PCO in the Know

The Anatomy of a Compliment —

PCOs already know that managing people is their most important job. We can’t operate and grow without having people. The vast majority of PCOs list their people (or the ever-present “Culture”) as to what makes their company better—their “secret sauce.” Learning how to compliment their staff is an underrated and underdeveloped practice.

Based on the simple premise that PEOPLE WHO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES DO A BETTER JOB—to reinforce the value, let’s dissect the anatomy of a well-done compliment.

Here are the three basic rules of a great compliment:

  • Be specific
  • Be focused
  • Don’t water down the moment

Being specific requires something that the employee did that you can cover. It can be basic and usually repeatable.  “Joe, it was great how you called Mr. Brown after a service to clarify the notes you left.” General compliments like “you do a great job” only work marginally well.

Being focused requires having the person being complimented with their undivided attention. I recommend getting the approval of the employee for a private moment before you cover what they did well. The impact you get from this is exponential. The impact you have in this setting is game-changing.

When you keep talking or covering other topics you will likely water down the moment. To mention “opportunities for improvement” afterward would negate the previous complimentary statement. Let the positive moment ruminate.

I complimented an employee on how well his truck was organized. When I saw his wife at church she thanked me for saying that to her husband. He mentioned it three times over the weekend. His wife and family benefited from a person who feels good about himself.

Bob Williamson, Pest & Lawn Director
February 2024

PCO in the Know | Blog #5


Current Business Listings

View All

Completed Transactions

View All

We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
PCO in the Know

Really! That’s What You Remember? —

I am routinely amazed about random impactful statements that get remembered. I have given talks many times in my career with plenty of great and useful information. This includes too many PowerPoint conversations with countless slides of bullet-pointed information. People will see me years later and what they remember is good for me to hear.

My unscientific list of what gets remembered most includes (In random order):

    • Real life stories I told to illustrate a point
    • Statements that compliment or offend the listener
    • “By the Way” comments I made privately
    • Short talks rank far ahead of long ones
    • Responses to challenging audience questions

I will elaborate on each of these.

Real Life Stories
A well-told story needs to be the appropriate length with appropriate detail—not too long and with interesting details. A little self-depreciation and vulnerability are typically helpful for your audience to relate. Tying it together with your point brings it home.

Compliment or Offend
People remember how they feel and will often only remember a well-placed specific compliment or worse, an insult. Standard compliments don’t count and are gratuitous. A great funny example is my 64-year-old female neighbor was recently in a car accident near where we live. Her car was totaled – she admitted 100% fault. As the EMT’s made sure she was OK (she was), one of them commented to his peer how good she looked at age 64. It seems like this was pretty much all she remembered from the entire event. We remember comments that make us feel good or bad about ourselves.

“By The Way” comments
I have had many business lunches; they all have an agenda that I make sure gets covered. I have found that covering my topics early allows for longer and more detailed answers. This allows me to better understand what I need to do next. My direct approach often fails to work well because many people would prefer to avoid the more challenging issues at hand.

I have had cases where the other party disclosed important information while walking them out to their car after lunch – this is a less confrontational environment and statements are made in a more casual and private manner.

Short talks vs. Long talks
We often say that “less is more.” More can be 45 flavors of ice cream or a brewery with 30 types of draft beer. Most of us can’t process that much information and we need fewer options to make an easy decision. Long talks dilute the value of a few very important points. Less points with a story to illustrate is far more effective.
I will ask myself – what are my take-aways from attending a talk – “Less” makes this question much simpler to answer.

Challenging Questions
Many of us like to play “gotcha” as a way to show how smart we are. These types of questions allow for a speaker to better enforce their point and cover a topic that other people in the room probably have. It’s also often more interesting to listen to a dialog back and forth.

Using this short blog as an example, I can guess you may remember most what the EMT said.

Bob Williamson, Pest & Lawn Director
October 2023

PCO in the Know | Blog #4


Current Business Listings

View All

Completed Transactions

View All

We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
PCO in the Know

Your Legacy May Surprise You —

At age 63 I had the fortunate opportunity to retire from my Operations job of 35 years and start a job I love: helping owners sell their business. For over 40 years after college, I was General Manager of a service business. This included over 1,000 people who worked with me in some capacity.

Daily thoughts included managing people, making budget, growing the business, hiring, terminating, warning reports, random drug test, vehicle safety, employee reviews, pay adjustments, customer complaints, buying equipment, new Industry regulations, buying a nearby business…the list is endless.

I still reside in a nearby community and have a chance to see former employees at random times. I am no longer their boss—just an old guy with a tan in shorts. They often tell me how I am remembered: almost like a living eulogy.

The one thing they share with me (what they don’t share is probably best left unshared) is how I knew everyone’s name and how I often took time to say hello and use their name. I saw our business grow from 75 employees to nearly 300. I did 40 acquisitions, I started before email, the internet, and routing software and I navigated a pandemic. AND this is how I am remembered.

I learned the value of using names in a Dale Carnegie class at age 23. I was more interested in meeting the girl sitting next to me than finishing the class.  I have a BS and an MBA, I have a 6 Sigma belt of some color, I have read over 100 business books…and this is how I am remembered.

People remember how you treat them—pretty simple.

 

Bob Williamson

Pest & Lawn Director, Cetane Associates

August 2023

PCO in the Know | Blog #3


Current Business Listings

View All

Completed Transactions

View All

We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
PCO in the Know

Allowing is Approving —

A key to being a successful and effective manager is to have “difficult conversations” with staff.  When these are continually avoided a manager is no longer effective and many things fall under the adage “Whatever you allow, you approve.” These conversations are better termed as “necessary” to destigmatize them.

Here is a simple example of how this works. During the Covid time, we all had to manage on a day-to-day basis as we had no idea what was next. One area which I let slide was the office dress code; this morphed into soccer pants and t-shirts for some of my office staff. After we eased back into normal—working in the office space—the dress code stayed at this level of casual weekend wear.

I met with each office person individually and let them know we needed to get back on track toward more professional attire. This required brief conversations where I acknowledged the chain of events and asked for cooperation. I held most of these discussions outside my office, even some standing in the parking lot or in the warehouse. Had I chosen to use the dreaded group email or covered collectively in a meeting, it would likely not have gone as well.

This is an easy example of how to have necessary conversations and be effective as a leader.  The 3 steps to a necessary conversation are simple:

  • State unemotionally what you perceive as the behavior you want to change
  • Have the employee’s perception of how they see it
  • Agree on what is the next step

Some easy Don’ts and Do’s

Don’t agendize (not fair)

Don’t persecute (demoralizing)

Don’t homilize (redundant and annoying)

Don’t get personal

Do thank the employee for their cooperation and their contribution to the team.

This all falls under management 101 and will help make you an effective and respected leader.

 

Bob Williamson

Pest & Lawn Director, Cetane Associates

August 2023

PCO in the Know | Blog #2


Current Business Listings

View All

Completed Transactions

View All

We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
PCO in the Know

When and How to Say NO —

Most entrepreneurs start their businesses by saying YES to every opportunity that comes their way. They know how expensive advertising is to generate leads and how important it is to be in front of customers as much as possible. They also understand the importance of sustaining themselves and supporting their investment. Eventually, they either create enough income to survive or fail.

As PCOs start to grow their businesses and gain efficiencies required to attain net income after they pay themselves, they need to assess all the time they took on work that they should no longer be doing, This self-examination could uncover a service offered or an account they took that their competition was happy to give up.

I have a client who was selling a gutter product designed to keep gutters from ever clogging—ever! They bought ladders, trained staff, and advertised to get leads. This business grew but not without the normal number of issues that any new product or service can bring. After three years of offering this life-changing product, they consistently spend about a third of every staff meeting on the innovative gutter product. It now represents less than 3% of their total sales and zero income. They carry about $10k of inventory. Their company (like most) also deals with staff shortages.

After some brief intervention and review of the numbers they stopped the gutter offering and wrote off the inventory. The pest control operations benefitted from the immediate labor infusion. The customers were notified and all warranties were honored. Customer response was crickets.

With all the issues PCOs deal with—labor being the biggest—they need to focus on what they do best, do it well, and steadfastly watch their margins. Sometimes saying NO to a new sale may be the best sales you don’t make.

Bob Williamson

Pest & Lawn Director, Cetane Associates

June 2023


Current Business Listings

View All

Completed Transactions

View All

We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT