Archives for November 2009

Simon Says Beware

  Jan, the owner of Simon the Jack Russell Terrier, trained Simon to touch a bell with his paw when he wanted to go outside.   One evening, Simon waited till she sat down to dinner, then rang the bell. When Jan left her plate of warm, delicious food to open the door, Simon ran past her, jumped onto her chair, and gobbled down her food.   Jan had intended "going outside" as the positive consequence for Simon’s ringing the bell. But smart Simon found a much more delicious consequence for the behavior of bell-ringing: her savory supper.   Does anyone in your life have YOU trained?   It’s happened to me.   Simone was responsible for assembling and shipping materials for my training classes. Each time I gave her my order, she’d say, "You’ll have to come over here and bring me the inserts," or some such. Pretty soon, I was spending more time preparing the shipments than she was. Eventually, I ended up preparing my own materials and taking them with me on the plane.   I had thought Simone would do a certain task when I rang the bell; actually, I did a certain task when she rang the bell. … Continue reading

Empowerment & The Hallelujah Chorus

  The manager of a retail store told employees that their responsibility was to make transactions easy and quick for customers. However, if an item had no price or bar code, the cashier was required to call a manager.  What’s wrong with this picture?   We can do two things to make it easy and non-threatening for our team members to make decisions independently.    1. First, ask them "What are some situations where you aren’t sure whether to take an action or to refer it to me?" Then clarify what you want: "Well, in a situation like that, I’d like you to (fill in a, b, or c below).        a.  Ask me for a decision or permission before taking action       b.  Inform me after taking action       c.  No need to inform or involve me: "You handle it." (insert "Hallelujah Chorus" here)     2.  Second, make a positive comment when he decides and acts. If his decision wasn’t exactly the one you’d like, calmly and warmly say "Next time, I’d like you to _________________. You made the right decision not to keep the customer waiting. I’m glad you handled it."   Correct the decision but reinforce the action of deciding.   How much time could … Continue reading

“What Do You Want to Be?”

  "What do you want to be?"  That’s what I ask people who are looking for a job, seemingly don’t have a goal, and need something to work toward," says Sheree Sorrells, an employment counselor at a North Carolina JobLink Center. "It may be the first time anyone has asked the person that question in many years. Often, I notice his or her first reaction is to sit up straighter." . . . sit up straighter . . . what does this tell us about what that person may be thinking or feeling? Sitting up straighter could be the first in a series of behaviors leading to preparing oneself for a job. As we’ve all heard many times: "A long journey begins with a single step." When I hear the question "What do you want to be?" it thrusts me into my imagination, and my dream. "I want to be a nurse, a firefighter, a chef, a business owner." Imagining myself in one of these roles pulls me up in my seat. It pulls me out of my present an into a different future. It pulls me to do the work to make that future come true. Usually, people are asked what they want … Continue reading