Monday Minute | 015

Discussions about good customer service and poor employee performance do not seem to have a place in the same posting, but trust me—they do.

Good customer service is what we ask for from every employee, even those who may only occasionally meet a customer. But for those that are forward facing, we ask for 110%: Your job is all about satisfying the customer based on what they hired us for. For those lucky people who are blessed with charm, sometimes you can snooze a customer and get by with a little less performance in exchange for a smile. However, it can’t (and won’t) last.

When we conduct assessments or just have periodic conversations with the customer leadership, it comes out. They really like you, but you’re always late, someone else has to finish your work, etc. And when it comes time to have a performance review, the employee might lean on the “but they like me” excuse and/or “no way would they say that about me.” Well, they did—because despite liking you and sharing Grandma Helen’s German chocolate cake recipe, the customer, too, has a job to do.

At PQC, we look for these signals and want to address them early. We want our team to be strong and positive. We know that life happens, but that’s no excuse for being repeatedly late. If you aren’t paying attention to your attendance, just remember this: You can be a great employee, but if you are not there, you’re not helping anyone.

-Stacey Smith, PQC President and CEO

Monday Minute | 014

On June 8th, PQC celebrated its 14th anniversary. In saying that, it means that I also celebrated that wonderful day that I got the letter back from the state of Indiana stating it was official: We were an incorporated company. It seemed rather anticlimactic back, then but it’s a big deal now when I look back.

With any work-aversary, one should evaluate the things that have been successful and the things that should be avoided. My “avoid” list is too big, so I’ll just skip it because it contains things like “don’t try and eat French fries with ketchup while driving” or making sure that you really want to send a hangry email to someone just because you’re hungry and its late. Not good ideas. 

But I do want to remember the big things that I did back then and still do today.

  1. Try and always look at the positive. It’s hard to focus on being positive, but we get a brighter outlook if we always think something good is about to happen. I’m especially good at that on Fridays! Good news Fridays are notable at PQC.
  2. Talk to people who will make you take a tougher look at yourself. I’m blessed with a few mentors who always make me look at the real side of my decisions and ideas. It’s helpful to have good cheerleaders, but it’s better to have real feedback.
  3. Follow people on social media that will help keep you balanced. There are a lot of Nancy Naysayers. They blast your world with negative feedback, but when you find a few who keep you centered, that’s important. I’ve always liked my Twitter relationship with Retired General Martin Dempsey. He is a down-to-earth Army leader who thinks about leadership and inclusion. Here’s a recent post from him that I thought you might enjoy. 
  4. Finally, continue to surround yourself with people who are talented and smart. If you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’ve shortchanged your organization. Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must be moving forward.”

So, thanks to everyone that helped make 14 years possible. Now we’re on to getting the 15th year and making it a good one!

Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 013

I’m trying hard to catch up on my overloaded pile of magazines and books. Most are always business related and usually procured with the intent to help me think of fresh and new ways to keep PQC ahead of the game and provide a unique and encouraging workplace. So today when I was thumbing through the March articles for Harvard Business Review, I thought it was funny that one of the articles was related to our phones. We’ve been griping at employees forever about not using their phones on the job and instead focusing on details. “If you’ve got to have them, put them face down and on silent” we’ve noted for our team members that depend on them for work.

Well, it turns out even that’s not enough. In the article, “Having your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking” (https://hbr.org/2018/03/having-your-smartphone-nearby-takes-a-toll-on-your-thinking), the authors note comparative studies designed to measure cognitive capability by completing memory-based tasks (e.g., complete a math equation, remember letters) when phones were nearby versus in the other room. The group with the phones in the other room performed the best. I’m not sure I can agree with all the results since I believe a little self-control goes a long way, but they do note that sheer availability could be seen as a distraction.

As adult employees and leaders, I challenge each of us (both professionally and personally) to consider this: Does your phone serve as a distraction? I know at night that I sleep better when my phone is out of my room, but I also know that I am equally as worried about missing key calls or interactions when it’s gone. We all know there are more times when we can put the phone aside and focus on the task at hand.

Now to deal with all those other distractions that keep us from focus. I’m sure that’s a whole other study!

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO