July 30, 2009

10 questions to ask during exit interviews

1. What has working here taught you? (professionally/personally/about life and work?)
2. What things/issues/problems are you thrilled to be leaving behind?
3. If you were the boss here what would you change?
4. How do you see morale amongst the team? Do people like working here?
5. What has been the best thing that has happened to you in your time here?
6. What has been the worst thing that has happened to you in your time here?
7. How would you describe your immediate manager?
8. How would you describe the senior management team?
9. How would you describe the workplace culture here?
10. If a close friend asked you to describe your time here, what would you say?

July 23, 2009

10 (not so normal) questions to ask new staff

1. What things do you like to do to ensure you have fun at work?
2. Can you give an example of a time you have felt most connected to your team mates?
3. Can you tell me about the best boss you’ve ever had and what made them so?
4. What good stuff have you heard about working here?
5. What bad stuff have you heard about working here?
6. What crazy things can you do that you could teach the team (Juggle? Do headstands? Swear in French?)
7. How do you love to be thanked for extra hard work? (Bottle of wine? Lotto ticket? Chocolates? Boss shouting coffee?)
8. If you are having a flat/tired/off day at work, what do you do to get yourself on track? How can I help?
9. What is your bliss? (Mountain biking? Holidaying somewhere exotic? Reading? Sitting in your fave café?)
10. Who do you most admire and why?

July 16, 2009

Why you should eat lollypops at work

I often wonder a lot of weird ...I mean interesting things. Like why do you never see an adult eating a lollypop? Or a priest? Or a man in a suit? Don’t they like lollies?

I bet you know exactly what I mean – if you picture a well dressed business man walking through the CBD eating a lollypop I bet you would definitely notice him. You would be thinking “gosh look, that man is eating a lollypop”. It’s not that weird you know!

I saw a bizarre ...I mean interesting thing recently. It was a high school teacher on a skateboard. It was his lunch break and he was skateboarding to his home nearby for lunch. He looked every bit the sensible 30 something teacher, with glasses and some very good fashion sense (great shirt and tie). He stood out a mile off though, because he was riding a skateboard – not something I remember any of my teachers doing. I bet the students think he is awesome.

Sometimes in life we get too sensible. Somewhere along the line we unconsciously decide that it is not appropriate for adults to eat lollypops or ride skateboards. So we stop doing such things. The workplace is the same – sometimes it can have every inch of fun sucked out of it. That is why I love the below blog entry about eating ice creams at work.


What similar fun things could you do to bring lollypops and skateboards into your workplace and keep them there?

July 9, 2009

Show your customer complaints off!!!

Like this Richard Branson story, don’t be shy about letting your customer’s complaints be seen or heard about. They are not something that should be hidden or dealt with quietly. When I received a complaint about my book The Boss Benchmark not being a "proper book" I shared it with my database and blog readers. I have nothing to hide and wanted to tell them what was happening in the world of my book. Sharing meant I got to hear people’s thoughts on what a "proper book" really is, receive support and openly discuss the positives and negatives of my book. I was actually thrilled to receive the complaint as sometimes it can be hard to get honest feedback out of people! Some people would rather say nothing that risk offending someone.

When you share your complaints you also get to share how you remedied the situation – which is what really counts. I offered my unhappy reader a refund... but they couldn’t part with the book (they must have connected with the content!). If that isn’t a powerful testimony of my books content then I don’t know what is!

Hearing about customer complaints makes me personally trust brands more (unless of course they run from it, deny it or get all defensive). I love seeing a human, imperfect side to business. Also, being accountable to customers is a very important part of being in business. When I see complaints that are not hidden or swept under the carpet I think “hmm how cool of that business for handling that the way they have” and I want to shop with them more. The opposite is true of course. If they handle it badly, I can’t run fast enough away – it’s not the complaint that is important but its resolution.

Being in business is about letting customers get to know your business. Letting them see what is happening in your world. By sharing my complaint with my database my readers saw more of me and many emailed to say they adored the honesty. They see I’m human and not hiding anything.

July 2, 2009

What life is like for the workplace ‘junior’

I was a 'junior' once. It was in a hair salon (back in the days when I thought I wanted to work in the beauty industry) and I was 16. I have terrible memories of being treated like absolute crap just because I was the ‘junior’. For some reason that title magically took away any human right I had to respect. It mean I had to put myself ‘below’ everyone else and know I was ‘less than’ them. It meant I was unimportant, available to be walked over and any needs I had were disregarded.

Some of the real workplace stories in my book The Boss Benchmark are mine from this period:
*I was not welcome to attend the team meeting. I had to stay away from the staff room during this time as I was of such little importance, my attendance was of no consequence. I was also unwelcome because the meeting gave the staff a chance to talk about me. One time the boss came out afterwards and gave me a big telling off about something that was absolutely untrue which had been brought up in the meeting. I of course (head bowed low) was not allowed to talk, correct my boss or state my case.
*Another staff member gave me the silent treatment for a full 6 days. At the time she was 33 and I was 16, hindsight now shows me how silly this woman is – but at the time I thought it must have been due to me/my fault/how the workforce is. I was so new to the working world and it was quite upsetting that someone that much older was treating me that way.
*The business was in a real slump so 80% of the day the hair stylists just sat around (3 full timers). Though I was never ever allowed to sit – that privilege was only for them. One day I got the job of dusting a million products on these huge metal shelves (sounds reasonable). I did a magnificent job. Though the next day when there was nothing to do again, a hair stylist assigned me the same task to redo. It was ‘busy work’ not required work, just so I never became equal and received the privilege of 'sitting'.

I am very keen to hear any other stories people have about ‘being the junior’. I’d love to know if and in what ways this kind of treatment still goes on. I know some industries are worse than others are in this regard. I don’t see why being the apprentice is a license to be disrespectful and treat people as though they don’t matter as much. I had nothing against the cruddy, boring and grubby jobs I had to do – I wasn’t scared of the work, I just hated being treated as if I was worthless. It was my age and inexperience in the workforce that meant I knew no better way to deal with it or get myself heard. Being young is also not an excuse for bosses or co-workers to treat you as less. Entering the workforce can be a scary time (especially when the workplace you are in is absolutely dysfunctional). What is your two cents on this subject?