Darren Fleming (pictured below) is a speaker, author and trainer who specialises in helping leaders influence their teams. He is the author of Don’t be a D!ck – creating connections that make influence happen. In this guest post, Fleming offers proven tips on how to improve staff connections and your influence around any office…
The secret to influencing others to do what you want is connection. If Your staff are not connected to you and your business they will do as they want, not as you need. If your customers are not connected to you they wont buy the up-sell, and may stop coming back altogether. Below are four key tips on how you can create connection with staff and customers to increase the profitability of your business.
Tip 1 – Know me
In a repeat-business franchises it is crucial to know something about your customers. This goes beyond their name. Find out about their life. This can be as easy as asking, ‘What’s been the best part of your week so far?, or ‘What is planned for the weekend?’ When they answer, just listen and ask more questions. Refrain from offering your thoughts or experiences – let them speak. The same goes for your staff too
Why this works: we are all excited about what we do and want to share it. When you ask me about my world I can get excited about talking to you. This will bring me back to your business. I recently changed my local coffee shop because after 3 months of regular visits the barista hadn’t even bothered to ask my name. That’s a lot of latte’s he missing out on!
Tip 2 – Hear me
In the book Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us, author Daniel Pink explains that staff like a sense of autonomy over their work. This includes having input around decisions that effect them. When they have this sense they are more connected to their job and employer. But when staff feel that their opinions, thoughts and feelings are not being considered they start to disengage. They treat your directions as optional and customer service as discretionary.
Your focus as the business owner is to let staff have a say at the right time and place. This could be through staff meetings, or in a business open 24/7, this could be at the beginning of shifts. After all, you don’t want staff sharing their thoughts when they should be serving customers! Your challenge with this is to ensure they understand that you have the final say.
Why this works: Social media has let everyone think their opinion matters. People are used to sharing their ideas on Facebook, curating their adventures on Instagram and shouting their opinions on Twitter. When they come to work they feel that they have the right to have their say. Let them have it in a way that you control.
Tip 3 – Tell me
Transparency kills conspiracy. Explaining the reasons behind your decisions is just as important as ensuring staff understand them. When we know why something is happening we can use it to make sense of the world.
Why this is important: Humans can’t handle incomplete information. When we are presented with incomplete information we make up a story to fill in the gaps. These stories are based on what we know, our research, our biases, paranoia and our desire to be right. And in the absence of any explanation to the contrary, these made up stories become the truth. We then make decisions based on these made up stories.
To see this in operation, just Google Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and see how many conspiracy theories come up. None of these theories are based on evidence, but are believed by many to be true. It was the same with the Bermuda Triangle.
Tip 4 – Eat with Me
This one may be a little harder to arrange in some businesses, but it is powerful. Where possible have breaks with your staff. This could be morning tea, lunch or just a quick drink in the lunch room. It does not have to be every day – once a week is a good start. Not only will this build a connection with your team, but you will also hear the gossip that is circulating.
Why this works: We are social creatures. We come together around food – dates, parties, social gatherings – all have food central to them. Many religious celebrations involve food and drink.
When you eat with your staff you are tapping into the primal need to belong to a community and the acceptance that comes with that. This drives deep connection. If you are constantly eating away from he staff it creates a barrier that kills connection. Connection sits at the base of influence. When you are connected to your staff you can tap into their discretionary effort. When you are connected to your customer you can access their discretionary spend. Happy connecting!