Category Archives: Chuck Inman

You CAN Lead through Change: 4 Steps to Help Your Staff Adapt

By Chuck InmanChuck Inman

“Are you kidding me? Weekly meetings!” Riley was questioning why Clint, his boss, is requesting weekly staff meetings instead of the longstanding monthly meetings. “Is this the beginning of a new form of micromanagement? Why do we have to change now?” Riley asks himself. “It’s such a burden with no apparent benefit.”

Clint notices Riley’s questioning response about the weekly meetings. The weekly meetings are part of the changes coming to the department. If the team didn’t meet weekly, they would struggle implementing the new software for customer relationship management. Clint needs Riley on board with this change. If Riley would be supportive, it would help management gain support from the rest of the team with this new software.

“If only there was a way to get my team to be more nimble when it comes to change,” Clint muses as he walks out of the office at the end of another long day.

Change–it has amazing stopping power, doesn’t it? The very mention of change will get people digging their heels in to protect how they currently do business.

When we undergo change there are three basic phases involved. Each one has an effect on our ability to make the change successful.

The Current phase is our comfort zone where we perform our day-to-day activities with confidence. We understand the workflow processes, how to multitask and anticipate the pace of the work. Our sense of worth, productivity, value and status are recognized from being competent in our role in this phase.

Next is the Action phase where we begin to develop new behaviors, values and attitudes. We are now being asked and asking employees to look at performing our work differently, which will disrupt the current way of doing things. We aren’t as sure of the outcomes of our work in the Action phase.

Finally we move into the New phase, which is the final stage of crystallizing our thoughts and adaptation of ownership to the new change. The New phase is where we will be working in the future. We have questions as we enter this New phase:

  • Will we be recognized for our contributions?
  • Will we have the ability to provide input and have a share of voice?
  • Will we be able to provide value and be flexible?

Here are four key steps that will help people move through the three key phases of change.

1. Create a Clear View: Explain why the change is taking place. Understand where you are going and why it is important for the team to reach the destination. Be able to articulate clearly so members of your team understand the reason for the change. Also explain the value of their role in this change process.

2. Move Quickly: One of the success strategies for nimbly moving through change is to get to the New phase as quickly as possible. Get started by moving through the Action phase and find a footing in this New phase where you can begin to experiment with new processes. Look at the resources and skills you are bringing with you to assist in this change process. Your problem solving, analytical, and time management skills are all tools that will help with the change. Recognize some things will be ending, some will be continuing and some will be new because of the change. When you can identify those items it takes the fear of the unknown away.

3. Communicate Continuously: Don’t assume because you told people once they fully understand the reason and process for change. Communicate consistently and often. Use different media. Don’t assume an e-mail or website will be read and all questions will be answered. Regularly ask for feedback on what’s working and what’s not working. Ask members of your team to describe back to you the reason for change and why it is important. This will enable you to determine if they understand why the change is taking place. Continue this exercise throughout the phases of change as reinforcement.

4. Recognize Early Achievements: Try to attain small victories and accomplishments early and celebrate these small wins quickly. Don’t wait for monthly or quarterly reviews. Recognize the accomplishments on a weekly or even daily basis for some milestones. Give credit where credit is due. You build value and show yourself and others they have the ability to act and make progress in the change process.

Clint sat down with Riley and discussed the importance of changing to weekly meetings. He explained the weekly meetings would provide Riley and his team more focus, accountability and empowerment implementing the new software program. Instead of micromanagement, it would allow them to establish credibility quickly and be more productive moving through the change process. Once Riley understood the reason behind the weekly meetings and their importance, he accepted the change.

When you understand the three phases of change and how to navigate through them, then you CAN be successful in moving through change to reach your objectives.

Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation, LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Leadership C.L.O.U.T. – Improving Communication Skills & Strengthening Teams,” is a dynamic program that’s addresses leader’s key challenges in today’s world.  He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. To find out more information about Chuck and his programs please visit www.chuckInman.com.

Controlling Chemical Brain Freezes for Better Sales

By Chuck InmanChuck Inman

Kristy had finally worked her way to the front of the store after standing in line for 45 minutes with about 30 other people with their holiday packages at one of the mail (shipping) stores in a mall. The two women working behind the counter were frantically trying to take care of customers, as the line grew increasingly longer with each passing minute. Close enough to the counter now, Kristy was able to overhear one of the women behind the counter utter to herself “Oh no, the computer screen blacked out.” One of the two computers had crashed, as the two behind the counter exchanged one of those “Oh no!” glances at each other.

Instead of addressing those waiting in line, both employees just kept their heads down and kept working. People in line got anxious and tempers got short, as they noticed that the line was getting serviced by only one of the employees. Kristy again overheard one clerk tell a customer, “This computer crashes all the time.” Obviously they weren’t prepared for an event that appeared to happen frequently. Both ladies seemed to have lost a major portion of their thinking capacity. They were knocked out of the moment and lost an opportunity to connect with customers.

What could have happened if they had stayed in the moment? They could have addressed the customers and told them they had a computer problem and they were rebooting. It was going to take a couple of minutes. They could have used the opportunity to get the customers to play: Who would like to share their plans for the holidays? We’ll give a small gift to the person traveling farthest for the holidays. They could have even done a quick raffle of one of their office items to keep the customers engaged.

Do you remember those hot summer days as a kid when you would go to a convenience store and get a Slurpee to cool down and after a few slurps or gulps you would get this incredible searing pain in the middle of your forehead? Remember how this physical brain freeze would render you useless for about 20 seconds until the pain went away?

There is another type of brain freeze, which is a chemical reaction our brain performs when we are under anxiety or stress. It is called a chemical brain freeze (CBF). This is a very primitive but effective way the brain copes with the stresses and difficulties in today’s chaotic world. Our brain is trying to keep us alive and it takes on the role of our triage center. Fight, flight or freeze, our brain will shut down the more complex thinking brain in order to get out of the situation and allow us to cope better. However we don’t always perform at our best when the brain shuts down the thinking mind.

Remember that time you got so mad you couldn’t think straight? Or got called on in a meeting and you were unprepared for the answer? These situations don’t have to be life threatening for that to happen. They can be as simple as having your computer shut down in front of customers.

When we are prepared and “stay in the moment,” we utilize all of our mental resources available and get creative. When you’re not prepared you can impact your customers in a negative way. Your reaction to a stressful situation can cause your customers to react in a quick decisive way that has them leaving your business and not coming back.

Here are 4 key areas to help you connect with customers during stressful situations:

1) Stop what you are doing for a moment and step back to analyze the situation. Recognize the fact that your customers are going to be observing you whether you acknowledge them or not. So step back and try and gain an overall perspective of what is happening at the moment.

2) Take a deep breath. Literally, by taking a deep breath you stop the chemical brain freeze that is beginning to happen. Shallow breathing causes your heart to race and your brain to dump survival chemicals into your system. Deep breathing eliminates that process.

3) Engage the thinking brain again by asking yourself some key questions. What impact is this going to have on my customers? If I were a customer how would I feel? How would I want to be treated? What would be a simple solution from the customer’s perspective? By asking these questions the thinking brain becomes engaged again and you can start using your creative resources to their capacity. You can start by asking them questions. Sometimes it is a short-term solution, while other times it takes some longer-term decisions to meet their needs. Make sure your actions are directed toward helping them with their problem.

4) Be prepared for problems, especially if a particular busy time or complex situation is anticipated. Run through some scenarios if things don’t go right or as planned. In a cockpit when the Caution/Warning Signal flashes, the pilots have been trained to handle problems associated with signals. What options are available? How can you turn a less desirable situation into an opportunity to show the customer you care about their business and loyalty? The more prepared you are the better you will be at handling difficult situations.

Controlling Chemical Brain Freezes is not easy. They typically happen when things don’t go according to plan. If you don’t take control of the situation you can wind up with unsatisfactory results. In Kristy’s case, she watched as the people in line slowly started talking amongst themselves and probably starting having their own chemical brain freezes. One by one people started leaving the line and walking out the door. The long line of customers dwindled down to single digits. How much lost business happened that day? How many unhappy customers would tell others about the poor service and how many customers would never come back?

Know that chemical brain freezes can happen to all of us and be prepared for something not to go right. The more we can anticipate something going wrong the better prepared we are to help our customers during these difficult times.

Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation, LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Leadership C.L.O.U.T. – Improving Communication Skills & Strengthening Teams,” is a dynamic program that’s addresses leader’s key challenges in today’s world.  He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. To find out more information about Chuck and his programs please visit www.chuckInman.com.

Customer Connect with CLOUT for Improved Results

By Chuck InmanChuck Inman

Todd had a good sales background and was having a successful year until his product went on backorder for six weeks due to a packaging problem. Finally, the problem was corrected, the product was back on the market, and he was anxious to get his customers using it again.

His biggest customer, Ben, owned two franchises, and when Todd asked if he was ready to start using his product again he was surprised by the answer.  Ben flat out said he wasn’t interested in Todd’s product anymore and that he had begun using the competition’s product. Todd had worked hard on this account over the past year and he had kept Ben up to date on what was happening with the backorder situation and all the work that Todd had been doing dealing with the backorder. Todd thought maybe he should drop his price in order to get his business back with Ben.

When Todd talked with Ben and suggested a price cut, Ben told him that price wasn’t the problem. Ben was upset because during the backorder situation, Todd had not even inquired about what the backorder was doing to Ben’s business. Instead, every time Todd met and talked with Ben it was always about how Todd had been affected by the backorder. Because Todd focused on his situation he failed to notice how the backorder of his product had caused a major disruption for his customer’s business.

Here’s the real crux:  Ben quit doing business with Todd because he didn’t feel valued and didn’t feel that Todd had his best interests in mind. When people don’t feel that there is a connection, they don’t feel valued and that important foundation of trust becomes shattered. It is a difficult challenge to regain that trust with a customer and build the relationship back to a healthy win-win scenario.

A good definition of clout is “the power to influence people or events.” Customer Connect with CLOUT is the ability to influence customers in a sales situation where the customer understands what their life will be like in the future from utilizing your product or service. It is the ability to understand your customer’s needs and help them understand that the best way to satisfy that need is through your offering.

Here are the key areas to help you provide Customer Connect with CLOUT:

Clarity: Truly understand the value of the product or service you provide and how it will impact your customer or customer’s business. Once this is understood, then it becomes easier to help the customer see what is needed for them to become more successful and how to fill that void or need. By selling the experiences and benefits you get to the real reason people buy. The real reasons are more than just specific features or price. The real reasons have an emotional attachment because it is the solution to a problem for your customer.

Learning: This is key in discovering everything you can about your customer and your competition. If your customer has a business, how do they view their business and what do they consider being a successful business? If you customer has a need, what is a satisfactory way of fulfilling that need and then what is an over-the-top way of fulfilling that need? What products or services do your competitors provide and how do they bundle or package these? Also, learn about the skills you need to be successful by taking advantage of training opportunities and reading and listening to books, DVDs and articles on how to connect, influence and sell.

Openness: It’s not just about selling a product or service, but being open to new ideas to help customers solve their problems and fill their needs. Customers may have certain needs today but try and anticipate what those needs may be or how the situation may change one to two years from now? Be open to viewing the customer’s situation as it really is, not just how you perceive it or how you would like it to be.

Understanding: Understand what motivates your customer. What is their vision about a satisfactory result? Great opportunities come from being genuinely interested in your customers. Ask the right questions, the more difficult high-value questions that provide you with key insight about your customers and their needs such as: “What specifically would you consider a great result or solution?” or “Why would that have an impact?” Then sit back and listen. To truly understand it takes a developed listening skill to hear what your customer is trying to tell you. Instead of providing information, you listen and acquire information that will help you connect with your customer and be able to meet their needs.

Trust: This is the foundation to selling and developing strong relationships with customers. To build strong relationships and connect with your customers, you have to believe in your product or service and you have to believe in yourself.  More importantly, your customers need to believe in you and be able to trust you.  The trust comes from following up on what you say you are going to do.  Line up your actions with your intentions and have the impact on your customers that you need for that long-term relationship. This will be the impact that provides the solutions for your customer’s best interest and needs.

Connecting with customers takes hard work. It takes vision, confidence, curiosity, passion and integrity. Remember it’s not all about you but rather what you can do for your customer in satisfying their needs, wants, voids and concerns. When you can satisfy those items, your customers feel valued and connected which goes a long way in developing long-term beneficial relationships.

Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation, LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Leadership C.L.O.U.T. – Improving Communication Skills & Strengthening Teams,” is a dynamic program that’s addresses leader’s key challenges in today’s world.  He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. To find out more information about Chuck and his programs please visit www.chuckInman.com.

Good Intent, Bad Impact: Lead With CLOUT to Produce Results

By Chuck InmanChuck Inman

Marcia was recently promoted to head the communications department in her company. She was excited about the new opportunity.  She had a big project due in 8 weeks and she decided to hand it over to Ron, one of her top performers.  She met with Ron and told him to clear his workload because this important project was coming his way in the next week or so.  As she got involved in the key project, she realized the impact of bringing it in on time.  She decided to keep the project and make sure it met the deadline and she didn’t turn it over to Ron.

She began to notice that Ron’s attitude started to turn negative and his performance started to go down.  Should she be concerned with her initial impressions of Ron’s performance?

Of course Marcia should be concerned.  We judge ourselves based on our intent and most people have good intentions.  However, others judge us based on the impact we have on them.  It is through our actions that we impact others.  Ron was told to get ready to take over a big important project, but when Marcia didn’t hand it over (her actions) Ron felt let down and betrayed by his new boss.

A good definition of clout is “the power to influence people or events.”  Leadership clout is the ability to influence people while in the act of leading a group of people toward the same goals.  There are leaders who have good intentions like Marcia but they don’t realize the negative impact they are having on their people by not following through on their intentions.  As a leader you have both the power to unleash the best performance in individuals or the ability to sabotage performance.  Remember that people don’t leave companies, people leave people.

Here are the key areas to help you lead with CLOUT:

Clarity: Make sure you have a clear idea of where you are headed and the ability to articulate that direction with your direct reports.  Also, make certain you understand the impact you are having on those around you as you move in that direction.  Communication does not mean clarity.  Never assume people have all the information they need or that they understand the overall goal.  One of the best ways to check if your people know the direction you are heading is to simply ask them and see what they say.  It sounds like a simple leadership tool and it is, but it just doesn’t get used all that often.

Leadership: It all starts with personal leadership and one of the key areas is understanding how you perform during times of difficulty and stress.  People may not listen to what you say but they will definitely watch your actions.  Take notice of how you handle difficult situations.  Do you get the results you are looking for during these times? Be honest with yourself.  If you aren’t getting those results, trying determining the results you want to achieve before the meeting and then be consistent in reaching those results.

Opportunity: The opportunity to stay in the game and control the situation during difficulty and stress.  By staying in the game you help others come to solutions that need to be addressed. Sometimes you have to step back, regroup and then make sure you re-emerge more powerfully than before.  By letting others come up with solutions, they take ownership and hold themselves accountable.

Understanding: Think of understanding as the ability to get to the other person’s side of the situation and understand their position.  This takes a shift in thinking from conveying information to others, to the ability to gather information from them. Non-threatening questions are good for gathering information like this. Use questions like, “Can you help me understand what you think the impact of this completed project will have on the department?”

Trust: This is the foundation of all strong teams and it provides the ability to have those difficult but much needed conversations on direction, motivation and accountability.  It creates an environment that allows the free flow of productive and dynamic communications.  One of the most important things you can do in building trust is to ensure that your intent and actions line up with the positive impact you want to have on your people.

Leadership is not easy. If it were, everyone would be a great leader.  As a leader, it is more about what your team does than it is about you.  The majority of your success is going to be based on your ability to interact effectively and positively with others.  So, if you are going to lead you might as well lead with clout and have the ability to influence people to work on the goals and objectives that are key to your business.

Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation, LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Leadership C.L.O.U.T. – Improving Communication Skills & Strengthening Teams,” is a dynamic program that’s addresses leader’s key challenges in today’s world.  He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. To find out more information about Chuck and his programs please visit www.chuckInman.com.