Recent General Posts

Why You Should Always Use A Professional Company For Carpet Cleaning

3/25/2018 (Permalink)

The following tips for finding a reputable company to help you with your carpet cleaning needs were found on IICRC.org, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification web site. SERVPRO of West Orange has many highly trained professionals that can assist you. Give us a call today!

“Cleaning Carpet Can Be a Dirty Business” “Not All Scum Is In the Carpet” “Don’t Let them Pull The Rug Out From Under You” “Clean Your Carpets Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet” “Don’t Get Taken To The Cleaners.”  These clever phrases have appeared recently in newspaper articles and televised news programs across the nation warning consumers about carpet cleaning scam operations. The media has related horror stories of trusting consumers who have responded to low-price carpet cleaning specials only to become victims of unethical cleaners who refuse to honor the advertised price, intimidate the consumers and do poor quality work.

Bait-and-switch operators are prevalent in many industries, and the carpet cleaning industry is no exception. This does not mean that all carpet cleaners are rip-off artists. How do you know who is and who is not? The professional carpet cleaning industry has cited these scam activities as a major industry concern and is taking action to help eliminate unprofessional workmanship and unethical tactics. One of the leaders in this campaign is the IICRC, an international, non-profit organization that certifies cleaners who meet prescribed levels of technical proficiency and pledge to operate by a Code of Ethics.

To help educate consumers so they will not become victims of fraudulent practices within the cleaning industry, the IICRC has released a list of guidelines to consider when selecting a carpet cleaner.

  • Price – If an advertised price sounds too good to be true – it is! Often carpet cleaners advertise a low price just to get their foot in the door. Use common sense; a low price usually equates to low quality for any product or service. Legitimate business people have expenses they must cover, including license, taxes, insurance, employee wages, and benefits, and quality tools of the trade. A professional carpet cleaner who must cover all of these business expenses and make a profit to stay in the business cannot afford to drive to your house for $5.95, much less clean a room of carpet when there.
  • Quality – Never should the price of cleaning services be the sole criterion for selecting a carpet cleaner. A price that sounds high may not be a signal of a rip-off. In all professions, quality work deserves a quality price.
  • Truth in Advertising – Read the fine print in advertised specials to find out exactly what the price includes, and request a firm price in writing before the work begins.
  • Training – Professional cleaning firms require management and employees to engage in formal training in a variety of cleaning disciplines, and these educational efforts will be ongoing.  Consumers should ask about the formal training background of technicians who will be cleaning their carpet.
  • Certification – Professional firms require technicians who have certification from organizations like the IICRC or through comparable franchise or independent training and testing organizations.
  • Experience – The years of experience a firm has, combined with formal training programs, contribute significantly to the experience and proficiency of its employees.
  • Knowledgeable – Professional firms employ and train technicians who have the ability to answer basic questions regarding carpet performance and maintenance, as well as spotting and cleaning.
  • References – Consumers should ask for references from previous customers, and they should consult friends and business acquaintances about the reputation of the cleaning firm they are considering. Do not hesitate to call the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Trade Associations – Professional cleaning firms are members of regional or national trade associations or other organizations that promote high ethical standards and continuing education. Look for trade association logos in advertising.
  • Credibility – Community involvement through the Chamber of Commerce and/or professional business, charitable or similar organizations will be undertaken by concerned, caring professionals. Look for logos indicating involvement in these organizations.
  • Method – Ask the cleaner which method of cleaning will be used and the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods.
  • Proof – Never hesitate to ask for proof. Ask to see the cleaner’s certification card, business license and insurance certificate.
  • No Pressure – Technicians must be courteous and willing to take the time to thoroughly explain the cleaning and to answer all questions. The consumer should never feel pressured.

There is no single criterion for selecting a carpet cleaning service. Several combined factors must be considered in the selection decision.

Central Florida Office Disaster Recovery Plan

1/3/2017 (Permalink)

It’s 2:45am on a Sunday morning. You get a call that there is an emergency in your office. The caller tells you that there was a small fire and that the sprinkler system put it out, but that the entire building is now damaged from the water. What will your next step be?

Do you have a plan of action? What if there was a way for you to start making the important phoe calls before you even leave your house? What if there was something as simple as an app on your phone or tablet that would allow you to access all of the information that you need? That’s where our ERP comes in! ERP stands for Emergency Ready Profile or Emergency Ready Plan, and allows you to have a plan for any emergencies that may happen in your commercial building.  The ERP has everything and anything you want to have in your preparedness plan, from the location of the main power shut off switch all the way to where the blue prints are located. Having a plan of action allows anyone from the owner of the building to the custodians working the nightshift to be able to possibly prevent additional damages from occurring, while stopping the main source of damage from spreading. The best part is you can access this ERP directly from your smartphone or tablet by simply installing the free SERVPRO Ready App. The app can be downloaded on as many devices as you deem necessary.

You may ask, “How will it benefit me and my business?” Not many business owners/managers know that about 50% of businesses are unable to reopen following a disaster. Of the businesses that do survive, the overwhelmingly majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind. And, knowing you are “Ready for whatever happens” speaks trust to your employees. Showing that in the event your business is affected by a disaster, they don’t necessarily have to be.

By working with SERVPRO and allowing us to provide your business with an Emergency Ready Plan, your business can receive the benefit of over 30 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster. Our teams are leaders in water and fire damage response and can help you quickly get your business back in working order.

The Emergency Ready Plan Advantages:

  • no cost assessment of your facility.
    •    -This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost.
    • A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency.     But it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
    •    -It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects.
  • A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster.   of action.
    •    -This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan
  • Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.   money.
    •    -This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and
  • Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information.  In advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are “Ready for whatever happens.”
  •    -Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in

You found the perfect home for the perfect price or a perfect fixer-upper

5/6/2016 (Permalink)

You find out after moving in or Buying the Home that it use to be an Illegal drug manufacturing home aka a meth house. A meth house can be any type of home from the $2 million mansion, trailer, typical suburban home, or even a retail store Bathroom.

Here are some signs that the home may have been involved in illegal drug activity.

Equipment left on Property:

  • Scuba Tanks

  • Camping Stoves

  • Propane Tanks

Trash Left on Property:

  • Rags With Red And yellow stains

  • Coffee Filters With Red Stains

  • Rubber Hoses

  • Empty Bottles of Automotive Fluids

  • Empty Blister Packs of OTC medication

Heavy Smells of:

  • Fertilizers

  • Rotten Eggs

  • Gas

  • Ammonia

The Exterior Of the home:

  • Boarded Up Windows/Blacked Out Windows

  • Burned Grass

What makes the home toxic is the absorption off the chemicals used in the cooking process. All the drywall, wood, ceiling and any appliances have absorbed the chemicals that were cooked into them. After the cooking process is done the toxins will release from any porous materials in the home

1 Pound of Cooked Meth Will make 5 Pounds of poisonous waste. When purchasing a home that may be questionable, an Industrial Hygienist can be called in to check for any potential health hazards present.

SERVPRO can take the process from beginning to end and return a healthy home to you and your family.

Bad Things Happen When You Go Easy in Performance Reviews

5/2/2016 (Permalink)

Contributed by Shannon Perez, General Manager

Here is some guidance on how to conduct Performance Reviews that I really appreciated.  The article was found on HRMorning.com and is written by Christian Schappel.  This is very useful information, especially for those of us who have long-time employees and might be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.  Read on and hope you gain as much as I have from this article.  

Bad Things Happen When You Go Easy in Performance Reviews:

Oh, goodie! It’s performance review time,” said no manager … ever. And as a result of this lack of enthusiasm, managers can screw them up — royally. Thankfully, we just found something very handy to help them avoid screw-ups.

Our good friends over at ResourcefulManager (we’ve told you about them before) recently put together an interesting presentation worth showing to your managers. It outlines the very bad — and often expensive — things that can happen when managers sugarcoat employee performance reviews.

Specifically, the presentation names ways — besides getting sued — in which easygoing reviews can cost you dearly (they start around slide 35 below).

The presentation below outlines what a sugarcoated review looks like, why it’s harmful, as well as the benefits of telling employees the honest truth (again, it goes beyond simply avoiding the courtroom).

Don’t let the slide count fool you, the presentation moves quickly. Managers will only need to dedicate about three minutes to it for them to understand the ramifications of going easy on under-performing employees.

How to have a difficult conversation

Of course, the problem stems from managers dreading uncomfortable conversations with employees.

Naturally, no employee wants to hear he stinks, and no manager wants to tell him he stinks. But it must be done.

By sticking to some do’s and don’ts managers can eliminate some of the awkwardness, take control of the conversation and achieve their objective — a substantial change in an employee’s performance or behavior.

Here’s a checklist we prepared that’s worth passing along to you managers:

Do’s:

§  Do be specific about what you want. The mistake some managers make when shooting for a goal is using general terms.
Example: A manager says, “You’re too laid-back. I want you to be more aggressive and proactive.” Nice, safe terms, but the employee ends up thinking, “What’s that mean?”
Instead, the manager could say, “I want you to call five ex-customers a week, find out why they left us and report back to me on what they said.” That establishes clear goals.

§  Do let the employee rant — a little. Some people feel the need to blow off steam or maybe mount a defense, even a flimsy one, for their behavior. That’s OK. You don’t want them to feel like they’re on the witness stand and can’t ramble a little. If they think the point of the conversation is just so you can cross-examine them, that’ll just give them an excuse to throw up their defenses and refuse to cooperate. So let them go on for a while, and then steer the conversation back to the point.

§  Do use “we.” Try to get the idea across that the issue is a problem for everyone involved. That often requires saying something as simple as, “We have a problem” or “We need to change.”
Then the person on the other side of the desk realizes the behavior is important and affects everyone – but without finger-pointing. In other words, focus on the problem, not the person.
Bad example: “You’re too argumentative.”
Better: “The continual arguments are hurting our productivity.”

Don’t’s:

§  Don’t continually use “you.” Putting all the responsibility on the employee is a conversational black hole that’s almost impossible to escape from. The use of “you” — as in “You didn’t finish the job on time” — is an invitation to a fight. Contrast that with: “We need to talk about why the job wasn’t finished on time.”
No accusations, no blame. Just a conversation starter that works.
Let’s admit here that at some point you are going to have to use “you”; after all, we are talking about a specific person causing a specific problem. Just be aware that there are alternatives to continually using “you” in a negative way that kills the conversation.

§  Don’t use “however” or “but.” Some managers think if they lead with a compliment, it’s then easier to wade slowly into the problem. A symptom of that thinking comes out in conversations that go something like: “You’ve done a pretty good job, but …” and then the manager lowers the boom on the employee.
People aren’t fooled by that approach, and in fact, it often gets them angry and thinking, “She can never just say something positive.”
Consider substituting “and” for “but” and “however.” You’ll see how much smoother and positive the conversation can be.
Example: “You’ve done a pretty good job, and we need to talk about how to get back up to that level.”

§  Don’t feel as if you have to fill every silence. In an especially tense situation, you’ll be tempted to fill in every silent pause. Stay silent when there’s a lull in the conversation, and obligate the other person to fill in the silence. You’ll be surprised by the amount of information you get without even asking a question.

A HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAM – Hiring successful marketing and salespeople is a science

5/2/2016 (Permalink)

Contributed by Shannon Perez, General Manager. 

This is something we have been struggling with for years.  I found this article just recently posted on Cleanfax.com (the article is by Tim Miller, President of Business Development Associates, Inc.) and printed it to have close by as we are building and improving our marketing and sales team.  I want to post this so that others can also benefit from this information.  This is our goal, a statement included in the conclusion of this article we are posting to the front:  Like most other business activities, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

A HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAMHiring successful marketing and salespeople is a science

More and more restorers are seeking to build an outside sales team in order to generate day-to-day leads that are not from programs, weather or luck.  They do this by calling on agents, adjusters, plumbers, property and facility managers, etc.  This is entrepreneurial activity at its best. If the work you need isn’t coming to you, go out and hunt for it!

Unfortunately, most owners of restoration companies have little, if any, direct selling or sales management experience. It’s no wonder that building a high performance-team of salespeople (marketing reps) is such a challenge.

Many have tried and have given up. They have been burned too many times by the salespeople who interview like superstars, who provide the “We are almost there; the big one is just around the corner” happy talk, month after month, until the deal suddenly vaporizes through “It’s not my fault.”

The key to any successful sales program is the right salesperson. But there are other very important factors to consider without which even the best salespeople will struggle to be successful.

These include how your salespeople will differentiate your company from the hundreds of competitors calling on the same targets, creating a unique value proposition so their sales team has something to offer — specific sales processes with accountability, coaching and sales management, just to mention some of the most important.

Still, the heart of any sales program (and a restorer’s ability to drive the growth of his or her own business) rests on its ability to hire qualified salespeople.

The good news is that hiring successful salespeople is a science more than it is an art. In our experience, there are four crucial elements for success. These are desire, commitment, responsibility and outlook.

Let’s analyze all four.

1. Desire

Desire is extremely important because it tells us how badly the candidate wants to succeed in sales. People without the passion or desire for greater success in sales are not people you want driving the growth of your business!

2. Commitment

Commitment means doing whatever it takes to succeed. Commitment is strongly related to terms like persistence, tenacity, perseverance… and even faith. Building a referral network takes a lot of work and a fair amount of time before substantial results are obtained. For these reasons, you need salespeople with as close to full, unconditional commitment as you can get.

3. Responsibility

The ability to take personal responsibility for success or failure is a hallmark of great salespeople. When salespeople make excuses, they’re actually selling themselves short.

Regardless of the excuses they make, it comes down to the fact that they aren’t taking full responsibility for their results. It’s like that old saying: The first step in correcting a problem is admitting that you have one. Until salespeople take full responsibility, they aren’t likely to make any changes that would improve their effectiveness.

4. Outlook

Outlook tells you how people feel about themselves, the work they do, whom they work for and whom they work with. It is similar to attitude. When people are between jobs, it’s not uncommon for them to have outlook issues because they are going through a difficult time. The goal is to determine whether or not the outlook problem is a temporary or chronic one before inviting them onto your team.

When selecting salespeople, you want as much of the four crucial elements for success as possible in their make-up.

But you also want to consider to what extent they have the five major weaknesses, which are need for approval, emotional discipline, supportive beliefs, supportive buy-cycle and ability to handle rejection.

Let’s analyze all five.

Need for approval

Salespeople that have a strong need for approval often feel being liked or getting the love and approval of a prospect may be more important than getting a meeting or the business.

Salespeople with this issue hurt you in that they can’t close or ask for the business. They can’t ask the hard questions. They can’t confront respectfully and are allergic to the word “no.” This leads to “happy ears” and a pipeline full of phony deals, chasing deals that are long dead and people that waste your most precious commodity — their time and the company’s time.

Emotional discipline

This is a very common weakness. Salespeople with this issue have a tendency to panic when they get thrown a curve ball or an objection. This panic is essentially the salesperson talking to themselves — thinking, strategizing, worrying and panicking in the middle of a sales call.

When this happens, they are focused on the voices in their own head rather than listening to the prospect.

Supportive beliefs

This means that the way a salesperson thinks will actually support their selling outcome. When those beliefs are non-supportive, they will sabotage their selling outcomes. So they question whether their beliefs are positive, supportive or damaging, such as:

•I am terrible at prospecting on the telephone.

•Nobody wants to talk to me anyway.

•I can’t dislodge incumbent vendors.

•I don’t like making cold calls.

•My list stinks.

•I can’t call on owners.

Supportive buy-cycle

This is one of the most important weaknesses in that candidates with a non-supportive buy-cycle are typically comfortable with prospects that don’t make decisions. Because of the way they make major purchases themselves, they “understand” the need for endless research, checking out the competition, “thinking it over” and fundamentally not making decisions.

Good salespeople understand that “Yes is OK,” and “No is OK,” but the “maybes” are the productivity killers. Good salespeople are able to help prospects make decisions instead of accepting put-offs, stalls and objections.

Handle rejection

There is no selling without rejection. In today’s world, there is a lot more passive rejection in which people simply don’t return your calls or emails and this can affect a lot of salespeople in a serious way. The key is not whether they get rejected or fear rejection but, rather, how long it takes them to recover when they do get rejected. The ideal salesperson is rejection-proof or at least rejection-resilient.

The hiring process

It is critical to understand whether or not your candidates have enough of the four crucial elements for success and the right amount and combination of the five major weaknesses as well as a host of other characteristics.

The only way to do that is with a screening tool designed specifically for consultative salespeople that looks at the concrete, job-specific skills, competencies and capabilities, which we really need to understand about a salesperson’s abilities.

A sales assessment tool is the first hurdle that any job candidate must overcome to even start the interviewing process. Simply put, if they don’t pass the initial assessment, there is no point wasting time interviewing them!

The rest of the hiring process consists first of a brief phone screening designed to put the candidate under the same sorts of pressure that they would face in real-life selling situations. This quickly sorts out the real salespeople from the estimated 70 percent of salespeople who are terrible, who go from one failure to the next during their entire careers.

The next step is a face-to-face interview. Again, this is a pressure test designed to determine whether the accomplishments and experience on their resume reflect real life or fantasy. Putting the salesperson through their paces with role plays and asking them the hard questions most interviewers balk at again reveals the skill and quality of the candidate.

If the candidate gets past the first live interview, they are now among what is typically a very small group of people you would be willing to hire. The next interview is much more traditional in nature. The pressure is off; you are warm and welcoming, and this is where you paint the picture of the opportunity for the right salesperson at your company.

Ideally, you will have a pool of two of three finalists to choose from. The last interview is their opportunity to make their case as to why they are the right fit.

Getting results

When we hire salespeople using this process, we are highly confident that the salesperson can do the job. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will do the job. No matter how stringent the process, you can’t anticipate failing marriages, personal crises, drug and alcohol dependencies and the occasional sociopathic liar who can beat the system.

But what is more common and perhaps more disappointing is when good salespeople who are hired and then fail because they were not given the proper sales processes and training required to be successful, not given a tracking and accountability system (CRM), not coached and definitely not properly managed in order to clearly understand what they had to do in order to achieve success.

Like most other business activities, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Tim Miller is the President of Business Development Associates Inc., a marketing strategy, recruiting and sales force development training company. BDA helps restorers drive the growth of their businesses by building referral networks so that they are not overly dependent on program work, weather or good luck. To learn more and to receive a free assessment of your marketing rep or estimator/project manager, contact Miller at (847)386-6556, or email him at Info@theBDAway.com.

Daily Organization and Tips

2/19/2016 (Permalink)

Note from Shannon Perez, General Manager

Productivity-we all want it and crave it.  Where is it?  Why can’t we get more of it?  Well, this article gives simple suggestions for how we might achieve it.  I am a mother, a career woman, a wife, daughter, friend, etc and my day is so full like many others.  Prioritizing is so very important.  This article seems almost too simple, but sometimes we forget the simple things and really over complicate life. What if we were not to apply these simple suggestions?  Well, I have been there and done that…..We get interrupted so many times in a day with other “crisis”, a phone call, an email…it all takes precedence at that moment.  Go back to the list is what I say.  Otherwise, we are not accomplishing productivity or even getting things done.  We end up just moving things from one side of our desk to another.  We have to stick to the some of the basics, especially those of us in management.  People count on us.  If we are not organized, we will live in total chaos and we cannot help others. 

Daily Habits of Successful People: It’s All About Routine

By Brian Tracy

The most successful people all have certain habits in their daily routines.

They help contribute to their success and can be considered good habits to form. It could be something simple like, setting a goal to, “Do good each day,” like Benjamin Franklin did.

It could also be something more elaborate such as spending most of your morning in bed like Winston Churchill. Churchill would wake up at 7:30am daily, eat breakfast, read his mail and newspaper until 11am.

My Favorite Habits of Millionaires:

Habits of Millionaires vary, but I am going to share one of my favorite daily habits of successful people with you. It is something that I use every day and has contributed greatly to my success.

It is the habit of making a list before the day begins.

Let me tell you below why it is so important…

Here are the 3 steps to planning and making your daily list.

1. Plan Your Day The Night Before

Every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down everything that you need to do the coming day. If for any reason you don’t do this, it should be the first thing you do every morning. When you write a list you have a track to run on.

Writing a list clarifies your thinking and goals…

Writing down a list forces you to think at a higher level…

If you start working from a list you increase you output 25% each day.

One of the habits of millionaires is that they start their day working from a list.

2. Set Priorities On Your List Before You Start the Day

Work from the 80/20 rule. If you have 10 items on your list of things to do, two will be the more important than all of the other items put together.

Go down your list and answer the question, “If I were to be called out of town for a month, what are the most important tasks that I must accomplish?”

Last fall I was out of the country traveling across 15 countries in 36 days. When I looked at my list of things to do before I left, I had to get my most important tasks done.

Once you identify these most important tasks, it brings us to the final step in starting your day.

3. Complete the Most Important Task First

Begin immediately on your most important task and focus on it and only it until completion.

All success in life comes from project completion and living a life of good habits will help you complete more projects.

A project with multiple tasks is called a “multi-task job”. This means that there are several smaller jobs to complete the larger job. Organize your jobs by sequence in a checklist and start on you most important project.

Complete the smaller jobs in your project, until the entire project is complete. This process is called “single handling” and it’s one of the most powerful things that you can use in managing your time. You can increase your productivity by 50% by planning, starting and completing your most important tasks every single day.

Conclusion

If you can develop these habits of successful people and do those three things, plan your day the night before, organize your tasks in order of importance, and complete your most important task first thing during your day, you will increase your productivity overnight.

Why Listening to People is Important

2/8/2016 (Permalink)

Note from Shannon Perez, GM with SERVPRO of West Orange and Apopka/Wekiva:  There are a number of articles that really mean a lot to me.  Usually they have to do with people skills, relationships and employee appreciation.  Listening is so important in every relationship and it just isn’t utilized enough.  We all want to be heard and sometimes we are so busy talking that we don’t take the time to HEAR others.  This is definitely not a natural tendency of most and so it must be cultivated.  That is why I am posting this article.  It is one of the things I am passionate about and always try to apply in my daily life.  Let’s just say that this is a work-in-process but I will never stop trying to make sure I listen and hear others because it shows others that you really care about them.  Our employees are awesome and I want them to feel that way.  We love our customers and I want them to know that by truly listening to what matters to THEM.  Enjoy the reading. The following article is from 2014, but still offers so much value!

LISTENING IS A LEADER’S MOST IMPORTANT SKILL

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - by  John Keyser  

LISTENING SKILLS

A friend of mine, a key leader with a major insurance company, regularly comes around her desk when one of her team members comes to speak with her. She feels that sitting side by side, rather than across a desk, leads to a better discussion. Why? Because she is putting that person at ease, she is conveying that she genuinely cares about him, and she is listening intently to what he has to say.

Another friend, a high level executive with a leading company in the sports industry, has made listening a priority. He tunes in to the person speaking with an open mind—without problem solving or seeking conclusions—while that person is speaking. It has been noticed and admired numerous times, not only by his immediate team members, but also by his senior executive colleagues.

Another example of active listening by leaders comes from Peter Hill, CEO of Billy Casper Golf, the leading company in golf management. Hill says, “When I am speaking, I’m not learning.” Indeed, more and more leaders are recognizing how essential listening skills are today.

Why now? Why are people striving to improve their listening skills? Because the quality of our listening determines the quality of our influence, and that brings huge benefits to our business.

Consider the statistic that some 40 percent of people in the workforce today do not feel appreciated and valued, and 70 percent are either actively looking for a new job or would very likely accept an offer if it came their way. Clearly, now is the time to reach out to our people in meaningful ways.

Email has become the easy and quick way to communicate, share info, make requests and answer questions. Yet, there is a dark side to the endless flow of emails coming at us. First, depending on how disciplined we are at managing emails, each of us may have 100 to 300 emails to read, delete, respond to, or act on each day. More disturbing is the fact that, to a great extent, emails have replaced conversations. 

We simply do not make the time to connect with and maintain solid relationships with people, as we should. We are on the go from the time we wake up until we turn off our bedside lamp. We’re too busy—way too busy.

This situation can and must be remedied by those of us who deeply care about our teams and our team members’ success. We must stop spending so much time in meetings, speaking with other senior execs, and in front of our computers. Instead, we must let the people doing the work of our companies know that we appreciate and value them and want to know their ideas. More important, we must listen attentively, with a quiet mind and a full focus, not thinking what we’ll say, not problem solving in our minds, or even partially thinking of our own to-do list.

On average, we retain just 25 percent of what we hear, which is because of our business and lack of listening skills. The good news is that we can learn to be a better listener and significantly increase our retention. There are principles and practices that can help us be intentional, purposeful, and conscientious when listening and that will make a huge difference with the spirit of our team members.

To earn and maintain quality relationships, our people need to know we genuinely care about them. By listening with an empathetic ear, by putting ourselves in their shoes, and by maintaining an open mind, we develop a culture of enthusiastic and energetic teamwork. Our conscious listening, which is listening to understand and learn, is our gift to others.

Be assured, the journey of improving our ability to quiet our minds, to focus on the other person, and to become a fully present listener, will significantly improve our effectiveness as a leader.