Retail Observer

February 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 35 of 83

RETAILOBSERVER.COM FEBRUARY 2014 36 O ne of my favorite discoveries in the past ten years was the book Soar with Your Strengths by Donald Clifton. Clifton, who was dubbed "The Grandfather of Positive Psychology," suggests that if people are focusing on their areas of strength, not only will they be happier, but also they'll be more productive. • Identify Talents And Support Excellent Performance—This seems like good thinking to me—focus on the strengths and manage the weaknesses. In fact, this does not even seem complicated, so why, instead, do many of us focus on our areas of weakness, our deficits and our lesser qualities? Equally as puzzling, why do we do this to each other? In organizations, we focus on trying to fix people rather than identifying what their talents really are and supporting excellent performance. Often, the atmosphere becomes negative and critical and we forget to notice what's going well or how to enhance an environment that focuses on strengths. This isn't just about being nice, either, as negativity and negative work environments cost the U.S. economy an estimated $ 300 billion per year! In contrast, organizations that create a positive environment have a lucrative advantage over those where intra-office negativity can scare customers, clients, and good employees away. • It's Not Just About Being Positive—I'd also note that this isn't just about annoyingly positive people who exhaust you with their cheerfulness. It's about sincerity and genuineness. For example, I love my health club. I like going there, I like that they remember my name when I walk in, even though I'm one of 12,000 members. I like that all the staff members—from the pool guy, to the trainers and the barista—are friendly. I like that when I've just about had it on the treadmill, someone comes up and offers me a cup of water or a towel. It makes me happy to go to this place, so I don't mind that I'm paying a little more than I would at a competing health club. And yes, they have innovative programs and lots of classes and an outdoor pool. Even if this is a carefully planned marketing strategy, I don't care. But if they weren't nice to me, I'd pack my gym bag and never look back. • Core Dimensions—It's not rocket science to figure out that when people are happy at work, they tend to do better. In fact, there is a direct correlation between employee performance and something I'll call environmental delivery of the Core Dimensions—respect, empathy, specificity and genuineness. The way to get at this, to have a profound impact on performance, on the utility of systems and productivity, is to make sure that the people, the individuals, are able to do meaningful work while using their talents. • Be Nice Or Leave—In my last office, located atop a tall, ugly building with a sweeping view, I hung a little sign I picked up at a gift shop— "Be Nice or Leave." I laughed initially at the directness, the assertive nature of an expectation I might hold for those who came to see me. But I also knew that I wouldn't ask for something that I wouldn't be able to give myself—and that's my practice—if every human interaction is for better or for worse, I want mine to be good, and that includes the difficult interactions. In 2003, I lost my sister Karen, 36, to breast cancer. There's no way to articulate how this has impacted my life, but it's enough to say that a loss such as that creates a sort of illumination in one's life. I hoped that if I were willing to listen, to watch, to be brave in the face of this monumental change, I might emerge to find myself more purposeful, less neurotic, more solid. We imagine, often, that we have all the time in the world to communicate what we need, or to ask for what we want, but in fact, this is not the case. What are we waiting for? Let's move forward toward those more fulfilling futures! RO Libby Wagner Culture Coach FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS, MANAGE YOUR WEAKNESSES Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures.

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