Monday Minute | 009

Mondays are tough. On Facebook, it’s the day I see more inspirational memes that usually include coffee, sunrises and quotes about giving 100%. But, over the weekend, I was watching one of my favorite movies when I spotted two back-to-back inspirational variations that gave me pause.

The movie is “The Two Towers” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the Battle for Helm’s Deep, Aragorn is looking out at the enemy hoard and realizing the depth of the work ahead of them and what it will take from his polished and stylish army. He digs deep, and his pep talk (in elvish no less) is: “Show them no mercy, for you shall receive none.” It’s clear his stoic band of men and elves are behind him.

The next scene comes from the opponent side. Looking mean and serious, the orc hoard moves into place. Their leader, standing above the hoard with his sword raised, puts out an equally passionate plea: “AAAARRRGGGGGGHH!” he yells, and then looks around for agreement.

As a leader, it reminded me that your team is looking for inspiration and guidance. Whether they are the army or the hoard, the message needs to be one they understand, and we should be validating that buy-in. Otherwise, it just ends up being a Monday morning meme about coffee.

The exact scene occurs at 1:10 and is only 20 seconds long! It’s good for a Monday rev up. https://youtu.be/gXC-jJhFaUI (Sorry about the ad!) Aaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

 

Monday Minute | 008

It’s Monday again, and – thanks to a little bit of sunshine – people are coming to work with a smile at last. It’s not overly warm, but it’s at least not raining, sleeting, or yuck … snowing. With hope, we’ve finally turned the corner from winter to spring.

Recently, we’ve had a lot going on. This week is no different due to lots of travel with loads of people going to a big conference to learn and grow our organization. We’re working to better ourselves in one of our primary programs with a customer who, to date, really appreciates how we approach our projects. This approach comes from a cultural norm I hope comes from my encouragement to our team to be continuous learners. In this day and age, I’m not sure how you can’t be a continuous learner, but I suppose if you only tune into messages that you repeatedly hear, you could avoid being exposed to something new. For me, the pleasure of learning something new as often as possible has always been exciting. I can’t imagine at some point finding that we have all the knowledge we need.

So when I talk about continuous learning, I’m not suggesting everyone needs to take a course at their local college, or go back to school for a new degree. Continuous learning is an attitude and a set of behaviors that allow us to succeed in our ever-changing environment, and it is the best lever we have to turn who we are today into who we want to be tomorrow. Change requires learning and, conversely, there is no learning without change.

Sounds cyclical, doesn’t it? Just like spring after winter … Sometimes it just takes a little longer to get here.

-Stacey Smith, PQC President and CEO

Monday Minute | 007

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” —Henry David Thoreau

I’ve heard a lot of feedback recently about walking to a different drummer. One of our team members recently went through training where she was asked about her “DiSC” profile. She was asked about getting along with others from the 4 different styles. It struck me that we live in a world with so many millions of people that the idea that we all fit into 4 profile types seems unrealistic. But for this discussion, let’s assume we can all be sorted into the 4 common denominators that highlight our personality type.

With that said, I’m definitely a D – Dominance. I am a problem-solver, which is what also fuels my entrepreneur life. But I know everyone isn’t driven by my same “fix it” motivations, and I must work with others based on their need to influence, steady or conscientiously analyze the same problems. I have always seen the differences in who we are and what we are passionate about as positives. Having ideas, being unique, and using your voice is something I must say the younger generation has taken advantage of. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I came from a different culture where having a different drum is OK, but pounding on it loudly was discouraged.

To succeed in a business that is growing and changing, I’m having to remind myself of these facts and push to listen and be open to a different message. Being a “D,” I may take that input in and ignore it, but I’m trying to always be open to the idea. We all can benefit from a different drum approach!

-Stacey Smith, President and CEO

Equal Pay Day 2018

On the path to gender equality, we need gender equity. In order to have gender equity, we need to change the narrative and focus away from fixing women and put it squarely where it belongs – fixing the system. We need to focus on fixing a system that has generated a leaky pipeline and suppressed economic opportunity at all levels – individual, family, company, and country. 

Check out the links below for more information!

http://www.equalpaytoday.org/equal-pay-day-2018/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2017/09/14/why-we-need-gender-equity-now/#3d85ec8a77a2

Monday Minute | 006

I’m usually a little late to new business strategies and philosophies—mostly because they seem to have come out at light speed over the past 5 years. But I’m trying to catch up and recently read several articles about “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer. In his book, he shows that customer service has become a spectator sport. We can no longer apply customer service strategies from bygone eras to how we respond today. Customers have too many options, and they have outlets for when they want to make those issues known. Especially anonymously. 
And if you’re like me, you think we’re rocking the customer service agreements, when in reality, customers say most complaints go without a response at all. How is that possible? It’s because, in some cases, our customers expect us to read between the lines and pick up on things that they see as issues before they become an issue. They also don’t rely just on email and phone. And finally, speed is everything. According to Edison Research, 32 percent of social media–savvy customers expect a response from your team within 30 minutes, and 42 percent want to hear back within the hour. Fifty-seven percent expect that same response time on weekends and after business hours as well. 
We know we’ve added tons of time/resources to add to our customer service and employee connection (a key element, I think), but we need to stay on top of this one as we continue to grow and move into a more digital era! The bottom line to Baer’s book: Just be a better company and hire great employees who all see customer service as their number one job!
-Stacey Smith, PQC President and CEO

Monday Minute | 005

Do you remember the Dilbert cartoon poster that said, “Change is good … you go first.” Well, we’ve not stopped since that came out.
Change, aka transformation, often relies on organizational learning. Over the long run, organizational survival and thriving rest on continuous positive change—being “continuously” change-ready rather than “reactively” ready. For organizations that deal in governmental-type (federal/state/city) operations, we are continuously ready because that is the nature of the work. We tend to push our organization to be a sustaining, changeable enterprise. Organizations like ours have learned to change more easily and build an “adaptability” advantage that helps them get ahead.
But we’re moving into a new economy where we need to be proactive to change and flexible to sustain through the change. To stay ahead, organizations must become proactive, flexible and knowledgeable as to why to make those changes. A changeable organization must become a “knowledge-creative enterprise.” This is a new kind of organization, vibrant with positive energy, that focuses on continuous learning-based process improvement, as well as organic radical innovation. In these organizations, everyone is talent, and learning is rooted in culture. This is a new and exciting environment but comes with lots of voices and thousands of ideas, and the challenge is finding the path forward. This requires more time spent on strategy and working with the team to understand that strategy.
In fact, organizational learning—as a constant process—is strategically and organically integrated with business and work activities. Thus, these organizations can continuously design, develop, connect, manage and renew their knowledge base. This is critical for organizational effectiveness, performance improvement, and business transformation. Bottom line: This sort of workplace is smarter, happier and driven at all levels.
-Stacey, PQC President and CEO