C-Suite Network

Culture Growth Management Personal Development

What is “Influence Influenza” and What is the Cure?

Influenza is a series infection. It causes fever, aching, and is often debilitating and even deadly if the immune system is weak.  Managers suffer from “influence influenza” because they are often debilitated by the need to have difficult performance conversations.  There is an epidemic of an unwillingness and/or inability to influence employees to change their inappropriate behaviors and/or poor performance.  What are the root causes of this epidemic and what is the cure?

It is managers who suffer from this affliction because leaders understand how to give feedback.  Leaders understand the difference between control and influence and leaders know how to create followers.  Leaders know how to influence.

Root Causes

We are taught control techniques. We use performance appraisals and pay for performance carrots and stick to create change in behaviors.  Control means people are forced to do certain behaviors.  Influence means they want to do those behaviors. At a recent training conference for a major automobile manufacturer, my colleagues and I learned that the owners of dealerships were threatened with a fine if they didn’t attend the training. This is a perfect example of carrots and sticks control. This type of control technique damages motivation, engagement and cooperation.  It can even create anger.

Wells Fargo was fined millions for issuing fake credit card accounts and overcharging customers to lock them into new deals. (Prentice, 2016)  They not only provided monetary incentives for the employees to “sell” these deals, they also threatened employees with loss of employment if they failed to meet the goals.  This is an example of the standard form of control techniques.  Employees had to behave in a certain way. Customers were manipulated.

Managers are fearful to use influence because it requires effort, courage, and critical thinking. The carrot and stick approach is so much easier.  It is easy for a manager to set up an incentive program and/or make threats to get the behavior they want and then, if it doesn’t work, the manager can always blame and punish the employees.  This is exactly what Wells Fargo did. (Egan, 2016)  5,300 employees were fired.

A lack of trust prevents communication.  When trust is low, a manager is often off balance.  The lack of balance can create a lack of confidence, hesitation and/or procrastination.  According to the International Association of Business Communicators, trust can be created by treating others with integrity, respect, accomplishing tasks and agreeing on shared objectives.[1] When one or more of these elements are missing, a manager is off balance.  These elements can be managed if the manager is willing to make the effort and if they have the skills.

The Cure

Influence requires a deep appreciation of why behaviors must change. Instead of using carrots and sticks, people need and want a “Big Why” to change.  Managers who want to become leaders and who want to use influence must begin to communicate and reinforce the “Big Why” for employees.  They must be able to articulate the benefits the change will create and the consequences if it fails.

Finally, managers can learn to use the Socratic Method.  Asking powerful and useful questions is the best way to influence others.  This sounds simple and it is not easy. It requires critical thinking skills, patience, and an appreciation that employees might have habits that need to be changed.  A change in habit is difficult.  Managers who learn to ask great questions, with the proper tone, and with the helpful (even loving) intentions will begin to become a leader who knows how to influence others.

Managers who hesitate to address poor or unhelpful behaviors of employees likely have “influence influenza”.  It’s time for a cure. If we want our organizations to be optimally successful we must become leaders who influence and stop just being managers to try to control.


Check out the interview on C-Suite Best Seller TV to learn more about how to stop leadership malpractice and replace the typical performance review: https://www.c-suitetv.com/video/best-seller-tv-wally-hauck-stop-the-leadership-malpractice/

Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

For more, read on: https://c-suitenetwork.com/advisors/advisor/wally-hauck/


Egan, M. (2016, September 9). 5,300 Wells Fargo Employees Fired Over 2 Million Phony Accounts. Retrieved from cnn.com: http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/08/investing/wells-fargo-created-phony-accounts-bank-fees/index.html

Prentice, R. (2016, September 19). Wells Fargo Goes Far to Cheat Customers, and It Was Predictable. Retrieved from utexas.edu: https://news.utexas.edu/2016/09/19/it-was-predictable-that-wells-fargo-cheated-customers

[1] The International Association of Business Communicators definition of trust

Culture Growth Management Personal Development

A Leadership Assumption That Can Kill Employee Engagement

If you think you can, you probably will. You’ll find a way if you have the motivation.  If you think you can’t you likely won’t. When it comes to solving problems, attitude is everything and how we think about a problem is the first step to having a positive attitude. We all know these truths.   If a leader wants to have optimum employee engagement in their organization, they must evaluate their assumptions about people and problems and decide if those assumptions will support engagement or kill it. A leader’s assumptions can be either a powerful negative force or a powerful positive force for engagement.

No long ago I watched Jason Day, the Australian professional golfer, win the Well Fargo Open golf tournament.  He has a very useful and obvious habit. He closes his eyes just before each shot. Supposedly, he visualizes exactly what he hopes to do with the shot. He clearly understands that how one thinks about a situation will influence the behavior and that behavior will influence the result.

I have created a leadership development process called THINK-BEHAVE-IMPROVE. How a leader thinks will influence their behaviors and the behaviors of employees.  Similarly, how a leader behaves will influence an organization’s ability to improve.

At a recent client visit, the senior team was looking for ways to elevate the customer experience.  We were discussing issues identified during an employee focus group.  According to this focus group, the highest priority to improve customer experience was improving the ability of employees to handle customer calls.  Calls were being transferred multiple times and calls were being lost. It is widely accepted that optimum employee engagement is required to achieve optimum customer experience. (Adamsky, 2016)  The senior team was compelled to address these telephone issues.

During the discussion, the General Manager piped up in a frustrated tone “We have told the employees multiple times how to handle these calls. They just need to do it.”  A leader’s statements reveal their assumptions.  I asked this leader, “So, you think they are purposely not following your instructions and process?”  he said, “No, no, no.  That is not what I am saying. I just think they don’t get it.”  I asked, “So are they incapable or incompetent?”

One of the most damaging, and common, assumption is to think an employee’s behavior is a root cause of a problem. Employee behavior is rarely a root cause.  It is usually a symptom. In my example above, the General Manager assumes that the employees “don’t get it” because there is something wrong with those employees.  This assumption is not only damaging to employee engagement, it also prevents a recognition of the real root causes of the problem.  Instead of thinking there is something wrong with the employees, a leader must ask a series of process questions to uncover why the employees, “…don’t get it.” 

Instead of assuming a flaw in the employees, it is much more useful and healthy to assume there are flaws in the processes and methods used to provide instructions. Most often people who avoid embracing a change will have very good reason why. (Lahey, 2001)  It is a leader’s job to uncover those reasons.  They can do it by asking great questions.

Here are some process questions that can help us identify root causes:

  • What can we learn from this?
  • What process was used for training? Do we need to improve our process?
  • What are all the other factors which affect the employees’ ability to “get it?” and who is responsible for those factors? How can we improve those factors?
  • Did the employee not understand the instructions? What else do they need to understand?
  • Who is responsible for explaining the instructions? Did we communicate clearly and frequently enough?
  • What are the benefits employees will enjoy by not making the changes? How can we create other benefits more compelling to employees?
  • Do the employees understand why the change is so important and have we explained those reasons correctly and frequently?
  • What would the employees recommend for improvement?

An assumption that “they don’t get it” will lead to behaviors and/or communication which kills engagement. After all, who wants to be thought of as incapable, incompetent or purposely sabotaging a process?  When employees pick up on that assumption, engagement is dead and innovation to identify and remove the root causes is missing.  It’s tragic. The death of engagement and destruction of innovation with one assumption!

Check out the interview on C-Suite Best Seller TV to learn more about how to stop leadership malpractice and replace the typical performance review: https://www.c-suitetv.com/video/best-seller-tv-wally-hauck-stop-the-leadership-malpractice/

Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

For more, read on: https://c-suitenetwork.com/advisors/advisor/wally-hauck/


Adamsky, H. (2016). From Employee Engagement to Employee Advocacy: A Natural Progression. Aberdeen.

Lahey, R. K. (2001). The Real Reason People Won’t Change. Harvard Business Review.

Best Practices Culture Growth Health and Wellness Leadership Technology

Stop Playing a Game of Relationships Roulette

Attention is about connection. Attention is critical for cultivating healthy relationships – personally and professionally. Studies have shown us that when people fail to get the attention they need from a relationship, they will begin to seek it elsewhere.

Giving attention to someone is our way of prioritizing the relationship and showing them they are important to us.

When we give our attention to our spouse or partner, our relationship deepens.

When we give attention to our friends and family, our relationships become stronger.

As leaders, when we give attention to our employees, we retain their talent and create a sense of loyalty in the partnership.

My latest book Attention Pays, recently released and I’ve been ah-mazed at the number of people who have reached out to me about their experience reading it. Many of them have admitted they finally recognized the fact they were neglecting their more important relationships. Some even felt compelled to put the book down to give their focus to those they love in that very moment.  That makes me so happy. I am a work in progress, just like you. I need these reminders too.

I believe attention is our new currency. The more undivided attention we give to those that matter most, the more value they see in the relationship.

Here are a few strategies to help you focus your undivided attention on those in your life:

1. Device-free meals. Choose to keep the table a device-free zone. No matter the meal, no matter the company, choose to put it away. If you’re having a team luncheon, challenge others to do the same. Having dinner with friends? Make a deal with them that the first person to engage on their phone will have to pay the bill. Instead, use the time at the table to focus on those in your presence. Honor them and their importance in your life by engaging and gifting them with your undivided attention.

2. Purposefully plan. Be mindful and intentional about when you will spend time with those who matter most. Schedule time in the office to meet with employees to check in on their well-being. Set aside time each day to ask your children about their day. Consider planning a vacation with your friends or family that you can look forward to. Plan a date with your partner, child or friends. By planning ahead, you are letting others know how much you value the relationship.

3. Little things matter. Have you ever been surprised by someone who bought you a coffee on their way to work one morning? Maybe you’ve come home to find a small, unexpected package in the mail from a friend. Little things matter. They are one way to give attention to those who matter in your life. They let others know you care. Consider grabbing your partner’s favorite dessert on the way home as a special surprise. Or, pop an unexpected hand-written note in the mail to a friend or loved one. Reward an employee with a coffee or sweet treat for a hard day’s work.

What ideas do you have? Feel free to share in the comments below. Relationships are critical to our happiness and are important to our personal and professional well-being. Invest yourself in relationships and show those in your life they matter most.

Best Practices Culture Growth Health and Wellness Leadership Skills Technology

Your Privacy in the Wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal

While Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to play out,  one of the big “AHA” moments has been the discovery of the amount of information that Facebook has captured on it’s users. 

The fact that Facebook captures data on users is not really a surprise, but the breadth of data captured was stunning to many, as were the lax safeguards in place to protect that data.  The scope of Facebook’s data collection is still a bit of an unknown, as we haven’t learned of additional data captured by Instagram and What’sApp, both of which are owned by Facebook.    Facebook’s empire is a data collection machine that powers the marketing campaigns of business around the world.

And Facebook is not the only data collection machine.  Most tech companies collect data for marketing purposes, and privacy and data protection varies on each..  Google collects data  via search, Gmail, maps and Google applications.  But also captures data via Android phones, Waze driving applications, and it’s Nest home automation subsidiary.  

So what are we supposed to do?  Unless you are willing to completely abandon the digital world, you have to accept that privacy is elusive online.  But there are few things you can do to minimize the amount data collected and the accessibility of that data .  Here are a few tips that could help:

Be aware of the information available on you and adjust your privacy settings accordingly.   Both Google and Facebook will let you see a good portion of the information they collect on you.  It doesn’t cover all of the data collected from related businesses, but it is still helpful.  For example, I found out that Google knew the 10 different cities that I lived in my life, and was making that information publicly available.  While I couldn’t delete the information, I could make it private. 

Close unused social media accounts.  Many of us have tried new networks, but ultimately abandoned them.  Despite our neglect, your information is still out there.  Use justdeleteme to jog your memory and delete as many old accounts as you can.  Some do not make it easy. 

Don’t use Facebook’s or Google’s single sign on for other services.    When you start using a new service or retailer and are asked to “create an account”, many will ask if you want to login via Google or Facebook.  While it is convenient and one less password to remember, this service also allows Google and Facebook to track everything you buy with that retailer. 

Don’t use third party applications on Facebook.  Those cute quizzes and other entertainment might be fun, but they are also data collections devices.  These are the type of applications that supplied the data for Cambridge Analytica.  Some applications just collect data, but some require that you submit personal information that is often the subject of commonly used security questions.   Don’t play along.  The fun is not worth the risk. 

Delete unused applications on your phone, desktop and other devices.   Many of us constantly add new applications, but are less diligent about deleting old ones.  Applications collect a lot of data, even when they are not being used.  So if you have not used an application in a while, delete it.  I purge applications every six months, and end up deleting more than half the applications on my phone.   

While digital privacy remains elusive, you can take action to minimize the breadth of personal information out there.  Take control!

Best Practices Body Language Culture Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Marketing Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

How To Address Objections In A Negotiation

“Objections are used in an attempt to see what one can obtain. Before addressing objections know what you want and what you’re willing to forgo to acquire what you need.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

I’ve addressed hundreds of thousands of objections over the course of my negotiation career. Objections should be addressed with the mindset of information gathered about the party with whom you’re negotiating; that includes silent partners that are not at the negotiation table, foils that might be aligned with your negotiation opponent to perform nefarious functions, the demeanor of the negotiator(s), and the culture of the negotiator’s organization. Such insights, along with reading one’s body language, will lend credence to the validity and viability of the person making objections during a negotiation. That, in turn, will allow you to discern how important an objection is, versus it being a possible ploy, created to distract you from something that is more beneficial to your position.

Handling Objections:

Before addressing objections, always be aware of the attempts of others on the opposing negotiator’s team to hype them; remember, these attempts could stem from people that are not at the negotiation table. Hyping objections can be in the form of giving them the appearance of being more valuable or dire than they are, for the purpose of gaining insight into how you might react to such attempts. Keeping that in mind, follow the steps below when addressing objections in your negotiations.

1. When the first objection is posed, assess its veracity to determine if you should address it at all. If the other negotiator insists upon having it addressed, note his body language before proceeding to the next step. In particular, you should observe if he looks directly at you with a smile or scowl, if he looks through you as though he’s in a daze, or if he makes such a request in a timid manner. In all such cases, appraise the degree to which any of these gestures might be ploys.

a.) Looking directly at you is a sign that he’s focused. A smile can indicate that he wants to convey a friendly/casual perspective. A scowl may be an indication of a more serious projection and/or one to set the stage to take his request more seriously.

b.) Looking through you in a daze could imply that his mind is somewhere else and the fact that he’s testing you as a ploy.

c.) Making the request in a timid manner could belie the fact that he doesn’t possess a strong demeanor. He might also be examining you to see if you’ll attempt to take advantage of his docile demeanor.

2. Ask the other negotiator to cite all of his objections. Your goal is to get them out in the open. Do this by requesting what else he’s concerned about. If warranted, have him detail why he thinks his objections are valid. Observe hidden insights gleaned from his body language and nonverbal signals, as mentioned in step 1. By doing this, you’ll gain a sense of direction he has for the negotiation.

3. Once you’ve garnered enough insights about the purpose and value he has for citing his objections, have him prioritize them. Then, address one that’s lower on his priority list to see if that has more weight than disclosed. Couple this tactic with the outcome you seek for the negotiation. Continue this process to the successful conclusion of the negotiation.

In any negotiation, you should know what you’re dealing with before you attempt to deal with it. Such is the case when dealing with objections. Thus, by implementing the suggestions above, you’ll be better positioned to keep in check those objections intended to dissuade your attention from what’s more important. That, in turn, will allow you to be more laser focused on addressing the real objections that will impact the negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free 5-minute video on reading body language or to sign up for the “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

#HandlingObjections #negotiations #Negotiator #HowToNegotiateBetter #CSuite #TheMasterNegotiator #psychology #CombatDisinformation #hardpower #HowToHandleObjections

Culture Growth Management Personal Development Technology

Hackers are Your Friend

I get a lot of inspiration from reading articles, posts and conversations on LinkedIn about my field, Cybersecurity. Recently, a fellow security professional and friend posted an important correction regarding the use of the term “hackers” and how he is tired of the term being used negatively, since he considers himself a hacker and is by no means a bad guy. That made me realize that the term hacker gets thrown around in a way that paints all hackers with the same brush stroke.

Thanks to the media, news, television, and movies, a hacker is typically depicted as a young man in a hoodie sitting in his basement (or his parents basement) or some dark corner of the globe punching away at a keyboard and effortlessly doing nefarious things like stealing identities, credit cards, intellectual property, and basically wreaking havoc.

The PSA I’m sharing today is that, in reality, that is the picture of a cyber-criminal. Hackers, like my friend and many security professionals I know, are the good guys and gals that walk amongst us every day with no intent to do harm.

These “good” hackers are security professionals hired to secure organizations and government networks by legally and with permission attempting to break in and identify their weaknesses so they can be fixed before an attacker or criminal does the same. These professionals are often known as penetration testers, and in some organizations, especially the government, they are known as the Red Team. They are trained and skilled at doing what is shown on television as something evil. There is even a certification called Certified Ethical Hacker.

On the other hand, people who break into networks and systems without permission, gain unauthorized access, steal information, and in some cases make the data unusable to the organization are criminals. You can call them criminals, cyber-criminals, attackers, or cyber attackers if you want to be accurate but calling them a hacker makes it sound like all hackers are evil when in reality there are so many hackers who are security professionals trying to help protect organizations through their skills of hacking.

The criminal and the security professional use the same techniques, same tools, and same knowledge, but they have different agendas. The intent behind their action is completely different.

The next time you post or talk about hackers, be clear who you are talking about. Are you referring to criminals and if so be clear about that and differentiate between those who are nefarious and out to do harm from those who are there to serve and protect.

If you want to learn a lot from a good hacker that I admire greatly, follow Chris Roberts on LinkedIn.

If you want to talk about having a Certified Ethical Hacker or cybersecurity professional help you ensure you are doing what it takes to keep the cyber attackers out email me at sharon@c-suiteresults.com.

Best Practices Culture Entrepreneurship Health and Wellness Human Resources Management Skills Women In Business

Overcoming Adversity

Have you ever felt ready throw up your hands in frustration, and give up? It’s so easy to be convinced that the odds are against you and feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. If this sounds familiar and need a new perspective on things, my client Pete’s story will help you persevere and encourage you to discover untapped strength you didn’t even know you had.

Pete’s story is a double-whammy of seemingly impossible situations:

First, the 28-year-old Kenyan designer was framed for murder, denied legal rights, wrongfully convicted and – because it was required by law in Kenya – sentenced to the death penalty. For 18 years he awaited the date when his name would be called, with no projected time frame ever given. The “tunnel” was as long and dark as it could possibly be, and he wondered how he could find the strength to get through each day.

But in the process, he was provided an opportunity. He was given the chance through a non-profit organization called the African Prisons Project to study law via a correspondence program – and I mean old fashioned paper correspondence; no internet in prison! – at a British university. He completed his degree and used that opportunity to fight and clear his name, ultimately emerging as a free man with a presidential pardon. Now that’s perseverance through adversity!

The second challenge – which pales in comparison but would make anyone else freeze in their tracks – happened in the fall of 2017. Pete was at the TED Global (not TEDx) conference in Tanzania, and was unexpectedly offered the opportunity to share his story on the main TED stage in a five-minute TED talk – with TWO DAYS NOTICE!

That’s when he reached out to me. From seven time zones away, Pete and I worked together to hone his message and craft his story, and ensure he could deliver it all with the impact that he wanted, all in two days. What was his message, you ask? No matter how dark things may seem, every day, take one step forward.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t have that kind of perseverance,” or “I could never do that,” I’m pretty sure Pete would have said the same thing about himself, until it happened to him.

Need some inspiration to help you get over the next hurdle? Listen to Pete.

No matter how big your challenges are, just remind yourself: if he can get through that, I can get through this. Dig deep: you are stronger and more resilient than you think.


Are you planning to give an important talk or presentation, and want some help to ensure that your message lands correctly and your delivery seals the deal? Email laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to set up a 20-minute focus call to discuss it with me, personally.

Best Practices Culture Growth Health and Wellness Human Resources Management Negotiations Skills Women In Business

Do You Respond or React?

A little while ago, a German PhD student and I were discussing the dynamics of working in international or multicultural settings, when he asked me, “What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone who was going to work in [that kind of environment]?”

It was a powerful question, since it’s hard to distill the 1,001 ideas that swirled through my head down to one single line item.

Finally, I said, “No matter what happens, don’t react.”

He looked at me, surprised. “So, if someone says or does something that you don’t like, you should just do nothing?”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” I replied. “You can respond; just don’t react.”

“What’s the difference?” he asked.

I went on to explain that a reaction is an instinctive reflex, often influenced by your “fight or flight” tendencies, whereas a response is a conscious decision.

A critical skill that separates bosses from true leaders is the ability to catch yourself when the reflex to react kicks in, and hit the pause button. Then assess the situation from what I like to call a “split-brain perspective” before deciding your course of action. Depending on the situation and your natural tendencies, you may be able to do this quickly, or you may need to take some time to think it through, and return to continue the discussion an hour or a day later.

Either way, the process requires three equally important steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge your feelings

The first step is on the “emotional side” of your brain – the one whose reaction is to be annoyed, offended or off-put by what the other person said or did. Start by identifying what you’re feeling and why. For example, you can say to yourself, “Whenever he asks for something, it always sounds like a command. It sounds like he thinks he’s my boss, and it really gets under my skin.”

Especially in intercultural encounters (but not unusual in any context), it’s common to perceive others as being rude or otherwise feel like their comments are insensitive or inappropriate. Here’s the thing: it is okay to feel this way. You don’t have to deny your feelings; just don’t let them drive you or your reaction. Acknowledge them, and then go to step-two.

Step 2: Seek alternative explanations

This is when the “logical side” of your brain needs to take over, giving the person the benefit of the doubt that there is a perfectly reasonable alternative explanation for what they did or said, and that their intention was not to offend you. Your job is to discover their real reason and intent.

Now, you can remind yourself, “He probably doesn’t realize how that came across. Let’s find out what he meant and go from there.”

You never know what might be under the surface. For example, in Russian, it is perfectly professional to say “do this now,” whereas in English it sounds extremely demanding, “bossy” and abrasive. The problem is that even though the person may be “fluent” in English, they could still be thinking in Russian and translating word for word into English, not realizing that while their statement is technically, grammatically correct, it is contextually inappropriate.

On the flip side, while it’s considered appropriate in English to say, “Can you get X to me by the end of the day? I can’t do my part until I have X from you and the deadline is tomorrow,” in Russian, such a statement sounds timid and wishy-washy. As a result, it might not have occurred to the person to frame it this way, subconsciously assuming it would be inappropriate.

Once you’ve had that quick check-in with yourself to regroup, move on to step-three.

Step 3: Respond thoughtfully

This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Considering everything from steps one and two, you need to formulate your response to the person in a way that isn’t defensive (or offensive, for that matter), and shows that you want to reach a mutual understanding.

Whether you address the issue immediately or at a later time, perhaps when you can have the conversation in private, start by calmly and objectively identifying the comment/behavior. E.g., “I just want to clarify what’s probably a misunderstanding. Earlier, you told me to (XYZ), and the other day you said (ABC). I’m happy to help, but when you say it like that, it feels like you’re giving me orders. I don’t think you did it intentionally, so I wanted to ask you to clarify what you meant.”

At that point the person will have the chance to share their perspective and even apologize if necessary. They might be surprised or embarrassed, and this approach helps them to set the record straight, turning the exchange into a learning experience for both of you. In the end, you get clarity, strengthen your relationship, and allow them to rebuild their reputation with you and others moving forward.

Best Practices Culture Management Personal Development Sales

The Responsibility is Too High

After making a purchase, it’s common to receive a survey asking about your experience. For the most part, companies are seeking to either, see how they can improve or how the customer feels about their business. It’s your chance to express your opinion. Companies put a lot of weight on surveys which means a lot of responsibility for the customer, so careful thought should be given.

Surveys can be about facilities, logistics, or salespeople. The question you should ask before diving in is… What is this survey pertaining to? There’s something the business wants to know. By understanding what they are evaluating your answers will be helpful.

When it comes to a salesperson’s survey, most customers do not know how to answer them correctly. A survey of the person who worked with you is not the time to complain about the company. The survey is about the salesperson. You would be blaming the wrong person for your unhappiness. Here’s what happens.

The salesperson’s survey is going to his manager. It does not get to the management or ownership of the business. Unfortunately, many businesses will ask questions on the salesperson’s survey about their experience overall, but don’t be fooled. Whatever you answer will affect the salesperson.

If you are upset with how your last visit went, don’t blame the person you are working with now. When you do, you are rating your current salesperson for what happened. Or if you think it took too long for the service department to get your item fixed don’t blame the salesperson. Unless he’s the one fixing your item, he doesn’t have control over the amount of time it took. He also doesn’t have control over how the cashier treated you. Your opinion will not get to those who can do something about it.

Stay on topic. The survey is about the person who helped you, your salesperson. In some cases, they get paid less. If their normal commission is 25%, it can be cut to 15%, because of someone or something outside the salesperson’s control.

Another example would be if your delivery was late or your items didn’t come in on time. It’s not the salesperson’s fault. They weren’t the ones delivering it to you or the one who will go and pick up the item. Don’t blame the salesperson.

Here’s an example I heard from a single mother with two children. She sold a $187.00 chair to a customer, telling him he has to put it together and that the sale was final. The customer stated he would be able to do it.

When the customer took it home, he decided he didn’t like it. The sale was final, but he wanted to return it. After the store told him no, he decided to blame the salesperson stating she lied to him so the store would allow him to return it, which he did. The customer filled out the survey on the salesperson and rated her a zero. On a scale from 1 to 10 a zero is horrific. But, the customer was happy because he was able to bring the chair back.

The outcome for the salesperson was devastating. As expected, she did lose the commission of $3.37. Okay. The score of zero meant she did not get her $1000.00 bonus that month, all because of a customer. Now you see the importance of filling out a survey correctly.

A problem with surveys is you are not given a key explaining what the scores mean. Some scales are from 1 to 5, or 1 to 10. Without understanding the ratings how can you accurately pick a number? There is a practice widely used and that is; if you score anything lower than the highest rating the salesperson fails in the eyes of the company.

You might notice when you take your car in to be serviced the attendant presses you to take the survey and give him a perfect score. What they are telling you is anything lower than the highest number will affect them negatively. They could lose money, privileges, promotion, even their job. If you are upset with how your car was washed, don’t rate the salesperson who didn’t wash the car. Anything on that survey goes against the service attendant.

Here is the company’s view from your survey. Using a system of 1 to 10 for their rating, it’s not uncommon for the scale to represent:

A score of 9 or 10 is good – it helps the salesperson

A score of 7 or 8 doesn’t hurt or help the salesperson

A score of below 7 is like giving the salesperson a zero

My practice is to give the salesperson the highest score. I don’t want the burden of taking food away from a family. If I have something to complain about I write it in the comment space. I handle a problem with a salesperson by making comments on the survey so their manager will see, but I still give them the highest rating.

I take every survey I am given. Most people only fill out a survey when they are unhappy, which means that one bad survey can blow it for a salesperson. It takes fifteen good surveys to outweigh one bad one. If you were happy with your experience, take the survey and help them out.

Receiving a survey is a huge responsibility, so take it seriously. Score it by only addressing the overall topic. If you are unhappy with the situation or the salesperson give them a high rating, putting in the notes what you didn’t like. Your comment will get to the manager of the salesperson who can address it with them. If you are happy with your experience, send in the survey with the highest grading to counteract those who don’t know the significance of the ratings.

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Dads: Raise Your Daughters to be CEOS

Father’s Day is coming up, so in the spirit of honoring the male role models in our lives, I’d like to share a special note with all the dads and other men (and women) out there about how to raise your daughters to be a successful, confident and happy future executive.

Over the years, I’ve spoken in front of myriad professional women’s groups, and coached women at every level and in every industry imaginable, and one factor regularly surfaces as having a major influence on their current levels of confidence and self-efficacy: their relationship with their fathers.

I often get asked how I’ve developed my confidence and sense of self, and more and more I realize how much of the credit goes to my father (and mother) for setting this foundation in me in all these ways and more.

Dad (a music teacher) encouraged me to audition for all-state band (I played the alto sax), which I did all four years of high school, even though I only made it once. After each audition, we’d talk about what went right and wrong and how to do better next time.

He pushed me to take honors classes but didn’t flinch when I agreed to take AP history and Spanish but not calculus (thank goodness!)

(I’ll probably get flack for this, but I’m going to mention it anyway.) He also always told me I was pretty, even when my ever-fluctuating adolescent weight was on the top end of the yo-yo curve. To a teenage girl’s self-esteem, it mattered. A lot.

When I decided to go for my PhD instead of getting a “regular job” he asked probing questions so we could discuss the pros and cons and the best way to make it work.

And he never once gave me a guilt trip about my biological clock or his (undeniable) desire for grandchildren even though I was 40 before I finally met my husband.

He let me know that he recognized my efforts and intentions, trusted my judgment and respected my decision, even when we didn’t see eye to eye.

Most importantly, even when I had genuinely messed up, even though he was really upset with me in the moment, he never belittled me or called me names, and he made it clear that he still loved me.

So for all you parents, here are four strategies for how to communicate with your daughters in a way that builds her confidence and empowers her with the skills and perspective to be a successful leader:

  • Talk to your daughter. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations, and ask tough and sometimes personal questions to help her think through things, then be prepared to listen. Listen to truly understand her motivations rather than to identify the holes in her argument and formulate your rebuttal.
  • Challenge her to try new things, and set ambitious but attainable goals. Celebrate victories, acknowledge and praise progress and efforts. Recognize the difference between when to say, “it’s okay, you can’t win ‘em all” and “I don’t think you really gave it your best. What happened?”
  • Invite her to initiate difficult conversations with you instead of hiding her true feelings.
  • Even when she does make a mistake or otherwise does something you don’t approve of, make it clear that the you think the decision or action was dumb, not that she is stupid. Then – possibly an hour or so later after you’ve cooled off – remind her that you love her and are proud of her no matter what.

If you can fine-tune your objectivity regarding this aspect of your relationship with your daughters now – no matter what their age or family or professional status – that sets a foundation for success that no fancy MBA can match!


Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss them with me personally!