#244 praise and wish

We host many events on campus and provide evaluation forms at the conclusion of each of them.  Instead of doing elaborate questionnaires or asking about specifics using a Likert rating scale, we have found a more simple model to be more effective. 

We ask:

1.  What is a praise that you have about today’s visit?
2.  What is a wish that you have about today’s visit  (I wish you would have…)

Through those two simple questions, we garner a host of useful suggestions and have a good gauge of what visitors are enjoying as well as what needs to be tweaked.

I use the same questions to evaluate my staff retreats, workshops and just about any event I conduct.  Maybe the same two questions will engender some good feedback for you, too.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#243 serendipity

Did you know that February is the International Expect Success Month?  And Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.  And Youth Leadership Month.  And National Cherry Month.  And Learn Italian Month.  And…

Each month — each day actually — carries a list of designations.  Some are more meaningful, but all are out there for your viewing pleasure.  Most of them may be silly, but you can use this levity to your favor.  Adding serendipity to the workplace (or family dinner, classroom or organizational meeting) can go a long way in improving morale and beating the winter blues.

For example, one of my staff members brought in an assortment of flavored popcorn to a meeting on National Popcorn Day (January 19 ).  All the men in the office could go out to lunch on Man Day (February 11).  You could encourage everyone to do only one thing at a time on Single-Tasking Day (February 21).  Colleagues could all call each other only by their middle name on Middle Name Pride Day (March 9).  Or everyone could get into the spirit on Act Happy Day (March 19).  Or enjoy a childhood favorite by blowing bubbles on National Bubble Week (March 20-26).  You get the idea.

To get more ideas, look on-line or see if your library has a copy of Chase’s Calendar of Events.  When I was working in student activities, it was my favorite resource to add some serendipity to an otherwise dull day on campus.  It can go a long way in adding some fun to your workplace too.  

There is nothing like unexpected silliness to get a smile, even from the curmudgeons.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#242 grunt work

As part of our major scholarship competition over the weekend, we lined the entranceway with a “red carpet” to make our scholars feel like VIPs when they arrived.  It made a wonderful first impression and was a great idea.  But we secured the carpet with industrial strength double sided tape — which we learned too late was a big mistake.

I came in to work yesterday armed with Goo Gone and set about to remove the tape residue.  An hour later, three of us were still working on the task.  It was ugly.

But the silver lining in all of it was how many people stopped to offer unsolicited help.  I did not ask a single person to join in my efforts, but as people arrived for work they were curious as to what was going on.  Many people — in facilities, in other offices, some who work for me and some who don’t — offered to pitch in for a bit or to suggest other remedies to speed up the process.

I doubt any of them would have felt compelled to contribute if I was not actively engaged myself.  It surely gave a new meaning to “scrubbing floors” — my blog #134 was more hypothetical on that topic — but it reiterated how important it is to play an active role rather than to stand by and supervise.

The next time you find your staff or someone else facing grunt work, you can turn the groans into grins by offering to toil beside them.  

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#241 for fun

I recently was at a reception with a member of our board of trustees who was excusing himself to leave early because he had ukulele lessons!  

He described how his wife purchased him the Hawaiian instrument years ago, and he wasn’t even sure if it was a real instrument or just a prop.  Now he finally found someone who can give him lessons.  As unlikely as it seems, three people in our small town are actually taking ukulele lessons at this time.  They meet in the home of a man whose home has a sign: “Hippies use the side door.”  

“I hate going to lessons,” he said.  “But once I’m there, I have so much fun!”

How many of us put off doing something purely for enjoyment because we don’t want to invest the energy in learning how to do it well.  We want to be masters of things, and forget that learning any new skill is a slow and often frustrating process.  We weren’t a wizard accountant the first time we saw a spreadsheet; we didn’t know how to design a brochure the first time we opened a graphics program and we didn’t know how to wire a house the first time we saw a blueprint.  

Instead of investing all your energy in making yourself better at work, why not make some time to learn something just for the fun of it too.  

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#240 disincentives

For the fifth time since the Forever Stamps were introduced in 2007, postage rates have increased.  Today rates on a first class letter increased to 46 cents each and postcards are now 33 cents.  The Post Office claims that the decrease in mail volume necessitates the increase.  


I have also noticed the rapidly increasing cost of greeting cards.  Someone just sent me a card and it cost $3.99.  An ordinary birthday card is over $3.00 in most cases, so with tax and stamps it is now pushing five bucks to send well wishes.  No wonder people are opting for Twitter or Facebook or email or other more economical methods of spreading the love.

It seems that the Post Office and Hallmark and others in the “snail mail” business are caught in a vicious spiral.  The more volume goes down, the more rates need to go up to justify the staffing levels and overhead  — yet the more the cost increases the more free alternatives become appealing.  

I am a Platinum member of the Hallmark frequent buyer program (and would have similar status if the P.O. awarded it for individual mailers).  Yet even I am hesitating before I send greetings as frequently as I have in the past.

Is there a failure loop in your organization?  Can you view things differently to incentivize instead of penalize the people and behaviors you wish to promote? Think about your cost structure and how you can manage it to reward your best clients.  Just plan on it costing you more if you send your love by mail!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



#239 prevention

I heard an interesting trick to try and thwart some of the germs that are floating around.  A colleague suggested that he was practicing the use of a “public hand” and a “private hand”.  

> He consciously chose to use his right hand to touch door handles, faucets, elevator buttons and other public items.

> Then he preserved his left hand for the times he had to wipe his eye or brush something off his face.  The theory is that this hand would have at least a few less germs to infect him.

It’s not foolproof to be sure, and our subconscious motions may be more prevalent than we realize, but it is a step.  Sometimes we don’t need lofty plans or intricate theories to at least make efforts in the right direction.  We do something, and hope that things are better than they were without it.  

The public hand/private hand practice may be fool hearty — or it may be the edge to keep you healthy for one more day.  Doesn’t that possibility make it worth a try?

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#238 in perpetuity

The Iowa Lottery estimated jackpot is currently $110 million.  While most who play the Powerball game won’t see any winnings, let alone a change in lifestyle, someone(s) will hit on the numbers and be permanently altered by the prize.

While I will never be burdened with wondering what to do with such largess, I do have interactions with donors who have the capacity to name a building on our campus.   I always wonder what building I would want my name on if I had the opportunity to do so.  Would I lean towards a student center in honor of the part of campus that gave me my confidence and career beginnings?  Would I opt for the arts since the talent of those students I have often admired with longing?  Or would I donate in favor of a community center, museum, recreational facility or another option?

Take a moment to think about this question.  If you could have your name on a building, what building would you want that to be?  And if you had the capacity to name a building in honor of another, who would be the recipient of your generosity?  Even if we can’t put our name on a check or their name on an entranceway, is there another way to show our support and gratitude?  Time is often as valuable as money; share some of yours to honor the causes or the people who mean the most.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com