The Culture Club

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It’s tough to define culture in business. If I had to boil it down to one thing I would say: Culture is established by the attitude and behaviour of the leadership of a business.

You could say; change the leadership and you change the culture. I believe this is true, but unless you have a set direction guided by a strong leader, you could be swopping out one bad egg for another.

Company culture isn’t just one thing. Yes, it’s guided by the leader of the organization but it is so much more. It is the character of your company. It’s the collective personality that the customer sees. It’s the vibe. It represents the environment in which you work. It’s the backdrop of your business. Company culture can be created using a variety of elements such as a company mission, values, ethics, expectations, and goals. These are nothing if you don’t have the right people, space and atmosphere. It’s the empowerment of you and your colleagues to do what needs to be done. It’s your buy-in and fit to the company spirit. It’s your daily interactions and sincere passion about what you do.

Amazing culture promotes collaborations and rewards successful initiatives. Amazing culture listens and respects different opinions. Strong cultures celebrate their history and have a strong relationship with their customers. In a letter to his entire team in October 2013, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky defined culture as; ‘Simply a shared way of doing something with passion’. Author of Organisational Culture and Leadership, Edgar Schein, states 3 ways to understand culture:

Firstly, Artefacts; the visible things like what people wear to work or every desk is a tidy desk; Secondly, Beliefs and values; which are more invisible, like respecting opinions and decisions; and thirdly, Basic underlying assumptions; which are usually oblivious, like a belief that you should hire people like yourself or a principle that no product or service should be given without review.

 

TBMGTAS CultureClubWhile the day to day running of the business will bring you all sort of issues and problems such as financial strains and product pressure points, they will all pass. What will always be evident is the culture. And a strong culture will solve any problem and unravel any issue with more ease and faster than an uncultivated culture. ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, is a famous phrase coined by management guru Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford. I believe both are important and that there is a direct relationship between a healthy culture and a company’s strategy which, in turn, affects profits. That said, culture is a tough thing to balance. It’s a moving target that has different values for different people. It’s something that grows and evolves over years.

To understand your culture, you need to evaluate your current organisational culture. This can be done by electing a Company Culture Officer (CCO) whose task it is to oversee and implement a culture strategy. They need to look at the people. Interview the employees. Look at the space. Are the offices well located and divided? Look at the tools, phones, computers, wall displays and TV screens. Look at the canteens, washrooms, parking and common areas. How do people use these spaces? Are they welcoming? Look at communication. How do you communicate with your colleagues? Is there a positive atmosphere in the business? What interactions do employees have inside and outside the business? Then look at the company from the top down. Does the management team or the CEO embrace transparency? Are employees appreciated and rewarded for valuable contributions to the company? Is there a social club or a team events manager to nurture strong relationships between colleagues? Is there empowerment on the front line and is this supported? Is there flexibility? Does the company communicate the values, goals and purpose? Are they understood and delivered with passion? It’s important to display and communicate core values to all members of the team. When a new employee starts at The City Bin Co. they attend an induction workshop with the CEO of the company to introduce them to the company’s history, values, customer expectations, mission and purpose. This is the beginning of creating a high-level trust between the leadership and all members of the team. It demonstrates open communication.

As a main driver in The City Bin Co., culture-learning ranks high with opportunities for career development, mentoring and training provided through programmes such as ‘Earn as you learn’ and ‘Garbage University’. There is no ‘one fits all’ solution for creating culture but there are a few basics that can be achieved from the get-go, one step at a time:

• Create an environment of trust
• Respect all employees and customers
• Communicate your core values and principals to all
• Empower employees by allowing them to make decisions
• Embrace failure. Make an acceptance for mistakes and risk-taking
• Encourage creativity, innovation and the development of ideas
• Collect feedback and suggestions
• Create a learning environment where the team can grow 
together
• Measure success by the mood of the camp and not just the sales, KPIs or a P&L sheet

Taken from The ‘Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ by Oisin Browne, which can be ordered on Amazon Kindle today. It is stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway, Hana’s Bookshop in Dublin, and O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick.

Stretch Like A Cat

With more people working from home, they are missing out on the morning commute where there is an opportunity to get the muscles moving before starting the day’s grind.

PreOrderRHSSitting in a chair with your head tilted in the same position for long periods of time can add a large amount of pressure and strain to the back muscles and spinal discs. People with customer centre jobs or desk jobs generally don’t move around much. The tendency is to slouch over time. I used to suffer from back and neck pain when I was working in the call centre many years ago. The cure was simple. Stretch like a cat.

It’s important to move the muscles and stretch. Before and after work and at the break times, I would take a few minutes to stretch. Every time I got up, I stretched my arms, legs and back. Add stretching to your daily routine and be consistent. Each session should be two minutes every hour or so. If you are not sure about stretching, invite a personal trainer to demonstrate to all the team.

My brother Ronan was a personal trainer while I worked in the customer centre and here is the stretching routine he did out for me:

  • Stand up. Slowly reach to the sky and stand on the tips of your toes for three seconds. Repeat three times.
  • Stretch your neck. Move slowly in circular movements 
five times in each direction.
  • Drop your head down and tuck in your chin. Slowly 
turn your chin toward your left shoulder, and then 
slowly turn toward your right shoulder.
  • Stretch your shoulders up to the sky. Hold the position 
for three seconds and release.
  • Stretch your feet and arms. Reach for the sky while 
standing on your tippy toes and hold for two seconds 
and release.
  • Stretch your hands. Simply open and close your fist 
holding all fingers stretched out in the opened position.

This routine was designed for me and we are all very different. Find what works for you. If you have an existing condition or have had surgery then some stretches may not be appropriate. Always consult a personal trainer or professional doctor first. If doing a stretching routine like this isn’t your cup of tea simply get up and take a quick three-minute walk.

Your body will thank you.

Taken from The ‘Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ by Oisin Browne, which can be pre-ordered on Amazon Kindle today and will be available along with the paperback on the 27th of November on Amazon. It will be stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway, Hana’s Bookshop in Dublin, and O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick.

Start your day with a power hour

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The total opposite of getting nothing done, having too many interruptions in your work, or procrastination, is productivity.

To kick start your day and continue at top pace, slip a power hour into your schedule. A power hour is one full hour without unplanned distractions, unrelated phone calls, negative self-talk with yourself or gossip with others, unwarranted pauses for teas and coffee, playing with your phone, surfing the internet on social media, and anything else that will stop you from focusing directly on the task in front of you. This is how you clear your inbox. You would be surprised how many emails you can send out in an hour. This is how you call your customers one after another. This is how you clear any backlog. When you give undivided attention to any task without distraction you will find that you build momentum and focus as you go further into that hour. The minute you are distracted you lose the drive that forces you to dive into the work you are doing and get it done. You lose time. It’s very hard to pick up a task with the same focus and energy if you have been distracted. You often go back to the job on hand thinking about whatever it was that pulled you away. The idea of a power hour is that you allow nothing to pull you away.

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It’s a bit like swimming in a pool. When you go swimming you swim lengths of the pool. You normally don’t stop and have chats or go and make a coffee or look at your phone. You do what you came to do. Swim. This is just like swimming! Look for a quiet time to have your power hour. For me, it’s the first thing in the morning. I would even suggest that you wake up early before the rest of the world starts working and get a head start on the tasks you wish to focus on. More importantly, find a time that suits you. This is like an athlete training for an event. When athletes train they are training for results. They focus on one thing only. They focus on their game. It’s the same for you. Focus on one task at a time. Whatever is not needed, such as phones or the internet, remove them from your radar. If you work around other people let them know that for that hour you don’t want to take any calls or speak to anybody as you are working on something that needs your total focus. It will take time and practice. Print up a power hour sheet that you can monitor the work you are getting done each day and see your progress.

You will get results. In fact, I use this method for my writing. And, my editor is delighted with my approach!

Taken from The ‘Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ by Oisin Browne, which can be pre-ordered on Amazon Kindle today and will be available along with the paperback on the 27th of November on Amazon. It will be stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway, Hana’s Bookshop in Dublin, and O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick.

3 Books & Counting…

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Written by The City Bin Co.’s Oisin Browne, Author of ‘The Binman’s Guide’ business book series.

English grammar was never my strong point, so I would have never handpicked myself to write business books. Everything was against me, from my short attention span to my mild dyslexia. If I was told in 2010 that I would write and publish three books over the next ten years I wouldn’t have believed it! Roll on November 2020 on the month of the launch of my third book and I am quietly content with this unexpected journey so far. Yes, I can tick the box as an author, but more importantly, I have grown professionally and personally as a result of committing to writing the three books.

Through writing, rewriting, and editing, going back and forth with an editor, my grammar, thankfully has improved over time. I wanted to write business books that would be an easy read and a solid introduction for people starting in business or people in a business that wanted a refresher that would inspire new ideas that they could apply to their own situation.

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Not alone would my grammar improve, but a great plus of writing a book is the learning that comes from researching and studying the topic of the book. With all three books containing interviews from business owners on their success and learnings, this gave me an opportunity to get an in-depth insight into successful businesses. In many ways, writing each book was kin to doing a university business Masters on the subject. With this book-writing journey came a professional speaking experience where I was invited to speak to universities, businesses, and conferences to talk on the topic of the books. Also, I did a lot of interviews with local and national journalists and was featured on radio and television shows. These experiences helped me become confident in public speaking and sharpened my communication skill.

In hindsight, while I had my personal flaws that gave me indications that writing books would be a tough and near-impossible task for me, I can now see the two main elements I unknowingly applied to my writing journey that made it possible for the three books to be completed and published. They were my long-term intentions and my tunnel vision stubbornness that I used to fuel my commitment.

I am a dreamer. I love to dream big and do a lot of future planning, you know, that question; ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years from now?’ From the start, my intention was to write 3 business books over a period of 10 years to inspire and give ideas to people interested in developing their sales and marketing game. In setting the bar at 3 books it allowed me to aim high and fall far. I told everybody my intention as I knew my closest colleagues would hold me accountable and I committed to doing all three books and seeing it through.

It has always given me a great sense of accomplishment to have one of my finished books in my hands. One of my big learnings is that accomplishments don’t appear out of thin air. Accomplishments are the result of a commitment to follow-through. The process of writing a book is sometimes a lonely solitary experience that entails many months of research, writing, and editing, while the launch of the book is a party, with a book launch, reading sessions, radio interviews, workshops, and lots of promotional events!

I remember in 2012 at a marketing meeting throwing out the idea of writing a series of thought leadership books for The City Bin Co., as a way to create content for the brand and to help place the brand in a different space than the competitors. I knew I could write as I had been writing a column in the business section of the local paper The Galway Advertiser sharing business ideas and inspirations. But I never thought to take on a project so big. I didn’t think I’d be able, but I was willing to give it a go.

I felt enthused to apply my skills as a writer and to exercise my creativity for the company that I worked for. I decided I would share my experiences and ideas over 3 books and stick to the areas that I was confident with and where I had the most knowledge. They were Selling, Marketing, and Customer Service. From 2003 to 2012 I worked as part of the sales team in The City Bin Co. I was a Sales representative managing the B2B portfolio for many years in Galway before moving onto the role of Social Media Manager and setting up the Social Media channels and working with the team on large marketing campaigns as the company expanded into the Dublin market. My experience during this time helped sculpt the content of the first two books on the subject of Selling and Marketing.

My new book ‘The Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ was always going to be part of this collection as it is what I have known and learned for the last 22 years working with The City Bin Co. I never just worked for a company that provided a waste collection service, skips, and bins. More than that, I worked for a company where the culture always guided and supported me to provide an excellent experience to the customers.

It is a proud moment in my book writing experience to hold this book in my hands, as this was the book that I was always waiting to write and publish. This was to be the defining book in the collection. And it is. However, this will not be the last book as I have definitely got the writing bug. I am already committed to writing my fourth business book. So, it’s three books and counting! While this book on ‘Amazing Customer Service’ will be a tough act to follow, I believe what makes the subject of this book important is that everything in business ultimately comes back to one thing; the Customer, and the desire to give the customer an amazing Customer Service.

It’s such a great feeling to launch a body of work that helps business owners and employees tune into their own customer service and explore how they can turn the dial just a little, or maybe a lot, to make it an amazing experience for their customers.

The Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service can be pre-ordered on Amazon Kindle today and will be available along with the paperback on the 27th of November on Amazon. It will be stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway, Hana’s Bookshop in Dublin, and O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick.

New Book on Customer Service

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From the back of the bin truck to best-selling business author, The City Bin Co.’s Oisin Browne is launching his third book ‘The Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ on 27th November 2020.

3D RHSFollowing on from his debut in 2013 on the theme of Selling, and his second book on the subject of Marketing, Oisin’s third book in the series brings the attention back to providing ‘amazing customer experiences’. With over 20 years working in Sales, Marketing, and Key Account Management in the Waste Management industry, in both Ireland and the Middle East, Oisin shares a wealth of ideas, inspirations, and interviews that will give the readers a good guide on how to put proven best practices and team training into any business process that will lead to amazing customer service.

All ready to be launched in March of this year when the country went into the first lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic the book was temporarily shelved, but as the days, weeks and months went on, Oisin realised it was not going to be possible to have an in-person book launch this year. At the outset of the second lockdown, Oisin decided not to let the pandemic stop the launch as it has already stopped far too many other things happening this year. Although this is a tough time for many businesses, more than ever there is a need for the delivery of customer service to be amazing. With that in mind, the new book will launch on the 27th of November 2020.

‘The Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ focuses on the key activities employees can deliver on, and actions to make a big difference to the customer’s experience. Oisin shares learnings from his own experience in Ireland and beyond, bringing you on a journey inside the customer service habits of many successful companies around the globe – from a taxi company in New York, to a public toilet business in Spain, to coffee shops of the Middle East.

The book covers everything from best customer service practices, how to turn complaints into compliments, to an invaluable collection of interviews on the subject of customer service with business leaders from around the world.

‘The Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon Kindle today, and will be available along with the paperback on the 27th November on Amazon. It will be stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway and Hanna’s Bookshop in Dublin.

Pre Order on Amazon Kindle here… & enjoy!