How Are You Branding Yourself?

You are branded, whether you know it or not.  We all are.  Every , company, team and every individual.

When you think of branding, you probably think of marketing or advertising.  Branding is all around us. TV, radio, websites, social media, signs and billboards and even on our clothing.  The idea behind commercial branding is to make an impression on you that will be remembered. It will prompt you to take action to enter into a positive transaction. We try to distinguish our service or product, as having a greater benefit than other options.

Branding increases our opportunities. The reason branding is so effective is because it allows the consumer to take a peek behind the mask.  It helps them see what we are all about.  Consumers want to know what we stand for and what our mission is. Why should they trust us, and most of all, what you are going to do for them.
Branding can be used in many ways.  Branding is used as an agent of influence.  It helps the world see our “best” side, hoping to keep our “work in progress” side non-visible.  It can also be used to connect with people through transparency and authenticity.  Regardless of the branding motives, the consumers will always determine effectiveness.  They will always have the last say.

Think about successful companies like McDonalds, Chick filA, Apple, Disney and Toyota.  They generally have great credibility in the eyes of consumers.  People are fanatics because of how these brands make them feel. How they make their world just a little better.  It is an experience, not just a product.
Not all branding ends up as initially planned.   When you hear the name Enron, you remember the scandal that took the whole company down along with many associated business’s. How about “New Coke”?  Back in 1985 they thought they were on to something great only to find out their consumers wanted the “Old Coke” back.  They had some damage control to do.  I am sure Pepsi got a chuckle.

In one way branding is sharing “who you are”, or at least who you wish for them to think you are.  Who you are will largely determine whether they wish to continue with you.  This is true with companies, products, services and even individuals.  We like to think that what we brand is exactly what others will perceive.  What ever people perceive defines your brand.

Over the past year or so I have been hearing more and more about “personal branding”.  This is not a new concept, but it has been popping up more and more lately.  There must be something more to it.  Personal branding is much like any other branding. It is intentionally building credibility in the eyes of others. Personal branding can increase your opportunities if done effectively.

Those who are not on the front line of marketing or sales, you too are branding yourself, whether you know it or not.  Someone may ask “But I am a restaurant manager, how am I branding myself?”  Your customers, employees, and your supervisors are continually evaluating “who you are”.  They determine what you represent by what they see in you. This is how we as humans determine level of trust.  We do it subconsciously, without even knowing we are doing it.  It’s not only what you say about yourself, but your actions and behaviors.  You won’t always behave according to what you say, but you will always behave according to who you truly are.

This brings me to the heart of personal branding.  Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”.  I say “who you are” will determine your actions.  When you do things or behave in ways that are generally not in line with who you really are, you may find yourself running out of mojo, and reverting back to who you really are.  This is the reason you don’t generally see the real person is on the first date.  In most every case, given time, who they really are comes out. This hold true with new employees and new leaders on the scene.  There is such an emphasis on first impressions (and they are important), but not enough emphasis on continued impressions.

We can’t fake it for long. An honest person doesn’t need to remember what they told people.  A caring person doesn’t need to pretend to care. And a person with emotional intelligence doesn’t need to hold their anger in.  When “who you are” stands out above others as excellence, others will go out of their way to be part of what you are doing. When “who you are”, regardless of what you say stands out negatively, others will go out of their way to avoid you.  Who I am will determine my brand.
The effectiveness of any leader is determined by their personal brand. This isn’t always realized by the leader.  When a leader justifies himself by his own assessment of his work, or by his intentions or desires, he misses out on one of the most important resources he has. The truth as seen by others. We love to hear others tell us how much they like our brand, but when it comes to a hard honest evaluation, most of us too often turn a blind eye.  We don’t want to know about the bad stuff.

Protect your personal brand like it is the key to all future opportunities, BECAUSE IT IS!

Your future opportunities will depends on the impression you leave on everyone who crosses paths with you.  This is your wake that you leave behind.  You will either be a magnet that attracts others to your personal brand, or something less.  If you  don’t offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.

In your workplace, if you show stress and fail to keep your emotions in check, you are branding yourself.  If you believe you are always right, and are condescending to people, you are branding yourself.  If you show up late and take short-cuts, you are branding yourself.  If you are more concerned over results than you are people, you are branding yourself.  If you fail to take full responsibility for your actions, make excuses and blame others, you are branding yourself,  Likewise if your actions line up with values such as integrity, commitment, personal growth, transparency and kindness, you are branding yourself.

If you are struggling with your personal brand, or if others are struggling with YOUR personal brand, don’t give up.  There is hope.  You can learn to improve your brand by first beginning to change what you believe about yourself.  You can’t change what others see in you (your brand), until YOU change what you see in you.

You have the ability to brand yourself to make an impact in your workplace, your family, in your community.

If you want to make sure you are displaying a positive impression that will lead to opportunities, you’ll need to be willing to change your perspective. You may benefit from finding a person that has the skills and desire to coach you to become the brand you know you can be, and wish to display to others.

I would be glad to discuss with you the opportunity to help you change your personal brand.  You can change “Who you are”.

The Art of Professionalism

I grew up never really knowing what professionalism was. I came from a blue collar family that was more about living and acting in the moment according to the culture.  We didn’t always consider our actions and how we should behave or what we should or shouldn’t say around others.

In my early twenties I was more focused on my freedom to say whatever I feel, and not really worried about my responsibility to put a guardrail in place to keep my words from hurting others.  My filter was weak.

I had a wake-up call that caused me to question much of my cultural upbringing. I realized my circumstances, limitations and personal history did not have to control who I become. If I truly want to be successful at anything, it was going to take a lot of work, dedication and a change in the way that I look at myself, and present myself. I needed a new outlook on who I am and what I wanted to become.

Now as I find myself a business owner, I really appreciate a person with great verbal and writing skills. There is something about a skilled individual who can use their word to say, “I care about what you think”, or “I would like to assist you the best that I can” and “I assume the best in you and appreciate you”. Most of the world says “whatchu want?”, or “make it quick, my time is valuable”, and “Have I got a great deal for you!”

Professionalism is not just about looking sharp and acting sharp, but being sharp with direction and conviction. It doesn’t come from a script and you can’t simply take a class to become professional.

Ultimately professionalism will only come when we make the decision to put others ahead of ourselves and take what we do seriously. That’s really it. When we begin to understand what others need to hear we begin to think outside of ourselves. When what we do matters because we have already determined that it is worthy of our efforts and worth doing well, we begin to act and communicate more professionally with purpose and conviction.

Wisdom plays a major part in professionalism too. Wisdom of speech is the measure of a person. What comes out of your mouth is what others will judge you by. Even if what you say is socially acceptable, shouldn’t we try to be socially exceptional?

I have to admit that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had a pretty poor vocabulary (swearing), and now when I look back I see that it was mostly just to fit in with a society.  I wonder what people thought of my poor choice of words when I was young living without restraint.

What does it mean to live without restraint? Well, for me it meant that no one was going to tell me what I can say and can’t say. I was my own boss and if people don’t like me the way I am, they can take a flying leap. Foolishness!

The problem with being your own source of accountability is that you end up saying many stupid things that hurt others and yourself. You don’t even realize your own blind spot because what others see is not on your radar.  It should be.

When I was a kid I learned the term “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. While the intentions are good, that is one of the biggest lies ever to be told. Words can crush the spirit and wound people greatly. They can also heal and mend people if used with wisdom.

We need to be responsible with the words that we say and what we communicate to others. Learning to speak with restraint helps us to be more professional and courteous to others and keeps us from looking like a fool.

Learning to look at other people and determine what they need to hear makes us difference-makers. Sometimes people need encouragement, sometimes a smile or instructions; sometimes they need a kick in the pants. Whatever they need, when we do it with professionalism and respect it will be received with much better appreciation.

I don’t claim to be the most professional person or claim to have reached my best, but I do believe my behavior will make a difference in people’s day. So I will try to make it be a positive difference as often as I can.

 

 

5 Things Shift Leaders Need

The Shift Leaders Challenge

If you are a leader in the service industry, you fully understand how important our Shift Leaders are to our business.  Shift Leaders have a very challenging job.  They get to do much of the work and they don’t get to make many of the important decisions, yet they get their share of blame when the crew members they oversee fall short.

Shift Leaders are very valuable to restaurants.  They are leaders with the most hands on opportunity to make a direct difference with the crew and with customers.  They are right there in the thick of things rolling up their sleeves, making it all happen.

Sometimes Shift Leader training gets overlooked.  It’s easy to rely on their talent and experience as a crew member and overlook their need for leadership development.  This is usually an important transitional stage of a young leaders career and has the potential to make or break their leadership future.  Training sometimes gets truncated and they can tend to be a lightning rod for criticism when things don’t go right.  It all rolls downhill, but usually doesn’t quite make it to the bottom.

As veteran leaders in the service industry we have a responsibility to our entry level rock star leaders to help them kick off their leadership journey on the right foot.  Their survival may depend on it.  The example we set, and the impressions we make in these early years will stay with them for a lifetime.

Five things all Shift Leaders need from their Supervisors:

Quality Time – Shift Leaders need for their mentor to spend quality time with them. People don’t develop by accident.  Things don’t just happen without strategy and intentionality and certainly without trust.

When a supervisor takes a young leader and handcuffs with them, they introduce them to a new world. They begin to see their new opportunity in a new, practical, real way.  There is no substitution for going through the experience with someone you trust and look up to.  Likewise, there are few experiences more destructive than being thrown to the wolves during these vulnerable times.

A Vision Caster – Most young leaders have an idea of what they have done to earn the opportunity to be responsible for others in the organization.  What they usually lack is a clear understanding of what they may become.  When it comes to vision, few people really have an accurate perception of what they are capable of.  We tend to settle for what we already are, rather than focus on what we could someday become.  It takes a Leader to paint this picture for us.

A skilled and intuitive supervisor will be able to observe and identify specific areas of strength of their young protégés.  They have the power to help them understand their own talents and passions.  Without someone to paint a picture of what the future looks like, we tend to stay in the present.

Repetitious Communication – Shift Leaders need regular, daily communication.  The clay is still wet, it will take many conversations covering the same message over and over every day for some time in order for the message to take root and begin to be internalized.

Think about how many songs you know by heart.  You learned them by not intentionally memorizing them.  You learned them because you listened to them over and over again.  No one really likes this song but when you hear the lyrics “Here’s a little song I wrote…” people sing along, even against their own will.

Repetition is the key to any message that you wish to be heard, embraced, and passed on. You need to risk being a little annoying in order to make sure your students are developed without excuse, being armed with all the necessary buzz phrases firmly stuck in their heads. My team calls them Joelisms.

To Be Challenged – Everyone needs someone in their corner cheering them on to new adventures and new challenges.  Most of us are not capable of overcoming our natural fears without someone to walk with us through the doubt and confusion.

It is far too easy to stay in our comfortable zone and focus on the simplest or least challenging course.  It takes a leader to challenge us to move forward into unknown territory, to stretch our competence and raise our capacity.

A great leader influences their students to become leaders of themselves so that they are equipped to be leaders of others.

To Be Appreciated – There is no worse feeling than to put your blood sweat and tears into something to help someone or a group of people accomplish something, only to be dismissed without being noticed.

The more mature and self-sufficient we become the less we tend to rely on praise of others to fuel us.  We can forget that our fellow leaders at the beginning of their career still need encouragement to motivate their desire to perform. Everyone needs encouragement from time to time, but one of the most important skills we can develop is the ability to connect and read into other’s needs.  When we connect with them, we get a better idea of what makes them tick and how you can meet their emotional and motivational needs.

To Trust and Be Trusted (bonus)

All too many times our best crew people are left to fend for themselves and to learn the ropes by being thrown into the fire.  What they really need is to be able to trust their supervisor and know that they have their back when things get rough. They need to know they will not be stranded and that their needs are important. They need to know that when they have questions or problems, there is someone they can count on to help guide them to solutions.

If a young leader is ever going to be able to be trusted, their supervisors will need to prove to be trust worthy.  There is no shortcut for this.

Are you a leader?  or a leader of leaders?  There is a difference.

Just Do It!

No, this isn’t a Nike promotion. It’s more of a plea for help from a desperate leader.

There are many managers out there that know how to manage stuff, numbers or time, but getting things done through other people, that’s a different story all together.  Delegating tasks or responsibilities to others can be very tricky, if you fail to understand the secret ingredient.  The secret ingredient is not “Because I said so!” even though most of our Mothers may disagree.

Are you a good delegator?

If you exhibit any or several of the following traits, you may not be:

  1. You are always running behind trying to play catchup, never seeming to get ahead.
  2. You don’t check your inbox for days.
  3. People always seem to let you down.
  4. People seem reluctant to be part of your plan, so you let them slide.
  5. Your employees drag their feet when it comes to deadlines.
  6. People usually show themselves not worthy of being trusted.
  7. Your employees try not to get “picked” for a task.
  8. You tend to dump and run, and leave the cleanup duties to someone else.
  9. You delegate only the tasks you don’t have time for.
  10. You often think “it’s just easier to do it myself”.

The missing ingredient

The trick to be an effective delegator is not to get people to do something for you.  It’s to get people to WANT to do something for you.  To do that, it requires two people wanting the same thing.  That’s not easy when the boss is looking out for herself.

The secret ingredient…  Trust.  Yep that’s it.

“The trick to be an effective delegator is not to get people to do something for you.  It’s to get people to WANT to do something for you.”

Think of a spectrum. On one end you have obedience, on the other end you have empowerment.  Obedience requires nothing but following directions and maybe a little fear.  Empowerment on the other hand requires Trust.

Trust & Empowerment

People are glad to take on responsibility for you if they first trust that you have your motives in the right place.  They need to know that you have their best interest in mind as well as the clients.  They will be reluctant if they believe your request is self-serving. The leader must also trust that the delegate is committed to the outcome as they would be, given they are standing in for them. Mutual trust is necessary for seamless delegation to take place.

Second, they need to be empowered to handle the responsibility.  Both you and the delegate need to understand the level of competence required and be confident in the assignment. If not fully competent, assistance and guidance may be needed. This is part of the learning process.

The formula is simple, as trust increases, empowerment increases. When the delegate is empowered and trusted, they tend to take ownership over the results.  They take pride in the quality and timeliness of the task.  It reflects their abilities and where there is trust, you don’t want to disappoint.

This is further illustrated verbally in the following series of instructions.  Notice how it goes from simple following of directions to full empowerment.

Stages of Delegation

  1. “Wait to be told.” or “Do exactly what I say.” or “Follow these instructions precisely.”
  2. “Look into this and tell me the situation. I’ll decide.”
  3. “Look into this and tell me the situation. We’ll decide together.”
  4. “Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we’ll decide.”
  5. “Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I’ll let you know whether you can go ahead.”
  6. “Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding.”
  7. “Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to.”
  8. “Decide and take action – let me know what you did (and what happened).”
  9. “Decide and take action. You need not check back with me.”
  10. “Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It’s your area of responsibility now.”

http://www.businessballs.com/delegation.htm#steps

So, the next time you start barking orders out expecting results, keep in mind there may be a better way.

How We Show Appreciation

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago I was able to hear Dr. Paul White talk about his book that he co-authored with Gary Chapman called The 5 Languages of Appreciation. I had read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages many years ago, but I connected with this book in a way that made me take a long look at how I appreciate the people in my work.

It is easy to believe that we are doing better at showing appreciation toward others than we really are. There aren’t very many people that are truly successful at showing it in the workplace, and we tend to grade ourselves on a curve. We can tend to believe that being unappreciated is just part of the experience that makes “work” work.

Dr White shared information to help illustrate just how wide this misconception really is.

Why People Stay

  • In a survey of over 35,000 employees completed by the Chicago Tribune, the number one reason cited by the respondents of why they enjoyed their work was: “I feel genuinely appreciated by this company” November 2013

The Big Picture

“More than 80% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and more than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss” (BusinessNewsDaily, 2013)

Why People Leave

  • 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated. (US Dept of Labor)
  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

This survey focuses on how the employees feel they are valued in the workplace. It does not discuss how they really are valued. In some cases the problem may be more about the inability to communicate appreciation to valued employees rather than failing to truly appreciate them. An employee appreciated that doesn’t know it, can’t feel it. They can’t read minds.

The Gap

“While 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognizing job well done by their staff, only 17% of the employees in the same groups believe their managers recognize them for doing a good job” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

According to this survey 34% managers are not aware of their failure to recognize when their team does a good job. The question is, are you one of those 34%, or do you work with anyone that falls into this category?

Recognition vs. Appreciation

One of the contributing factors to why individuals don’t feel truly appreciated is that leaders don’t always understand the difference between recognition and appreciation.

  • Recognition is largely about results or behavior, Catch them doing something great, and recognize them for it.
  • Appreciation is more personal, it focuses on the employee’s value as a person and an employee as well as their performance.
  • The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership. Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction.

What Language are you speaking?

Dr. White and Dr. Chapman suggest that we may be “missing the mark” because we arent’ speaking the same language as our co-workers.

“Each person has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language.”

“When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message “misses the mark” and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.”

If you are in a leadership position and feel you need help with understanding a better model of appreciation, I highly recommend that you read this book. The book discusses the 5 most common languages or channels that people tend to give and receive appreciation. This book has changed the way I will go about learning ways to show appreciation to each individual in my workplace.

Understanding my own language and learning others language is a game changer for me and I believe it can be for you. Appreciation is the secret weapon to bringing people together for a single cause. When we can appreciate our employees as if they were volunteers, we can change the entire culture of our workplace.

Please share your experience.