Welcome to the Experience Factor

by The Experience Factor on May 5, 2009

Creating extraordinary experiences one person at a time.

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There are only 2 reasons to check us out:

    1. You want to avoid extinction

    2. You are ready to excel beyond your competition

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2 Steps to Stop Employee Complaints

by Jen Kuhn on March 3, 2014

One of the most common concerns we hear from managers is how to handle employee complaints. We prefer manhandling them, but our clients have HR departments that frown upon this practice.

What’s an effective way to handle employee complaints? I’ll let you in on a secret to stop the nagging, the babysitting, the micro managing, the stress, the plotting their demise in 2 easy steps. That’s really all it takes. Potentially a dash of Valium, but again, frowned upon.

2 Steps to Stop Employee Complaints:

  1. Wah!Validate their Concern (notice I called it “concern”, takes some of the sting away)
  2. Ask an Effective Question

That’s it! Simple. I’ll demonstrate.

Employee: “It’s taking the new guy forever to get up to speed. I’m sick of having to tell him how to do everything!”

Manager: “Shut it down you big baby!” Oh, wait…frowned upon.

  1. Validate: “It can be challenging to learn all of our processes, and frustrating teaching something that seems so easy to you.”
  2. Effective Question: “What one thing can you do to help alleviate some of this frustration while helping him get up to speed?” Alternative Effective Question: “You’re a pro at these processes. What helped you learn when you were new? How can you apply that approach when you’re teaching him?”

That’s an example of how to put the 2 Step Process to work. By validating the complaint, you are decreasing the defensiveness of the employee. By asking an effective question, you are empowering the employee to use their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

What are some common employee complaints you hear? Want some help? Leave a comment and we will put this 2 Step Process to work for you!

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The Death of Compassion

by Jen Kuhn on January 31, 2014

There are so many injustices in our world. We can’t sit by idly waiting for someone to do something. That someone must be you. Remember, what you ignore you endorse. Recently, I read of a Utah school that threw away the lunches of children whose parents’ were behind in their payments for their child’s nutrition. The adults iGloria Steinemn charge removed the lunches from the children’s hands and threw them in the trash

The death of compassion, human decency, and leadership.

What’s going on in your corner of the world? Does your job lack compassion? Do your co-workers lack compassion? How many homeless people do we pass on the street and ignore the fact that they are human beings? 

What is the answer? What can we do? We talk of leadership and read some fine blogs on the subject. Shouldn’t leadership start with compassion? What you ignore, you endorse. Forever and ever.

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Here Come Da’ Judge

by Jen Kuhn on November 3, 2013

Done. Finished. Betrayed. I surrender.

Even my dog surrenders to the sea of leaves that permeate every fiber of our being. *dramatic flare IMAG1096-1-1duly noted

My yard is a gardeners’ dream, a tree lovers paradise, and my own personal hell. Trees galore are tantamount to a bountiful harvest of dead leaves. Dead. Useless. Crunchy until it rains.

Crappy service baffles yet surrounds me. I’ve hired numerous lawn service providers to remove this colorful harvest. They’ve made big promises. Big. Promises. They have yet to deliver on their promise of a leaf-free zone. I’ll concede, it’s a Herculean task. I’ve over 70 trees. But don’t tell me you can do the job if you plan on doing it in a half-assery sort of way. To wit, I pay for leaf removal and still need leaf removal after said job was completed-ish-y.

I blame them. I blame myself. They provide mediocrity and I, in exasperation, pay for mediocrity.

Crossroads.

I am entertaining another bid for leaf removal services. 70-plus trees have earned bragging rights to an estimate. To their honor, they mass over 300 bags of leaves per season. Booyah! I’m winning the Leaf Accumulation Award. Going for gold.

A daunting task. Unless. You. Claim. Your. Business. Is. In. The. Leaf. REMOVAL. Business. Just sayin’. It shouldn’t daunt you.

After 7 years of jackassery contractors, I am going to document The Leaf Removal Incident of 2013. (Don’t question the “incident” status. I usually nail these things).

Pictures. Before and (hopefully leaf-free) after pictures. Once I find a contractor that talks the talk, I will write a contract (Judge Judy has persuaded me to do this. Don’t judge, we already have Judy). Will this service provider fulfill the contract? Remove leaves as promised while frothing at the mouth for payment? Or will I, yet again, need to finish the job or leave it incomplete to the judgment of my Lawn Olympic Neighbors?

You will see the before and after pictures. YOU will be da’ judge. Has service integrity fallen to the trap of the lowest bidder? Or will work ethic prevail?

Court’s in session. Here come da’ judge.

And for your listening pleasure…a favorite of mine from 1968.

Rock on. Stay posted. Leaf on. Leaf in. Leaf out.

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Why Team Building?

by Jen Kuhn on October 19, 2013

The Experience Factor gets many requests to facilitate team building sessions for employees and managers. One key to any successful team building session is understanding that it’s an opportunity for people to interact in ways they never would have before attending the session.

There are 3 critical reasons to consider team building for your organization or business:

  1. IMAG6007Your team needs a shot in the arm. Many organizations forget the importance of having fun at work and creating new “stories” as part of the cultural narrative. Employees get burned out when they don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the diverse group of people with whom they share most of their days.
  2. Your team has experienced stress or has been over-worked for a significant length of time. In order to sustain a positive work environment, you must invest in the mental health of your employees. Positive, growth-driven management is one way to achieve this goal. And it can be reinforced with an interactive, fun day of team building.
  3. You are getting ready to kick-off a new project or experience significant change. A common goal our clients have is to improve communication and problem-solving skills. Our customized approach addresses the specific needs any client brings to the table. When an organization experiences change, interpersonal skills are challenged. That’s when a fresh perspective and interactive team building session can help set people up for success.

Here are a few snapshots of some fantastic teams we worked with recently.IMAG6796-1IMAG6426-1

IMAG3340photo-2IMAG3410BlackhawkIMAG1303IMAG6781-1IMAG6527-1

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The Number 1 Way to Motivate Others

by Jen Kuhn on October 3, 2013

Employee motivation is a hot topic. It has been a hot topic for decades. Why? Because people think they can motivate others. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not now. Not ever. Stop paying for speakers, consultants, and books to tell you how to motivate your employees. Waste-O-Money.

IMG_123270019615216What works? What’s the number 1 way to motivate people?

Create a motivating environment.

That’s it. Simple yet complex. This is NOT accomplished through incentive programs, wear your favorite hat to work day, fear, cheer leading, personality tests, throwing fish at people, moving their cheese, or hiring marching bands to parade through the maze of office cubicles. All of that amounts to is a temporary fix, annoying, and costly (to real motivation and your bottom line).

So, give this a go: create a motivating environment.

How to Create a Motivating Environment:

  1. Recognize the contribution and value of your employees.
  2. Role model the behaviors you want to see.
  3. Get outta your office! No one wants your stapler, so stop guarding it.
  4. Hold people accountable (let them know when they are rockin’ the expectations, and give them guidance when they are off track).
  5. Ask effective questions. (this is a topic unto itself. If you are unsure of what an effective question is, give us a shout).
  6. Empower your employees.
  7. Have FUN!!!
  8. Keep everyone in the loop. No news becomes gossip.
  9. Focus on effort and progress, not the end result.
  10. Have fewer meetings and replace them with content driven dialog.

So there are 10 pointers to get you started. Don’t cherry pick. Do all of them. And add some of your own (unless it involves fish throwing). What would you add to the list? What type of environment motivates you?

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Hiring Employees: What Every Company Should Know

by Jen Kuhn on April 30, 2013

Have you ever interviewed someone who was an absolute rock star on paper and nailed every interview question like they were trying out for the Interview Olympics? Then 91 days later they ripped off their mask and became the devil? You still work with him, right? Or, have you ever thought, “I’d rather stab my right eye with this pencil than hire this yahoo”? She stumbles through the questions like a 1st grader on Jeopardy. But due to staffing issues it’s been made clear that you must fill those vacancies. And 91 days later did she stun you with her initiative, work ethic and willingness to learn? She’s your supervisor now, isn’t she?

IKEAthSo what does this tell you? The hiring process is flawed. Despite your interviews, psychological testing and brilliantly prepared questions, it’s still just a crap shoot. There is no sure-fire way to find the perfect fit for the job through extensive tests and must-ask questions. They don’t work. Look around. Consider the service you experience from people who during the interview process aced extensive testing, personality inventories and slayed killer interview questions. Once on the job, they just slay your will to live.

3 things to consider when interviewing:

  1. Understand that the interview process is the weeding out process. And not because they had a typo on their resume. Get real. Unless you’re hiring an editor, remember that even major national news outlets slip up with typos AND facts. A typo is an example of a red flag, not a deal breaker.
  2. The interview should be conversational, not an interrogation. And please, for the love of all that is holy, STOP asking people to “sell me this pencil”! That determines nothing. What? I sell you a pencil you already own. Bravo. Just because someone said that was a great question doesn’t make it so.
  3. Hire for attributes. Does the candidate demonstrate the majority of attributes you are seeking? Do you even know the attributes you’re seeking? If not, start there. Your goal is to stay in the moment. You can’t do that with a list of questions and a box of pencils.

3 things to consider during the 1st 90 days of employment:

  1. THIS is the actual interview! It’s the patterns, progress and attributes they consistently demonstrate over a 90 day period that determine whether they will be a good fit for your company. That’s when you actually meet the person you interviewed and hired.
  2. Have you created an environment that encourages people to thrive? If not, start here. Start coaching. Create the most effective environment for a new employee to shine.
  3. Coaching is what makes or breaks the new hire. Prepare current employees for the new member of their team. Ensure effective coaching has been taking place before adding another personality to the mix. Use positive reinforcement as a primary coaching behavior for any new hire.

If you’ve addressed/implemented all 6 of these pointers,  you have 89 days to put your laser focus coaching into play. On day 89, the patterns, progress and attributes will be clearly demonstrated by the new hire. If they do not fit into your culture, no harm no foul. If they do fit, you are well on your way to ensuring a brighter future for your organization. Remember, people make the organization, not the other way around.

What do you think? Any interview nightmares still lingering in the dark recesses of your mind? We’d love to hear them! Disagree with anything in this post? Challenge us! *rolling up our sleeves*

 

 

 

 

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Calling ALL Credit Unions

by Jen Kuhn on January 30, 2013

Are you tired of opening your credit union doors and realizing the banks open their doors the exact same way? What’s different behind your doors versus the banks’ doors? DSCF0454What sets you apart? Do you know? Do your members know? Do your employees and leaders even know?

When you ask employees, “What’s the credit union difference?”, what type of response do you get? We are like a family? Not really a good response, because family should never mix finances with family. Just a thought.

Do they recite in a monotone voice: “Credit unions are not for profit but for people. We are a financial cooperative. We are people helping people for the love of all that is holy!”

Well, at least they drank the kool-aid.

Are you ready to experience the credit union difference? Well, first you must create it. And we are here to help.

Check out this link, and tell us what you think!

7 Things ALL Credit Union Employees Want

We love credit unions and believe that if you are willing to do the work, you will see amazing results! Call us. Send smoke signals. Take the bold move. Make a true difference.

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The Experience Factor: What We Do

by Jen Kuhn on October 4, 2012

 

Kelly and I travel all over the country, working with organizations and teams of all sizes. While trapped on planes with fellow passengers, we are often asked, “What do you do?”  Such a broad question. Despite the lengthy flights we often take, we don’t really want to engage in lengthy conversations with total strangers who are probably just being polite by asking the question. Or they have ulterior motives: hoping that by showing interest in us, we will consider assisting them before securing our own oxygen mask in case of a loss in cabin pressure! It could happen. Nope, not paranoid at all. So, let’s clear the pressure-less cabin before our next flight.
Dear Future Passenger (with possible ulterior motives), here is a snapshot to answer your question, “What do you do?”…

  • Remind people that they love what they do (or did at one point!)
  • Promote team work and healthy group dynamics
  • Enhance employee engagement
  • Evoke passion
  • Focus on people, not on policy (we don’t even have an HR department…we are that cool)
  • Focus on positive psychology (and if this doesn’t work on you, we go all Freudian on you)
  • Take a common sense approach
  • Bring humanity back to 9 – 5 (we ROCK this one!)
  • Value team players at every level
  • Promote initiative, thinking on the job and personal responsibility
  • Connect employees to those they serve
  • Tap into the strengths of every member on your team
  • Address roadblocks to motivation
  • Enhance effective communication
  • Increase unity within your organization, department or team
  • Have FUN! (we are hilarious, just ask us)
  • Teach leadership and coaching skills
  • Hold our clients accountable (without spying or stalking…although we may stoop to that level because we’re not above that)
  • Focus on the experience. We help you define and achieve results by creating an experience for everyone who has contact with your organization

So there you have it. A few bullet points from our highlight reel. We’d love to hear from you if your organization, team or department would like to experience The Experience Factor.  And remember, you really should secure your own mask before assisting others. Just sayin’.

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Fully Committed

by Jen Kuhn on September 30, 2012

I’m currently in training for a half-marathon. I’m relatively certain that my idea of training greatly differs from that of anyone else in the world who has ever trained for a half-marathon.  My new jogging shoes have seen more action killing an Elvis-sized spider in my house than they have on any pavement.

The problem, you see, is my travel schedule. It often keeps me from maintaining an adult like existence. It also serves as the greatest excuse, ahem, reason that I find it challenging to fully commit to my training. My commitment goes something like this: I fully commit, on every trip, to pack my jogging clothes. That’s where that whole fully committed thingy ends.

The half-marathon is in two weeks. I think I still have a shot at it. The level of delusion required to maintain that thought is not only compelling, it’s sheer awesomeness. Plus, no matter what, I get a t-shirt for participation! It’s like t-ball with its you-participated-so-here’s-your-trophy-philosophy, but without the t-ball fun. So let’s agree, a t-shirt is a pretty cool trophy and makes jogging 13.1 miles oh so worth every freakin’ second. Cuz’, you know, you can’t just go out and buy a t-shirt.

I ask myself, “why am I doing this?” The answer: two good friends are in the race (they have been training, like adults) and at the time I signed up, my intentions were legit (I have no idea what that means). So, I’m gonna do it. Vanity be gone. I may end up in last place, though I’m not completely averse to pulling a Tonya Harding if I’m in the running for second from last.

Fully committed.

 

 

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Silent Endorsement

May 3, 2012

What we ignore, we endorse. Think about how many times you’ve seen behaviors that you find distressing (at home, at work or in public).  The child getting slapped by the angry parent, the bullying employee/supervisor that others fear, or the elderly person who needs help while everyone just looks in the other direction. Yes. We […]

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