CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

CommunicationProductivitySelf-Improvement

Allegorical painting from the 17th century with text Nosce te ipsum

Do you ever find communicating with other people difficult? Are you ever baffled by other people’s idea of a good time? Have you ever gone a whole year thinking one thing about someone only to discover a new piece of information about their personality and have to reframe your entire past relationship with them (for better or for worse)?

deborah or robot
Which one is Deborah? Which one is the robot? We’ll never know.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but I’ve got one of the more rare personality types. I’m socially introverted and extraverted thinking, or in the language of Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ, the Mastermind. Or as some people like to call me: I’m a robot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that these personality measurements are the be-all-end-all of defining oneself, but they can be helpful for understanding yourself and others.

For example: I was acquainted with a girl for an entire year before she discovered that I was being friendly with her and didn’t hate her. She didn’t understand my extremely dry sense of humour (we INTJs tend to have a dry dark sense of humour). Once she got that, she looked back and realised I was making jokes the entire year and it was because I liked her rather than disliked her, and wanted to be friends. (And then we became friends.)

When it comes to the workplace, knowing about my own personality is helpful. I know that I work best when I have write out a schedule for myself — it helps keep me from getting bogged down in perfectionism. I can get a little obsessive sometimes. I’m good at knowing how to solve problems, and when to stop and return to the problem at a later time. I know that I work best alone, and that when I have to be around a lot of people, I should schedule in quiet time so that I don’t get burnt out.

I can also be pretty cold, direct, and bossy so I need to remember to be more gentle with people who might take that personally (it’s not unusual to hear me to tell someone, “no, you’re doing it completely wrong. No, that’s wrong too. No! Stop now! Before you make it worse! I will show you!” Yeah, tact: not a strong point for me, room for self-improvement). I’m also good at taking criticism about my work (the previous sentence directed at me won’t bother me). If a client isn’t satisfied with something, I want to know so that I can make them happy, so I make sure to let my clients know that they can be upfront with me.

panda wearing a panda
According to Youtopia, pandas are an INFJ

On the flip side of the coin, it can be helpful to know more about the personalities of the people you work with, including clients, co-workers, and managers. Are they introverted or extroverted? What are the best ways to communicate with them? What are habits that tend to annoy (or please) their personality type? Taking the time to understand the people around you can make a big difference in getting along in the workplace (as well as home and other interpersonal relationships). Sometimes looking outward can make a big difference, especially in a small workplace.

Have you ever known someone for a long time then had to reframe everything you knew about them after learning something about their personality? Has someone ever had to do that with you? What is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What are some other types of personality assessments that you find helpful?

*Note: I’m pretty sure that the maxim “know thyself” wasn’t originally about personality, but it seems to have evolved that way. Perhaps another subject for another day!

MarketingMobile AppsProductivityTechnology

Will email ever die? Is email already dead? I have no idea. With the many different answers I have found on the Internet, it appears that as a whole, we really don’t know if email is leaving anytime soon or if it is already gone. I do however, think that texting is superior to email and that there is great potential for your business in using texting over email with your potential and loyal customers. So lets take a look at what we do know. 

 

Texting has become the popular form of communication of today. People like texting because of the relaxed setting. Texting doesn’t feel like work the same way that email does. Studies have also suggested that people say things over text that they wouldn’t say in person, its an opportunity for honesty. Texts allow for causal questions and answers without hassle. That said, here are my reasons as to why you need to look into reaching your customers through texting.

 

The stress free atmosphere that texting provides will first off allow customers to feel free to ask questions! You may have given them the ability to ask questions before, but the process of emailing feels like a hassle. Yes, I know submitting an email is easy. But people want answers right then and there. Even if texting is not actually instant, people are more likely to trust that a text was sent and delivered without complication because texting is just that basic. You could use this trust concept to your company’s advantage.

 

Let’s say a customer had a quick, generic question, they could either submit an email through your company’s website as they have been your customer on a couple occasions or they could ask Google and receive multiple answers from multiple resources along with advertising from your competitors, how do you think a person would seek out the answer? I know that if it was me, I would just Google it.

 

But, if I had been your customer before and had your company’s texting number and you had made it clear that I was free to ask questions, I would totally ditch the million answers from Google to get feedback from a company I had used before and have no reason not to trust.  

 

Another benefit of giving your company’s texting number to customers is that people use texting constantly. For you this means that notifications from you could not get ignored the way emails can, you could get away with more texts than emails and it is quick! You send a text, they take a quick glance and would know what the point of the text is.

 

Will email ever die? Is email already dead? I have no idea. With the many different answers I have found on the Internet, it appears that as a whole, we really don’t know if email is leaving anytime soon or if it is already gone. I do however, think that texting is superior to email and that there is great potential for your business in using texting over email with your potential and loyal customers.

 

Texting has become the popular form of communication of today. People like texting because of the relaxed setting. Texting doesn’t feel like work the same way that email does. Studies have also suggested that people say things over text that they would never say in person. Texts allow for causal questions and answers without hassle. That said, here are my reasons as to why you need to look into reaching your customers through texting.

 

The stressless atmosphere that texting provides will first off allow for customers to feel free to ask questions! You may have given them the ability to ask questions before, but the process of submitting a question on your website takes time. Submitting an email is easy, yes I know that. But people want answers right then and there. Even if texting is not actually instant, people are more likely to trust that a text was sent and delivered without complication because texting is just that basic. You could use this trust concept to your company’s advantage.

 

Let’s say a customer had a quick, generic question, they could either submit an email through your company’s website as they have been your customer on a couple occasions or they could ask Google and receive multiple answers from multiple resources along with advertising from your competitors, how do you think a person would seek out the answer? I know that if it was me, I would just Google it.

 

But, if I had been your customer before and had your company’s texting number and you had made it clear that I was free to ask questions, I would totally ditch the million answers from Google to get feedback from a company I had used before and have no reason not to trust.  

 

Another benefit of giving your company’s texting number to customers is that people use texting constantly. For you this means that notifications from you could not get ignored the way emails can, you could get away with more texts than emails and it is quick! You send a text, they take a quick glance and would know what the point of the text is.

 

Now they could move on and not even think about the 10 seconds they took to check the text from you, or if your call to action was enticing enough they may take a minute or two longer to click the link you gave them.

 

You can text your customers your latest deals, discounts, referral information, blog links, and reminders about shipping (imagine how your affiliates would love to simply text for you.) What I am trying to say is that you can text them anything that you are currently email them. But a text is favoured by your customers because of how low-key a it is and they would feel free to answer or ask a question without overthinking. (As a professional overthinker, I know this first hand.)

 

A factor to be careful with is to know that your customers gave you your number and trusts that you won’t abuse that privilege. Text them about things they would care about, or what ever it is that they actually signed up for. If you do this correctly you will form a relationship of trust between the business and customer, this will ensure further sales.

 

I do have one concern with your company texting it’s customers; people may expect instant replies. Now unless you have someone working your texting phone 24/7 you may want to clarify. Upfront you need to explain that it is a person with many responsibilities who is replying to their important texts. Customers appreciate humans. Messaging bots do not have a good reputation when it comes to talking with customers. If your customers know they are talking to a human and not an  incompetent robot, they would commend you for that.

 

Speaking of robots, another possibility with texting your customers is that someday a bot could do it all for you. Yes I know I just said that customers prefer capable humans to  unintelligent robots. But someday actually intelligent, messaging bots will be quite able to interpret natural language and give a proper answer. The ability for your company to have a dependable messaging bot would be extremely beneficial for you and your customers.

 

When bots are smart enough to communicate back and forth with customers, I know that these messaging bots will be the only realistic way to reach customers. Until then, I think that emailing will stick around… even though texting makes so much sense.

 

What are your thoughts on being texted by companies? Would you switch your company over to texting over emailing, why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Tess Houcher