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Lizbiz strategies: Differentiation is the key to your survival

April 15/22, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 23

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

A flooring retailer recently told me she couldn’t understand why customers weren’t coming to her store. “Don’t they know I have the best prices, and that I’ve been here 20 years?” she asked. “We only get the cheap customers.”

The movie, “Field of Dreams” memorialized the saying, “Build it and they will come.” That was nothing more than a line in a movie, but it doesn’t mean the customer equivalent of Shoeless Joe Jackson is going to show up. We’re already overbuilt with retail space and restaurants; how much fast food can we consume?

In the old days, you didn’t have to try too hard to draw customers. But then again, this was a time before the Internet, social media, blogs and Amazon. Differentiation meant you existed. Today, you have to do more than show up if you’re going to thrive.

Need proof? Just look at what’s going on with the fast food industry. I live in Upstate New York, where Friendly’s, a family restaurant, is closing the remainder of its Albany stores. They aren’t the only ones; it appears that Ruby Tuesdays, Chili’s, Applebee’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Outback and Hooters have all been selling off their restaurants or shutting them down. Several are reportedly basing their lackluster performance on trends showing millennials like to cook at home. Really? That’s hard to swallow.

Fact is, many of these fast food chains pretty much look—and taste—alike. A blooming onion or scantily clad servers won’t cut it anymore. (By the way, I heard Hooters has plans to open new restaurants under the name of “Hoots” and put more clothes on the servers. No, I didn’t make that up. According to my research, several of the older chains had internal disputes about what they should do when business was declining, and they chose to do nothing. You need more than new paint to attract today’s customer.)

So, what can you do to differentiate your business? Here are a few ideas:

Teach your salespeople to be marketers. No one knows the customer better than your RSAs, so ask them to post regularly on social media. I’m appalled when I see a store that’s been in business for 50 years but only has 500 friends! If you have 10 salespeople and their average number of Facebook friend is 338, that’s potentially 3,380 people who like your employees and should be on your business page as well.

Organize a ‘Product Day.’ Pick a day of the week or month to promote wood, carpet or even area rugs. Invite people on social media to attend; the ones who are interested will come in. Give away goods and get people excited.

Use your parking lot to stage events. Putting up a tent and throwing some remnants in the parking lot isn’t exciting. How about having an antique car day or animal adoption to bring in customers? In my area, Curtis Lumber hosts a car, truck and jeep show—an event that brings in hundreds, if not thousands, to their parking lot. Better yet, how about a yoga or Zumba event?

Partner up with local businesses. One retailer I know organized an event with a nearby landscaper. He offered advice on how to make them thrive, and he sold a ton of plants in the process. Spring is the perfect time for such a promo. Memorial Day typically brings everyone out to buy products to spruce up their homes.

Bottom line: Always be on the lookout to find ways to market to both new and returning customers. This way, when they need flooring, you’ll be top on their list.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for more than 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz strategies: How to make the most of TISE after the show

February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Surfaces is a great time to catch up with friends and customers. It makes me aware of how important people are in my life even if I only see them once a year. Thank goodness for social media.

This year I decided I would take away information from Surfaces that will be useful until next year. That means new people, new products and new ideas.

I picked up as load of magazines and sent them home. Keeping up on new products is difficult; I’m interested in trends and what architects and designers are thinking. The concept of “aging in place” is a tremendous opportunity for our industry. I hope you are attending local classes.

There is another designation called “Age Safe America.” I just took the class; it is very insightful. It’s important you know what kinds of flooring are safe for customers who are planning on staying in their homes long term. If you want to know more about it, reach out and I can give you a course discount. I will be teaching a course on “aging in place” in Albany in March.

When I found out I didn’t have to walk miles to get my badge I was elated. Could this be any easier? The layout with the speakers and the press made it easy to network and talk with people. The meeting rooms were close by and the rooms had sofas and chairs in the front row. It was like talking with people in my living room. Normally I would be spending my time looking for my meeting room and rushing around. I had less stress and more time to meet and talk—my favorite things. Hats off to Katie Thompson, senior content and project manager, The Design Group | Global Exhibitions and all those at Informa for making it easier to navigate the education sessions.

This year I took photos of certain displays and posted them on social media and asked friends what they thought. There were lots of comments from attendees and others who just follow my posts. I forget that flooring is very fashionable, and who doesn’t like fashion? Since I’m teaching a class for realtors and retailers, “The Value of Historic Homes,” I spent time looking at products that could be suitable for period homes. I live in a historic area in Albany, N.Y., called Hudson Park. My neighbors are always asking me what flooring and paint colors they should use in their homes. Reach out to realtors and ask if you can show flooring at one of their internal trainings.

Many of the floors in period homes are old and elegant so sand and finish or screen and recoat is often the solution. If there is extreme damage, a new floor is called for. I found some perfect “historic” flooring and will bring some samples to class. By the way, if you’re in the Albany area and want to attend any of my realtor classes, just let me know and get my schedule. I teach an all-day product knowledge class that is well attended by realtors. This is a great place to network. Teaching these classes has made me more aware of flooring fashion as well as the technical aspects. I am also teaching the “Historic Homes” class in Rochester, N.Y., on March 27. If you live in New York and would like to host one of these classes, let me know.

Despite the long days on my feet, TISE never ceases to amaze me. Thanks to the industry and how hard everyone works to make TISE a success.

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Lisbiz strategies: Learning opportunities abound at TISE 2019

January 21/28, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 17

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

For the last couple of years, I’ve been a part of The International Surface Event (TISE) education committee. For two days, we review proposals and discuss trends. It’s a ton of decisions to make in a very short time. I love being part of this process and listening to all the ideas. Attending the show is like seeing it all come together.

TISE 2019 comprises three world-class tradeshows: Surfaces, StonExpo/Marmomac and TileExpo. TISE is the largest North American floor covering, stone and tile event in the industry. I’ve been attending Surfaces for more than 20 years, but I still get excited thinking about it. Every year, the Informa Exhibitions marketing department puts on their creative caps to come up with a new theme. I love this year’s education theme: Converge.

According to Informa, “The new Converge education program at TISE will offer the industry a whole new way to gain training, knowledge and information. With flexible scheduling allowing for the busy trade show atmosphere, persona interest groups (Creatives, Suits and Hammer & Nails) for immersive, targeted discussions and the freedom to pass freely between session topics to gain exactly the knowledge attendees are seeking.”

So what do you want learn? Many of you have told me a real issue is what technology should you be using to connect with your customer? Another issue is how do you train your salespeople on the same technology? Every business needs a competitive advantage, and that’s what you can get at TISE 2019. This is the age of the consumer. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can to connect with them.

I suggest you work in as much education as possible and take tons of photos of new products to post on social media with your customer. I can almost guarantee you will have an order by the time you get home. If you’re still not sure how to use your social media or upload photos, check out one of the seminars taking place at the show that can get you up to speed.

This is the time to get dressed up, put on your best face and enjoy this wonderful show. It probably sounds silly, but I always have tears in my eyes when I first look at the show floor. It requires so much effort on the part of so many people to execute.

I am honored to be part of the Converge program, and I will be speaking at the following seminars: “7 Techniques to Talk Crazy Customers (or anyone else) Off the Ledge,” Tues., Jan. 22, 8 a.m.-9 a.m., and “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” alongside attorney Jeffrey King. This seminar takes place on Wed., Jan. 23, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. King will talk about legal implications, and I will discuss how to create a civil workplace.

As a speaker, I never have enough time to get to all the seminars, but it’s important for me to learn from other industry experts. I love the Hammer & Nails category. Just like you, I’m interested in what’s new in the installation area. I will get to one of the Creatives. You know fashion is my passion, so I’ll have to find what colors are hot and what’s in and what’s out. I am also teaching continuing education classes to realtors this year, and color and style is one of my courses.

Don’t forget to pack those comfy shoes, an additional cell phone charger, a couple of energy bars and get some extra sleep. Book those important appointments and don’t forget to make dinner plans with those friends you only see once a year. See you there.

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Lisbiz strategies: Customer testimonials are a virtual gold mine

January 7/14, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 16

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

According to Maria Dean of conversionlifters.com, testimonials and word of mouth are the driving force behind 20%-50% of all purchasing decisions, yet only about one-third of businesses are actively seeking and collecting customer reviews on an ongoing basis.

I recently conducted a workshop on the value of reviews and testimonials. When I asked the group how they used the reviews and testimonials, they said they assumed they received referrals from them. It seems like asking for referrals is something you do. However, no one has a strategy for using them. The reviews sit on the platforms waiting for something to happen.

Statistics tell us that at least 73% of consumers go online and look for reviews before they shop. Therefore, the more reviews you have the better.

Consumers perceive reviews are true, and your platform profiles enhance SEO. Any good feedback will help your business improve. Yes, there are crazy customers out there who can find problems with any situation. Responding to them can repair a bad relationship or help address a bad situation. Reviews can be fake, and some people just love causing trouble. You will still have to respond to them. You should always make sure you have 15 positive reviews that keep changing. Reviews that are five years old really don’t help you.

Let’s talk about testimonials. When you ask for a testimonial, it’s valuable to find out about the customer’s business. Not all customers will have a business but the ones that do can become an important business partner. On my site, I put the logo above their testimonial and then thank them for their testimonial. Think about how great it looks to the next customer reading the testimonial.

You can tell your customer you would like to put her testimonial on twitter and then ask if she would mind liking and retweeting it to her followers.

Where do you get your testimonials? Your installers have the best opportunity to get valuable video testimonials. When the customer tells the installer how beautiful the floor looks, this is an opportunity to ask her if she’d let you video the testimonial. Some customers will decline, which is fine. You can be sure the ones who agree are glad you asked them and love being in front of the camera.

Don’t forget to get a signed release from the customer stating you are allowed to use the testimonial online and as part of your marketing. These testimonials can also go on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. The more places you can share it the better.

Let’s talk about video testimonials and your installers. Installation is the key to our business, so a customer raving about the installer and the product is worth a ton more than you can imagine. It would be great if you could take a photo of the product, the installation, the installer and the customer.

Here is another testimonial that will get you considerable mileage: Have one of your better customers review one of your new products. Let’s say you come back from a product show and find an unusual product. Call up that great customer and give her enough products to test it. She could install a piece or get it dirty and then clean it. After she “test drives” it she can write a review for your website.

Great idea, right? It wasn’t mine. Two years ago I was asked to try out a magnificent area rug and write a review about it. And what did I get? The area rug.

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Lisbiz strategies: Fighting fiery situations with cool temperament

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Lisbeth Calandrino

The other night a friend and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. All of a sudden, I hear a male customer yelling at the top of his lungs: “I’ve been insulted by the waitress; I don‘t have to take this!” He kept at it as the waitress tried to calm him down, but nothing seemed to help. Then the owner came out and the argument continued. The customer’s wife began crying, and the man huffed off to his car. His crying wife got her meal to go.

Apparently, the customer was cleaning his teeth with dental floss right at the table, and the people at a nearby table complained. It seemed everyone was upset, including two waitresses and the owner. The more they tried to calm the customer, the more he yelled. Nothing was working.

I talked with the waitress. She said she told the customer he was upsetting the other people, and he needed to stop cleaning his teeth. This set him into a rage. Maybe he felt wronged and humiliated. Who knows? But wouldn’t it have been easier to move the complaining couple to a different part of the dining room?

Many people feel anger is dangerous, and if they confront it they will also be out of control. One of the conditioned responses is a feeling of fear, which often stems from having been around angry parents or other adults when we were children. This makes us believe confrontation is dangerous. The thinking goes: If I’m angry, I’ll lose control, just like my father and mother. Being exposed to this as a young child produces a conditioned response and feelings of fear when we’re around anger or confrontation.

Anger is tricky. How you feel about it has a lot to do with how you handle it. Do you want to go and hide? Do you start to sweat, get furious or ignore it?

When it comes to conflict resolution, sometimes the best solution is finding a way to de-escalate the problem by letting the aggrieved person have their say and empathize with them. The theory is people just want to be heard and acknowledged.

Situations such as these can be unpredictable, and you never know what will happen once you open your mouth. We live in a society where situations can quickly turn violent. Here’s my advice: Whenever possible, look for differences in opinions rather than who’s wrong and who’s right. If I had been sitting next to Mr. Floss, I think I would have just said I would like to move. My feeling is there was no reason to confront him or take sides. No matter how wrong the person is, taking sides only heats up the argument. The real problem started when the waitress told the man he was upsetting the other patrons. Other than bad manners, what was the man guilty of?

The moral of the story is, whatever happens, don’t take it personally. When you are trying to litigate a situation, taking sides will only exacerbate things. Show empathy to the injured party. This means understanding their feelings, although you might not agree with them. The waitress could have told the annoyed party that she understood this might be upsetting, and she would be happy to move them. Instead, the waitress summoned both the boss and the owner and confronted Mr. Floss.

When dealing with angry customers in your business—and hopefully that’s the exception rather than the rule—it’s best to focus less energy on who’s right and wrong and more attention on putting out the fire to begin with. Remember—there’s always another way.

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Lisbiz strategies: Expanding your client base can reap rewards

October 29/November 5, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 10

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Everyone says they need new customers. The question is, where do you find them? Looking for individual customers is really the hard way. Instead of looking for one or two new customer, it’s easier and more efficient if you look for “industry partners” who use your products. After attending the Remodeling and Deck Expo in Baltimore (FCNews, Oct 15/22), I’m thoroughly convinced flooring owners should be networking with people in the building industry and attending this conference. Why just connect with one or two builders or remodelers in your area? Why not look for ways to connect on a larger scale?

Let’s talk about the real estate industry. Realtors are always interested in new customers. Who do you know that has more connections with consumers than those in the real estate business? I think this is a winning group for you, but you’ve got to “work it,” as they say.

Through the years, I have spoken at real estate offices about flooring products and trends. Usually these meetings are small (about 10-15 agents). Regardless, they are always excited to learn about new products.

This past year I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Greater Capital Association of Realtors (GCAR). As one of the largest realtor associations in the U.S., the group represents more than 10,000 members from Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., as well as industry-related professionals who follow the real estate business. Frankly, I never thought this would be anything more than a one-time speaking opportunity. After the event, Debbie Isom, director of professional development, spoke with me about becoming certified to teach. I started thinking, would this industry be interested in flooring on a larger scale?

The certification was quite a process. You are required to have a certain number of points that support your expertise and ability to teach. You get additional points for being in the real estate business. Our first class was filled. In fact, we had to turn people away at the door. Who would have thought so many people would be interested in flooring? They actually thought it was fascinating. Attendees received continuing education credits.

We are about to offer our second class— Nov. 7–9, in Malta, N.Y., and Mohawk Industries has agreed to sponsor our event. Why am I telling you this? This is a huge opportunity for you to build some great connections. I’m not suggesting you get certified to teach an event, although this is an option. The requirements for certification are different for each state. You can probably connect with instructors in your state and talk with them about a flooring class and all you have to do is help them write a course in flooring.

Furthermore, you can host this event in your business, invite builders, interior designers, kitchen designers, home inspectors or anyone in the real estate industry and consumers. Imagine the event you can hold; you will be able to fill your showroom with lots of new faces and potential customers. FYI, several of our participants in my last class were consumers who were considering purchasing new flooring.

Why not use this as an opportunity to start your own networking group? It’s a great chance for a flooring dealer to get connected in the building industry. Furthermore, why not include your local flooring association and the World Floor Covering Association? Think big!

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Lisbiz strategies: Finding new customers in unlikely places

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

I have a therapist friend whose favorite expression is, “You can’t get chocolate milk in a turnip field.” It may sound silly, but if you’re looking for something specific, you had better know where to find it.

Looking for new business should be on the top of everyone’s list, but I realize it takes some time and effort. Like many retail owners, I’m time-starved so I get it. But this year I’ve been reintroduced to opportunities in the building and remodeling industry. This is an industry that directly connects to the flooring business. For many of you, it’s your bread and butter business.

I recently spoke at the Leading Suppliers Conference (LSC) in Portland, Ore. The LSC was established by the National Association of Home Builders in 1964. The conference serves as a multifaceted supplier resource for the building industry that represents the business interests of its members through advocacy, education and networking. I understood how important this connection was when I realized how many of their members operate in the flooring space.

In addition, I presented a talk on coaching at the Remodeling and Deck Expo in Baltimore earlier this month. The show is managed by Informa Exhibitions, the same folks behind TISE. If you’ve attended this event, you know Informa Exhibitions understands how to put on a great show. While preparing my seminars, I thought, “I don’t come from the remodeling or decking industry. What could I teach them about their business?”

I decided to tell them that no matter what the industry, all businesses have three things in common: How do we make money? How do we hire good people to help us make money? How do we keep them?

Following the seminar, several business owners came up to talk to me about their companies. I felt accepted and that my information was useful to them. The lesson learned here is, if you can establish commonalities with people you’re on the road to building connections.

As a retailer, if you’re seriously looking for new business, consider partnering up with some of your customers. Look for those businesses that are in a position to help you get more business and you can reciprocate. In my mind, the remodeling sector represents a great fit. Findings reported by Metrostudy—a firm that provides market insights to help builders, developers, financial institutions, manufacturers and retailers make informed strategic business decisions, deploy investment capital and improve risk management—predicts this coming year will be great for anyone in the remodeling and building trades.

As a recent market summary showed: “The strong economy and increased demand because of 2017’s natural disasters led Metrostudy, a sister company to Remodeling, to boost its 2018 prediction from the 4.7% rise in activity it forecast three months ago. Metrostudy now predicts there will be 12.57 million projects launched in 2018 that are worth at least $1,000. That’s up from 11.96 million last year.” (As I sat down to write this article, Hurricane Michael had just made landfall in Florida. There may be more business than some retailers can handle.)

Bottom line: Remodelers and builders are your customers; they need your help. Why not start calling builders to attend one of their meetings and find out what they need? Think of how excited your customers will be when they see you’re networking with their builders and understanding the trends in ‘their ‘worlds.

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Lisbiz strategies: Micromanaging can kill your business

August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Did your mom ever tell you if you wanted something done right, then you have to do it yourself? If so, you’re probably still doing it and everything else. Sure, sometimes it’s easy to do it yourself, but you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of aggravation.

Are you wondering why you can’t seem to grow a team or why employees quit? If you are attempting to grow a team, each person needs to be involved in setting goals for your organization. If your team isn’t growing, you can blame at least part of it on your micromanaging. Instead of nurturing your employees, you are driving a wedge between you and them and adding to their stress.

In 2016, a study at the Kelly School of Business, Indiana University, measured the level of stress of 2,362 employees with a micromanager and highly demanding jobs. The outcome was associated with a 15.4% increased chance of death. (The entire study by Heather R. Huhman is in “Entrepreneur, Voices on Strategic Management.”)

When people are part of the goal setting, they need to be held accountable for the outcome of the goals. You want them to see themselves as part of the solution and empowered, not failures.

Why do people micromanage? Oftentimes, it’s lack of trust or not really understanding how to manage or be a coach. They also tend to be perfectionists—in a negative sense of the term. No one measures up to their standards or can do the job as well as they can.

How do you stop micromanaging? Stop nitpicking and focus on the big picture instead. What are you trying to achieve? The more you focus on the big picture and results, the quicker you will get there.

The main goal is to create an atmosphere where people can express their ideas without repercussions. Not everyone has the right answer all the time—nor does the person doing the micromanaging.

Case in point: When I first went into business, I felt I needed to micromanage. I worried constantly. Suppose things went wrong, what would my partners think of me? What would I think of myself? I was more worried about these things than building a team of successful salespeople who could make money.

I began to realize I was both shortsighted and self-centered. I had to show everyone how good I was. I quickly realized people didn’t like me that much, and it was only getting worse. My ego was in the way. I had to get used to taking pride for the people who worked for me and developing them.

If you’re guilty of micromanaging, sign up for coaching and managing-skill classes. You might benefit from hiring your own coach to help you set some goals and hold you accountable.

Let’s say you’re not the manager; perhaps you’re the CEO. Micromanaging your organization is the kiss of death. The job of the CEO is to develop a vision for your organization. How much business do you need to show a profit? Where will the business come from? What ideas and skills do you have?

What is an executive’s job? He or she should constantly search for ways to improve profitability and growth by understanding the marketplace and its changes. As the executive, your job is to develop the vision for your group and motivate them to want to work their hearts out for the team.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz strategies: Is your call center the weakest link?

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Every business has someone answering the phone; technically, this is your call center. Your call center is a crucial personal connection your customers have with your business. There’s a company I often do business with called Harry and David. They are an American-owned, premium food and gift producer and retailer. Their employees are so well-trained, they almost act as your party planner. They even go back into old catalogues and look up specials for you. Nice, huh?

How many times have you called a business but were frustrated by the person who answered? Did you have to ask them their name? Did they sound like they were put out by your call? Did you feel they were multitasking and you weren’t part of their important conversation? You might have felt you were actually being rude by interrupting their day.

What I’m reporting is way too common and it’s a huge financial drain on business, maybe even your business. Unless you are actually monitoring the calls, the only feedback you ever get from your employees is someone called and needed information. You don’t get a sense of the emotions between the caller and your staff. It’s just as important to know what’s not said.

It’s because we believe everyone inherently knows what to say on the phone that the call center gets overlooked. However, phone skills are a highly valuable tool to have in your employees’ skill set. Call-center training will give your employees these skills.

Teaching your employees these valuable skills will make them more confident, improve sales and help gain new customers while retaining your current clientele. A more confident employee is also one who is happier, and happier employees will produce more happy customers. This will lead to higher productivity throughout your organization. A business needs to gain customers, not lose them.

So, what is a good call-center strategy? As the owner, it’s your responsibility to determine how you want your phones answered and to make sure it gets done through your management-coaching system. I suggest using my SMARTER system, which is an updated version of the SMART system. As a refresher, SMART is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. I have improved the SMART acronym to include “Evaluation” and “Review.” Having metrics you can evaluate and review with your employees will ensure they reach their highest potential.

If turnover is keeping you awake at night, getting your call center up to speed will fix that. The use of a monthly service to monitor your calls may be a profitable consideration. Oftentimes, it’s important to have another way to look at your problems. Call-center monitoring gives you another avenue to keep up on the vital signs of the health of your business. I had a client in New Jersey who set up a monitoring system to listen to her calls. We would discuss the content and the emotional consequence of the conversations. She said listening to the calls exposed what was going on between her employees and customers.

These are things I have in my bag of tricks gained over decades of fruitful experiences from business owners like you. I’ve worked with the best and the worst and, like you, I know the difference.

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Lisbiz strategies: Incivility can lead to a hostile environment

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

While a training program on workplace manners and courtesy may seem like overkill, the reality is this: Rudeness is an epidemic costing industries millions a year. For nearly two decades, Christine Porath, acclaimed business professor at Georgetown University, has studied and observed a sharp rise in rudeness, emotional harassment, bullying and other toxic behaviors that can cost companies financially and employees their health and well-being.

Civility represents social norms and rules that must be followed to positively and productively relate to others. More than ever before, people are feeling disrespected at work. Employees feel they’re working in a toxic culture with insensitive managers and being treated disrespectfully based on gender, race or religion.

Oftentimes, this incivility leads to more serious forms of harassment. All incidents of harassment require employers or managers to respond quickly and appropriately. If issues are left unaddressed, a hostile work environment can develop, which can expose employers to further complaints and lawsuits. What society seems to be gaining in terms of both knowledge and technological advancement, it’s losing out on basic social values that directly impact the bottom line.

To address the growing problem of incivility, a company must make it a top priority. Everyone must understand the concept of civility, its importance to a company as well as its typical causes and effects.

Skills needed to effectively practice civil behavior, as well as different ways organizations can systematize civility in the workplace, need to be discussed. The benefits to civility in the workplace are countless and will pay off immensely in every aspect.

When Porath asked people in one survey why they were uncivil, more than 25% blamed their organization for not providing them with the basic skills they needed, such as listening and giving feedback. If your employees aren’t behaving well, and you’ve already gone through the trouble of hammering home the organization’s civility message, ask yourself, “Have I also equipped them to succeed?”

Don’t assume everyone instinctively knows how to be civil. When coaching employees, focus on helping them learn to listen, give and receive feedback, work across differences and deal with difficult people. Don’t just impart information; be explicit about your organization’s values.

Make civility a part of your mission statement, posting it somewhere visible. Engage your team in a dialogue about what your norms should be, then make it clear to your employees they need to hold their managers and colleagues accountable for living up to your norms of civility. Be explicit about your organization’s values.

One great reason to practice civility, you’ve heard this before—no man is an island. No matter how talented or indispensable you are to your business, you need to rely on suppliers and other people to get things done.

It’s worth noting—civility goes beyond good manners.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.