Your Happiness is Your Responsibility

Your Happiness is Your Responsibility

Contrary to popular belief, it’s the way you think, not where you work, that determines whether you’re happy or miserable. I just read an article in The Atlantic about “workplace happiness” that made me laugh and cry at the same time. I laughed because it was so stupid and cried because millions of people will take it seriously. The article cited the familiar, dismal statistics showing that most workers are unhappy and that unhappy workers are less productive. And like most such articles, it treated the problem as something companies and their managers can and must solve. That’s total bullsh*t. Your happiness is your own responsibility, not the responsibility of your managers, coworkers, customers, or anybody or anything else in your work life. Yes, it’s easier to be happy in a congenial environment among people you like. Your emotions, however, are the result of the mental decisions you make and the mental habits you’ve developed. I’ve known dozens of people who complain through each workday “I’m stressed, I’m SO stressed” without considering that it’s this mantra of misery that’s actually making feel so stressed. I’ve also known people who cope every day with painful physical handicaps or insanely difficult jobs but who are so habitually sunny that people want to hang around them just to take in the sunshine. There are people in this world who have dream jobs but manage to make themselves so miserable that they commit suicide. And there are freelance garbage collectors who manage to stay upbeat. I’m not saying that there aren’t some places and situations where it’s harder to stay positive. If you’re working someplace like that, you owe it to yourself to find a job that’s a better fit for what you want and need. Go for it. And I’m also not saying that bosses shouldn’t strive to create a better work environment. Good pay, reasonable hours, nice digs and so forth give people something positive to focus on. But there’s only so much managers can do. Look, complainers are miserable wherever they work because they’ve got mental habits that make them miserable. Send a complainer to Heaven and he’ll start b*tching about how the clouds aren’t soft enough. Do you want to be happy at work? Well, you won’t EVER be happy if you habitually moan about everyone else’s limitations, bewail circumstances outside your control, and constantly tell yourself that you’re “stressed to the max.” So, seriously, DO you want to be happy at work? Then read this, this and this. Take charge of your emotions. Create your own experience. Take responsibility for your own happiness. Once you do, you’ll never regret it.

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Your Call Is Important to Us

Your Call Is Important to Us

In 2012, according to Australia’sSydney Morning Herald, an Adelaide man was kept on hold with the airline Qantas for 15 hours. As a recorded message affirmed, over and over, that a customer service agent would be with him “soon,” he simply stayed on—working, reading, waiting. As he told the newspaper, “I wanted to find out what exactly they meant when they said they would be with me as soon as possible.”

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7 ways to be a smarter manager

Happiness is key

Management of Complexity

Management of Complexity (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

Managing staff is hard and, with the rise in flexible work patterns, some say it’s getting harder. Entrepreneurs and business thinkers offer their best advice Entrepreneurs aren’t always the best managers. Ask any what their best skills are and they’ll often refer to their technical know-how, sales ability or industry knowledge. Few will claim to be a great manager or really good at HR. And, as new technologies emerge and remote working and flexible practices become the norm, some business owners feel increasingly at sea. However, entrepreneurs should see such changes as opportunities to improve their productivity and working culture. For that to occur, a new way of thinking needs to be embraced. Here, innovative business owners and management thinkers offer their advice.

1. Reward results

Smart working focuses on results and productivity, as opposed to the hours clocked up. Managers need to stop looking at what time their employee is leaving the office and focus instead on what they are achieving. “Why should someone work hard if they are getting paid by the hour?” asks Peter Thomson, a fellow of Henley Business School. He says business owners need to focus on results and success rather than face time. “Paying for hours is dumb working as it encourages low productivity,” he adds.

2. Be flexible

One of the big benefits of flexible hours is that it means staff can avoid the busy, stressful commute. Thomson argues that this can benefit employers, too. “We’ve tended to look at home working and flexible working as an employee benefit, but what it should be about is having more productive employees. If it takes someone an hour to get to work and an hour back, that’s 10 hours a week of unproductive time, and they will be more stressed by the journey,” he says.

3. Create trust

Good employees don’t want someone breathing down their neck, watching their every move. Yet many bosses still practise this type of management. Instead, companies need to create a culture in which people instinctively understand how they should behave. Staff must understand what’s expected as well as understanding the norms and values of the business. Sinead Hasson, owner of recruitment consultancy Hasson Associates, says regular internal communication and a shared ethos is key. “As working structures become more fluid, taking steps to invest in a strong corporate culture will ensure that staff remain ‘within’ the company, satisfied with their role and fully engaged in their work,” she says. “Using popular tools such as Google+ hangouts can bring remote workers together and create an inclusive environment.”

4. Become a strategist

Business owners need to hire people they can trust to get on with their work. This is crucial as the business grows and close management becomes unfeasible. Ed Molyneux, of online accountancy provider FreeAgent, says his role has changed considerably since he co-founded the company, and he is now able to focus on big-picture issues. “We’ve grown the company from three to 50 staff in the past five years. It’s been very much a case of learning on the job and hiring the right team so that it’s not necessary to manage them closely,” he says. “I try to set a clear strategic direction and then be collaborative about the details. My role has evolved to progressively make more time for big-picture issues such as strategy and culture.”

5. Keep talking

Companies can evolve rapidly as innovative technologies come online and new markets emerge. This can be unsettling for staff, who will wonder how changes may affect them. Arnab Dutt, managing director of Texane, a manufacturing company that makes wheels for tube trains, says regular conversations are key to keeping the confidence of employees. “It’s all about keeping lines of communication open, and often that means relaxing a bit. Some of the best-run companies I’ve seen are run on a more informal and fluid structure than is conventional,” he says. “We’re currently investing in new machinery, so I’ve been making sure everyone knows what’s happening. Otherwise, the arrival of this new equipment could make them wonder if their job is about to be automated and they’re going to be replaced. I’m explaining how we’ll be working differently but better, and that they’re going to have all this fantastic new kit to work with.”

6. Offer lots of praise

Everyone likes to be told they are doing well, but too many managers focus on the things that have gone badly when trying to improve their employees’ work. Unfortunately, too many negative comments can de-motivate people, whereas praise has the opposite effect. The business thinker and writer Stephen R Covey, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes that employers should treat staff “as they want them to treat their best customers”. He adds that praise should occur immediately after good work is done and should be given to the employee personally. It must be specific, sincere, proactive and, most of all, “thoroughly positive”.

7. Happiness is key

Creating a happy place to work is one of the key ingredients of being a great manager. It seems obvious, but if staff like where they work then they’ll want to come in and are more likely to stay. Dominic Monkhouse, managing director of online hosting company Peer 1 Hosting, takes this message to heart with an office that includes playful features such as slides, swings, a putting green and even a tree house. “Happiness is absolutely fundamental. I can’t envisage getting great customer service from people who don’t enjoy what they are doing,” he says. “If you’re happy, you take a sense of pride, rather than it just being a job. You’ve got to make sure that people never feel they are just a cog in the wheel or that their contribution isn’t valued, so people continue to be engaged and positive. A happy team will achieve the best results for the business.”

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Top 16 Cloud Computing Terms – you should know

Cloud Computing

Bare metal IaaS WTF? CDN what does it do? Cloudwash, will it clean my socks? I read this article by Paul Anderson and wanted to repost as it does a great job of covering the new vocabulary of cloud.

In the wake of big data, many of us have started to treat cloud like old news. Yet when it comes to the latest cloud lingo, we are not properly acquainted with them. So here we have got for you – a concise list of a few trending cloud computing phrases buzzing (at present) in the cloud community.

1. CDN (Cloud Content Distribution Delivery Network)

It is a worldwide collection of servers that speeds up delivery by copying content for end users. It is mainly used to send resources to millions of clients in milliseconds.

2. Cloud broker

It’s a fuzzy term given to those who act as an agent between a client and a cloud service provider. These professionals connect customers to suppliers and financial commodity traders, trading in cloud services.

3. Bare Metal IaaS

It refers to physical machine rental, which holds a few cloud attributes such as quick scale-out, self-service and pay-as-you-go pricing model.

4. Cloud encryption key

It is a huge random number (kept with the owner) which acts as a password in a cryptography system that protects objects in cloud storage.

5. Distributed computing

It’s a technical design and development area which tackles many problems such as – application-level client sessions, sharing hardware-level storage, coping with component failure and duplicating applications across a cluster.

6. Cloudwashing

It defines the deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product/service by associating the buzzword “cloud” with it. It is similar to greenwashing for environmental marketing and whitewashing for all other marketing.

7. Cluster

It’s a huge group of machines working together to deliver customer service. Depending on the client demands, cloud clusters grow and shrink. During high demand, cloud service providers add more machines to provide APIs for scaling out the cluster.

8. Customer self-service

The customer has the liberty to create an account, add, manage and delete services, as well as cancel on-demand.

9. Database as a Service (DBaaS)

DBaaS customers experience the facility of controlling their data. They can scale on demand, and do not have to administer any database application.

10. Vertical cloud

It refers to the cloud services customized to a particular industry segment.

Note: Current cloud services are horizontal i.e. generalized resources that can be used by all organizations.

11. Elastic computing

It’s the ability of the system to adapt to workload changes by provisioning and deprovisioning resources. Example – doubling the size of a customer service in the day and halving it at night. It is radically different from the proposed computing paradigms, such as grid computing.

12. Scale out

It defines the process of adding more machines to a cluster. Most often machines may be added in data centers in closest proximity to where the demand is. Scaled out applications are able to run on a distributed computing platform.

13. SDN (Software Defined Networking)

It refers to the maintenance of network machines where Networks are added, changed and removed on-demand. More layers of complexity are required to make SDN work.

14. Cloud service migration

It refers to the process of moving a business application between different cloud providers. Cloud portability is essential for smooth cloud service migration.

Sometimes it also refers to the process of moving a business application from an organization’s computer room to cloud services.

15. Utility computing

It refers to the rental of computing power. The term was initially coined and used when mainframe computing power was rented out to customers (under the consumption-based pricing model).

16. VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)

It is the alternative to a private cloud. Here the cloud provider supplies a secure network to a customer to place public cloud resources.

by paulanderson Customerthink

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14 Customer Service Questions to Ask for 2014

14 Customer Service Questions to Ask for 2014

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard

I love a good list of customer service ideas, and since it’s the New Year, I thought it would be appropriate to share a list.  These customer service questions are for you to ask yourself and others in your company.  These are conversation starters you can use to have discussions about delivering amazing customer service.

  1. What three things do you do best that differentiates you from your competition? Really look at how you are different.  What is it that your competitors can’t say about themselves that you can say about yourself?
  2. You can’t be the best at everything, so what is it you are not good at doing?  Don’t try to change what you are not good at.  Focus on what you are good at and improve upon where you excel.
  3. What does your competition do that you can learn from?  By the way, don’t copy the competition.  Learn from them and improve on what you learn.
  4. What do you do to make people want to be around you at work?  The focus of this question is on your internal customers.  Do they enjoy working around you?  If so, why?
  5. What, if anything, do you do to come up with creative and innovative ideas?  Does your company have some type of employee suggestion program?
  6. How does your company train employees in customer service and relationship building skills?  Many times companies spend a lot of money and time on training technical skills.  The best companies also train soft skills, like customer service.
  7. What policies or processes stand in the way of delivering amazing customer service, and can they be removed?  In other words, how easy is it to do business with you?
  8. What does your company do to actively seek out complaints and problems?  A complaint is an opportunity to show how good you are.  Seek them out.
  9. How do you or your company debrief negative experiences, turning them into teaching opportunities?  Use a negative experience or bad review as a learning opportunity to get better.
  10. How do you celebrate success with your employees?  When you have success, let everyone know they are appreciated.
  11. Have you mapped out the typical customer experience and examined the impact from all touch-points at the front line?  The customer journey map is a powerful tool for spotting opportunities to improve existing customer service.
  12. Have you identified how everyone behind-the-scenes impacts the front-line customer experience?  Everyone has a customer – and sometimes it’s an internal customer.  Jan Carlzon, former chairman of Scandinavian Airlines says that if you aren’t actually supporting the customer, you are probably dealing with someone who is.
  13. What do you “give back” to your community?  Community can be defined as local, global, causes you are involved in, etc.
  14. Does everyone understand that customer service is not a department, but a philosophy?  It’s also an attitude!

What questions would you add to this list?  Let me know.

Shep Hyken

Image representing Shep Hyken as depicted in C...

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

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Southampton Echo visit Peer 1 Hosting in Southampton

Could this be Britain’s best boss?

Daily Echo: Dominic MonkhouseDominic Monkhouse

THERE is a giant helter slide, a tree house, a mini golf course, giant swings, a pool table, foosball and even a large yoga area. While it might sound like a leisure complex, this is an office in Southampton, perhaps unsurprisingly designed by its employees. In fact, when their boss was away they were asked whether they wanted windbreaks or a pub. That was a no-brainer for the young IT specialists who keep the bar stocked with spirits and beers.

Daily Echo:

Outside there’s a huge terrace with a barbecue overlooking Town Quay marina for staff to enjoy the sea views. And if the staff are feeling thirsty or peckish, there’s a top-of-the-range coffee machine and even a fully stocked freezer with ice cream. It’s no surprise that employees of Peer 1 Hosting are so happy, they even arrange to meet there at the weekends. But for managing director, Dominic Monkhouse, who regularly uses the pitch and putt while making conference calls, the happiness of his staff is a priority for a successful business.

Daily Echo:

He laughs: “It was a catastrophe earlier in the summer. Someone left the freezer door open overnight and all the ice cream melted. “I got a text from Becky saying ‘we’ve got a critical issue with the ice cream, can I have your credit card?’ “One of the rules is if it makes this a better place to work for everybody, not just you and it costs less than £100, then just do it and put it on expenses! There are no questions asked so people just do stuff.” Dominic said people can do whatever they like and use the facilities at any time. He believes the empowerment makes them more committed to work. “I’d rather be let down than to not trust. When people tell me they are going to do a good job, I believe them,” he says. He’s interrupted by a bark and two white terriers scurry around an employee’s desk near their large pet bed. But pets at work are welcome. Dominic brings his Labrador, Monty, to work who regularly roams the 17,000sq ft office.

Daily Echo:

While many people may wonder if any work gets done at the firm, Dominic believes empowering staff and creating a happy environment is the secret to success – and actually boosts productivity. “Happiness is absolutely fundamental. I can’t envisage getting great customer service from people who don’t enjoy doing what they are doing. If you are happy, you take a sense of pride rather than it just being a job.”

Daily Echo:

Dominic, billed as the happy entrepreneur, regularly speaks at business events to share how his philosophy has improved the results of a number of organisations.

“There are some companies more extreme than us. There’s W.L Gore for example, they don’t have job descriptions and everybody knows everybody else’s salary. The team decide how you allocate pay rises.

“At Netflix you don’t have to book holiday – it’s effectively unlimited holiday. Of course nobody takes unlimited holiday because once there are no constraints people are more careful.

“I find it really odd when I go around organisations and it’s like ‘sshhh’ I think ‘why’s it so quiet in here?’‘Why does no one seem to be enjoying themselves?’Some of these organisations are like ‘please Miss can I go to the toilet’, it’s strange.”

Among his pet hates are things not working in an office, directors’parking and separate offices for management. But his biggest hate is undoubtedly miserable people. “I can’t bear it,” he says. “Of course there are times when stuff bothers people more than it does on another day. You fall out with the wife, trip over the dog, something happens at work, you haven’t got as much money as you thought you were going to have, your mum’s not well, your dad’s been diagnosed with something nasty, you’ve fallen out with your best friend.”

However for Dominic he feels it is his duty to lift people’s spirits.

“Sometimes people get caught in it and you’ve just got to help them out. Having a game of golf, having a nice swing, going down the slide, having someone go past and say ‘do you fancy an ice cream?’, they are experiences that fill your bucket throughout the day and they do make a difference. But there are more simple ways to lift people’s spirits. You can say thank you, you can write them a note, you can have a conversation with them, you can send them out to dinner with their wife, but sometimes it is just a conversation. That goes a long way.

“You’ve got to make sure that people never feel they are just a cog in the wheel or their contribution isn’t valued so people continue to be engaged and positive.

“A happy team will achieve the best results for the business.”

Post of an article in the Southampton Echo

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Sometimes things go wrong


I hate it when we get it wrong. It’s fair to say I spend most of my professional energy, and a large chunk of my personal energy ensuring we avoid getting things wrong as well as focussing on getting things so right that we delight our customers.

Of course this involves getting the right technology and also the right team who are motivated and inspired enough to be looking for ways to exceed expectations. In the web hosting business this means catering for the start-up business dependant on the Internet, as well as for the multinational enterprise migrating mission critical data onto our cloud.

On the whole, and for the vast majority of our customers, we do exceed their expectations. And that makes my day. I hear from customers all the time who are delighted with us. When systems go down we have had teams spend the night in the office to help the customer fix the problem, even when the problem wasn’t created by us. Basically we care. We really care.

But, sometimes we get it wrong. This can be for many reasons but ultimately I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that things don’t go wrong, but when they do I take it both seriously and personally.

We recently got it wrong for a customer who decided to go with one of our competitors. You know the one – they are big and fanatical. I used to work for them. A bit of healthy rivalry between us is inevitable and a good thing. However, I was saddened to discover that the aforementioned competitor had taken an email from the customer in question, in which they vent their frustrations with PEER 1 (we admit we messed up on this occasion), and had turned that email into a sales tool.

This is depressing because it doesn’t fairly or accurately represent us, or the great work that we do every day. If this specific incident was typical, or even occasionally true, we would not be in business and rattling the competition in the manner we do.

It also is exciting for me because it shows how much impact PEER 1 Hosting is making. I know most of the guys and gals that work for the competition. I hired lots of them. Most of them are great. They have the capacity to be brilliant. The reason that I would have hired them or anyone who now works for PEER 1 Hosting is because they have the vision, passion and care factor to allow customers to focus on the possibilities of the Internet, not the problems.

So, if our competitors come to you with a letter from a disgruntled customer, we will freely admit we got it wrong in this instance. We have similar horror stories from other customers who have come from other competitors. In truth, everyone in this game does. We won’t show you them. If a customer or prospect would rather only focus on the negative and only take in part of the picture, they probably aren’t for us either.

My final thoughts; if any employee working for one of our competitors wants to join a company that will never ask you to sling mud about the competition, please get in touch. We have much cleaner ways for you to get your hands dirty!


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