy! It’s not like you haven’t thought of this very solution yourself of course, because you have. The real sticking point in the plan is finding what that, ‘something else’ could be.

That’s the difficulty isn’t it? You put in a full day grinding it out, and by the time you check out at the end of your day, you’re beat. Your skills may be confined to doing a certain kind of work; a specific job. You haven’t got a clue how to go about finding something else you’d enjoy doing, you can’t quit outright and start looking because you need the income. You look ahead at the time between the present and the day you can retire, and see a lot of monotonous hours doing the same thing you’ve come to hate. You don’t even want to think about it because it’s so depressing.

Some hard choices are going to have to be made, and you’re the one who has to make them. Before doing anything rash, do two things; determine your financial health and your obligations. Knowing how much money you have saved in bank accounts and any investments is critical to knowing how long you can support yourself if you had no pay coming in. Knowing your mandatory obligations will tell you the length of time you’ll have before exhausting those funds. You should also look for areas you could conserve or cut back on expenses before you quit and when you find them, start now.

So let’s look at your choices. The first choice is both the easiest and at the same time the worst.; do nothing and keep dragging yourself in daily hating both the job and yourself for not doing something about it. Depending on the length of time we’re talking about, can you mentally and physically tough it out? Does the money you receive compensate you enough that you can keep going without breaking or just withering away on the job?

A second choice is to speak with someone in your organization and see if you can be laid off. This could not only answer your prayers but make them happier too. The company might appreciate your years of service but at this point rather have a younger, hungrier person on the job, and one that costs them less. So it could be a win-win, and you’d be able to apply for financial help while you job search; maybe the employer even has some severance package that would get you out quicker and in better financial shape.

You could just quit of course as option number 3. This is usually a move made by people who are desperate, or by those who haven’t thought things through very much. If you quit, you potentially lose all references you worked hard to earn, and you may not qualify for employment insurance because of how you left. Quitting also makes you ineligible for many re-training programs and severance packages. On the other hand, if you are seriously finding the job is killing you, quitting might be the option you choose if just to save yourself.

One of the best things you can take advantage of when you walk away – no matter how you choose to do it – is to get involved in  re-training programs or employment workshops. These help you deal with the stress of unemployment, help you answer those tough questions you’ll face from future employers regarding the circumstances around why you left your last job. You’ll also find help figuring out what potential jobs or careers you could turn to next.

Be advised though, things may have changed significantly since you last looked for work. How are your computer skills? Many jobs now require online applications, emailed resumes, some require you to complete long assessments. Look around for free computer classes either online or in your neighbourhood.

Saving your sanity and being a nicer person to be around for the family might mean a drastic alteration to what you do for a living and for whom you do it. Such changes sometimes require courage and a complete makeover. Are you willing to invest the time and put in the energy to change your life for the better? It’s going to be hard work make no mistake; but the potential benefits might save your life.

There may be another option which is to look at the organization you currently work in and look at advancement, transfers, job sharing or cross-training into another role and split your responsibilities between several jobs. This requires a discussion, succession planning on the part of your employer and some flexibility on your part. If you go this route, don’t just present your problem to the boss, present the benefits the company would realize and make it an attractive alternative.

Look for ways out of the trap you find yourself in, and get yourself prepared now for the big leap you may choose to make. Breaking free may just be the answer and lining up support systems the way to make it happen.