Retail Observer

April 2016

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

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM APRIL 2016 44 Libby Wagner Culture Coach 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 RO O ver thirty years ago, Ken Blanchard made famous his "managing by walking around" philosophy in the book The One-Minute Manager. It's still a good philosophy, to be out and about amongst the employees, close to the work and even the customer experience. In recent years, the Emmy Award-winning reality show Undercover Boss created opportunities for corporate bosses, far from the front lines of their businesses, to see what it was like to work in the lowest levels of jobs in their organizations. I actually think that, regardless of the size of your organization, and even if you are only occasionally out and about, that your walk- abouts should include the art and practice of noticing. Noticing (aka paying attention) is what poets do because we turn up our awareness to try to make some sense of our world, our relationships, or the human experience. And, since we are taking care and taking time, we are often the ones who can find just the right words at the right time to say the unsayable. The art and practice of noticing at work is troublesome, however, because it's counterintuitive to the ordinary pace of contemporary organizational life. We run from meeting to meeting, conference calls, and double-booked calendars. We eat at our desks (if at all) and now we have stand up desks or treadmill desks so we can pretend to be doing all sorts of things while we are answering our emails. We rush and cram and worry, none of which helps at all with noticing. If it's seemingly impossible, why even talk about it? There are costs and benefits related to noticing, all of which have a direct impact to your organization's success, your employee's engagement, your client's loyalty and your personal satisfaction and joy. Noticing has big payoffs and dire consequences if neglected. Most leaders cannot just make a decision one day to be better at this—our busy habits are well engrained. I recommend doing some "research" to see how you might increase your practice. Just like most of us could not just go out tomorrow and run a marathon without some kind of training or practice, improving your noticing quotient needs that sort of attention and commitment, too. Some ideas for practice: 1. In your to-work transition: Do you have a commute? A car or train ride? A walk or bike route to work? If so, how can you practice noticing on this important transition to your work day? Many of us listen to the radio, music or even schedule calls during this time. Do an experiment and pick at least 2 days a week where you have nothing other than the actual movement from place to place. No radio, podcasts or calls. Maybe even no conversation. What do you notice, both internally and externally? How are you feeling? What's your mood or sense of anticipation for the day? What do you sense (see, hear, etc.) on the actual journey? 2. Select one person/meeting/interaction per day and become utterly present to it. Do not multitask, but focus entirely on what's at hand, or the person in front of you, or on the phone. Decide to listen carefully and perhaps demonstrate empathy. What do you notice? Are you anxious? Excited? Annoyed? Is there an opportunity for a Beautiful (provocative and expansive) Question or opening? Is there a space for creativity or innovation from an idea or concept that you notice? 3. Examine your calendar, diary or schedule to see if you have any spaciousness, or whether you are booked solid, back-to-back every day this week? Do you have time allotted for lunch or an afternoon stretch walk? Is there a place you can block out 30 minutes you call sacred in order to take time to notice what has happened before this time and what's to come following? Noticing, ultimately, is about presence and being in the moment. It's hard to do this when there are no transitions built in. 4. Create a from-work transition. There's been quite a bit of research in the past few years on the impact of gratitude on not only the quality of work, but the happiness quotient. (see Martin Seligman's work Reflect on the day. What did you notice? For what are you grateful? Where are you glad for a "do-over" for tomorrow? WALK ABOUT: MORE ON THE ART OF NOTICING

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