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Employment Tips

Twelve Tips to Make 'Moments of Truth" Count
By:Kelly O'Brien

People’s impressions are a result of accumulated experiences or ‘moments of truth’ that the world has with your organization over time. Everything you (and those you manage) do sends a message, impacts your brand image, and is PR – for better or worse. These moments of truth include things like how you…

• Handle the recruitment and hiring process, including unsolicited resumes and employment inquiries
• Welcome new staff into your organization
• Ramp-up, manage, and treat subcontractors
• Treat vendors, suppliers, someone else’s support staff and any receptionist or answering service
• Use voicemail and email – what you actually say and write
• Respond (or don’t) to voice or e-messages
• Manage client expectations about what you can do and when you can deliver
• Communicate bad news, handle conflict, or hold your ground on an unpopular policy
• Ask for what you need from a client, employee or vendor
• Take ownership for your role in a conflict, problem or mistake

This gets especially tricky when you’re managing others. Whether it’s staff, vendors, subcontractors, your boss or peers…it’s one thing to manage your own behavior, quite another to manage moments of truth created by others.

I recently ran across the following tough-love tips from Kelly Harman, CEO of The Harman Group (http://www.theharmangroup.com). Kelly takes an active approach to clearly define what she expects from contractors, staff and colleagues, and it pays off.
Her feisty marketing firm is growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by happy clients and lots of good buzz about her firm.

Here are Kelly’s tips (direct from the source!) for making sure you get the most from the people responsible for creating moments of truth for your organization:

1. “Disagree with me. I come up with ideas all the time; some are better than others and some are perfectly awful. When I run one by you, and you don’t think it will work, tell me why. I may not have looked at the idea from all angles, and I value your input. I may not agree with you, but I’ll respect your opinion.”

2. “Question my decisions. If I make a decision that you don’t agree with or don’t understand, then ask me why I made it. I’ll take the time to explain my logic. You might still disagree with me, but at least you’ll understand why I made the decision.”

3. “Don’t come to me with problems. Don’t run to me with a problem and expect me to fix it for you. Come to me with a problem and then tell me how you want to fix it. If it makes sense, we’ll implement it. If I don’t agree, I’ll tell you why and then we’ll work together to figure out a better solution.”

4. “Tell me you want my job. It’s great to be ambitious. I want you to covet my job. There is nothing wrong with clearly stating your goals. How else will anyone know how to help you? I’ll give you more responsibility if I know what you want – and if that means you want my job (or a position similar to mine someday) then my job is to help you get there.”

5. “Tell me you don’t want your job. You won’t have fun unless you do something you’re passionate about. Who wants to spend their working hours in a state of resignation or boredom? If you want to go to night school and study for a completely different career, I’ll support you. I’ll still expect 110% from you when you are here, but when I make my long-term plans; I’ll take into consideration the fact that you may not be here to help me execute them. But I’ll respect your dreams and your goals and I will do everything I can to help you achieve them.”

6. “Tell me when you don’t know something. Don’t try and fake your way through something you don’t know. It will only make me angry. If you’re honest with me, I’ll make the investment to educate you. After all, I hired you because I thought you could learn, not because I thought you knew everything already.”

7. “Make bad decisions. Congratulations! At least you made one. I’d rather see you make decisions that turn out wrong and learn from them than have you expect me to make every decision for you. I don’t have time. A mistake isn’t stupid unless you do it twice.”

8. “Act like you own the company. Before making a decision, spending a dime, talking to a customer - you get the idea – pretend you own the company. As the owner, how would you behave? What would you spend? Knowing it would impact your own bottom line or the success of your company, would you act the same way or make the same decision? If the answer is yes, then you are on the right track.”

9. “Don’t expect me to pay for everything. I will pay for certain classes, but you need to have some skin in the game too. Read books, take classes, listen to tapes, what ever it takes. And don’t just learn what you need to know to do your job today – learn for the future. Just because you aren’t a manager now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take management classes. Don’t assume that you don’t need accounting courses because you’re not in the accounting department. Believe me, accounting and budgets are a big part of any manager’s job. If you want advice, come to me and I’ll help you. I’ll suggest classes, magazines to subscribe to, and books to buy. And - I’ll remember.”

10. “Confess. When you make a mistake, tell me immediately. The sooner I know, the sooner we can deal with it. I’ve gone to my boss with my heart pounding, my palms sweating, and my voice shaky to confess a mistake I made. It’s natural to be scared. What will save you is the fact that I immediately heard about it from you instead of someone else.”

11. “Take responsibility when it isn’t your fault. If you are in charge of a project then ultimate responsibility belongs to you. I don’t want to hear a long litany of excuses and explanations of how someone that reports to you failed to do something. I expect you to take full responsibility for the project. I know a lot more about what’s going on than you think. And believe me, it works all the way up the management chain. If a project I’m in charge of fails because you didn’t do your job, do you think my client cares? The bottom line is that I am in charge, so I’m the one who has to take responsibility, and you should too.”

12. “Quit your job. If you think of what you’re doing here as just a job, then quit. Come in on Monday and start your career.”

Agree? Disagree? Have some of your own wisdom to add? Let us know – you can comment directly in this article now, if you’re reading the e-version; if not, go to http://www.turningpointemarketing.com/Free_Resources/eArticles.html and give us your input there.

Kelly O'Brien

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