Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Would Someone Drive Farther For YOU?

When my “extra” refrigerator in the laundry room needed to be replaced,  I knew I didn’t want to spend much on a new one so I did a lot of research and comparison shopping. I found the company where I would get my refrigerator, but I disliked the salesperson at the store a few blocks from me, so I put off the purchase for months. I even checked back a few times, but nope, he hadn’t improved!

When I finally decided to make the purchase, I drove a considerable distance farther and was willing to pay more if the less expensive item wasn’t in stock, just to avoid the salesperson I didn’t like. Fortunately, I found a product I liked at a very low price and the salesperson was perfect. I’ve already sent a thank you note to the store manager.

That experience made me think about how each of us are salespeople for something–or we should be. Would someone drive farther to do business with you or would they drive farther to avoid doing business with you?

*Do you make them feel like an interruption or like a valued person you want to assist?
*Are you nicely groomed, pleasant, smiling and helpful?
*Are you dependable, so if you say you’ll have something done at a particular time, you do? 
*Do you answer their questions in a way that is respectful and helpful, even if perhaps they don’t quite understand the subject as well as you?
*Do you greet them, talk to them and say goodbye to them in a way that gives them a good feeling about you and about themselves?
*Are you a top salesperson for yourself, your work, your section or unit and your organization?

You don’t have to be so glib and smooth talking that you can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, as the old saying goes. But, you should be the kind of person with whom people enjoy working and communicating. A good goal is to make them feel better just because they’ve been around you.

Your customers and clients may not be able to drive farther to get away from you if you’re the only resource for them. But, you’ll never be as effective or successful as you want to be and you’ll never get the cooperation and assistance you want, if most people would do almost anything to avoid you. 

Promise yourself to make a few sales tomorrow!

March 25th, 2012 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 6 comments

King Auto Group, Rich Knowlton and Your Work

When my neighbor and former work colleague, Larry Homenick, wanted to purchase a 2011 GMC Terrain he researched for some time and based on vehicle availability and price, went to King Auto Group in Longmont, Colorado. I went along for the fun of watching someone else spend money. By the end of the day Larry got an excellent deal on a GMC Terrain (Merlot Jewel color) with all the features–and I got to watch the outstanding people at King Auto Group in action. I also saw something that reminded me of how we all ought to do our work.

Good Work After the Sale Was Done

The sale was completed, detailing had been done and I was thinking the car looked shiny, clean and ready to go when Sales Manager, Rich Knowlton walked around the car, saw a bit of dust and tire shine over-spray, and said, “Don’t go yet. I see something I want to wipe off.” Within seconds he was inside and back outside with a towel and cleaner to make the car look perfect.  As he moved around the car, doing a last bit of polish and shine, I saw his smiling reflection on the door panel and thought about how he was reinforcing that our work reflects the real us more than anything we say. That is a recurring theme in everything I present and write about (as you may have noticed!) but someone like Rich Knowlton gives a visual image to prove the point.

The King Auto Group Lesson

I had a fun time at King Auto Group. Really! I got cards from Troy Haury, Brad Bohling, Ray France and Ken Paris (the sales associate who helped Larry) and listened to their conversations with customers and each other. I could tell they like working for the King Auto company and that they admire the family who owns it. The company has apparently built a culture that encourages employees to do great work and help people get the kind of car they want for a fair price. Then came the best part–when Rich put the final touches on the car and the transaction.   

Your Name, Face and Spirit Are Reflected In Your Work

The next time you have a job do to—whether it is a written project, a call for service, an investigation, an email, a meeting, working with employees or clients–remember the long-standing-but-still-true advice to think of it as being a reflection of the kind of person you are, your ethics and the way you can be trusted to do your work and live your life. While you’re at it, be like Rich Knowlton and smile while you are perfecting your reflection!

February 21st, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 8 comments

Who Re-Presents You?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the concept of re-presenting someone. You can refresh your memory in a new window by clicking here.  The idea was that when we pass along information at work, discuss a work project or do anything else related to work, we are direct representations of the person who first gave the information to us–often our supervisor or manager, or the higher levels of our organization.

This also applies to how those who report to us re-present us to others–and that is something we should take much more seriously than we sometimes do.  The people who report to you and the people who act on your behalf are you in the minds of many others. Make sure they represent you in the best possible ways.  

I was talking to someone this week who complained about an adminstrative support person (Admin, as we sometimes have shortened the title) who is excessive about her role as a secretary/gatekeeper. Here is what he said:  

“She doesn’t smile at anyone except the higher-ups and acts as though everyone is wasting her time. Her approach is that everyone except her and the top execs are too menial to see the BIG MAN.  She filters information so much, that a lot of the things people leave or send by email don’t get through. What really upsets people is that she takes on things she has no business getting involved with and has messed up several things under the guise of improving what someone else did. She’s like a bossy St. Peter at the Golden Gates! She does a great job with most of her actual work, but everyone dreads walking up to her throne…I mean, desk.”

The irony of that complaint is that the complainer is the employee’s boss! He told me he was at his wit’s end to know how to stop his Admin. from being so unpleasant and unhelpful to people inside and outside the organization.  He needed her to screen some things, but not in the way she was doing it.  What prompted his concern was that some key contacts were angry with him or had lost a measure of respect for him, based on the behavior of the person representing him.

The Alter-Ego Syndrome. Most organizations now and then have someone who becomes the alter-ego of the person they are supposed to be helping. Unfortunately they nearly always assume the role in an officious and obnoxious manner! (I think that reflects on their character in general, and what they would be like if they were given any authority over others. Some may feel sorry for their emotional neediness–I don’t, because I see and hear about the negative results so often.)

A similar situation occurs when supervisors and managers forget that the negative behavior, disruptive demeanor, poor work communications, ineffectiveness or inefficiency of their employees reflects directly and negatively on them as a leader, just as good work reflects positively.

If you have a direct report who has a reputation for negative performance or behavior: View everything that person does as being in your name. Ask yourself if it is how you want to be re-presented to those above you, the others who report to you, your clients or customers and anyone else who encounters that person.

I advised the person who complained to me about his administrative support person–but who was unsure if he wanted the hassle of trying to deal with her–to picture her with a sign around her neck that said,

“Everything I do is a representation of my manager. What do you think of him now?”

If every employee with whom you work wore such a sign, would you be responding differently to their actions, attitudes and performance? Whether you can see it or not, the sign is there!

June 5th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work | 2 comments

Keep On Keeping On

Do you ever feel this burdened?

The philosopher Ovid said, “The burden which is well borne becomes light.” I am not convinced that it always becomes light, but my experience has been that it does not become heavier, and that alone can be a blessing.

I have thought of those words recently when talking with several people who are dealing with a variety of work and personal issues. They each had different burdens–work pressures, financial worries, relationship problems, illness, grief, and worry about children or parents. In each case the individuals could be said to be carrying their burdens well and I thought about what I could learn from their behavior, to apply to my own life. I’ll share those thoughts with you!

1. Moving forward with grace and perserverence does not require that you deny you have a burden. One of the people I spoke with had at first made light of a tremendous responsibility that had been placed on her shoulders recently. After a short conversation she said, “I have to tell you, it’s been the most crushingly stressful thing I’ve ever encountered.” I asked her if it felt good to admit that, and she laughed and said yes, it did. She said, “Sometimes I get so darned tired of being strong and invincible!” (She knows she is not, but in her world she must act that way many times.)

You are not diminished by saying to family or coworkers, “I feel terrible right now.” “I want to do well but I’m afraid.” “I’m miserably sad.” “I don’t see how I will get everything done.” “I’m heartsick over it.” Those are reasonable human emotions and reactions. In fact, in some ways it may diminish the significance of a situation if you act as though it has no impact on you or is not important enough to be concerned about.

Another aspect of saying you are burdened with concern, sadness, excessive work or a schedule that is punishing at the moment, is that you can be a better example of emotional, mental and spiritual strength to your family, friends and coworkers. If you make it all look easy or as though you do not care, how can they know what concerns you, and how can they learn how you deal with those concerns effectively?

2. The mere act of saying you have a plan for dealing with a burden is helpful. Even if you are speaking with a bit of false bravado, acting positive about your ability to deal with a situation is helpful. If you say, “Here is what I am doing to accomplish it.” Or, “I’m going to handle it this way.” Or, “Here is how I am working through it.”, you will almost certainly follow that with one or two ideas that you know intuitively will help.

No one says, “The way I’m going to respond to this new work challenge is to sit and complain for hours at a time.” Or, “I think I will be paralyzed by doubt.” Or, “The way I handle situations like this is to give up and let someone rescue me.” Saying you have a plan helps you realize you have a few ideas at least–and encourages you to follow through on those.

3. You may be able to lighten your burden by not carrying it at all–or by shifting it around a bit. One friend was telling me about a worry she was experiencing, that seemed to me to be unnecessary in the first place. However, I realized that I was looking at it from an outsider’s perspective so I did not express that thought. (Almost a first for me!) A few days later as we chatted again she said, “I’ve decided to not be the only one losing sleep over this. I was starting to feel more angry than worried and I knew I needed to make the other people take more responsibility. Now, I’m not losing sleep at all.”

Not all concerns can be shrugged off, of course. And emotions do not go away just because you decide to stop feeling them. However, even then we may be able to choose to not add to them unnecessarily. Sometimes toting around a specific worry is so habitual we never even consider that perhaps we could unload it or reduce it. (And sometimes we can do that best by not being around the people or situations that we know will add to it.)

4. Live your life in a way that prepares you for the inevitable burdens you will need to carry. You cannot move a heavy item if your muscles are weak because you have never used them. You cannot carry a heavy mental or emotional burden if you have never cultivated inner strength. Strength of any kind does not happen on its own, it must be developed and maintained.

One day–some place and at some time–you will need strength. That is an inevitability that none of us escape. What is not inevitable is how prepared and strong you will be. If the small frustrations and hurts have the power to negatively disrupt your life, work and relationships, you will be knocked down for the count by the large ones. The time to prepare is now.

We say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” We do not say, “When the going gets tough, the weak start developing strength so they will eventually be tough enough to get going.” Handling the big challenges of life effectively and with hope comes from the practice of effectively handling the little challenges every day.

You may have a philosophy or faith that helps you gain and maintain the strength you need. (You may have also found that it is much easier to apply that philosophy or faith in the abstract than when reality hits.) But, you will more likely be able to “keep the faith” during adversity if you have made a practice of it all along.

5. If you have a burden, stand as upright and balanced as possible, smile and keep moving. That may not be the best advice for a physical burden, but it works for a mental or emotional one. I am not suggesting that you cover your worries or problems with grinning, frantic activity. I mean, do not let your knees buckle and do not stop to meditate on how heavy the burden is–just focus on your goal and move toward it.

Keep this in mind as well (as I try to, even as I write these bits of advice): It is nearly always easier to tell someone else how they should carry their burden than it is to carry your own. Do not be quick to condemn the responses or reactions of others to the challenges of their lives. Instead, see what you can do to help or encourage them, without getting in the way of their efforts to move forward.

In my recent conversations with people about their personal and professional burdens I also found this to be true: At some point burdens do become lighter. Sadness lessens, a work project is over, a relationship either improves or ends, circumstances change, or maybe you simply adjust. Sometimes that takes much, much longer than other times, but it happens, as you have noticed in your own life. In the meantime, we can lighten the negative affect of our burdens by carrying them in a way that reflects well on our character and abilities. “I can do this,” becomes, “I did that and I’m stronger for it.”

May 20th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 3 comments