Do You Every Wish You’d Said That?

I just finished watching Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at the 2010 TED presentation. You can check it out at Sir Ken said so eloquently what I’ve been ranting about for years. As a former post-secondary educator I watched hundreds of students come to our media program after they’d gone the route their parents or teachers wanted them to go. They followed, what Sir Ken calls, the linear route. Then they followed their hearts.

Traditional education is killing creativity in the bulk of the population. I had dozens of students tell me, at the post-secondary level, it was the first time they got to explore their creativity and their passion. How sad is that? To quote Sir Ken Robinson, “it’s time for revolution, not evolution.”

Leaders are needed to start the revolution and you can start it in your own business. Take the time to find out what your employees love to do. Help them explore their passions, at work or outside of work. Granted, you may lose some employees along the way when they recognize they’re in the wrong job, but you’ll be part of developing a happier person. You’ll also find a new person to fill the void who really wants to work for you. Your company’s productivity and profit will go up.

In my business writing seminars I always ask how many people love to write. If I’m lucky I get 10 – 15 % of the people saying they like writing. For the rest of the people I explain why they don’t like to write. My simple explanation, they went to school. Who taught you how to write? For the most part it was literature majors. They wanted you to write like their favourite authors. Not many of us can write like Hemmingway, Dickens or Yeats. So, for many years we were told, “that’s not correct”, “change this”, “why can’t you do better”, and many more negative tirades.

I thank Sir Ken Robinson for his presentation at TED. Let’s trust many of the leaders who were in his audience take the first steps to start the revolution in education. How about you? What can you do? Well, for starters, forward the link to Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation to your list, particularly to those people involved in education.

Garth Roberts   

Maintaining Morale in a Downsizing Economy

The title of this blog is the title I was given when asked to present at a regional oil patch association convention. Not a problem, as far as I’m concerned. I have some very specific tools and suggestions for improving morale. However, I was surprised at the scope of the morale problems in the industry requesting the presentation.

Everyone is talking about how business is on the up-swing. How come this major industry isn’t going with the flow? It seems it’s the large multi-national companies who are still feeling the pinch and they’re in the consolidating mode. At each of the four sessions, I asked participants if the morale boost was for them or the people they supervise. Both, was the answer.

After the meeting I chatted with another presenter. She works with a major player and is pitching my talk to the Lunch & Learn Coordinator.

“What’s happening in the industry”, I asked.

“We’re a major company that’s probably on the auction block. Lay-offs haven’t stopped and the morale is terrible. I think we could all use a talk like yours.”

So, if you’re thinking the worst is over, think again. It took several years of bad decisions, internationally, to put the world in recession. It’s not going to be full steam ahead in every corner for quite some time.

Garth Roberts   

It’s All In Your Language

As a leader or colleague, you get things done through other people. How you get things done is directly related to how you talk with other people. As a coach of mine, Betty Cooper, says, “It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.”

I choose my words carefully when I’m in conversations … most of the time. Amazingly it’s the times I choose my words well that I get the best results. The following advice on choosing your words comes from my colleague Jeff Mowatt – Jeff also deals with one of my pet peeves, rude people who don’t recognize there is a time and a place to take cell phone calls.

At one of my seminars a participant who works at a deli counter asked, “How do you politely deal with a customer who is talking on a cell phone while you’re trying to take their order?”  My response: “Say to him or her, ‘I’ll take care of you when you’re finished with your call.’  Then move on to the next person in line.”  The results:  1) You feel better about yourself and your job.  2) Other customers appreciate your tactful handling of the matter since they don’t want to listen to the annoying customer either.  3) The customer suddenly realizes that employees here need to be treated with respect.  The key is the positive phrasing.  Notice we did not say, “I won’t serve you while you’re on the phone.”  Instead, it’s “I will take care of you when…”

Jeff Mowatt

Check out Jeff’s Influence with Ease tips. Jeff’s comments always give me insight into effective customer service.

Garth Roberts