What's in Your Toolbox?
Every Customer Success Professional needs to have their own proverbial toolbox. You can fill it with templates, processes, how-to’s, books, tips, articles, blogs, strategies, techniques, and advice from thought leaders about how to do your job better. These must make sense to you and, more importantly, have evidence they work. I would also include Lessons Learned as a big part of your toolbox, and or course content YOU have created!
You can borrow from other people's toolboxes--eh hem! mine--but yours will not look the same as everyone else's. Why? You have a different personality and gifts, strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, a unique perspective. You may see things differently, which is part of the gift you bring to your profession and the world. Each item you collect must have a purpose and value that enables you to do your job better. That is why I started this blog: Dana's Top Secret Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, I plan to publish 2 of my favorite tools that you can add to your toolbox, best of all? 95% of them are freeeeeee!
My toolbox reflects me. It contains my experiences in sales, my degree and training in psychology and marketing, my passion for customer success, education & training, and ninja-like process wizardry.
It's also fulfills my Mission to YOU, which is to create specific paths to your desired outcomes by making the practice (1) Openly available, (2) Easily understood, and (3) flawlessly executed (scroll to the bottom of my ABOUT page for more) My resources help my CS practice because they resonate with how people think and learn. Most of all, the tools encourage my ability to listen, especially to leaders in the CS field and customers in need. In this blog, I am discussing two of my favorite resources in my toolbox. I use them repeatedly.
WHAT’S THIS TOOL? HOW CAN IT HELP ME?
My first favorite is a report from Hubspot called “Five Top Tips to Help First-time Managers Succeed Remotely.”
Hubspot’s intention for the guide was for People and HR functions “to help first-time managers navigate and succeed at managing remotely during and after a world-pandemic.” You may have heard of the Customer Success Law of selling to the right customer. When it comes to management, you need to make sure the right person is in the right position. Putting a person not built for a job can be detrimental to your company, your organization, your team, and even to that employee.
WHY I, Dana, ❤LOVE❤ THIS RESOURCE?
Have you ever gone into a winter coat or a bag you haven’t used in a while and found a $20 bill? Or money of any kind? There is nothing better than finding a surprise inside a well-needed resource.
The first reason I love this guide: it’s a resource with a plethora of OTHER resources within it! For instance, the section on “leading remote teams.” It is a link to a blog by Happy, a UK-based company. Happy creates courses in IT and leadership and development while consulting on building a joyful place to work. Their work and mission are based on “The Happy Manifesto,” by Henry Stewart, who outlined ten principles on creating a happy, empowered work environment.
Another part that I found interesting are the sections “leadership is not about managing a to-do list” and “Officevibe,” which is a tool that takes the pulse of your employees each week.
If you know me at all you know I am partial to anything that focuses on psychology...it was my major after all!. This document provides insights that many times we take for granted, especially “psychological safety.” According to the report, “You won’t be able to help your managers or your people to manage their wellbeing and mental health without them feeling like they can come to you or each other with concerns, mistakes, and struggles.” This understanding is so essential to quality leadership. It is the basis of a trust relationship that needs to be created between upper management, executives, and employees. When workers believe that they can trust you, they respond with higher levels of engagement.
The document is organized around 5 Top Tips, which are indeed great! They are:
Help them master clear communication
Build a framework for great feedback
Put the right tools in their toolbox
This resource is super easy to read and understand so it won't take all your mental power to digest, making it easy to retain the awesome insights it provides.
You can peruse and consume it in about five minutes.
The best part about this resource is that it’s FREE!
HOW IT'S HELPED💪 ME?
This tool is something I have used repeatedly. Here are the two main ways it aided me:
The first way is that I incorporated the 5 Top Tips into a client’s leadership transformation. With insights such as this, potential and existing leaders transform themselves first and then lead by example, creating a human-first work environment. With that type of workplace, anything is possible, including an increased trajectory of your career.
It also helped me pilot a customer success professional development program. There is nothing more important than planning and launching programs that enrich professionals.
HOW IT 💪HELPS YOU?
This article speaks to how Directors and VP’s (leaders of leaders) can train their customer success line managers and support their well-being. In management, there are tiers or levels of authority. When I use the term “line manager,” I am referring to a manager who manages other managers in a specific section or area of business. For instance, you could be a line manager to a group of CSMs. You could also lead a tier-one support team with several support staff members reporting to you.
As a line manager, you need to be endowed with a “unique skill set ” that includes confidence. This characteristic only comes from training and practice. As a line manager you can use this tool to better manage your direct reports, or CSMs for example.
As a direct report (CSM) you can use it to figure out some best practices in how you communicate with your line manager.
When you use this tool, you can inspire others by building personal connections. These relationships foster a ripple effect in the workplace. Leading by example motivates your line managers and their direct reports.
You can use it as part of a succession plan on what a direct report needs to master before being promoted to line manager.
This is chock-full of additional resources, links, and ideas that can help line managers become effective leaders.
Use this to build out a listening framework that allows direct reports to provide helpful feedback, so they feel heard and understood.
This can help your line managers learn how best to communicate clearly and effectively. By mastering communication and encouragement within their teams, they are demonstrating true leadership capabilities. With those skills under their belt you can help them prepare for a promotion.
Tool #2: The Johari Window
WHAT’S THIS TOOL? HOW CAN IT HELP ME?
The second tool came from my client, Glen Hummel. It is a resource that he uses at his company and it provides an unbiased understanding of what your strengths are. It is called The Johari Window. Conceived and created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s, it was formulated as a heuristic, or self-discovery, model to chart out personality awareness with the purpose of leading individuals to a greater understanding of themselves. Through the choice of five to six self-descriptive words, in addition to adjectives given by anyone you choose to get feedback from, e.g., colleagues, friends, co-workers, boss, etc., you find overlap and difference, gaining insight into how you view yourself versus how others view you. This provides much needed insight that can help your relationship with yourself and others!
WHY I, Dana, ❤LOVE❤ THIS RESOURCE?
Let me get straight to the point. I love this resource because:
It’s a resource my client Glenn Hummel told me about that they use at their company. Have you ever heard that word of mouth is the best form of marketing? Because my client, whom I trust, shared this tool with me, I want to share it with others. And the fact that his company uses it gives it greater credence to its application.
It gives an unbiased understanding of your strengths, but also your outlook of the world around you. Add in the perspective of those important to you who you interact with everyday, you gain views on how others understand you.
You can easily get feedback from an abundance of friends, co-workers, colleagues, and industry folks. If they have an interest in your growth both as a person and an employee, they will undoubtedly want to participate in you finding out more about yourself and you attaining your goals.
It takes people MAX 5 minutes to fill out.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving…see “how I’ve used it” and “how you can use it” for ideas.
HOW IT'S HELPED💪 ME?
This tool not only helped me, but it also helped my own team!
By using this resource you become aware of your blind spots as an individual and how you contribute to the work environment. Are there things that you can’t see in yourself? By opening your eyes to both your attributes and your shortcomings, can you use those eyes to see things in you your colleagues, leaders, and overall organization? Your personality traits can be your superpowers. With the knowledge of your blind spots and gifts, you can work to mitigate them or use them for your and your company’s benefit.
It reveals how you are perceived by others. Knowing how others view you can be hard to hear sometimes. But it can be a gift and catalyst for change. It also can be a way to learn to protect yourself. If people believe they can take advantage of you, you need to work to remedy it.
By going through the practice, it enables us to learn what strengths that everyone agrees we have. Not everyone is forthcoming with compliments and encouragement. Let this tool reveal what a positive force you can be and then grow it.
Boost our self-confidence as a team unit! When everyone realizes what their contributions are to the team and how they can cooperate, the team becomes a powerful unit. Anything that creates and enhances collaboration is a great tool!
HOW IT 💪HELPS YOU?
As a team leader, this can be a valuable tool! It reveals which members of your team are best suited for specific roles. It can help you decide:
To decide who should handle a particular role on a team project?
To decide who you can give more responsibility to.
To decide who is potentially a good candidate for stretch assignments
To acknowledge each team members’ top strengths in a Mini-Team Building exercise ending with an Awards ceremony!
Don’t close the toolbox!
As I stated before, you are building a toolbox and filling it with the best tools that will help you in the span of your career. But that is not all. You are helping other managers and team members succeed by becoming better at what they do. Utilize these incredible resources I have shared to build a framework to make your colleagues and employees successful. That, in turn, makes you and your company a success.
Be sure to add this 2nd edition of Dana’s Top Secret Toolbox to your Toolbox Starter Kit. Read last edition’s tools here. By combining the takeaways from both of these resources, you’re off to a great start!
But don't limit yourself. Keep going! Listen, read, and explore CS assets to add to your repertoire of tools. And don’t forget to add your very own processes, tools, tips, strategies, and such that YOU have created.
See you next time.
*Your Friend and Expert,
CEO & Founder of Dana Soza Customer Solutions
*Read my blog on Motivational Personas to get that bit of an inside joke ;)
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