Roy's Blog

January 14, 2019

6 mammoth barriers to being successful

What’s preventing you from reaching your career goals?

I’ve completed more than three decades of leadership. I’ve seen many people achieve beyond their wildest expectations and I’ve witnessed individuals fall short of realizing their dreams.

Why are some successful and others are not?

My conclusions are not based on science, but rather on observing over many years that individuals who are blocked by the following barriers tend to underachieve while those who avoid them perform better and realize greater success.

Barrier

Not enough contacts

Some people simply don’t have enough contacts; their network is too small to effectively exploit the potential opportunities that are out there.

A broad network exposes more possibilities; a narrow network is more restrictive and is likely to present chances in fewer disciplines to choose from.

To avoid this barrier, develop a game plan to expand your personal network. Remember to target quality contacts rather than trying to acquire arbitrary social media connections.

You will get a higher return (measured by the potential to supply you with job opportunities) from 100 quality LinkedIn connections, for example, than 1,000 Twitter followers or FB friends.

Too much reliance on education

Of course education is vital to success but don’t count on it to make you successful.

I look at an academic pedigree as the ante to play the career game. You need the piece of paper to play the game but it won’t guarantee you’ll win it.

Too many young professionals enter the work world expecting to be treated favourably because they have toiled for 8 years to graduate with status in a specific discipline. They feel entitled to get the opportunities that come available because of the knowledge they’ve gained.

But that’s not the way it works. Success depends on what you DO with what you know; how you leverage your knowledge into amazing results for who you work for.
So take your piece of paper, suck everything you can out of it you can, and DO stuff with it.
The more clever you are at getting stuff done, the more successful you’ll be.

The other barrier associated with education is the tendency for everyone to approach problem solving the same way. They were taught a specific way to do things at school and they relentlessly comply with the academic rules leaving no room to be different.
Compliance leaves you like everyone else; approaching things differently will make you standout and more successful.

Copying others

There is too much emphasis on copying others under the guise of innovation.

Copying

Copying best practices and doing what best in class organizations do runs rampant.
When faced with a “How should we do this?” challenge, the first response by most professionals is to find a best practise and try to copy and implement it.

Successful people don’t automatically turn to a solution that someone else has thought of and used; they search for a unique approach that stands out from the crowd of best practices to become THE best practice.
The successful aspire to BE the benchmark for others to copy.

Copying is the antithesis of creativity; don’t be lured into believing that emulation is the route to anything else but what the crowd does.

The wrong kind of mentor

Someone who is intellectually brilliant but has never DONE much to successfully implement a worthy solution in the real world unfortunately attracts mentees.

Young people looking for a mentor are infatuated by the number of letters behind a person’s name as opposed to the list of things they have successfully implemented in the face of chaotic market forces.

This is a huge barrier to success because it assumes high performance comes from the intellect and it doesn’t. It comes from the passion and “fire in the belly” of individuals who are driven to achieve.

Find a mentor who has a rich history of accomplishments; someone who has demonstrated they are unafraid of getting dirty to deliver. Listen to THAT person rather than the IQ ladened one.

Not staying on the learning path

Some people fall victim to believing that there are limits to what you have to learn to achieve success; that once you have amassed a certain amount of knowledge you can stop the learning process.

Learning

It’s almost like they believe the momentum created by what they’ve learned up to now will carry them into the future.
Wrong! Success is achieved not by a “one hit wonder” but by a continuous stream of awesome accomplishments over the long term. It’s a function of performing consistently at a high level.

And the only way long term a high level of consistency can be attained is by learning 24X7X365 because the world keeps changing and the only way to keep up and adapt is to stream new knowledge into your head constantly.

Reliance on what worked yesterday

What got you here will surely get you to where you need to go, right?

After all, you’ve been successful doing certain things well and it paid off, so why wouldn’t it continue to pay off in the future?

The truth is, if your new challenge had all the properties of the past challenges you successfully defeated, then maybe you could get by with sticking to the practices that worked for you then.

But that’s not the real world. Things change and there’s no such thing as a challenge that “looks” the same as yesterday. The world changes. New competitors enter. Technology disruption happens. Customer demands change.

NOTHING stays the same.

So if you really think sticking to your tried and true strategy and approach to your job will keep working into an environment of constant change and unpredictability, good luck with that.

It won’t. Successful people always ask themselves what they have to do differently with each new experience.

6 barriers to success, but all can be overcome with just a little bit of a different attitude.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 1.14.19 at 03:18 am by Roy Osing
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January 7, 2019

7 reasons most call centers are absolutely shameful


Call center

Every organization that is big enough has a call center to handle primarily incoming calls from their customers.

There must be some redeeming value in having one if everyone has one, right? There is: it’s generally viewed as the most efficient operating solution for processing volumes of calls coming into an organization.

The dark side to call centers

But having led large customer service teams in a variety of business environments I have experienced a dark side to call centers.

In many cases I find that call centers represent the antithesis of miraculous service.

When an organization declares they intend to provide amazing service to their customers and then chooses an operating model with a call centre — particularly in a foreign country — as its nucleus, they are not only being disingenuous, they are fooling themselves (and probably driving their customers crazy) and assuming substantial competitive risk.

These are the aspects of call centers, particularly those that are outsourced, I find quite revolting.

They exist to manage cost

They choose to implement a call centre environment not to serve customers better, but to process volumes of calls at the lowest cost possible.

The question is rarely asked “Is this the best way to both serve our customers in an exemplary way while at the same time optimizing our cost position?”

It’s all about cost. That’s why most organizations outsource them around the world where labour costs are low. Current outsourcing destinations include India, Philippines, Thailand, China and Indonesia with many more planning to enter the fray.

Reduce cost

This outsourcing trend has attracted a plethora of experts who define what it takes to have a successful call centre.

They are managed to improve productivity

Effectiveness of a call center is generally based on micro productivity measures such as:

1. average holding time — the elapsed time it takes a call center rep to handle a customer query. Management tries to drive this number down in order to process as many calls as they can with the resources available.

The outcome of each call is rarely measured. Was the customer satisfied with the service they received? Did they enjoy the experience with the rep?

2. average speed of answer — the average length of time it takes to answer an incoming call. When I ran call center operations in the telecom world, my target was to answer 80% of all calls within 6 seconds and our resource levels were set to achieve this result.

This was probably the best internal target we had that represented an attempt to deliver good customer service.
Can you imagine in today’s world reaching a call center rep of any organization within 2 or 3 rings of your phone? Rarely ever happens, with common wait times in the minutes rather than seconds.

Productivity and service miracles don’t easily coexist in most organizations; this measure needs attention if any organization wants to get out of the revolting category.

They don’t drive customer loyalty

Whether a call center serves incoming calls or is used to originate sales-type calls, the heavy traffic volumes involved generally work against the relationship building activity that leads to a loyal customer.

A call comes in > the rep answers (eventually) > the rep deals with the customer’s request > the rep terminates the call > the next call is fed to the rep.
And the cycle is repeated over and over again with a supervisor scrutinizing how long the rep is on each call.

The call center is essentially a production shop with no overt objective of creating an experience for the customer that could lead to brand loyalty.

Customer satisfaction may be measured along with productivity objectives, but a satisfied customer does not make a loyal one.
Satisfaction means that expectations were met; loyalty demands more — minds must be blown, expectations exceeded and marvelous experiences created if the loyalty dial is to be moved.

Wham bam

And this takes time. A WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU MA’M! process does nothing to encourage warm feelings and a desire to do more business with the brand involved.

They take control of your brand

The moment power is given to an outsourced call centre to engage with your customers, control is relinquished and your organization’s brand is put at risk.

Many organizations don’t even put in place a performance management contract with the 3rd party outsourcer to measure how customers perceive the service they receive from call center reps, so changes to brand position are unknown and can’t be responded to.

And with high turnover of employees, consistency in whatever customer treatment is given is almost impossible — at least I don’t experience it.

When your customer connects with the call center you have chosen to empower with your most valued asset, and the experience they have does not go well, it’s on YOU.
The call center rep is YOUR employee. The service outcome is YOUR responsibility.

YOU pay the price in the market.

Their words create the precious moment

Whether a customer has a miraculous service moment or not depends on communications with the call center rep. Miracles happen when the engagement is spirited, entertaining and responsive. When there is an easiness to the conversation that leaves the caller happy and fulfilled.

And for me, very often it is extremely difficult to fight through the accent of a foreign call center rep to have a meaningful and enjoyable conversation.
I simply can’t understand many (not all) of them, and that’s a BIG problem for the outsourcer.
If even the basic communications expectations of the call can be met, there is little chance that a service miracle will ever occur and in fact the opposite is the result with the caller being annoyed or angry with the encounter.

It’s not that the foreign reps are uneducated or don’t have some skills in the English language.
But it’s one thing to pass English 101 and have an understanding of sentence structure and grammar, and quite another to engage with someone else in a way that flows and is productive to the other party.
Are these reps tested by role playing to evaluate their conversational proficiency? Not from where I’m sitting.

Long

Wait times are shameful

Outsources really don’t care about how long we wait on the phone to reach a rep; if they did, they wouldn’t tolerate wait times that often reach ridiculous levels — for me personally, I am blown away if I actually get a rep in 5 minutes and am not surprised to wait 45 minutes or longer. Business mediocrity in action.

It’s ironic that wait times take no priority at all; organizations are content to provide messages they feel assuage their shameful service: “Your call is important to us”; “We are experiencing unusual traffic volumes at the moment” unfortunately greet us more often than not when we call for help.

But wait! There is a silver lining to long wait times. Put your iPhone on speaker, slip it in your back pocket and get on with the job jar your wife has skillfully filled for you.

The reps have an impossible task

I totally get that even a highly competent and caring call center rep has a tough time being on 100% up time.
By the time a customer gets to them, they are often met with frustration, anger and sometimes abuse, with literally zero chance of turning a bad encounter into a pleasant experience.
The reps simply wants to get away from the pain they are engulfed in.

And the rep of course doesn’t own the problem — leadership does.

It’s a pipe dream and shameful leadership behaviour to create an impossible working environment and expect employees to perform impeccably. What planet are they on?

It’s quite simple, really.
If you want low costs, technology can do only so much and you will be saddled with the result. Under-resourcing is typically the result of cost cutting in the face of relentless demand and who pays the price? CUSTOMERS DO!

Call centers generally don’t focus on building intimate customer relationships and outsourcing them makes matters worse.

There are exceptions, however, but these rare organizations make the decision to establish their call center as an integral loyalty building instrument not as an efficient call processing center.

So if you decide to use call center technology to engage with your customers, please don’t preach your intent to deliver amazing service.

It’s intellectually dishonest and it fools no one.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 1.7.19 at 04:10 am by Roy Osing
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January 4, 2019

5 ultimate ways to be insanely more hireable — guest post

Leila

It’s a tough job market out there. You need to stand out from all other candidates in order to get hired and to do that, you will not only need skills, you will also have to be passionate and dedicated to attract employers.

And you will need to be eager to learn more.

However, sometimes the competition is so fierce that you simply have to take your odds from good to great. Some improvements may take some time, while others you can obtain fast, but nonetheless, they are all a contributing factor to your future employment.

To succeed, you need to use some of the following ultimate ways to educate yourself in order to be more hireable in the job market of the 21st century.

Become a storyteller

Employers are interested in your college education, high school, and other accomplishments. Those will determine if you fit the requirements for the job so they don’t waste time interviewing unqualified persons.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be creative and leave a positive impression from the first communication you have with the prospective employer.

Since you should keep the resume professional, concentrate on a motivation letter in order to make your voice unique. Do some research about the employer and tell them a story of why you are the best candidate for the job.
Essentially, you have to become a storyteller and describe yourself professionally and personally in an interesting and charming kind of way.

Storyteller

Add value before you’re hired or interviewed

Adding value to your resume doesn’t end when you fill in all the necessary fields. Once you have all the facts in front of you, it is time to tailor your resume for every job ad you apply to.
Omit the facts that are unimportant for certain employer and thus highlight the values that matter.

To do this, you have to prepare a new resume for each employer and make certain qualities and experience stand out. Ask yourself what is the best you can offer to the employer and let that be the center of your resume with appropriate evidence.

Employers like to see resumes specifically made for them since that shows them you are truly interested in their job offer.

Find a mentor or a partner

Instead of doing it all alone, find a mentor or a partner to learn more about the job you are applying to.
This is actually an effective solution for those who need to know more details about what to expect from the future job position. Ask a friend or search your social media for people who have some expertise in the matter and can explain some things to you.

LinkedIn, forums, Reddit and other online communities can offer valuable insights and also help you broaden your network. If you know someone who works at the employer who posted the ad, see if they are willing to tell you more about the conditions and what the job entails.
Everything is easier with a mentor or a partner, so don’t be shy and ask for help in order to prepare for the job interview.

Dig into available resources

There is always an opportunity to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. If you are a foreigner looking for a job abroad, attending an English college, for example, would get your proficiency in the language.
In case you want to broaden your knowledge of Microsoft Office, a certificate that states you completed a course would certainly improve your chances to get the job.

However, it’s important to stay focused when it comes to acquiring certificates and attending courses. If you start randomly obtaining certificates, the employer may see you as too scattered and someone without a goal.
And when it comes to hiring, employers want a person that is dependable and resolute, not undecided what they want to be.

Research

Do the research

Research is a crucial way to educate yourself and be more hireable in the 21st century when basically everything is available on social media.

Start off by doing the research about the employer and the person who will perform the interviews. That way you can find out what approach to take, how to dress and how to make yourself more interesting and appealing during the job interview.

Then, do the research about the job position the employer is offering even though it may sound familiar enough. The same job title at different companies may include various obligations and this where research would be of great help.

By knowing these facts you would be able to better understand what the job requires and tell the employer why you can do it successfully.

In the end

In order to be hireable in the 21st century, you can’t be lazy and simply apply wherever you can. Clean your social media accounts and tailor the resume specifically for every job offer you apply to. That way you will highlight your qualities and help employers see that you would be a great addition to the team.

Leila Dorari is an entrepreneur, self-development ambassador and an avid dog lover. She believes all people are born equal but only those dedicated and brave enough to work on themselves reach their full potential.

Leila Dorari

  • Posted 1.4.19 at 04:03 am by Roy Osing
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December 31, 2018

The one deadly mistake leaders make

One of the benefits of leading many different types of organizations over my 30+ year career was having a window to observe and study other leaders.

Let’s face it, honing your leadership skills is not a one-of event; it’s a process of learning new skills that are required in the role and practising them day in and day out.

Deadly mistake

I found that looking across at how other leaders practised their craft was an excellent source of learning material; I saw what worked and didn’t work and was able to pick and choose to enhance my own repertoire of skills accordingly.

Most of what I saw in others was quite pedantic. They typically followed the “leader book” prescribed by the experts in the field and by academics who wrote papers on the subject.
It was a rare occurrence to witness a truly different approach to what the crowd of other leaders was following.

But every once in a while I would see a leader who turned their back on traditional practices; someone who was non-compliant with what everyone believed to be a requisite for effective leadership.

They “loved” the frontline

And they were amazing.

What I saw was a leader who was always with their frontline employees — service reps, salespeople, receptionists and call center reps; the people who were on the organization’s line of execution dealing with customers.

A leader who valued the frontline more than any other group.

They stood out because very few leaders see people down deep in the organization as a priority demanding of their time.

Honouring the frontline provides these 5 benefits that enable leaders to perform head and shoulders above their peers.

Dumb rules and stupid stuff

They learn what is preventing flawless execution of the organization’s strategy; systems and process issues and other barriers that get in the way of achieving expected results.

Being face-to-face with those who have to work in the internal “laws” governing the customer transaction gives them the ability to identify the grunge and dumb rules that must be eliminated to make jobs easier and performance better.

In addition, this insight generally doesn’t readily come from direct reports who either don’t know what’s going on or who want to protect their turf.
Knowledge gained from skip level leader — frontline actions is invaluable and should be expected of any leader. But only the special ones get it.

Strategy flaws

Competitive secrets

They discover the flaws in the strategy; those elements of the strategic intent of the organization that aren’t working because there are barriers and practicalities that prevent it from being implemented in the precise way it was designed.
On paper the strategy may have looked perfect but in the naked light of day where people are involved and competitors prey, it is not possible to stay then course.

The frontline are often brutally honest about your strategy; they don’t hesitate to tell you what won’t work and the challenge for leaders is to listen to their feedback.
Listen to them and tweak the strategy to reflect the realities of execution in the field.

Old school leaders have difficulty moving off the tabled strategy and they often live to regret it.

Competitive activity and secrets

They learn what the competition is doing in real time fashion, creating the ability to take whatever evasive action might be required and to spot and attack their weakness.

Most leaders rely on traditional methods to obtain competitive intelligence. Periodic studies are conducted, findings are analyzed and action taken as appropriate.
But the process takes time; there is a lag between when the intelligence is gained and when action is taken, often nullifying its effectiveness.

Being with the frontline gives the leader a continuous stream of information on what is going on in the moment. This ability yields faster action and better results; lag time is replaced with real time response.

Movers and shakers

Leaders who are with the frontline constantly are able to identify people with high potential for future opportunities in the organization.

They get to see with their own eyes — as opposed to receiving reports from their direct managers or human resource folks — how certain individuals perform, their attitudes and their capabilities to offer further value.
They get to develop relationships with these people in the workplace and provide the mentoring so many need but don’t receive from leaders.

And the leader increases their personal currency and strengthens their brand as someone who is competent at spotting and developing high achievers for the benefit of the entire organization.

Mover and shaker

Employee engagement

By being “in the face” of the frontline, this leader is able to get a front row seat on what is necessary to enhance employee commitment and engagement on the goals of the organization.

They don’t rely on, as their peers are forced to do, reports by specialists and other third parties in the field to advise them on what is needed to reach a higher level in employee buy-in. They learn first hand what is needed to capture the hearts and minds of those charged with delivering results; they see what is needed; they feel what works and what doesn’t.

And they learn what works to engage one employee doesn’t necessarily work to engage another. Every person is different; everyone respond differently to motivational methods.

This leader knows that personalized methods of engagement are required for each employee, not a shrink wrapped corporate program applied to all.

The biggest mistake a leader can make is not commit themselves to the frontline where successful organizational performance is either created or destroyed.

To serve the frontline is to step out of the textbook leader herd and make an amazing contribution to their organization while those who choose to follow common leader doctrine are lost in the crowd.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 12.31.18 at 05:16 am by Roy Osing
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