Leader Pragmatips #003

In our recent Leadership Summit a question was asked; beyond technology and any automated solutions, what can we do to protect ourselves and our environment from people driven fraudulent activities? The answer I shared in our table is that Fraud happens when we chase the number, when we put pressure around hitting a number, when we say “hit the number or else, or hit the metric no matter what” without providing support on training, resources and behavior coaching.

People will (by way of self preservation) chase the number, and a message that has emphasis on the number “no matter what” is why you have people giving in to Fraud.

99% of the population don’t wake up saying “how can I cheat the system today?” Everyone wants to do a good job, to learn more, give value and be appreciated for it. As Leaders, it’s our job to remove the roadblocks and provide the guard rails to ensure they do.

18 and Awesome!

Without consulting Mr. Google (or any other search engines) I challenge you to name the recipients of some of the most prestigious awards in the world today and why they got them: Please name the last 4:

  • Nobel Prize Winners
  • Academy Award Winners
  • Pulitzer Prize Winners
  • Grammy Award Winners

I bet you were able to come up with a name or two, but not all of them. You probably named a few “honorable mentions” but not the actual winners? It’s not that easy to identify is it?

What if I asked you to name the last 4 Leaders that made a significant positive impact in your life?

People who made you feel special but at the same time challenged your humility as well. Who didn’t make it easy for you but instead made you better so things became easier in a more sustainable manner. The people who built the right kind of connection with you, connections that are genuine and not done for any other purpose than to improve you in the best way possible. I wager coming up with that list would be super easy right?

Think about the award shows and the “thank you” speeches where everyone thanks the people that helped them, the people that made it possible for them to win, the moment when they say, I could not have done this without YOU!

These have commonality in the point I am trying to make – you remember the people that matter. This privilege should not be limited to award shows but should actually be quite applicable to someone’s career.

Make it a goal to have a positive impact in someone’s life, so whether it’s them receiving an award or just plain celebrating their years in the business, they will continue to carry with them the lessons and impact you’ve made in their lives.

 

This week I celebrate my 18th year in the BPO space and as my own personal tradition every year (you can check the archives 🙂 ), make it a point to thank the people who made it possible for me to be where I am today.

 

Some honorable mentions:

  • Randy Redden, for my very 1st promotion ever from Agent to Trainer.
  • Albert Gan, for convincing me to switch from Training to Ops.
  • Brian Johnson, for the best quote ever that I still carry with me today “Leadership is about results, not efforts”.
  • Travis Coates for believing I am ready to be a VP.
  • Hero de Jesus and Jojo Pacis, you’re in here somewhere. I struggle to pinpoint why but you’re here 🙂

I didn’t get to work with you gents as much as I would have liked but grateful to have worked with you indirectly.

 

And of course my top 4:

Mirelle Reyes, for believing that I can take on an Asst. Training Manager role back when all I ever wanted to be was a Trainer. For teaching me that presentations (of all forms) need to be in the version they need to be in the eyes of your target audience.

 

Mike Lazo, for showing me what true Leadership behavior and unforgiving discipline looks like. The epitome of fighting for your people even if sometimes, it puts you at risk yourself. A true leader and mentor in every sense of the word.

 

Kevin Urrutia, the living, breathing, example of what it means to continuously improve your skillsets. You’d always challenge us that if you’re not part of the top 25% (or higher) of your peers, you have no business being in that group. Not many people can pull off being a boss and a friend at the same time, you showed us how easy it was.

 

Mike Lytle, what can I say that hasn’t already been said? Brainiac, BFA, the Whiz Kid. Thank you for the unending patience and unapologetic stance for Solutions Orientation and a clear Vision of the way forward. The last 6 years of learning and development for me (and many of us) are because of you. Thank you.

 

And so 18 years, 73 programs, 11 sites, 9 verticals and over 6000 FTE later, here I am.

 

As the trope goes; Thank you to all of you, I could not have done this without you!

As always I commit to making you guys proud, paying it forward and making sure your lessons and legacies live on through the next line of leaders in years to come.

 

————

 

 

How about you? Who are the leaders that significantly impacted your lives positively? Any honorable mentions? Will your name come up in someone else’s list?

 

Whatever happens, always pay it forward.

 

 

 

 

Leader Pragmatips #002

Leader Pragmatips #002

Let your direct reports finish speaking. What are direct reports? It’s the name I learned from a former mentor that taught me that we should never refer to them as your “subordinates”. That term was outdated even back in the 1980’s

It the hustle and bustle of today’s techno infused world, we should maximize all the time we have. If you’re an experienced leader sometimes you already know what point your direct reports are trying to make and there is temptation to interrupt them mid-presentation. – Don’t! Even if you’re doing it for the right reasons like helping them get there faster or say better words, don’t. Let them finish. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that they likely prepared speaking in front of you for several minutes, if not hours. They want to do a great job in front of you whether conscious or unconsciously. Let them. You can coach and correct later on but at that moment, be 50% of what makes a great leader – be a great listener.

Leader Pragmatips

My pragmatic leadership blog has been a source of great pride and fulfillment for me especially for those of you who are avid followers, thank you so much! I can’t thank you enough for your feedback, support and continued patronage all these years.

My 18th year in the BPO space is coming soon and as the times evolve I feel it necessary to evolve my online mediums as well.

While I will still continue with full length posts and articles I will also start with “bite sized” versions called “Leader Pragmatips” in keeping with what started the blog all those years ago – to freely share and discuss leadership lessons learned from real life situations.

Blog: https://pragmaticleadership.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @BGTuazon

 

Leader Pragmatips #001
There will always be a debate between quality versus quantity of time in the office. While I subscribe to the former (because it’s always about what you actually accomplish while in the office and not how long you stay) there will be some who will see the need to stay longer than normal from time to time.

My advice, get a good nights rest and arrive super early, leave on time. When you arrive way earlier than you need to, the place is still quiet, your mental faculties are at their most efficient, you have no meetings or calls to disrupt your rhythm. Finish what you need to, go about your day and leave on time. That way you can leave accomplished without the stress, guilt or resentment that you had to stay longer than you need to. Always remember it’s about results, not effort.

True Fulfillment

Talked about this many times before that you should not be looking for Job Success but instead look for Job Fulfillment.

The truest sense of accomplishment is not in how many deals you’ve closed, not how many times you’ve been promoted, not how many times you’ve hit your targets, or anything finite. It’s not even how many trophies, certificates, commendations and plaques you have in your wall.

 

One of the best and most fulfilling ways in my book is a genuine “thank you” from a former or current person you work with. This is the reason why I track these as opposed to tracking all the aforementioned items because this is what matters to me. It’s not even about the “thank you” in itself but the fact that you get to see or know that they ended up being more successful than before.

 

Very rewarding and fulfilling indeed, regardless if you get the “thank you” or not.

Now this post may seem self indulgent and gratifying but honestly, I don’t care 🙂

This one is for me.

There will be days when we need to remind ourselves of these. I mentioned before that there are many things about work that are work.

These are the messages that change all that and remind me of things that I will gladly do for free and why I put up with the challenges from time to time.

I don’t get a lot of these but when I do, I am reminded and refreshed about what it means to be successful versus what it means to find true fulfillment.

 

Thank you to ALL of you.

The Commitment Letter

Been developing this note for a few weeks now. Now in its final (I think) version, I have now shared it with my direct reports.

I am confident enough that when I shared this, our values and beliefs system are similar enough that I am able to give this commitment letter without losing any sleep over it.

I am sharing this with the rest in the aspirational hope that you are also able to give this to your own direct reports and give your same commitments. And they will do the same for their own people, and so on.

Because, Why not? 🙂

—————

 

I value you as a team member.

I believe in the value that you bring to the team. I admire the value you drive with your direct reports.
What I commit to you:

I commit to teaching you everything I know.

I commit to fighting for and protecting you from pressures from above and or within your client stakeholders.

I commit to always keeping you informed of your Areas for Improvement and our overall strategic direction.

I commit to looking out for you. Ensuring you receive all benefits that are due to you. That you are considered for advancement when opportunities develop. That you receive the recognition you deserve.

 

What I Need from You:
I need your commitment to stay true to the values and beliefs we both share specifically on professionalism and integrity above all else.

I need your commitment that you will work on your AFI’s within reasonable timeframes that we both agree on. I can’t make this work without your commitment to improve. I know you are capable.

I need your commitment to be transparent and straightforward if your issue is with me or how I drive the dynamics of our relationship. If the issue is your priority set or commitment level that is weighing heavily somewhere else right now, I will respect that.

I need you to let me know how I can support you to focus on that right now and grant you the ability to return to the team with no burned bridges or bad blood.

I want to keep working with you. I think you are capable of so much more and are primed for further success in your future.

If we both agree to our commitments above, I genuinely believe we will be capable of some amazing things.

 

The Curious Case of the Failed CM – A Case Study

A bit more practical set of lessons this time.

 

Here are REAL life examples, situations based on REAL people who I have worked with and specific items that prompted their failure. I am sure there are many examples out there however here are the ones I can objectively talk through.

Below is an example of a CM running a decent sized program (300 FTE) with the following challenges:

  • Massive attrition resulting in loss of tenure ergo performance drops both at the agent and supervisor level.
  • Majority of the existing leaders who remained are non TP. There is desire to be better but skill was currently lacking.
  • Client tends to have large number of initiatives that provide little to no value to actual contract KPI’s or measurable impacts to the customer.

 

The CM’s Challenges:

  • Would tend to get stuck with “deliverables” or other administrative work. Coaching has already been provided and measures taken to give these to the Account Manager. Rather than allow the account manager to deal with the problems CM would often dedicate his time there. This proved to be fairly detrimental to his overall performance, since the items would not help develop his young leadership team.
  • Had a difficult time prioritizing the things that would drive performance. Things he would generally let fall away are coaching related activities on the program to develop his leadership team. The leadership team was the biggest problem on the account, yet the development of that team was generally the first action to fail. The only aspect that would generally stay continuous in this area was holding them accountable, but that rarely included plans to make them more likely to succeed.
  • Although his superiors have given him feedback, plans, best practices and actions to run the Operations, the CM would generally ignore the practices would default to practices and initiatives where he was most familiar with even though these have not resulted into any traction in months.
  • If CM didn’t agree with someone he tended to simply ignore them, but would rarely approach the individual to try and work things out, get a 2nd opinion or anything that constituted or can be viewed as “asking for help”. This created a barrier between him and his peers and gave everyone the perception that he is very negative and toxic and very difficult to work with.
  • CM was also very prone to emotional outbursts at times of heavy pressure e.g. upcoming business reviews, client visits or handling escalated concerns from TP Execs or senior clients. He has unintentionally created a bad culture with his direct reports, because instead of coming to him for help when something is broken, they would just instead try to solve the issues themselves for fear of being reprimanded or shamed. The bigger problem here as mentioned previously – his staff lacked the Operational maturity to get most problems fixed themselves and so things will end up falling apart. The CM would then resort to sanctions/accountability progression which frustrated the direct reports because technically the CM can do it, but guidance, tools, investment in time and coaching was not present and everyone knew it whether subconsciously or not.

 

What I would have done:

Share the following:

  • WAR Room Best Practices document/reference
  • RCA Training, TOPS Training and other in house Best Practices
  • Practicing “The Learning by Proximity Principle”
  • Ensuring everyone in the team understand and promote “The 3 Real Engagement Principle”
  • And many more…

 

It all boils down to spending time with each Supervisor and check how they build relationships with their teams, how they coach, how they interact, how they get commitments. Actually spend the time to talk and LISTEN to them and observe how they talk to, assess and develop their agents because this forms part of the action plans and commitments that move up the chain and where most of the failures occur. Write down all my observations and customize action plans that are S.M.A.R.T. (especially the Measurable and Time Bound portion) designed for each Supervisor’s AFI and pairing it with their known motivators (G.F.L.P.G. – What’s important to them?)

 

Projecting attendance/lates as an example –
At our level (CM and Up) with our experience and ability to decipher BS vs. sincerity + armed with previous historical data (that predicts future behavior) we can easily see if an agent will indeed report to work or if these agents are just fat out lying.

The problem typically arises when our outlier sups are either unwilling or unaware of how to do this painstaking but necessary rigor to predict proper attendance projections.

 

I would have Outlier sups observe how I do it, then observe as they do it back to their agents. In some cases have the ACCM watch too. That way the “Accountability” isn’t always on the sup but on the agents where it should be half of the time. Instead of the Accountability attack that most ACCM’s do and sadly some CM’s do too. We assume Sups know how to do it where in reality they don’t. At least not in the way that we can.

This is one clear example of what I mean when I say we need to ensure that sups are “setup for success” before we hold them accountable. We have to be sure that they know HOW to be successful. This may include teaching them how to build relationships, how to do genuine connection sessions, how often they should do it and check if they are actually doing it. It will be a combination of things. Many things done over several days, weeks.

 

Versus just slapping them with sanctions each time they fail projections. However…

If after all that, they still can’t or won’t do it… if you can honestly look yourself in the mirror and say you’ve done all you can to help – Then it’s likely time to replace and help them be successful somewhere else. All done in as much positive vibes as possible because it doesn’t have to be contentious. No emotions, no name calling, no public shaming – just a decent conversation that says, I want to stay friends with you but it seems your priorities are somewhere else right now, so let’s part ways as friends.

 

This rigor is an ACCM level task with a CM observing to validate if done properly and to check for cues and signs that the Sup or ACCM may have missed. However if there is continued failure, Director (or in some cases VP level) intervention is needed. It is not as tedious as it sounds, because consider the percentage – if you’re a 500 FTE program, this gives you about 33 sups, outlier of 20% is about 6 or 7 sups at the most. If you do your job properly, you can cure attendance issues in 1-2 weeks.

 

If it takes longer than that, you’re doing something wrong. Ask for help. There is no shame in that.

Case in point, the aforementioned CM is one of our most successful and admired Leaders in the business today. How? That’s a story for another day 🙂

The Go To Guys (Part 3)

 

A few weeks back I asked several members of my team for a value add initiative that our Clients were neither expecting nor asking for. And because we respect data privacy and security here like crazy, I will need to change some details and names but hopefully, you will still get the gist and the whole point of the comparison. With that said, for the aforementioned purpose and limitation, the “ask” will be henceforth known as “Ice Cream”

To be clear these are teams whom I both equally love and adore today and for the foreseeable future. These are teams who continue to elevate what it means to be class leading. This is just a nice and candid example of difference in mindsets (which can be changed for better or worse) and only an example of staying conscious of that fact.

Earlier this week I asked both teams how we were doing in getting the Ice Cream for our clients. Here are the responses:

Team A
As discussed previously approval to access Ice Cream Stores will have to go through a full exemption process (Ice Cream Association of the Philippines requirement).

The first step is to conduct a sweetness and flavor assessment (this has been submitted). This then will have to go through a review with VP of Ice Cream Flavors before approval is given.

As per Ice Cream Flavors team, realistically getting approval may not be quick, so while we seek that route they also recommended to reach out to the Ice Cream Association of the World that caters to the this kind of service we are trying to work on.

They gave me a name we can contact to get more information, I have already reached out to that person to look at the possibility of getting assistance in case ICAOTP (Ice Cream Association of the Philippines) approval is not given.

On a personal note, if we need to get the Ice Cream ready sooner, we may want to consider having Willy Wonka work from directly inside the Ice Cream Store. In this regard, there will be no risk of compromising Ice Cream Flavors and Sweetness and Willy Wonka will be able to work clearly without outside influence.

Points to consider:

  • All identified challenges are real and factual and very sensible
  • It would be better if the challenges were identified and communicated ahead of time so help could have been provided in removing roadblocks instead of waiting for the follow up to inform that there were indeed challenges present that puts completion dates at risk.

 

Team B
We have requested two scooping stations preferably inside an air-conditioned room that simulate the environment of a real Ice Cream Store. The Senior Flavor tester is helping me secure Ice Cream Association of the Philippines approval.

I have also researched on several free Ice Cream tools online like Mentose, Social Mentose, Scrutiny Alerts, Scrutiny Trends, etc. and checked if these free tools could can help us achieve the same purpose.

I also subscribed to SocialScoopers (one of the tools used by our Partner Ice Cream Store), free trial for 2 weeks. So far I have gotten good amount of sweetness and flavors that I can start analyzing (see attached).

 

Points to consider:

  • Encountered the same roadblocks as Team A but still progressing with results expected. Fulfilled the parameters of the ask without breaking policy or deviating from the prescribed path.
  • The preliminary results are of commendable quality and insights generated are admirable in spite of the challenges.

 

I have written about this  and this before. Similar to Simon Sinek’s “Free Bagels” story… in terms of being able to achieve something, there are 2 types of people:

  1. The people who see the things preventing them from getting the thing that they want (the long line to get to the Free Bagels)
  2. The people who see nothing but the thing that they want (The Free Bagels)

Which one are you?
Which one do you have on your teams?
Which one do you want on your teams?

For me, the answer is simple:
The people who are Solutions Oriented, the people who make things happen in spite of the challenges. The people who get things done regardless of roadblocks. The “Go To” guys. Careful JoeyBoy, Jecla, and Ron G, looks like Marlon is challenging your status.

The takeaway here – is Be Solutions Oriented. You owe it to yourself and your teams. It is a far better way to go than wasting your time on how and why something will not or cannot work.

Falling Out of Love – Another Rant

As the title says, this is a rant. There will be lessons here but nothing quite so direct. So here goes…

I’ve been feeling it for the last couple of years.
There were many signs, many indicators that suggest this company is no longer the same.
Some would call it denial while some would say it’s just me trying to have faith in what I saw in this company many years ago.

It’s really kind of heartbreaking when I reminisce of how you started.

You were the new kid on the block. Multiple funny and sometimes sad stories of how painfully under resourced, undermanned and underfunded you were. But it didn’t matter, the select few you had shared the same set of values and beliefs and fought with blood, sweat and tears to bring the company out of the rut. It wasn’t easy, there were ups and downs, a couple of hits and misses here and there but everybody was passionate about seeing the company succeed and it wasn’t long until you became class leading.

 

You were quite the trailblazer. Everybody was watching your seemingly unstoppable growth. The industry held you with so much high regard. You were the one to watch.

You had a clear sense of purpose. You had a clear sense of WHY. Every single employee understood the company’s purpose and why the company existed. Even people not part of the company (who longed to be part of it) understood what you were all about – To be the best, to challenge all conventional norms, to be the unmistakable example of excellence.

 

And then just like any empire in stories of old, your success became your weakness. You grew too big too fast, leaders were brought in who didn’t share or even at the least understood the values, the real WHY.

 

  • It became about being profitable above all else, when it used to be about being the best and being excellent.
  • It became about gaining more customers versus taking care of and cultivating the ones you already had.
  • It became about keeping the shareholders happy.

 

Personally, there is nothing wrong about wanting to be profitable except that it should be a result of being excellent at what you did.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more customers but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your existing ones. Word-of-mouth, advocacy is the genuine and sustainable way to gaining more customers.

This is my personal take about the difference between the leadership of Steve Jobs versus Tim Cook.

If you think about it Apple stock is at an all-time high, so shareholders couldn’t be happier. OK, I realize how unfair that comparison is. Especially if you start thinking about how Steve didn’t care about the shareholders more than he did about challenging nay breaking the status quo. (The result of which was exponential financial benefit that eventually made shareholders happy) versus removing the headphone jack and gain 8% revenue tacked on iPhone sales (because you own the patents for the lightning jack)

 

So why does it feel wrong? Why doesn’t it feel like the same old company that we all admired in the past?

Could it be because we are holding them to unrealistic standards? Expecting them to come up with innovations year after year?

Could it be because the competition has gotten so much better (who else is in love with their S8+ right now?) and Apple has been content with the format and platform that they’ve perfected years ago?

Lot of easy questions to throw, answers are harder to come by.

And that’s why this is a rant. And a rant it may be but you can’t deny there are lessons in there too.

This One is For the Winners

I have written several stories about these people, the people who unintentionally give us perspective, the people who sometimes remind us of what we could become if we’re not careful, the people who make some of us look really good… I am talking about the Losers. Read about them here.

 

I write about them whenever I encounter situations that painfully remind me of why I need to be careful, why I always remind as many people as I can of the warning signs when we’re closely wobbling that fine line. Because without staying conscious of it, it’s dangerously very easy to fall into that mindset. YES – it’s a mindset. It’s not some innate talent to think of all the barriers, the challenges and how the world owes you a favor and how you’ve never done anything wrong and are always the victim.

 

Today I write about the people who rise above all the BS (the Bad Stuff) and just continues to get it done. This post is for you ladies and gents who I am proud to call peers. Who I am extremely honored to work alongside with. This is for you who in spite of having your own problems and challenges just like everyone else, choose to focus on things that you can control, ask for help for those that you can’t and choose to stay positive. To the past and recent awardees of the Blue Diamond Club, especially those whom I directly work with; Angel, Carlo, Ely, Fred, Joy, Ryan, and the rest who joined the ranks of less than 170 people in a company of 40,000. I am proud to know and work with you.

To the people who get sent out of the country for an all-expense paid trip and visit their respective Client Headquarters for being TOP performers and innovators: Honelyn, John Kenneth, Donabel, Allie Jane, Lennie, Sol, Serida, Karl. May you continue to be a source of inspiration for your peers and progressively challenge and move us forward.

Official Theme Song (play this in the background while reading 🙂 )

This is for all you Performer Winners out there who make us say – I want to be like you and do better (and not, I wouldn’t want to be that person ever)

 

This is for all of you Leader Winners who make their direct reports say – I am better today because of you (and not, I am better today in spite of you)

 

This is for you Team USAIR Training 2005

 

This is for you Team SPIRIT Ops 2008

 

This is for you Team USAIR Ops 2009

 

This is for you Team T-OPS Ops 2011

 

This is for you Project LAMP Team 2013

 

This is for you Team SPG 2013

 

This is for you Team Legen_Dary 2014

 

This is for you Team Legen_Dary 2016

 

This is for all the people who are reading this now. You’re likely on this distro because I feel you’re someone who wants to continuously improve, evolve and be better than the day before and is actually capable of doing so. Someone forwarded this to you because they believe in you and see you in the same light.

 

Keep on Keeping on Winners!