Creating WOW experiences is what motivational speaker Sandy Geroux is committed to helping you deliver in the workplace. Recently, I asked Sandy to share her insights about WOW experiences, and this is what she had to say.
“There are many ways to create WOW experiences. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not simply about creating flashy products and services that produce fleeting impact, then are gone. True WOWs are found in small, everyday acts that create lasting impact on everyone around us. And we all know that it’s what we do every day to be the absolute best we can be—and get the absolute best out of our people—that makes the big WOWS possible.
As leaders in the workplace, administrative professionals are usually right in the hot seat and have an incredible opportunity to influence and impact everyone in the organization.
The tactical/logistical side of the position comes into play when we seamlessly make travel arrangements for others, organize and arrange important events, create presentations and put all the other moving parts together…often all at the same time!
But the cultural/emotional side of the job is just as important…and often much more difficult to manage. Administrative professionals are often the face and voice of the leader’s office. They’re responsible for keeping leaders on track and the rest of the organization informed. They know how to keep confidences, act as a go-between, and are often relied on to boost morale. Performing these tasks gracefully and competently requires a high level of emotional intelligence, proactive thinking, strong nurturing skills and an extremely positive attitude.
Both the logistical and cultural job duties can made more manageable by keeping in mind the following 5 simple rules I call The WOWplace Rules:
- A WOWplace is safe. This refers to the emotional safety of being able to take reasonable and appropriate risks in order to create WOW experiences. Everyone must feel safe to try new things, suggest great ideas, or speak their mind when necessary; otherwise, no one benefits. To test the culture of your organization, ask yourself the following questions: What is our organization’s attitude toward risk? How are risk-takers rewarded (or punished)? What happens when they succeed? When they fail? Are our people trying to succeed…or are they simply trying NOT to fail? There’s a big difference in these two mindsets. One focuses on success (“I can’t afford NOT to try that!”), while the other focuses on fear and failure (“I can’t afford to take that risk.”) Determine what suggestions to make, or actions you can take, to help encourage people to share their knowledge and ideas.
- A WOWplace is respectful. Effective leaders don’t demand respect…they command it. The best way to command (earn) respect is to follow the principle I call “GO FIRST.” There are two movies, The Freedom Writers and The Ron Clark Story that depict the principle of going first. These are the stories of two teachers who went into inner-city schools to help reduce dropout rates and give the students a chance for a successful and productive future. Despite active disrespect from their students (who wanted nothing to do with them), they demonstrated extraordinary courage and dedication by keeping their eye on the goal, showing respect to the students first anyway, and earning the students’ respect in the process. If we can keep our eye on the ultimate goal and behave with respect at all times, we will command respect from everyone around us, which will help us accomplish those goals.
- A WOWplace is Human…not Humanoid. Leadership is all about relationships. Leaders must be human and relatable in order to avoid the “Us vs. Them” attitude that is so common in organizations where most of the people can’t relate to their leaders. There are many reasons why this is so, but one big reason is that they don’t really know the leaders – and the leaders don’t know them. All leaders should share at least some personal information about themselves, show their personalities, and get out among the people once in a while. Be sure to also learn something about others and ask them about it once in a while. Ask yourself what you know about your people, and if you don’t even know the names of their significant others or anything they do when they’re not at work, start getting to know them better and build stronger relationships.
- A WOWplace is Innovative, Creative and Fun. “People rarely succeed in what they’re doing unless they’re having fun” (Dale Carnegie). This quote aptly sums up Rule #4. Creativity, laughter and fun are all enablers of productivity. One of the best ways to have “fun” in the workplace is to be able to use our sense of humor and laugh at the dumb things we sometimes do. We all do them – because we’re all human!I heard a story of a speaker who tripped on the stage steps and went sprawling across the stage floor. A collective “Ooh!” went up from the audience. What should he do? He had two choices: he could get nervous (and make the audience nervous, too), or he could do what he did, which was to stay on the floor, bring the microphone to his lips and say, “I’ll now entertain questions from the floor!” Having fun doesn’t mean goofing off…it just means that we take our work seriously while still being able to take ourselves lightly.
- A WOWplace is Rewarding. Most of us do things to the best of our ability because it’s who we are, not simply for rewards and accolades. That said, it sure is nice to hear it once in a while. If you see someone do something nice, or extremely well, say something to them right away. Too often, we see a nice thing and have every intention of saying something to the person about it. But we’re in a hurry and vow to return later and do it… then “later” never comes. Don’t put off until later what you can say or do to encourage and praise someone now. You never know when it may be the only piece of praise they get that day (or that year!), and it makes a big difference in their morale.
Following these rules is not always easy. However, if we develop a habit of following them, they will become part of our personal mission and culture. And if we demonstrate them often enough, encouraging others to join us, we never know when it might rub off on so many other people that we change the entire culture of our organization, and turn our ordinary workplace into a WOWplace in the process! ”
National speaker and author Sandy Geroux is a former administrative professional who presents motivational programs on achieving breakthrough performance. Get free tips, as well as information on her programs, by visiting her website (www.thewowplace.com), blog (www.wowplace.com), book website (www.wowplacebook.com), or by e-mailing her at email@example.com.