The art of teams

 

Telesales manager

In our business Interpreters often team assignments of long duration in order to support and spell each other. As you can imagine, the mechanics behind taking information into your brain in one language and then expressing it simultaneously in another is extremely taxing. Research shows the message begins to break down after approximately 20 minutes due to this process – hence, our need for teams.

Since teaming is a norm in our business, we are always looking for those Interpreters who can effectively team together. This brings me to today’s blog post – what we have collectively gleaned makes a great team. Our observations can be applicable to almost any team situation…and is interesting how it applies across the board….

We look for the following:

–  Flexibility – there is no place for rigidity when working in teams. By virtue of working with another human being you will need to be flexible in terms of teaming. Who takes the lead, when and even ‘where’ – the physical space in the room…

–  Respect – you cannot be an effective team without respect for your colleagues. Respect that everyone does things differently, applies language differently and have different affects. The goal for any team is effective communication and literally for us – remember getting there may take different paths.

– Ego – putting ego aside and realizing that you are not the best nor the worst in the field and neither is your team. Everyone is on a path to learning and support is what’s needed during teaming, not critique. Those who put their egos aside and support their teammates are the most successful team.

Three simple items that we look for in a team that can be used in any team situation whether it’s with co-workers, on a sports team or even parenting. Thanks to my staff and my consumers for their input over the years on what make a great team!

 

 

Family Friendly

Mother Father and their little daughterOne of my biggest regrets as a mother was not being able to be a stay-at-home Mom. I craved that time. For me, the best thing ever was to be in the house, cooking and cleaning, taking my boys to the park, chasing worms and butterflies. I lived for those moments.

Clearly I found, that was not in the cards. I had to work to survive – as with many Moms – and the dream of being a full time, stay at home Mom was not to be. I did, however, have a couple of glimpses into being with my babies more. I had one employer who let me bring my newborn to work with me – until he was wanting to crawl and escape the playpen in my office. It was an epic fail – trying to work and care for an infant was not successful – either for the baby or my boss. So that quickly ended. And then the inevitable – handing him over to a day care provider – which was truly heartbreaking for me.

I later tried doing home day care so that I could be home with my boys. I quickly found that I was spending more time with other people’s children than with my own. My 3 year old actually asked to go back to his day care center – pointing out to me this just wasn’t working either. My attempts to be at home were a huge bust. And asking for flexibility in the workforce was met with a resounding ‘no’…

So here I am, many decades later, with staff having children of their own. Growing and raising families and now ‘on the other side of the table’ I see that my old employers were not being mean, they just hadn’t any ideas of how to make this work. Luckily today we have technology to allow people to work at home and to be more present with their families while still being ‘present’ at work.

For example one staff who’s been a ‘stay-at-home’ Dad, raising his son and working simultaneously. Is he able to sit at his desk 8 hours/day and still raise a toddler? Of course not, but by working flex hours and rearranging his duties, it’s been possible. And the benefits to his child are unending. We now have another staff who just had a baby and will need flex time as well – and while we are not a big enough company to have day care centers and paid maternity time – we can give the priceless – flexible time to be a more present parent.

We cannot all be home with our children – I wish everyone could. However as a business owner I can now offer as much flexibility as possible to help bridge that gap – be creative – and encourage other small business owners to do the same for their staffs – for Moms and for Dads – and leave a lasting legacy of closer families.

The Rock Steady

Reliable Name Tag Sticker Dependable Worker Team Member Person    All too often the people in our personal lives who are our ‘Rock Steady’ are the ones that get the least amount of attention, praise or recognition. This holds true in businesses as well and this week I’ve thought a lot about who those people are for us.

Yesterday I opened an email from a customer reporting that “things go well everyday – the Interpreter brings professionalism and skill to our environment and works well with all our staff”… I smiled, nodded to myself and thought ‘this is no surprise.’ She is a ‘rock steady’…no drama, no demands, independent thinker, no complaints. She shows up early to every job – brings her skill set that she still works hard to develop – checks her ego at the door and has emotional intelligence to maneuver any adversity brought into the process. She’s professional, from dress to interactions on site and off site and draws professional lines in kind and appropriate ways.

Being a ‘Rock Steady’ is a double edge sword. They receive the most requests without asking to be requested – their calendars are full and our staff love working with them. They respond quickly – they are dependable and they are flexible. Their skill and appearance tell everyone that the agency they represent is professional.

I have a lot of these people. They take up the least amount of my time. They should receive the most ..of my time – my praise – my thanks – my recognition. That’s the other side of the sword – they do their job so well they often are overlooked. They don’t NEED attention. They don’t NEED a pat on the head. They are not NEEDY people – but they should be appreciated people.

I plan on letting more of my Rock Steady know how much they are appreciated. It’s not a good leader who lets them go on being ignored because they do their jobs so well. I depend on them – they change the world by bridging communication invisibly. AND they keep our business flourishing….

So to all of you working with someone that you don’t have to pay attention to – take time to give some thanks and recognition  – to your ‘Rock Steady’…………

 

Professional Conferences

Group of Business People Working in the Office

I woke up before daylight to help my husband get out the door to a professional development conference. Not only was he attending, but presenting and the ‘details’ of what he needed to take, prepare for and remember – I knew would be daunting.

I travel often – and had lots of ‘tips’ for him as he readied his suitcase and garment bag to leave the condo…”Do you have your phone charger?… your workout clothes?…. your sunglasses?”..while this may all sound like predawn nagging – I know from traveling these are all things you don’t want to forget. So it got me thinking (in the season of professional conferences)…what tips have I learned (and my staff) ..that we could pass on to others?…

Here’s our best and I believe most useful advice for those of you buying tickets and planning to get those CEUs!..how to make the trip less stressful and more enjoyable….

Planning ahead…

  • Have a separate set of toiletries packed and ready – always having a waterproof wrap in your closet to grab will alleviate you forgetting those ‘last minute’ items. Remember the indispensables – medications/prescription sunglasses/phone chargers/etc
  • When flying pack a carry on with a change or two of clothes and those irreplaceable items in case your luggage is lost/rerouted – or if traveling with a significant other share suitcase space so that if one is lost you will both have clothing.
  • When booking ask for a room close to the conference center. This will allow for quick ‘sneaks’ back to your room during breaks and alleviate long lines for the rest rooms.

Once you arrive….

  • Always ask for an upgrade. It’s amazing how many times you can get a better room just by asking. And ask to not be near an elevator or the ice machine – they are the noisiest areas of each floor. Another tip to alleviate (street) noise is to ask for the highest floor.
  • Try to maintain your home schedule (reading, working out, etc) as much as possible so you don’t feel so ‘off’ when you get back.  Remember traveling can be the perfect storm for getting sick. Stay healthy by exercising as much as possible, walk instead of taking cars, avoid alcohol and junk food – all (which) suppresses your immune system and makes you susceptible to picking up viruses.

Saving $s…..

  • Use Airline Credit Cards when possible. Or any card with travel points…and remember to save your receipts! .. this is a business trip – you’ll want to be deducting all expenses!
  • If you’re driving to a conference, see if you can find an open parking lot to leave your car and then carpool into the hotel to save on daily parking fees.
  • Ask for free wi-fi when booking – again, just by asking you may very well save dollars.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks to your room to avoid the temptation of the snack bar.
  • Ask for early check-in/late check-out upon booking and ask there be no charge – these are usually only added on if they are a surprise to the hotel staff….and speaking of the hotel staff….

My personal aside…

Many of us have worked in hotels – which can be – a really tough job – PLEASE remember to tip the staff. Bring a stack of $5 bills with you and be generous. Don’t forget the person who cleans your room daily, brings up room service or hails you a taxi. All of these people depend on tips for their income and often work for minimum wage.

We at EIS hope you enjoyed our favorite tips on how to make your conference travel – or any travel a bit more enjoyable!!

Exploiting technology

Vrtual Business world

The question looms….how do I live in the ‘real world’ of technology=communication and still keep those critical personal relationships while running a company?

At the onset of any company communicating your message to a variety of groups is of utmost importance. The highest priority getting the word out to potential customers. Equally critical recruiting and communicating with employees – and lastly to inform consumers of your goods/services with the goal of building lasting relationships.

For me that meant late nights on the floor of my living room putting together hand made brochures and prospect lists.  It necessitated long phone calls with Interpreters, and endless inservice trainings with consumers. All of these were required but yet a true pleasure. However 2017 looks vastly different than late nights stuffing envelopes – as I was tugged yet allured into using technology. All in order to keep up with new modalities of interpersonal communication.

So it bears the question –  how does a small business built on the workings of face-to-face encounters embrace technology in order to remain current and relevant?….for EIS it means…

Today texting our Interpreters quickly replaced the phone call, so we have developed a ‘Secret Corner’ on social media where we can communicate as a group and have a reciprocity of both business and personal news (all while keeping that EIS community feel). Several years ago we also developed a software platform  to communicate assignment-related information – the what/where/who – again proprietary and special to our Interpreters.

For customers the conference room negotiations evolved to online contract signings and inservice trainings have been replaced by webinars and Youtube videos. Bringing in a ‘personal side’ to each of these is a challenge, however doable – again using databases available such as professional social media platforms to develop bonds based on information gathering.

Our business has moved into the virtual realm using technology to put each employee in a different physical and geographic work space. We stay connected through constant iChat throughout the day, end-of-the-day ‘stand up meetings’  and weekly staff meetings – all taking advantage of the best of technologies.  Off hours we are connected through various social media to share personal stories, helping to strengthen our bond.

You cannot change the way technology pulls us, however you can exploit it. Ignoring its bad reputation of faceless relationships by inserting those personal elements that keep us all connected. And remain humanly, strongly bound.

 

 

Back to Basics

Business 101. Businessman holding business card

Entrepreneurs begin our businesses  by ‘doing everything’…we are the practitioner – the rainmaker – the bookkeeper – the bill collector – the HR person….we do it all.

Think back to the days when you knew what every check was written for – what the role was of every new hire and who each of your customers were. Of how much people were paid and how much each customer was charged.

Fast forward to the present…year after year you learned where your value as a business owner lied. You knew that hiring the right people to take over day-to-day responsibilities freed you up to bring your best value to the company. You slowly would hand over the reigns….

But…your success can mean losing touch –  with what needs to be attended to and not just a backdrop to your busy routine. Take stock – – as you ready yourself at the door in your business suit and with briefcase in hand – –  to yet another client meeting, networking function, or board meeting…that you are leaving behind your years of hard work and entrepreneurship to others. To people who now drive your business from the ground up…

I learned last year when I lost my CFO and decided to temporarily take over the accounting just how much I had actually lost in terms of being  in touch. What was I paying people? Who were my rainmakers? Who were those customers that were so valuable and which ones did I need to cut ties with? Where was the waste and what needed updating?

Eight months later I am still running my business and doing the accounting. I am now looking forward to handing back the books to someone else and focus more full-time on where I can bring (the best) value.  However..this time has been with monumental lessons learned.

Go back to basics – take time to step into those roles you once had in the beginning of entrepreneurship and dig deep into your business. Remember your company –  (that you gave up so much for, worked so hard for and changed lives with) – should always be looked at from the perspective of what once was – ‘Business 101’…

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is all about children…and not a more precious child can you find than little Shaylee.  Here’s her rendition of ‘The Night Before Christmas’…enjoy!

(click on the Story Title/not the photo)…

The Night Before Christmas

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-47-50-pm

See Shaylee’s Mom’s website here to learn more about this beautiful family!  http://sheenamcfeely.com