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Tolerating Temper Tantrums   Recently updated !

Tolerating Temper Tantrums
When you see this behavior, you must act quickly to nip it in the bud.

We are all familiar with temper tantrums thrown by children, some of them have been from our own kids!  What happens however when adults throw a temper tantrum at work?  For example, what should you do if an employee, enraged over a phone conversation, rips the phone from its cord and throws it across the room?  If the employee is a top performer or essential employee, do you ignore this behavior?  Should you?  The answer is – absolutely not!  Tolerating such behavior essentially tells other employees that doing such things is okay, and it provides cover for them to do something similar.  In addition, you are training the abuser to continue their unacceptable behavior.  Over time, this can create a toxic atmosphere in your company.  How widespread is this issue anyway?  Consider the following statistics.*

  • 60 million Americans are affected by abusive conduct in the workplace
  • 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct that takes place in the workplace
  • Up to 81% of employers are perceived as doing nothing, and resist taking action when targets of abusive conduct fill out a survey
  • 71% of employer reactions are harmful to the workplace targets of abusive behavior
  • 29% of employees who are targets of abusive behavior remain silent about their experiences
  • To stop abusive behavior in the workplace, 65% of targets lose their original jobs

* Statistics from the June, 2017 National Survey On Workplace Bullying by WBI

So, what should you do when such behavior is exhibited, given that you are not willing to tolerate it?  Essentially, you have two choices.

  1. The easy path is to simply fire the employee.  On the positive side, this sends a clear message to all employees that abusive behavior will not be tolerated.  On the negative side however, you lose a top performer without finding out if they could be rehabilitated.
  2. The more difficult path is to document the abusive behavior, coach the employee, and put in place a corrective action plan for them.  If that does not work, proceed to termination.

If option #2 is chosen, it is important to immediately react to the negative behavior by sitting down with the employee and take the following steps.

  1. Describe the offending behavior to the employee by describing their specific actions.
  2. Explain to the employee the impact their behavior has on other employees as well as customers
  3. Let the employee know what behavior(s) you will not put up with in the future.  Also, let them know exactly what will happen if they exhibit such behavior in the future, up to and including termination
  4. If such behavior occurs again, you must act – and quickly.  You must also be prepared to terminate the employee if necessary

If you have an employee handbook, you should include a discussion about abusive workplace behavior, and consequences for same.  Know however that actions speak louder than words, and as the employer, you must be prepared to act on the words you have committed to.

Source: thebalancecareers; How to Deal with a Bully at Work


Succession Planning – For the Mid-Level Manager

Do you have a succession plan for your firm?  If the research is true, probably not.  According to a recent study,* two thirds of public and private companies say they don’t have a formal CEO succession plan in place.  Do you need one?  A lot of people don’t think so.  According to an online Harris poll, 47% of respondents don’t believe a succession plan is necessary.  And they would be correct – as long as they don’t care about the future viability of their organization.  Given those statistics, the odds are slim that organizations have any kind of plan in place for the succession of key positions beyond those of the CEO.  How would you replace your service manager, sales manager, product manager, marketing manager etc. if they left tomorrow?  Most organizations would struggle and their business operations would suffer, at least for a while.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Succession planning doesn’t need to be complicated…it just needs to be done!

According to research cited by Ultimate Software, there are real, measurable differences in the performance between organizations that have comprehensive succession planning with those that don’t.  Comprehensive succession planning goes beyond the chief executive officer or the chief financial officer.  Comprehensive succession planning extends to all key positions within the organization.  “This takes time,” you say.  “The hassle factor and time that this would take more than offset the benefits,” you add.  Consider what this research found.

  • More than 90% of 18-34-year-olds say a clear succession plan would boost their level of engagement
  • 94% of employers report that having a succession plan positively impacts the entire workforce
  • 32% of people say they would quit if there was no room to learn, grow or advance at their job

Furthermore, this research shows that preparing high potential and high-performing employees for progression in the organization by investing in their development, will demonstrate your commitment to them.  Even if you disregard the research, you intuitively know that employees are more likely to stay with an organization that believes and invests in their future.  So, why don’t more organizations do this?  Perhaps they don’t know where to begin.  The thing is however, it doesn’t have to be complicated.  A simple approach might be accomplished with the following steps.

1.  Identify the key positions in the organization that you want to succession plan for.  Work with the individuals currently in these positions to identify the key strengths and behavioral traits necessary to be successful in these positions.

2.  Identify the training, personality traits and on-the-job experiences that will be needed to successfully groom an individual to move into each of these key positions.

3.  Identify individuals in the organization who have the potential to move up based on their current job performance and personality traits.

4.  Working with the high potential individuals, invest in training previously identified to help them prepare for future responsibilities.  In addition, expose them to on-the-job experiences that can help them use this training in real life situations.

There is specialized software that can help you with this task.  For example, a software program by the name of UltiPro Succession Management by Ultimate Software was designed specifically for this purpose.  For more information on the research as well as the software cited in this study, see the link below.  How expensive is software like this?  Online research shows that services from similar companies usually cost around $5-$10/employee/month for basic services, while more extensive applications cost $20-$40/employee/month.  No matter how you do it, you owe it to yourself to invest in some type of succession planning for your organization’s future.

https://www.ultimatesoftware.com


Voice Technology: Science Fiction & The Future

Voice technology has always been part of our imagination.  Back in the 40s, Dick Tracy had his watch, and voice operated computers were what made Star Trek and 2001 A Space Odyssey possible.  In large part however, voice technology remained the domain of science fiction.

Voice Technology: Science Fiction & The Future
How soon will it be before we see this ad in the classified section of our trade pubs?

In 1997, Dragon Systems released NaturallySpeaking 1.0 as their first continuous dictation product.  At that time, the error rate for speech recognition was over 43%.  Technology rapidly advanced however, and by 2001 that was down to 20%.  Speech recognition was still being treated more as science fiction than mainstream communication however, and over the next decade the error rate only declined to about 15%.  It was only when speech recognition was “disassembled” into its three major components did improvement accelerate.  There are three models that work together relative to speech recognition: the acoustic model, the pronunciation model and the language model.  The acoustic model takes the waveform of speech and chops it up in the small fragments, and figures out each sound that the person is speaking.  The pronunciation model takes the sounds and strings them together to make words, and the language model takes the words and strings them together to make sentences.  By 2016, a Microsoft research team got the error rate down to 5.9% – which matched the human error rate when a professional was hired to transcribe data.  Further advancements since then have the error rate down to about 4.9 %.  It is these most recent advances which have brought voice technology into the mainstream with products such as Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri.  The pace of voice technology innovation is accelerating once again as auto manufacturers and others are engaging in joint research projects to figure out how to make their products simpler and easier to use.  Once driverless technology goes mainstream, Honda envisions that their vehicles will completely change our notion of transportation.  According to one company spokesman, in the not too distant future the car is going to be an arcade, a theater, a classroom or an office – all by using your voice.  So, what does that mean for the HVAC/construction trades industry?

The trades industry have long suffered from a shortage of new talent, and that squeeze is only going to be exacerbated in coming years.  Might the advance in voice (and other) technology completely change your business and be part of the solution to this vexing problem?  Consider the following scenario in 2025.  (Six short years away)

A homeowner gets into his self driving vehicle and buckles up for the ride to work.  He grabs his tablet to check on the news, while using his voice to call his local HVAC contractor to check on the status of the technicians arrival.  Overnight, a component in his air-conditioning system had sent out an SOS because the system was no longer able to maintain the desired setpoint.  Having already queried the air-conditioning systems diagnostics panel remotely, the technician confirms her time of arrival to correct the deficiency.  Now, let’s repeat that call in 2030.  (Just 11 years away)

The air-conditioning system experiences a problem overnight which no longer allows it to maintain the homeowners desired setpoint of 0.5°F in each zone of the house.  The air-conditioning system automatically contacts its preassigned robotic technician, who queries the components and system operation diagnostics using AI technology to figure out the problem.  Within seven minutes, the problem is correctly diagnosed as a malfunctioning component, and the robotic technician scans the shops inventory only to find out the part is not in stock.  Two minutes later, the robotic technician places an online order with the local HVAC parts and supplies center to have the part delivered via drone to the homeowners residence by 9 AM the next morning.  At 9:30 AM the robotic technician arrives in a driverless vehicle and picks up the part from the secure storage unit on the homeowners porch.  The robotic technician lets itself into the house by accessing the home security system, which already knew the technician was coming.  Within 36 minutes the faulty component has been replaced, and proper operation sequence is confirmed within 10 minutes after that.  Forty-seven minutes after arriving at the homeowners residence, the robotic technician is already on its way to the next call.

Science fiction?  Perhaps, but likely only in the timeline before this becomes a reality.


You Talk Too Much!

Have you ever known someone who talks nonstop, the type of person with whom you can never get a word in edge wise?  Of course you do.  They are the proverbial chatty Charlie or chatty Cathy.  Of course, some of us are more talkative than others, and there is no clear-cut definition as to when the line is crossed between being chatty and wearing you out.  The answer is – it depends!  That is, it depends on you, as everyone has a different threshold.  What are some of the reasons chatty people talk so much?  Consider these possibilities.

You talk too much
This Driver might appear to be winning her argument, but is this Amiable actually listening?

The person you are talking with is anxious about the situation they are in, the surroundings they are in or about the fact they are speaking with you.  If you are an executive or are perceived to hold a position of power, people might have anxiety speaking with you.  Their nervous reaction is to keep talking.  Another possibility is that this person wants everyone they speak with to share their point of view, and they believe the only way to get you to listen is to tell you everything they know.  They don’t see themselves as trying to influence you so much as to teach you about what they now.  Yet another possibility is that they want others to see themselves as having status, as being the one in charge, or the one who knows the most.  We might see any of these people as being really friendly – or really irritating – depending on the type of people we are.  To understand the type of people we are, we have to look at social styles.  Founded by the Tracom, Group, Social Styles® is the world’s leading behavioral style model.  Only by better understanding ourselves can we more effectively communicate with others.  According to this model, there are four unique social styles, as discussed below.

Analytical Style.  These type of people are thinkers, and need a lot of information before making decisions.  They typically ask a lot of questions.  They often feel the need to be correct.

Amiable Style.  These type of people are focused on relationships and are often seen as friendly and warm.  They openly show emotions and feel the need for personal security.

Driver Style.  These type of people are seen as action oriented, efficient and assertive.  They are typically quick to act but slower to listen.

Expressive Style.  These type of people are creative and enjoy sharing ideas and perspective with others.  Ultimately, they thrive off spontaneity and need personal approval.

While the full scope of understanding of this behavioral model is beyond the scope of this column, it allows you to think about your style and how to best interact with others whose style you perceive to be very different from your own.  For example, imagine a situation where a driver is in conflict with an amiable.  The amiable person perceives the driver to be acting without listening, and has been hiding how they feel about it.  Meanwhile, the driver person perceives the amiable as someone who is not focused strongly enough on action, because they are always talking.

In the final analysis, you can only control yourself.  Resolution is most achievable and yields the best outcomes when two things happen.

A.  You understand your social style and how you might be perceived by others

B.  You adapt your behavior to become more in sync with the other person’s social style, thereby reducing conflict and enhancing true communication

For a deeper understanding of this topic, please visit https://tracom.com/social-style-training/


JOE GROH’S VISION For Small Business

For Years, Joe Groh’s vision was for employee security for everyone in the construction trades.

JOE GROH’S VISION for small business owners was for them to be able to:

  • attract the Best with incentives to work for your company that other contractors can’t offer.
  • give all their employees and their families peace of mind and security that other contractors can’t offer.
  • create employee loyalty that goes beyond a paycheck

Now, That Is Possible – Even For Small Business Owners

  • Short Term and Long Term Disability Insurance
  • Life Insurance

Believers in Joes vision persuaded UNUM to independently develop an exclusive benefit package, offered through a licensed insurance agency, ONLY for owners of Residential Repair and Replacement Industry companies and UNUM added:

  • 24/7 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for employees
  • Worldwide travel assistance for them and their families
  • With NO Underwriting and guaranteed rates for two years

Option 1 –       Long Term, Short Term Disability and 20K Life Insurance

  • Cost to Employer per Employee $0.38 per Hour / $65.87 per Month

Option 2 –       Long Term, Short Term Disability and 50K Life Insurance

  • Cost to Employer per Employee $0.43 per Hour / $74.40 per Month

Additonal options

  • Buy Up on Life Insurance
  • Voluntary Dental and Vision

*Costs to Employer above is based on an employee with an estimated income of $52,000 annually.

To find out more, email: joesvision@josephgrohfoundation.org or contact John Bouche at (702) 984-3747.  John is not affiliated with the foundation, but is an avid supporter of Joe’s Vision. 

UNUM provides affordable access to disability and life insurance for 36 million people, and is #267 on the Fortune 500 list


Access To And Cost of Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance 101

Access To And Cost of Disability Insurance

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of April, 2016 there are about 122.74 million people working on a full-time basis.  According to the chart below, only about 37% of private sector employees are covered by long-term disability insurance.  This would suggest that only about 45 million full-time workers are covered by long-term disability.

According to Kaiser Health News, only 47% of employers offer long-term disability coverage to their employees, and companies with at least 100 employees are almost certain to offer some sort of disability benefit.  Furthermore, they report that the majority of people with disability coverage get it through their jobs.  The chart below offers a glimpse of disability insurance coverage by occupation group.

Access to disability benefit combinations, by occupation group, private industry workers, March 2014
Occupation group Percent with access to both short- and long-term disability insurance Percent with access to only short-term disability insurance Percent with access to only long-term disability insurance Percent with no access to insurance
All workers 25 15 9 51
Management, professional, and related 42 12 17 29
Service 6 14 4 76
Sales and office 25 13 9 53
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 21 18 6 55
Production, transportation, and material moving 25 22 7 47
Note: Costs calculated from Employer Cost for Employee Compensation (ECEC) published estimates. Source: National Compensation Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The cost of providing both short- and long-term disability insurance access to all private sector workers would be approximately 1.0 percent of total compensation. This would cost an employer $624 each year for a full-time (2,080 hour) worker, as illustrated below.

Estimated cost of access to short- and long-term disability insurance, by occupation group, private industry workers, March 2014
Occupation group Short-term disability insurance Long-term disability insurance  
Percent with Access Benefit cost per hour worked Employer access cost per hour worked Percent with Access Benefit cost per hour worked Employer access cost per hour worked  
All workers 40 $0.06 $0.15 34 $0.05 $0.15  
Management, professional, and related 54 $0.10 $0.19 59 $0.09 $0.15  
Service 20 10  
Sales and office 38 $0.04 $0.11 34 $0.03 $0.09  
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 40 $0.09 $0.23 27 $0.03 $0.11  
Production, transportation, and material moving 47 $0.06 $0.13 31 $0.06 $0.19  
Note: Costs calculated from Employer Cost for Employee Compensation (ECEC) published estimates. Dash indicates data not available or applicable. Source: National Compensation Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

As seen in table 6, the cost of access for short-term disability and long-term disability across all private industry workers is $0.30 per hour worked ($0.15 each). The estimate ranges from $0.11 for sales and office workers to $0.23 for natural resources, construction, and maintenance workers. There are no reliable estimates for service workers, which is not surprising given that few service workers have access to employer-provided disability insurance. As a whole, however, the cost of providing both short- and long-term disability insurance access to all private sector workers would be approximately 1.0 percent of total compensation cost ($0.30/$29.99). This would cost an employer $624 each year for a full-time (2,080 hour) worker.

Of employers that offer disability coverage 37% paid the entire premium in 2010, down from 49% in 2002.  As of 2011, voluntary programs (meaning the employee pays the full cost) make up 50% of all long-term disability offerings, up from 41% in 2002.  According to the Council for disability awareness, however, when employers add disability insurance as a voluntary benefit, participation is only around 40%.

Sources:

  • Forbes
  • Counsel for Disability Awareness
  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Kaiser Health News

The Case for Disability Insurance

How Prepared Are You?

A major disability is something that happens to someone else… until it doesn’t!  The sad fact is most Americans are better prepared to die than they are to deal with disabilities.  If you are in your twenties, the chances are you rarely think about this.  But you should.  Just over one in 4 of today’s 20-year-oldswill become disabled before they retire.In fact, over 37 million Americans or about 12% of the total population are classified as disabledMore than 50% of those disabled Americans are between the ages of18-64.  At the end of 2012, 8.8 million wage earners representing more than 5% of the entire workforce were receiving Social Security disability insurance, (SSDI) 2.5 million of these were in their twenties, thirties or forties.  But I’m careful, I eat healthy and work out you say. As it turns out, accidents are NOT usually the culprit.  Statistically, about 90% of disabilities are caused by illness.  Cancer, heart disease and other illnesses cause the majority of long-term absences.  Consider the following statistic for a35-year-old male. 

Anon-smoking male, 5’10”, 170 pounds, who works an office job with some outdoor physical responsibilities and who leads a healthy lifestyle has the following risks:

  • A 21% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during his working career
    • Of these, 38% run the chance that the disability will last 5 years or longer
    • the average disability length for this person is 82 months

Similarly, a35-year-old female weighing 125 pounds has a 24% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or more during her working career. As you can see, the chances are simply too great to ignore for the average working person.  Furthermore,most people think that Workers Comp or Social Security Disability insurance will cover their needs if they become disabled. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, less than 5% of disabling accidents and illnesses are work-related.  The other 95% are not, meaning Workers Compensation does not cover them.  In addition, according to the Social Security Administration, 65% of initial SSDI claim applications were denied in 2012. The average SSDI monthly benefit payment for males was $1256 and for females was $993, with 93% of all recipients receiving less than $2000 per month.

Given these numbers, how well prepared are American workers for disability?  Not very. Forty-eight percent of US families do not save any of their annual income, and one third of working families have no retirement savings.  Consider the following chilling statistics.

  • 68% of adult Americans have no savings ear marked for emergencies
  • 65% of working Americans say they could not cover normal living expenses even for one year if their employment income was lost.
  • 38% could not pay their bills for more than 3months.

 So what does the average family do when confronted with a disability?  They begin running up expenses on their credit cards, get a 2nd mortgage, cash in their 401(k) or take out a home equity line of credit and ask family and friends for assistance through sites like go fund me.  As you might guess from the above numbers however, these solutions are inadequate.  According to a Harvard study, 62% of all personal bankruptcies and over 50% of mortgage foreclosures are a consequence of disability, and many end up on Medicaid for insurance.  Keep in mind that while Medicaid rules vary from state to state, the general requirements for income are less than $931 per month and countable assets of $2000 per person, not including your primary residence (with limitations based on your home equity), personal property and household belongings and up to one motor vehicle.  ($3000 per couple living in the same household)

What is the answer then?  Disability insurance!  How common is it?  Consider:

  • 65-70 % of workers in the private sector have no long-term disability insurance
  • That equates to about 75-80 million private-sector workers who are without long-term disability income insurance
  • Worse yet, only 46% of workers have even discussed disability planning
These costs are immediate, expensive and often not covered by insurance!

Sources

disabilitycan happen.org

AmericanJournal of Medicine

US SocialSecurity Administration

Counsel forDisability Awareness

US FederalReserve Board

AmericanPayroll Association

Get Sick, Get out: The Medical Causes of Home Mortgage Foreclosures


Thanksgiving

Happy ThanksgivingThis week we will celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with a traditional American holiday, Thanksgiving.  For some, it will be a joyous time of getting together to celebrate family, food and football.  For others however, it will be a time to once again remember how much you don’t have in common with your in-laws.  In these crazy times, the opportunity for discord will only be magnified by getting together with relatives.  Perhaps lost in all the hustle and bustle is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place.

 

Three hundred and ninety-six years ago a small ship carrying 102 passengers left Plymouth, England in September for the New World, lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership.  They were also seeking a place where they could freely practice their faith.  Following a difficult 66 day journey, passengers of the Mayflower dropped anchor far north of their intended destination.  One month later, they crossed Massachusetts Bay and established a village at Plymouth.  During that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure and outbreaks of disease.  Only half of the original passengers and crew lived to see spring.  The following March, the remaining settlers moved to shore, thereby starting a wave of immigration that continues to this day.  Far from being shunned by the natives, the settlers received an astonishing visit from an Indian who greeted them in English.  Several days later, he returned with another Native American named Squanto, who was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe.  Squanto had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland.  Squanto taught the pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.  He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with a local Indian tribe, one which would endure for more than 50 years.  In November 1621 after the pilgrims first harvest proved successful, Gov. William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of native American allies to join them in giving thanks.  This is now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving.”

 

The trend by retailers to get you thinking about Christmas gift giving is not a recent one either.  Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving is a national holiday in 1863, designating the final Thursday in November for its celebration.  Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in 1939 however in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression.  Opponents referred to his plan as “Franksgiving”, and Roosevelt reluctantly had to move the holiday back to the fourth Thursday in November in 1941.

 

So if you are already dreading the journey over the river and through the woods, remember to think about why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place and remember the blessing that is your family, your career and this country.  Now, if you could please pass the turkey!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Joseph Groh Foundation Seeks to Complete Mission

Charlie YergerIf you have worked with Callahan Roach Business Solutions for any length of time, you know their charity of choice is the Joseph Groh Foundation.  Who is this foundation you may ask, and what mission does it seek to complete?  More importantly however, what impact might this have on your business?

 

First, who is this foundation that is the favored choice of Callahan Roach Business Solutions?  Joe Groh is a son of the construction trades.  His great uncle was a sheet metal master craftsman in the truest sense of that definition.  His grandfather opened a roofing/heating/sheet-metal business upon returning overseas from World War I – a company that is still in operation under the guidance of Joe Groh’s cousin.  He took over the business from Joe’s uncle, who ran the business following his return from the Korean War.  Joe’s father went to work at his dad’s business when he returned overseas from World War II.  Representing the new generation, he introduced the technology of air-conditioning to the firm.  After working for a major equipment manufacturer for a number of years, he purchased his own HVAC contracting business, and that’s where Joe got his start during summers in high school.  At the age of 20, Joe began working full-time installing residential furnaces and air conditioners, while also performing seasonal equipment maintenance service.  A few years later Joe went to work for a major equipment manufacturer as an inside sales support representative.  Over the next 21 years, he went on to outside sales, business consulting and corporate sales and marketing management positions with the firm.  Following that, he held senior leadership positions for a Midwest-based distributor and two equipment manufacturers.  All that changed however on June 15, 2008.

 

What started out as an aerobic bicycle ride that day turned into paralysis from the shoulders down due to a freak accident.  Joe spent the next year on the DL, but he was not done with the trades.  One year after his accident, Joe started a 501©(3) foundation with the help of longtime friend Mike Hajduk, president of Callahan Roach Business Solutions.  The first mission of the foundation was to provide information resources to those who found themselves facing a life altering disability like the one Joe had.  Within weeks of his injury, Joe faced a number of important questions, and little information with which to guide his answers.  Where would he rehab?  When you’re paralyzed below the shoulders, what does that even mean?  When he was finished, how would he get back into his home?  The doors were too narrow, and he couldn’t maneuver up the steps.  Once he got in his home, how would he get into his bedroom or take a shower?  For that matter, how would he even make it back to his home, he had no wheelchair accessible vehicle to get there.  Multiple family members helped Joe scour whatever sources they could find for answers, but the going was tough.  His first mission was to try and make this process much simpler for others facing a similar challenge.  Toward that end, the Joseph Groh foundation developed a website containing links to 190 websites in 12 categories of information, ranging from national and state by state resources to government resources, rehab facilities, durable medical equipment suppliers, wheelchair accessible van suppliers and more.

 

The foundation’s second mission was much more difficult.  They endeavored to provide financial assistance to individuals who were once in the trades but who are now living with life altering disabilities – people who shared both Joe’s background as well as his plight.  Since 2009, this assistance has provided individuals with items that insurance does not cover – but which they need to live a life of dignity and independence.  Items include things like home and bath models, wheelchair accessible vehicles, rehab equipment, assistive technology and more.  To date, the Joseph Groh foundation has provided more than $500,000 in such grants.  One thing that is missing however, and it has proven to be a very elusive target.  Individuals who suddenly find themselves with a life altering injury or illness are often faced with a bleak future.  Imagine where you would be if your income suddenly stopped tomorrow – with little or no likelihood that you would be able to replace it.  The third mission of the Joseph Groh foundation sought to make a meaningful difference in such cases.  Stay tuned for blogs starting in December which will make the case for disability insurance, and how this need can be met.  It has been a long time coming.

Visit the Joseph Groh Foundation website


Handling Irate Customers

No one likes the confrontation posed by an irate customer, but there are some specific techniques you can use to make that interaction better and more productive.  We all understand the emotions involved, after all, we have probably been an irate customer our self at one point or other.

 

The first thing to understand is that it is usually not personal.  More often than not, the customer is upset about a situation (i.e. a call back, a bill they think is too high etc.) as opposed to an individual.  That being said, there are a number of things you can do to defuse an irate customer.

Body Language Is an Important Indicator As to the Customer’s True Feelings

  1. Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode. Let the customer see you do this, that will tell them that they are the priority.  When talking with them, give them your full attention and make eye contact.

 

  1. Let them know you are listening by nodding your head and saying okay. Periodically, restate what they have said in order to make sure there is absolute clarity.  Phrases like, “So, what you are saying is…”  If you are unclear about what the customer has said, ask questions.  As you are listening to the customer, write down what they are saying so that you have clear and total recall later.  The very fact that you are writing things down provides the customer with assurance that you truly are listening.  Let the customer finish speaking before you say anything, and focus on hearing what they are saying, and not what you want to say.

 

  1. Pay attention to body language. For example, if the customer has their arms crossed, that may indicate they are feeling defensive and are probably not listening.  If they will not look at you, they are probably not open to anything you have to say.  Both of these are good indicators that you need to continue to listen and ask questions.  Nonverbal cues are signs about how the customer is feeling, and the skilled communicator is attuned to them.

 

  1. Don’t take a side and keep the conversation on track. Don’t go on the defensive if they voice a criticism, rather you should acknowledge their comment without agreeing or disagreeing.  Ask for their suggestion on how to correct the problem.  Say things like, “I understand.  What are some ways you think this problem could best be solved?”  Don’t let the customer rabbit trail into issues that are not germane to the conversation at hand.  Ask a clarifying question to get the process back on track.  For example, you could say, “A minute ago, you told me the furnace was making a loud sound.  Did that stop when the blower quit running?”  Keep the conversation moving along without giving the customer the feeling you are railroading them.  Don’t look at your watch or phone to see what time it is.  When you think the customer has told you everything they needed to, ask them if you have covered all the issues together.  Stay unemotional and, needless to say, don’t say or do anything that is unprofessional.

 

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and truly listening to what they have to say is the best way to show empathy for the situation.  Last of all, follow up with the customer quickly on anything you have agreed to do.  Nothing will undermine your efforts like not following up.  Utilizing the above suggestions is much more likely to result in positive relationships with your customers, which in turn can lead to increased business.