managers http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9005/all en-US How to Effectively Complain to the Manager http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-effectively-complain-to-the-manager <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-effectively-complain-to-the-manager" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4099487936_ddfbd16766_z.jpg" alt="angry woman" title="angry woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the basic tenets of business is that it&rsquo;s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Many companies view customer complaints as a way to gauge what works and what changes they need to make to keep customers happy. Good managers take this to heart and strive to provide the most favorable solution to a customer&rsquo;s problem. However, an ineffective complaint can actually hurt your chances of getting the issue resolved. How you approach the situation can make all the difference, so using the right methods can greatly increase your chance of satisfaction. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-what-you-want-on-customer-service-calls">How to Get What You Want on Customer Service Calls</a>)</p> <h2>Remain Polite and Calm</h2> <p>Although you are likely annoyed or even angry about the situation, it&rsquo;s very important to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-communicate-better-today">keep your emotions in check</a> when you speak to the manager. People often lose their ability to empathize when they feel like they&rsquo;re being verbally attacked, and the manager can easily go into a less-than-helpful, defensive state if you come off as overly upset or aggressive.</p> <h2>Don&rsquo;t Point Fingers</h2> <p>People react better and are more willing to help you if they do not think you are blaming them directly for the problem. If a service rep, salesperson, or restaurant server is the problem, using a phrase such as &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure the person in question does not represent your policies&rdquo; tells the manager that you&rsquo;re not attacking him or the company as a whole. This also keeps management from becoming defensive and less willing to resolve the matter in your favor.</p> <h2>Blunt Your Criticism</h2> <p>No one wants to hear everything they do is wrong, and this is especially true for mangers who are trying to solve a customer&rsquo;s problem. Stating what you enjoyed about the meal, product, or service and then offering your criticism softens the blow and tells the manager that he may be able to keep you as a customer. Use the company&rsquo;s desire to retain you as a customer as leverage. Say how often you visit or use the service and tell the manager that you would like to return. Failing to point out the good points about the establishment or service will make the manager think you won&rsquo;t be returning anyway, and it may make him less inclined to honor your request.</p> <h2>Propose a Solution</h2> <p>The most effective complaints offer a specific solution. Telling the manager exactly how you want the issue to be resolved gives him a direct course of action and increases the likelihood of a positive result. It also takes away the need for the manager to guess at what you want, which can quickly turn into dickering for &ldquo;fair&rdquo; compensation instead of fully resolving the issue. If you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">desire a refund</a> of a purchase or payment for a service, read your service contract or check the store policies online or on the back of the receipt to determine the refund policy and ensure that you are not out of the refund or return time frame. If you are, you may only be able receive store credit or an exchange, no matter how well you craft your complaint.</p> <h2>Be Reasonable</h2> <p>While your request should make you feel adequately compensated, demanding a free meal because your drink order was wrong will make you seem unreasonable and can make the manager less willing to help you. If a product or service you ordered was damaged or incorrect, give the manager adequate time to repair, replace, or redo it.</p> <p>Staying polite and reasonable gives you the best chance of initiating an effective complaint. Not only will you be more likely to receive the outcome you desire, you&rsquo;ll also be able to return to the store or restaurant or keep using the service with confidence.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-effectively-complain-to-the-manager" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Effectively Complain to the Manager" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lauren-treadwell">Lauren Treadwell</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Shopping customer service managers refunds returns Tue, 20 Nov 2012 11:00:34 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 955448 at http://www.wisebread.com Entrepreneurs Versus Managers: Which are You? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/entrepreneurs-versus-managers-which-are-you <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/entrepreneurs-vs-managers-which-are-you" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/entrepreneurs-vs-managers-which-are-you</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/entrepreneurs-versus-managers-which-are-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014272069Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/entrepreneurs-versus-managers-which-are-you" class="sharethis-link" title="Entrepreneurs Versus Managers: Which are You?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>&quot;<i>Successful entrepreneurs know their weaknesses as well as their strengths</i>.&quot;</p> <p>The line above is a classic small business maxim that I believe most of us would agree with. Self-aware people are well-positioned for success and when it comes to being self-aware I have noticed two distinct types of business owners: <i>entrepreneurs</i> and <i>managers</i>.</p> <p><strong>We All Start The Same</strong></p> <p>In the beginning, everyone is a hustler.</p> <p>You're a fire starter. You have to be. You can't <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/10-tips-from-bootstrapping-entrepreneurs-1" target="_blank">bootstrap</a> an idea into a profitable business without a little elbow grease.</p> <p>Things start to change, however, once you accomplish a small amount of success. When you cross that valley of the unknown and realize that you're actually going to stay in business...well, then it gets interesting because most people settle into one of two categories.</p> <p><strong>Entrepreneurs vs. Managers</strong></p> <p>Entrepreneurs are go-getters. After they build a business, they are ready to push the envelope once again.</p> <p>Day-to-day operations bore them to a certain degree. Sure, they are interested in continuing to grow their first company, but in their mind the daily grind of business is something to be delegated.</p> <p>Entrepreneurs start companies because they want to change things. They expose gaps in the market. They are always moving on to the next idea.</p> <p>Once entrepreneurs build one profitable business, they say, &quot;Watch me. I did this once and now I'm going to do it again.&quot;</p> <p><strong><br /> </strong>Managers believe in the business they built so much that they want to cultivate it on a daily basis. Once their first business is profitable, they view it as their personal responsibility to take it to the next level.</p> <p>Managers may delegate some things and they certainly might tell themselves that they delegate often, but truthfully major business decisions usually go through them before they are approved.</p> <p>Once managers build one profitable business, they say, &quot;We're profitable. Now watch me take this worldwide.&quot;</p> <p><strong>You Can Be Successful Either Way</strong></p> <p>Let's get one thing straight: both entrepreneurs and managers can be wildly successful with their businesses.</p> <p>It's not about one style being better than the other, it's about choosing the style that's best for you. I'll give you an example using two of the most successful business men of our time.</p> <p><strong>Richard Branson vs. Steve Jobs.</strong></p> <p>Branson is an entrepreneur. His Virgin brand now encompasses over 400 different businesses. 400! When he succeeds with one business idea, he is on to the next. In fact, the following quote from Branson is one of the reasons I wrote this article.</p> <p>&quot;<i>An entrepreneur is not a manager. An entrepreneur is someone who is great at conceiving ideas, starting ideas, building ideas ... and then handing them over to really good managers to run the business.&quot;</i> -Sir Richard Branson</p> <p>Steve Jobs was a manager. Last month, Apple had the largest market cap of any company in the S&amp;P 500. Jobs built a $300+ billion dollar business by operating in a manner very different from Branson.</p> <p>Jobs was famously a micromanager and a perfectionist. Employees have noted him calling out tiny details in design changes (all of which had to be approved by him), grammatical and spelling errors in company documents, and so on. He would even answer customer service complaints as the CEO from time to time.</p> <p><strong>Which Are You?</strong></p> <p>Branson and Jobs have both been incredibly successful at building their businesses, but they have done so in very different ways.</p> <p>For some of us, being a manager is the path to success. For others, being an entrepreneur is the best bet.</p> <p>If you're an entrepreneur, then keep building businesses. If you're a manager, then focus on a single subject matter and become brilliant. This is about finding your strength.</p> <p>Which type is best for your small business? More importantly, which one are you?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/james-clear">James Clear</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center entrepreneurship management style managers small business Mon, 10 Oct 2011 18:25:20 +0000 James Clear 732716 at http://www.wisebread.com Incentive plans always go awry http://www.wisebread.com/incentive-plans-always-go-awry <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/incentive-plans-always-go-awry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/carrot-incentive.jpg" alt="Carrot Incentive" title="Carrot Incentive" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="344" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ever worked someplace that had an incentive plan (as in, &quot;Hit these targets and you'll get a bonus&quot;)?&nbsp; Ever been a manager whose job it was to administer an incentive plan?&nbsp; Ever tried to create an incentive plan, hoping to get people to do more of what you want them to do?&nbsp; Here's a little tidbit for you:&nbsp; Incentive plans always go awry.</p> <p>I don't mean to say that incentive plans don't work.&nbsp; They just never do what you want them to do.&nbsp; Here's why:&nbsp; They replace intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation.</p> <h2>Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation</h2> <p>Ever seen a kid <a href="/how-to-become-an-expert">try to learn</a> how to do something he wants to be able to do?&nbsp; (For example, learn to beat a level on a video game or learn to jump a skateboard up onto a wall?)&nbsp; If so, you've seen intrinsic motivation.&nbsp; I've seen kids spend hours, doing the same thing over and over again, until they get it right.&nbsp; People offering bonuses have seen the same thing too.&nbsp; That kind of concentrated hard work is what they're trying to get, only they want it focused on <strong>their</strong> project.</p> <p>They're never going to succeed, because only intrinsic motivation does that.</p> <p>That's not to say that extrinsic motivation doesn't have an effect.&nbsp; Offer a bonus, and people will try to get the bonus.&nbsp; But observe:&nbsp; Their motivation is not to accomplish your goal--it's to &quot;get the bonus.&quot;</p> <h2>Incentive programs and metrics</h2> <p>Any kind of incentive program has a metric--the thing that you're measuring to decide whether someone gets the bonus.&nbsp; For salesmen, it might be a target number of sales.&nbsp; For the quality-control guy, it might be keeping the number of bad units below some level.&nbsp; For a corporate executive, it might be some level of return on investment.</p> <p>Whatever metric you pick, though, it will be something that can be gamed.&nbsp; A salesman can sell more units a dozen different ways: &nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>He can stop pushing a single right-sized unit and start getting customers to buy two or three smaller units.</li> <li>He can make aggressive use of financing to sell units to people who can't afford them.</li> <li>He can stop providing support for his old customers and spend all his time chasing up sales to new customers.</li> <li>He can make wink-and-nod deals to &quot;sell&quot; units with the understanding that they'll be returned next quarter.</li> <li>He can kick back a fraction of his bonus to purchasing agents who buy what he's selling.</li> </ul> <p>Now, the head office can thwart any of these moves.&nbsp; It can change the bonus metric from number of units to number of dollars in sales or number of dollars of profits.&nbsp; (Then the salesman puts all his effort into selling the most expensive or most profitable units.)&nbsp; It can delay credit for vendor-financed units until the bill gets paid.&nbsp; (Then the salesman stops using vendor financing even for customers where it makes sense.)&nbsp; It can mandate a certain amount of time spent supporting existing customers.&nbsp; (Measured how?&nbsp; Answer:&nbsp; According to some metric that the salesman can game just as easily.)&nbsp; In fact, it can spend all its time fiddling with the incentive plan, to the point where the head-office folks don't have time to do their own jobs--but nothing it can do will keep employees from gaming the metric, and nothing it can do will produce intrinsic motivation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The point is that, under an incentive plan, <strong>everything is worse</strong>.&nbsp; Everybody's focused on the metric, and nobody's focused on doing the work that needs to get done.</p> <p>Notice what the underlying assumption is:&nbsp; that the employees haven't already thought about what's best for the company and what's best for their customers.&nbsp; That their intrinsic motivation is something other than doing a good job.&nbsp; Some employers no doubt have plenty of disgruntled, unmotivated employees just there to pick up a paycheck for the least work they can get away with--but the answer to <strong>that</strong> problem is figuring out what's gone so terribly wrong with the business.</p> <h2>What to do instead</h2> <p>Whenever I point out that incentive plans make things worse, people always say, &quot;But what should we do instead?&quot;</p> <p>Of course, just asking the question shows that you haven't grasped the essential point:&nbsp; <strong>Incentive plans make things worse</strong>.&nbsp; It's like whacking yourself on the foot with a hammer.&nbsp; The first thing to do is to stop.&nbsp; Once you've done that, you can focus on aligning employee's intrinsic motivation with the firm's business needs.</p> <p>First, think for a minute about what people's intrinsic motivations are.&nbsp; My own experience is with software engineers.&nbsp; They're strongly motivated to:</p> <ul> <li>do new, cool stuff with the latest technology</li> <li>do work that's worth doing</li> <li>gain the respect of their peers</li> </ul> <p>Clever managers can use that to get employees to do what needs to get done.&nbsp; (For example, by making sure that every engineer gets to do some new, cool stuff, by not assigning pointless work and making sure that engineers understand why a task that might seem pointless is worth doing, and by making sure that everybody gets to see some of what their coworkers are doing.)</p> <p>Most managers, though, have a different focus.&nbsp; They're too busy &quot;managing&quot; to have time to explain why the pointless work is worth doing--to them, it's worth doing because senior managers assigned it--and the new, cool projects go to key employees, because they're high-visibility, must-succeed projects and putting a junior engineer on it would be too risky.</p> <p>With intrinsic motivations out of the picture, managers have to fill the gap with extrinsic motivations--praise, raises, promotions, and bonuses.</p> <p>It's important to note that there's nothing wrong with any of these things--managers should lavish their employees with all of them.&nbsp; What's wrong is <strong>using them as an incentive</strong>.&nbsp; As soon as you do that, you've got your employees trying to hit the metric, rather than doing what needs to be done.</p> <h2>Minimizing the harm</h2> <p>Even though the harmful effects of incentive plans have been known for a long time, and the harm has been throughly documented--See for example, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0618001816?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0618001816"><cite>Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes</cite></a> by Alfie Kohn--they haven't gone away.&nbsp; How then can we minimize the harm that they do?</p> <h3>For managers</h3> <p>First, remember that the harm is done by having an incentive tied to some metric.&nbsp; It does no harm to pay people for their work, nor does it do any harm to offer a bonus that isn't tied to an incentive plan.&nbsp; For example, a profit-sharing plan does no harm, and is often a good idea for everyone involved.&nbsp; (It means that the employer can lower payroll costs during bad times without having to lay people off or cut salaries.)</p> <p>Second, if you have to have a metric, make it something that employees have no control over--total profits, for example.&nbsp; This will be de-motivating, of course--employees will be frustrated at having a bonus plan that's essentially a lottery ticket--but not as bad as if all your employees are spending their time trying to hit the metric.</p> <p>Third, if you have a bonus tied to a metric, keep the bonus as small as possible.&nbsp; That way your employees can continue to follow their intrinsic motivations to do a good job without feeling like chumps for not gaming the bonus system.</p> <p>Fourth, don't set your employees up to be competing against one another.&nbsp; You want your employees to be collaborating.&nbsp; Putting them in competition for a bonus is exactly the wrong thing to do.</p> <p>Fifth, don't waste time trying to come up with a metric that your employees can't game.&nbsp; It's impossible.&nbsp; Unless their job is absolutely trivial, it will always be easier to maximize the metric than to do a good job.&nbsp; Any effort you put into creating a perfect metric is wasted effort.</p> <p>To the greatest extent possible, though, avoid incentive plans.&nbsp; If your business has any kind of reasonable structure, your employee's intrinsic incentives are already aligned with the business's interests.&nbsp; (If they aren't--if your employee's natural inclinations to do work that's worth doing and to do it well doesn't lead them to do what you need done--then <strong>that</strong> might be a good place to focus your managerial efforts.)</p> <h3>For employees</h3> <p>I don't actually have much useful advice for employees suffering under an incentive program, except to try to find employers where the incentive programs are small and the target metrics are out of employee's control.</p> <p>Really, your natural inclinations are going to be the right ones.&nbsp; If the bonus is small enough to be ignored, just ignore it and do your job.&nbsp; If the bonus is so large that you can't ignore it, put in whatever effort it takes to get the bonus, and then spend the rest of your time doing whatever you should have been doing.&nbsp; But you knew that already.</p> <p>Everybody should read Alfie Kohn's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0618001816?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0618001816"><cite>Punished By Rewards</cite></a>. It will change the way you think about incentive plans--and change it for the better.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/incentive-plans-always-go-awry" class="sharethis-link" title="Incentive plans always go awry " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income bonus hr human resources incentive plan incentive plans incentive program incentive programs incentives management managers managing Thu, 27 Mar 2008 18:04:00 +0000 Philip Brewer 1952 at http://www.wisebread.com