Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
Business is part of life. We work hard, we train, we find customers and we take time to support our staff. And we make friends.
Business should be friendly in my opinion. It’s too easy to let our ego get the better of us. We become a King in our world and lose touch with reality …forgetting that once we are cruising around our local supermarket, buying beans, nobody cares a damn who we are.
We can forget that our staff have partners and children and complex lives and need us to be supportive. If we shout and scream at people we just create stress …bottled up emotion that they get to take home and vent on their families.
Life ought to be calmer, fairer and brighter than that.
Business life needs to be friendly. We need to be aware of ourselves, keep our ego in check and offer smiles and warmth to staff, colleagues and customers.
When coaching, I’ve often asked clients what would be on their gravestone, if their colleagues could write it for them? That’s a tough question. Although we all want to be remembered with kindness and compassion, if we’ve been a diva in life our memorial might be a muted affair.
If we are friendly in business then our reputation will be enhanced, life will be more pleasant for our colleagues and our legacy will be positive.
My friend Sara sadly died a few weeks ago. She was successful in her business and worked hard. She was a colleague of mine and then I was a client of hers. She was a pleasure to work with.
Death is part of life and yet is so very sad for those left behind. She was too young. Her family are heartbroken and her friends miss her.
I went to her memorial service and was struck by just how many business colleagues were there; to pay their respects and share stories about what a wonderful, dignified and kind person Sara was.
She was an exemplar of what friendly business is all about and her business thrived as a result. Someone of whom I’ve never heard anyone grumble about. Never, not once. A rare thing in business.
She always smiled, had time for people, carried her expertise with ease and had a total lack of ego.
Her memorial was moving and was a salutary lesson to us all. It was an invitation to remember that success in business can (and should) be built on:
A bad attitude makes for bad business. We all have stress in our lives and yet we can all carry ourselves with dignity, just as my friend Sara did.
We can all leave behind a healthy legacy, even though death is such a sad affair.
Be at peace Sara.
You are missed.
Next week: A Stunning Question
What is the essence of business?
If you automatically answered ‘profit’ then think again, because that’s an output of good business.
The essence is….ta dah…excellence!
Not perfection, because that is an illusion. Excellence implies consistency to a high standard.
Anything less means we are playing at being in business and probably letting our ego get in the way of great products, delivered with great service.
I’ve been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA. I know they are made for TV and have drama and jeopardy in them, but look beyond the arguments and ridiculous menus and you will see that each episode is a mini case study in how not to be in business. It’s a bonfire of egos and success only happens when the hapless and burned out restaurant owner finally reconciles themselves to their often monstrous ego and makes a profound change. Worth a watch.
They are all sad stories, wrapped up in happy TV endings (mostly).
A colleague of mine shared a sad story that runs thus…
Her bookkeeper had been merrily working away, adding expenses and invoices to their electronic system. One day her accountant happened to notice that the expenses were in fact missing. So naturally she raised this with the bookkeeper, expecting to get an honest answer, a sincere apology and a swift resolution.
To her surprise, the bookkeeper became angry and defensive that he had been ‘audited’ and sent sharp messages to my colleague complaining about the sudden lack of trust.
No sincere apology. No request for an urgent meeting to sort things out. No sense of customer service at a time of crisis.
It doesn’t matter too much if we make a mistake, they are going to happen. What counts is how we handle it.
A thorough apology, quick restitution and a healthy discount (or free repair work) go a long way to restoring confidence.
My colleague received none of this and instead had to deal with her bookkeeper’s angry ego.
It is a truism that a happy customer will tell 1 person and an unhappy customer will tell 20. Quickly, the word spreads that bad things are happening.
It’s the same with the rubbish restaurants that Chef Ramsay visits. The word goes out and business dives.
Sadly, in the case of my colleague, there was no Accountant Ramsay to breathe sense into her bookkeeper and she has now parted ways with him.
He clearly didn’t value her business, or seem worried that his actions (or lack of) would have any consequences. His ego won and his business lost. A bad attitude lead to a bad output.
Business, any business, is hard work. It takes a lifetime to build our reputation and a couple of angry emails (or tweets) to ruin it.
We always have to ask ourselves:
1. Are we delivering excellence?
2. Or are we letting our ego run the business for us?
It’s not hard. Great business doesn’t need Chef Ramsay. Just consistency, honesty and integrity.
This week we can all reflect on my colleague’s sad service story and decide how we would have handled the situation. Then we can find out if our business is really delivering excellence, or if we need to make a few changes?
Have fun being excellent!
Next week: The Memorial Story
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