The buck stops here

Ringing or not?
No customers. I thought this would be easy. Rising from my seat at one end of the counter;

“Hi”, with a pleasant smile and my $5 in front of me, “could I have a flat white please?”

“You’ll need to come down to this end of the counter where the till is (10 metres away).”

Possible responses:

1. Certainly, my apologies, I didn’t realise I was inconveniencing your business so much by bringing my custom.

2. Would it be possible for you to bring the till down here?

3. I’m sorry I must have misheard you I thought you asked me to do something for you?


The last of these – I say nothing. I’m walking away. The person behind the counter thinks I’m the one with the problem. This is my clear favourite.

Businesses excel when they relentlessly lookout for their customers and ensure their personnel do as well.

‘Front of house’ can be the first or last hurdle in your business, either way it is critical. Invest, train and reward well. It is integral to your product (cars, professional services, industrial equipment, coffee – no difference).

Clients know this. If you ignore it, you’ll never know who you never knew.

Imagine if the response was:

Big smile –

Certainly Sir, have a seat I’ll bring your change. How about a yummy warm muffin with that?


A large one today Sir? (Gee, do they recognise me?). Can I get you anything else? It’s a bit quiet today (Actually this wouldn’t happen; everyone would be in line for the great service).

The outcome:

You double your sale.

The customer is guaranteed to return.

Clients buy service, if you don’t believe me go and buy a new Mercedes.

Why create exceptional and sell ordinary (or worse)?

Be clear about where and how your product/service is sold – make sure the buck doesn’t stop there.

Our Team

Talking Staffs
An observant colleague pointed out you don’t have great staff – you have great people (Thanks Rob).

I agree, staff is a hugely impersonal term, and for someone so important to your company why would you use such an impersonal term of such varied meaning?

I prefer to talk of Our Team, but this can sound a bit corny and insincere, and besides I’m far from being politically correct. But staff (or staffs as Microsoft Word tells you) is impersonal, though difficult to work around.

This points me to the dilemma of ownership. Who did what?

Once, when asked to outline value I had added in a particular role I said “Well depending on your view I added all the value or none of it, which would you like?”

My point was that as leaders you are both entrusted with steering the ship and watching it from shore.

If you do your job well amazing things are achieved that wouldn’t be achieved without you, without you! (yes that is what I meant to say)

As a leader you aspire to everyone being their own leader within the boundaries set by you, within the code of conduct and collaboration that is the company culture (also set by you).

I am a fan of Carver’s Policy Governance Model® in which the board determines the ends (outcomes) and only limits the means (the way in which it is done) by exclusion (things falling outside prudence or ethical guides).

I think this is also a great model for everyone in a company to operate by – ‘Tell me what you want and what I can’t do to get there – I’ll let you know if I need further assistance.” Self-managing teams on steroids.

Which brings me back to the comment about staff, er.. people.

Treat people with respect and trust – it will be returned.

Treat them just as staff and you might just get sticks.

Great Staff

Too often I hear the lament of not enough good or great staff.

Great Staff?

  • Do you find good staff?
  • Do they find you?
  • Do you grow them?

Yes, yes, yes.

Having great staff is not just a case of having great people.
Even the greatest people won’t be great staff if you don’t do the right things as an employer.

Great people are what you receive. Great staff are what you create.

What are some of the steps that need to happen?

Be bold, be enthusiastic. Interview four unequal candidates – the best of those that show specific but quite different attributes. Why split hairs on the middle ground, make the differences obvious ones that count. Seek talent. A colleague of mine utilises sociology, anthropology and psychology in his recommendations as a talent consultant. This not only improves the fit but provides a great framework going forward.

In the beginning…
Pour in the resources. Keep the channels open, ensure peers, colleagues and superiors are engaging with the new hire. Ensure they have the resources they need and know how to access them. Make them feel welcome, not as though they have to justify their existence in a foreign country. Don’t spend $20-$50,000 on recruitment and nothing on the follow through.

Along the way…

  • Gather evidence; check with staff and clients how they observe the new staff member.
  • Keep the dialogue alive.
  • Don’t settle for less than they can deliver.
  • Reset goals, set stretch targets. Demonstrate belief and interest in their development.
  • Be authentic.

At all stages…

Keep the momentum, build excitement, and make it viral.

And now…

Do the same for all your staff.

Every day you are re-recruiting your own staff, except they are interviewing you, assessing their options, deciding their future.

Build on these guidelines and they will find you, you will find them, and they will grow with you.