SLOPPY!!

I received some correspondence today from a lady looking to form her own company. She is currently employed at one of the companies that we work with and has been in contact with me for over 3 years. The document name had 2 typo errors (which is a lot for just 3 words!) but I tried not to be judgmental and opened to read. The first thing that greets me is address line with my name, department and position. Of those 3, she only got my name right. She put the incorrect department, no title and she spelt my company name wrong. My name, title, company name and address are in my signature on EVERY email I send. Couldn’t she just have copied it? I was hardly interested in reading further but I did. Her company wants to collect and compile data about our products and competing brands in the markets. Not being physically present in the islands, this is actually our local liaison company’s job, the very company she works for! … what?! Also, if the information ABOUT the company is hastily compiled and sloppily done, how can I expect detailed and well formulated reports from this person and their staff?

My mother always impressed upon me that First Impressions are Lasting Impressions, and in this case it was not very good. While I am not above giving anyone a second chance, in this fast paced world with several companies offering the same services, each trying to out-do the other and offering more and better, do we have the time to do so? Can you as a potential service provider afford give less than your best and risk needing said second chance?

Look at it this way…

img: google

I deal with a fair amount of artwork and audio ads for our brands and being a creative with lots of ideas, I often write the scripts or come up with the concepts of how work should look or sound. (nb. not knocking the input/importance of advertising agencies, I used to work for one). Now when I come up with my grand ideas and they take shape in my mind’s eye, I get hooked on this one look or sound and it’s hard to accept anything else besides what went on in my head.

However, I never get that precise execution. Sometimes my grand vision gets a little lost in translation, or the service providers take creative license eg. I want square but they think an oblong suits the project more, and other minor details like that. At this point I become anxious and worry as my vision gets modified. It’s like I built a perfect sand castle and then they come and start adding stuff and editing! But like that little kid building a sand castle, we’ve got to learn to play nice and let people in, when you do amazing things can happen! 

I realised that lots of times, the new way can be just as good, just as beautiful, just as grand and awesome as and sometimes better than my original idea. And even more times, the great grand premise is still there, just dressed in different colours than the ones I chose. So I’ve actively begun opening my mind and fighting back that initial annoyance and road blocks I put up when faced with modifications. I relinquish control and tell myself that it’s all going to work out fine. See, besides the general “I had the idea and I really want it to look like inside my head” thing, my control comes from worry that it will go wrong because I didn’t do enough or pay enough attention.

img: google

I know you’ve all got your babies, ideas birthed sometimes painstakingly, that people will attempt to modify. I’m not saying roll over and let them have at it, but I’m saying to let them give their expert, and sometimes not so expert, opinions, let them have oblong and dress it in different colours. As long as the most important base premise doesn’t change, be open to looking at things another way, the view from the other side is still pretty darn awesome.

Happy Tuesday Guys!

Papercut

I'm sorry sir, we'll get to you soon! img: google

I’m sorry sir, we’ll get to you soon!
img: google

I am behind on my dissertation. There. I admitted it. Said it out out loud instead of rushing by that uncomfortable thought and pushing it to the back of my mind like a nurse in the E.R. pushes a papercut to the back of the room screaming “Sit down sir! I’ve got a GSW to take care of, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!”. Except, there is no GSW, the dissertation is the priority that I’m glossing over. It’s just a papercut now but as I push it away, the papercut starts to turn green and smell, gangrene sets in and if I don’t act fast the whole finger will fall off and then the poor patient will die. I will die, of failure. 

But I get somehow paralysed. I overestimate the time I have and when I realise that time has run out, I freeze, not sure where to start. See, I’m GREAT at starting, FABULOUS at plans (my dissertation proposal was approved with not a single correction from my supervisor) but follow through is my weakness. I always think I have more time to chill than I do. I take breaks too early and never get back to my original task on time. Eg. Dissertation proposal finished? Awesome, I can chill for a week. That week turns into 6 and i’m like holy crap, what the hell happened to April?! oh shoot May’s gone too and it ate half of June!

Then that’s exactly where the paralysis hits. All I can see are those lost weeks, the decreased quality of life and work that I have inflicted on myself and I’m not sure how to make up the time. Can I really finish a 5500 word lit review in 2 weeks? I read like a snail! Worry and fear take over, gluing me to the ground and I look for escape, I play World of Warcraft and watch 4 seasons of Drop Dead Diva back to back, clicking next episode with the compulsion of an addict. 

But responsibility eventually bubbles to the surface like soup in a heated pot and spills over into my escapist reverie like a tsunami tide. I can’t ignore the papercut anymore, things are critical and we have to operate or lose the patient. “Sir! We’re ready for you! This way please and quickly!”

Gowns on and Glove up people, we’ve got work to do!

img: Freedigitalphotos.com (via google)

Yessuh, Nossuh!

(Apologies! I accidentally posted to my personal blog and not this one, so you get both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s post today!)

img: google

img: google

Nobody likes a yes-man who just agrees and does as he is told. Not your boss, not your colleagues, not even your clients. People like to know different perspectives and especially in the client case, it is your duty as the expert hired to give your opinion and ensure that they receive the best possible service or produce the best possible product. Sure they may not always listen to you, but it is paramount that you establish yourself as both knowledgeable and caring/invested in the process. Those qualities get you invited back for other jobs or recommended to others. 

Are you a “yes man”? You don’t have to be, state an opinion today, dont be rude or arrogant, just say what you think the problem is and tactfully suggest a solution – eg. “hey guys, I’m not sure that fluorescent pink and orange are the best colours to decorate the funeral home, charcoal and midnight blue tested better with grieving audiences, perhaps we can try those?”

Speak up today guys and see you on Thursday!

WOOSAH!!!!!!

img: google

Customer Service is a tough and often thankless job. You get yelled at and vilified for pretty much everything, often things that you didn’t do or things that the customers themselves are responsible for.

In my job, I deal with country reps who often tell me things I really don’t want to hear like how they’re ordering less due to sales drops which shouldn’t have occurred had they implemented the suggested marketing activities or monitored the sales more closely. Obviously this impacts my performance so I get pretty upset and I can feel the steam coming from my ears!!!

But I try never to reply in anger. If I am on the telephone, I take a breath and think positive before I answer or I might ask them to hold while I mutter angrily to myself and try to find my peace. If it’s an email, I let it sit for a bit while I browse 9gag.com for a laugh to cheer me up and calm me down. So far these approaches have helped me cool off and give the best service even in vexing circumstances, what are your cooling options in heated situations? Let me know in the comments. 

Also, apologies for no post on Tuesday, days have been flying by!

Have a great Friday / Weekend!

Persevere!

img: google

On Tuesday, we finally got a meeting with a potential new account that it took me TWO YEARS to get. Two years of calls, follow-ups, being passed on to new personnel as they took the job, of waiting while the business restructuring got finalised and we could move forward. Now, if you think that’s bad, hear this: the company’s been trying to get an account in that area for …wait for it… TEN YEARS before I joined! Makes my two look like cake doesn’t it?

Anyways, the meeting went WELL! Once we get legal worked out, we should have our new account by August, our customers are excited and rearing to go! It’s really exciting to see something you work so hard on come out so well. 

No one wants to wait 10 years or even 2, but if you have to anyways, you better start now! Keep at it and it’ll pay off in ways you never dreamed of!

Have a productive Friday and a fab weekend!

Optimise it!

not mom, not my room, but close enough.

My room is clean and tidy. Those words are akin to the last words of any general uttered at the end of any long and arduous battle. Shout out to my main soldier – Mom – who saw the carnage and sought to rescue me. 

Seriously, the chaos of that tiny space was intense! Why? Well two reasons – 1) I am a pack-rat and I have terrible trouble letting go of papers, books, knick knacks etc because I feel like I’ll need them later on.

2) I fix my room in a way that is not conducive to keeping it tidy. I fix my room in the way that it “should” look according to other sane people but i’m crazy and lazy and things like “folding” and “putting on hangers” never get done.

This time, I’m determined to maintain this clean and tidy look (I’ve got space to spread down my yoga mat or to have a solo dance party and I’m not giving that up!). So to ensure continuity, I sat down and thought about how exactly I operate and fixed my room to facilitate these processes. For example, I always fling my jeans/pants onto the little basket that I’m supposed to fold and put them in. I was honest with myself, am I going to start folding? NO! So instead of continuing to facilitate this failing folding process, I instead used a little rack my mom bought me to facilitate said flinging. So when the jeans are flung, the room will still be tidy and this new rack also eliminates wrinkles etc that the jeans and other pants would get when flung on the basket. 

We act like this at work. We set-up our desks and our work processes based on the way we “should” or we work hard trying to make ourselves perhaps tasks in a way that doesnt come easy to us. Perhaps we continue with a method we came and found when we took the job, perhaps we set-up our desk the way our superiors like to see it. Even when Efficiency Specialists are called in, they often look at ways to change employee behaviour to fit the processes that management would like to see, however this seldom achieves maximum productivity. They (and you!) should be looking at how workers naturally go about their tasks and seek to facilitate this as it makes the job easier and faster. (Obviously within the safety / ethical rules and regulations)

So take a few minutes to ponder how YOU work, are those spreadsheets really helping you in their current format, is having the papers on the left side of your desk convenient? If not, move things around to suit you. You may be the weird one in the office for a bit but when your productivity goes up, you’ll be applauded (and probably copied!). 

Have a great Tuesday and see you all on Thursday!

It’s The Little Things

Greetings from Jamaica, birthplace of this blog! Apologies for no post on Tuesday, work completely tired me out and I didn’t get a chance to set the content to post as I usually do.

I’m staying at the wonderful Courtleigh Hotel, this time with a luxurious King Bed. 

Image

King Bed! (not a California one though)

However, said King Bed came at the expense of my balcony with mountain view. I still have a decent view though:

Image

Day-time view from my room

Image

Night-time view from my room

However this is the edited version, when I look down, I can see the dirty top of the lower level of the hotel, and I can see behind the hotel with the garbage cans and cleaning supplies etc. Kind of a spolier. 

The bathroom is lovely with a glass door and beautiful tiles:

Image

Bathroom with Lovely marble-like tiles

However, right above the towel rack is a vent, a very dusty vent. And when I think of the air that is coming through there, the dusty air that I am breathing as I shower, it kinda tainted it. 

As I ironed this morning, the steam iron dripped water all over my shirt. I also had to go down to the front desk for soap. I usually bring my own in case but I forgot to replenish this time and the maid also forgot to replace the hotel issued bath wash. 

These things are minor but to a picky customer or someone in a bad mood, they can spoil it. Same goes for your own work, if you write a brilliant report and have spelling errors, that can spoil it for the reader. 

No one’s perfect but even with a good product or good reputation, you need to be mindful of the little things you can improve – clean that vent, check the iron, spell-check the document before you send it. Don’t get complacent, keep striving to be your best.

Have a great weekend guys, see you Tuesday! See below some other pics of the room 🙂

Image

Flat screen Tv with great cable offering, also mini-fridge! (no honor bar though!)

Image

beautiful sink and wall art

Image

I should sit in this chair at least once before I leave…

A Culture of Dependency

Yesterday, I had an interaction with one of my country reps. (there are over 15 or so of those that I liaise with on a daily to bi-daily basis) which left me quite annoyed. Our orders are sent in containers and this lady wrote to us asking how much a container would hold. Sounds simple enough right? So why would it infuriate me? Several Reasons:

  1. This company has been sending orders about 3-6 times per year since I came here 3 years ago so they should be familiar with the ordering process.
  2. This individual has been in their position for at least 2 years before I arrived, therefore totaling 5 years of orders that she has been sending orders on her own.
  3. The maximum amount is NOTED ON THE ORDER FORM that she fills out to send to us.
facepalm

courtesy google images

This is not an isolated incident however, I find that I often have to repeat myself with details that are easily accessible should my reps. look, or details that have been in place for a number of years that should be common knowledge. After 3 years of repeating myself I have begun to grow irritable and impatient. My irritation and impatience is also increased by the fact that should I need to have something repeated, said reps can become condescending and rude. Double Standard much?

Kind of a creepy pic yes, but I do feel like I feed the big monster baby instead of teaching it to fend for itself (image from google)

Kind of a creepy pic yes, but I do feel like I feed the big monster baby instead of teaching it to fend for itself (image from google)

So why do they think it ok to not fact-check or read documents in full before coming to us? Because we allow it that’s why. They know we will always take the time to hold their hands and walk them through and there will be no repercussions for missed deadlines or late orders besides “we are very disappointed…”. So as upsetting as it is, we have done it to ourselves, we have created a culture of dependency, we have allowed them to know that there is always a crutch whether they are lame or not, always an accepting grace whether they are deserving of it or not.

This needs to stop. You, dear reader, need to stop.

courtesy google images

courtesy google images

Search your life, professional or otherwise and see where you have allowed cultures of dependency to flourish and cull them at once. If you are busy carrying others, you cannot perform at your full potential. Also, I know many of you are brought up in the “The Customer is always Right” culture but there is a line between good customer service and downright parenting. Learn the difference and hold them, and yourself, to higher standards.

Have a great Tuesday!