Q: Whenever we’re organizing a large event, we use temporary staff to receive and assist the attendees. How can we engage and motivate people to represent the brand when they’re not part of the company?
To improve the chances of the attendees having a positive experience, profile the candidates to select only those who have the characteristics you need to see applied during the event – what’s the point of hiring a person with an unfriendly attitude to welcome your guests? Design a briefing video or presentation about the company and email them a link to view it before they show up for a half-day training/orientation. Most companies ignore explaining why this event is taking place. They just jump to what it is, which should come second. By sharing with them why this event is important to your business you gain their understanding and empathy; as social and emotional species we just function better this way. The third part after the why and what is how you want them to perform.
For maximum impact, surprise them with some pleasant treats that they didn’t expect from a one-day employer. For example, make a deal with your insurance provider to cover the staff for injuries and death during the event. Unless your event involves feeding lions, accidents are low and that means your insurance is close to nothing for a single event. Why insurance? You are responsible for their safety and it sends a message that you care, which will encourage them to pay you back with care and dedication. Another example is to set a team goal and to reward them with individual incentives, gifts or benefits that matter to them. If you’re thinking about the cost, remember the impact on your image for throwing an event managed by incompetent zombies who spend more time paying attention to their mobile phones than to your attendees…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: As consumers, we see endless retailers, restaurants, and other shops offer horrible customer service. Whenever I complain to the shift or branch manager I don’t see an improvement later on. It’s like they don’t take any serious action or don’t even listen. What else can we do as customers when we like the products but not the service?
Customers in the West write to companies’ senior management to complain and threaten boycotting their business and they usually get attention from the media when other customers do the same. If a mediocre dealer represents the brand you like, inform the original brand’s head or regional office. If it’s a local brand, contact the owners in charge. You may be surprised to know that many senior executives are under the assumption that their customers are satisfied as long as their sales are growing. This misconception happens because most executives don’t interact with their customers; instead, they’re spending an awful amount of time in their offices. I believe that most executives would take actions if they came to know how unsatisfied their customers are.
If you and other customers just stop buying to make a statement and kick the dealers where it hurts without communicating with them, they still won’t understand why their sales are going down. You and other customers should escalate the complaints to senior executives because you are the ones who have the power to change things quickly, and because you want your favorite brand to stay open. You can always, of course, find an alternative brand or buy the item you want from another dealer when traveling…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Just before every holiday season I start receiving vacation requests from my young middle managers. When I approve their requests, productivity goes down across the entire division. When I don’t, morale is low and it affects their teams. I don’t want to create a bad vibe but I also don’t want to micromanage in their absence. What are my options?
Many old school management thinkers might suggest that you’re being a bit soft with your team and that they need to pay attention to their jobs or they might be replaced. However, young managers are from Generation Y, and they have a different view on life-work balance. I’m not implying that they’re careless, it’s simply that they don’t live just to work, not all of them anyway. You can treat vacation requests like a hot restaurant reservation by implementing a ‘First come, first booked’ policy, but your managers will hate each other and many things at work will be affected negatively. A second option is to let them coordinate their leave dates with each other and to come to you with one non-overlapping calendar. Depending on the number of managers, their families’ flexibilities, and social plans this option may go either way.
Another approach is to look at this ‘headache’ as an opportunity to strengthen your second lineup by asking the middle managers to start coaching their deputies a couple of months before taking their leave to help their assistants to step up and to practice managing. Who knows, you might end up seeing more productivity and brighter vibe at work when your middle managers are away…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected] Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.