You’ll Find Our Company Is Different

Looking west to mountains in the spring
Photo by Garth Roberts

It’s a phrase I hear in almost every company I work, “you’ll find our company is different”. I hate to burst your balloon, your company isn’t different. Your work may be different but the operation of all companies relies on one common denominator, people. The success or failure of your operation is directly related to the effectiveness of your people and how you, as a leader, treat them.

Common denominators for all companies are:

  • if you’ve hired correctly, your people are motivated
  • employees want to do a good job
  • everyone wants to know what’s happening in the company
  • people need to know what impact their jobs have on the company’s success
  • employees want to be recognized for jobs well done, and held accountable for ineffective performance

In turn, employees get turned off when:

  • lack of shared plans leave them wondering what’s going on
  • there is limited or no communication from the top down or from the bottom up
  • there was no follow-up on projects
  • no one is held accountable

These realities about employees are universal. It doesn’t matter if you are making widgets, building bridges, mining for gold, selling goods, or working in the service industry. Pay attention to the needs of your people and your business truly will be different; it will be profitable, leading-edge, and a great place to work.

Garth Roberts

The Magic of “Thank You”!

With a little thought and planning I can start or finish almost every e-mail I write with thank you. These are two of the best words in the english language. In writing they help you focus on your readers. The readers, after all, are what your writing is all about. You want action from each reader and the best way to get action is to make your writing, and speaking, all about your audience. Let’s face it, we’re more likely to do something for someone if that person has made it obvious there’s something in the action for us, as well as for the person requesting the action.

In business writing seminars I find most of the participants don’t use or under use, thank you and its close cousins, please, and you’re welcome. Politeness isn’t just for the fancy restaurants and your great aunt Martha. Politeness works with clients and colleagues. In addition, thank you puts the focus on the client or colleague.

Next time you write an e-mail reflect on how you can thank someone. Try one of these or adapt them to fit your situation.

  • Thank you for your request for information on …
  • Thank you for providing me with the material on …
  • Thank you for pointing out our error. I have taken the following steps to correct …
  • Thank you for considering …

Incidentally, the proper and most effective response to thank you is, “You’re welcome,” not, “No problem”. If I thought it was a problem, I wouldn’t have asked you to do something!

For information on Writing For Business seminars in September and October, please e-mail me at

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How Is Your Customer Service?

15 managers and supervisors spent yesterday analyzing the customer service at their company. It was a good day because all of them were committed to improving their customer service. Their company has been around for almost 100 years and is family owned. None of the participants are members of the family and they are still dedicated to serving their customers and helping the company grow. This company, Burnco, ( should be commended for doing what so many other companies don’t – continuously investing in their people.

But continuous investment is evident as our conversations about customer service showed improvement, not starting from scratch, is what will work for Burnco. It’s refreshing to see a company that is building on yesterday to make today and tomorrow greater. Too many times I work with companies that discard the past to reinvent today and looked longingly to tomorrow. How is your customer service? Are you reinventing or reinvesting?

A good friend of mine, Jeff Mowatt, is a customer service specialist. His trademark is Influence with Ease and I had the pleasure of recommending Jeff’s program to help Burnco in their continuing growth in customer service. You can check out Jeff’s tips at

Garth Roberts

Is Reading Affecting Your Writing?

I’m halfway through a business writing seminar and I’m seeing participants who are having problems writing because they’re not reading correctly. One particular e-mail exercise seems to cause grief for participants. The facts are laid out and include a couple of suggestions. Individuals and groups get confused with the information. They seem to get confused for two reasons.

  1. They don’t take the time to clarify the information that’s in front of them. They’re given time and several suggestions about pre-writing and brainstorming. Still they miss obvious points they could include in their e-mail.
  2. They don’t think from the reader’s point of view. Writing is only effective if you think from the reader’s point of view. That’s who you want to take action.

Out of six groups who wrote an e-mail, only two included all the information available to them. The others got sidetracked by logistics as it related to them as writers, rather than focusing on the action they want the reader to take.

All of us have probably had individuals reply and ask for clarification when we written to them. Drop a comment as to how you deal with such a situation.

Garth Roberts   

We Are Really Not Very Smart

According to The Texas Transportation Institute the average commuter in large centers spends an additional 36 hours per year in traffic because of congestion. The time wasted in traffic used to be limited to those in large cities. According to the Institute this is now moved to medium-sized cities. What’s wrong with this picture?

Obviously we, collectively, haven’t learned from our history. That’s probably not surprising to most of us as we’re still fighting wars, large and small, even though history tells us wars don’t generally accomplish a great deal.

In North America we have the mentality there’s lots of space and we should use it to build cities, roads, subdivisions, and, should time and money allow, the occasional man made park or lake. Why haven’t we learned to build the transportation arteries and systems first so the millions of dollars wasted in idling cars and squandered time cease to grow? Who knows we might even plan so we use what Mother Nature gave us for parks and recreational areas, rather than building our own.

I recognize we can’t change the time many people have to spend in their daily commutes. Here are three quick suggestions to help those commutes be more beneficial to you.

  1. Listen to books on CD or any other material you can find at the local library or purchase from your favorite record store.
  2. Use the time to dictate information you can use at work, at home, or in your community. Small recording devices with good microphones are readily available and can be used hands-free.
  3. Invest in dictation software for your computer as most of these programs will transcribe your recorded messages so you have a soft copy on your computer to edit and print.

I write most of my blog posts using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It’s reasonably priced and each version is more user-friendly and accurate than the last.

If my three options don’t fit with your lifestyle, just recognizing you have the commute, it takes time, and you need to relax, will make the journey less stressful on your body.

Garth Roberts   

Do You Have Great Vision?

My eyes are a bit blurry this morning as I just came from the eye specialist. Drops were put into my eyes so the specialist got the best view possible to confirm my eye health. I’m happy to say my eyes are healthy.

How about you? Are you taking care of your health so you’re healthy to run your business? If your life is out of balance with inactivity, poor health, stress, and worry, you can’t be as productive as you need to be. Here are three strategies I use to maintain balance in my life.

  1. Balance Work and Play I can look back over my life and recognize the times when I’ve been most effective were the times when the balance was the greatest. As an entrepreneur, it’s been challenging for the last 10 years to keep the proper balance. When I find them off balance, I pick up my Day Timer and schedule time away from work to reduce my stress and increase my fun activity.
  2. Take Time to Plan – Weekly, monthly, quarterly, or at least annually, it’s your choice as to how often you take time out to plan. The bottom line, take time. I run into many people in business who are so busy, busy, busy, they don’t take time to stop and plan. I’ve heard estimates of 1/3 to 2/3 of everything that’s done in most companies on a daily basis is actually redo because it wasn’t done correctly the first time. As one supervisor once said to me, “Garth, you don’t understand our business. We’re too busy to plan, but we’ve got lots of time to do it to over tomorrow.” I’m happy to say he had a smile on his face when he made this statement as he recognized how silly it really was.
  3. Take Action – All the planning in the world doesn’t do any good if you don’t take action. I see far too many people in my seminars and in my coaching who stop at the planning stage and don’t take action. I use the DISC behavioral assessment extensively in my work and I know that one of the major behavioral styles has a problem with paralysis by analysis. I’m very familiar with this problem as it’s part of my behavioral style. I put action plans in place to ensure I plan and do.

What strategies do you employ to make sure you have vision, followed by a plan, and action?

Garth Roberts             www. Garth