Break Away From the Masses

One of the biggest challenges at work is to maintain your integrity and to remain consistent with not only who you are, but who you strive to be. The drive to succeed, especially early in your tenure, can influence your thoughts and actions. This drive can lead to a strong desire to be completely accepted by your peers at work. Most people understandably want to be amiable and like by the other people in their office. They will do what is necessary to ensure that interactions through the day are as smooth as possible. However, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid finding yourself In the middle of office politics, as a result being socially compliant.

Office politics not only affects productivity and depresses morale, but it can be damaging to your career. It is important to learn how to avoid getting distracted by the drama and instead focus each day into being productive in your work. Learning how to navigate around the interpersonal chaos will be your best overall career move.

Cliques are not exclusive to school. They also exist in the workplace. It is very easy to want to be included within the “in crowd” at work. They seem to enjoy their day, have some laughs, be friends, and may even socialize outside of work. But these groups can have a negative effect on the work culture, productivity, and morale. The best way to rise above the desire to be included within these cliques is to foster relationships with a variety of colleagues, sometimes working in different departments with differing job duties, who can help you grow within your position and beyond.

Jealousy and resentment are the most common work distractions that people face. It is very easy to get emotionally wound up about the one who is asked to lunch with management or assigned to that high profile project. Managers are not immune to the effects of jealous staff and can often get dragged into the middle of a conflict between staff members. Competition is human nature, but it takes strength to let it go and realize that even though life does not seem fair at times, those with integrity, focus, and drive will be recognized – especially by those managers whose time you save by not forcing them to contend with negativity. Developing a “tough skin”, or objectivity is the best way to handle issues of jealousy. By having a tough skin and maintaining focus in your work, you will find that you simply do not care anymore about the surrounding jealousy or in being jealous yourself. The petty thoughts and emotions will eventually fall to the way side, as will the petty personnel, while the important tasks of the day sit in front of you ready to be successfully completed.

Building relationships both in and outside of your company is a great way to hone your leadership skills. Influence is a great leadership skill to develop, but not everyone takes the time to do so. Gaining experiences and meeting a variety of people in the community (outside of work) who handle negativity in different, positive ways will help you learn how to foster authentic and honest relationships with many different people, regardless of their ability to directly help you. Through these relationships, you will become adept at recognizing an office politician and immediately neutralizing their effect on you.

Rising above office politics can be achieved if you remain true to yourself. Even though it can be difficult to see yourself through the day-to day negativity, surrounding yourself with those at work in your community who are positive influences to your integrity and quality of work will allow you to see yourself and your potential quite easily and clearly. As a result, others will begin to seek you out as the voice of reason and regard you as a positive influence upon them as well.

The 10 Don’ts of Networking

Don’t dress down. Looks matter, whether you like it or not. Before you can “wow” people with your impressive set of skills, you’ll need to awe them with your appearance and body language.

Don’t dismiss people who don’t look important. “You should behave here like everyone you interact with has the potential… to get you a cover story in The New York Times.” Sometimes it’s the secretary that will get the job done, not the president.

Don’t expect a job. Getting a job might be more about who you know than what you know – but don’t be so obvious about it.

Don’t be uninformed. No card, no contact. Be up to date with what is going on in your field and in the field whose business you are trying to get. It’s okay to learn something new, but if you don’t know something crucial then you have just lost their faith in your abilities.

Don’t collect business cards like candy. “Don’t trick-or-treat for business cards.” Make an honest connection with someone before you start soliciting for business. They are more likely to give it after a positive interaction verses a cold call.

Don’t only think about yourself. “Networking can be described as the process of interacting or engaging in communication with other for mutual assistance or support.”

Don’t be vague. “I want to go back to school… maybe do something in the business world.” Almost everything has something to do with business. Have clear goals in mind.

Don’t reach too high. Having Mark Cuban, Warren Buffet, or John Maxwell on speed dial would be great – for you. But would you really be able to offer them much help? Maybe… but probably not.

Don’t monopolize anyone’s time. This isn’t a phone call or an email exchange, so give people space to mingle. If they are giving hand signals to a partner across the room to help them escape, you’ve lost the opportunity.

Don’t follow up with a sales pitch. Before you ask for a favor, you need to develop the relationship further, Sue Clement writes on Businessknowhow.com. She recommends referencing something you spoke about at the networking event and then offering the person something they can use – whether that is an introduction or a helpful article.

Excellent Customer Service

“I can help next in line!”

You recognize this cashier and begin to order a large coffee with cream when the cashier says –

“Hi John, it’s great to see you. Can I get you the usual?”

Now, that’s great customer service.

Sadly, with the advancement of the internet, and big box stores, getting that personal touch can be lost. But hope is not lost.

While it can be a struggle it is not only possible to build a relationship with your customers, but incredibly doable. As a managers, we might tell our staff that we as individuals do not pay them, our guests do so offer them the best service possible. Even a complaint can be an opportunity to go above and beyond. So don’t shy away from asking how things are.

Best Western Dallas Inn & Suites is one of those big companies that still tries to have those unique interactions with their guests. The vision of Best Western is to lead the industry in superior customer care. Andrea Reyes, Manager, had this to say concerning customer service, “Every interaction counts, and we want to be the reason our customers smile.”

Those extra personal touches go the extra mile and bring in more revenue. I’m more likely to be loyal to a store that knows my name and remembers me, than the one that just sees me as another source of revenue. So take the time today to chat with a customer. Ask them how things are, or even follow up on a past conversation. Your customers will thank you for it.

For a great example of customer service in book form, look for Mark Sanborn‘s “The Fred Factor” on a bookstore shelf.

Winston Churchill Day April 9th

Let’s be honest, life is hard. Sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us and we are not sure where to go or what to do next.

Winston Churchill, Britain’s great hero and Prime Minister during World War II, was once asked to give a commencement address at Oxford University. Churchill was a leader admired and loved by the people. He had led Great Britain through a time of defeat, despair, and great loss, but had continued to provide inspiration exactly when it was needed. You can imagine the anticipation of the students, faculty, and family members as Winston Churchill made his way to the platform. Dressed in coattails, he carefully removed his gloves and top hat to deliver these words, “Never give up. Never, never give up” He then turned and went back to his seat. It was perhaps the shortest speech on record but also the most remembered at Oxford University and around the world. It was a message of hope and encouragement.

Without going into a lot of drama and details I will tell you that I recently went through one of those life-changing events. This event should have left me a mess, feeling alone and no idea how to pick myself back up. Instead, I found a community standing behind me, willing to give me a shoulder to cry on or an encouraging hug.

Yes, life is hard. There are always going to be challenges, some greater than others. The nice thing is that we don’t have to surmount them alone. We have people in our lives that want to help us; whether it’s personal or professional. The trick is to reach out and ask for it. We at the Chamber of Commerce would love to help in any way we can. If we can’t help you then we darn will help you find someone who can. Today, in honor of Winston Churchill, we at the Chamber say, “Never give up.”

~Sarah Javins

The Future Starts Now

Ever look back and think about the things you should have done? What life could have been like if you or someone else would have done something differently? Well STOP IT! Someone recently spoke to me in a way that I needed to hear. He said “Quit playing the blame game, it kills progress in life. Blame lives in the past and keeps you from accomplishing your best future when you’re living in the past.” Blaming one’s self or others will accomplish nothing to reach goals for the future.

When a martial artist breaks a board his or her focus is not on the board, rather he focuses past the board or through the board. It is the same when we are seeking to accomplish a task of any magnitude. When we encounter struggles of many kinds we must not focus on the issue at hand but continue to focus on the goal. 

So in our pursuits, we must continue to keep the focus of our mind’s eye on the prize to which we’ve committed. Be committed, get there, ‘break through the board’!  As every corporate trainer or motivational speaker has spoken at some point, ‘plan the work, work the plan’.