Leading with Compassion in the Workplace

The Need for Compassion

Is compassion needed in the world? In the workplace? In your home? In your relationships? 


Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Financial worries, relationship issues, loss of any kind, stress – all these can lead to serious and detrimental results on the job, not to mention one's health. You know and understand that compassion is always needed. But one must ask, “What forms of compassion - in the workplace, specifically - are acceptable?”

The question has been posed, so let’s attempt an answer to it - starting with a definition of compassion and why simple awareness of others' needs or struggles is so important.

What Is Compassion?

According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Google’s dictionary offers the following as synonyms for compassion: pity, sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, and kindness.

Awareness of Others

When we are aware of others' distress, it reveals our emotional intelligence (EI), and a person with high EI should be able to work successfully with people facing stressful and difficult situations. Why? Because they tend to be somewhat intuitive about others' feelings or moods as well as both focused and effective in their responses. Not surprisingly, they are also known for tackling problems and pondering solutions rather than merely offering sympathy and concentrating only on the problem itself.

Yet sometimes, it is in the mere acknowledgment of another person's feelings or obvious emotional turmoil whereby compassion is best expressed. In the workplace, we shouldn't cross the acceptable personal line of voiced concern for our coworkers to the private line of questioning unless there is a mutual trust and willingness to open up.

The Practice of Compassion

However, the question remains, "How should compassion play out in the workplace?" The simple answer is this: kindness and compassion toward others is a great thing. The complexity of the answer lies in this statement: kindness is always a great thing - yet the way it can play out is not always necessarily the desired outcome. Maybe the timing is wrong, maybe emotions are off the charts, maybe . . . any number of reasons.

the beauty of kindness

Need an example or two? While a listening ear and a compassionate word are usually well-received, that is not always the case.

If I am on the verge of tears at work or in any public place, although it may be the thing I need, a kind word or hug could usher in a flood of tears and loud sobbing.

My own daughter does not wish for blatant sympathy when she is dealing with certain unfortunate circumstances, no matter how honorable my intentions are in regard to empathizing with her. She simply prefers to move on with life, even if the sadness creeps in and takes over periodically. She sees no need to rehash the sadness aloud. If I insist on talking about "it", even as a mom, I've crossed a line in my expression of compassion (with her).

We would also do well to remember that anger is one of the stages of grief. If a coworker is going through a great loss, we may be exposed not only to their sadness but also to their hostility and irritability. There is no easy cure for grief, and if it spirals out of control during office hours, it may be time to recommend a grief counselor. However, you never know how an employee will respond to that recommendation either, especially if they are already upset or angry at the world.

As much as possible, be intuitive and sensitive rather than careless with your words and actions in the workplace. Asking if a person in crisis wants to talk about "it" is always a direct way of conveying your concern to a coworker. Letting them know your availability to talk when they are ready is another option. Whatever you say, keep it simple. Limit your words but not necessarily your sympathy. Allow the person to focus on work rather than on the crisis if it's not an appropriate time to talk. 

The Extent of Compassion in the Office

How far should you take compassion in the workplace? Honestly, my best answer is to take it as far as you must in order to meet the need. You’ve heard the stories of business owners who have gone to extreme lengths by providing cars or even homes for their employees who found themselves in dire situations.

Perhaps you’re also acquainted with employees who have willingly shared some of their paid time off with fellow employees who were struggling with cancer or some other diagnosis requiring them to be out of the office for long periods of time.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been micromanaged by bosses who go strictly by the book and fail to show compassion no matter how difficult a situation an employee finds him/herself in.

challenging & stressful work - lady feels pressure from every direction

It’s true. Working in a corporate environment generally requires a strict accounting of hours worked, lunch hours and paid time off, but does that mean compassion cannot abound? Absolutely not, especially when employees find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

While disproportionate amounts of flexibility directed toward a few individual employees would most likely be called into question, typical acts of sincere kindness, generosity and flexibility should not be. Direct managers should be provided with company guidelines on how to handle such situations. 

The What-Ifs That Stir Our Compassion

disaster spelled with Scrabble tiles

Literally, what if there is a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or fire that impacts your staff and they need an advance on their next paycheck? What if your employee has no means of transportation to a parent’s funeral? What if a close family member or a beloved pet dies, and the employee has no more PTO remaining? What if a judge requires one of your staff members to appear in court daily throughout an entire month?

As a business owner or HR Manager, it is wise to have a contingency plan for responding to these what-if scenarios.

The Look of Workplace Compassion

Unfortunately, it is true that employees can push the envelope of expectation and entitlement, so we have these questions to consider: 

  • How much flexibility should you allow a struggling employee?
  • How much compassion in the form of "tangible help" should an employer offer, if any?
  • Is your Human Resource department one which promotes kindness, giving, flexibility, and loyalty toward its people, especially during stressful situations or natural disasters that company employees may find themselves a part of?

Some may say that this is why their company provides vacation time and personal days for employees. Nevertheless, sometimes more is needed.

help (in ALL CAPS)

Below are a few ideas regarding compassion directed toward employees:

  • You can always express a word of sympathy and sincere concern for others’ losses and difficulties in life – and probably should in most cases.
  • If you have been through a similar situation, remember the reality of your struggle, and show empathy.
  • Sometimes employers don’t fully realize it, but showing compassion is not against the law -- favoritism is what you should be careful of. Showing sensitivity and a little flexibility is displaying kindness. However, all managers should respond similarly to any known struggle of their employees and understand both how and when it is appropriate (or not) to intervene.
  • Managers and co-workers must remember that outright pity is something which many people do not desire. It is also difficult for many people to accept "charity", so be mindful of others' feelings.
  • Should you ever sponsor a GoFundMe page for an employee or one of their family members? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever advance a paycheck or extra cash to your employees? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever grant an unpaid leave of absence? Perhaps. Maybe your company needs to develop a sabbatical type of program detailing the situations in which an employee might be granted unpaid leave.
  • In all expressions of compassion, exercise wisdom and caution in regard to both your words and actions.
Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

The good you do may take the form of a sympathy card, a plant, paid time off, a flexible schedule, and maybe even time off without pay. It may also be providing counseling, support in conquering a bad habit, accountability, the opportunity to make up for a mistake, or forgiveness. Kindness may involve a few employees showing up after hours to assist a struggling employee with some challenging task, simply taking the time to listen, or even donating to a worthy cause. Perhaps the employee just needs you to bear with them for a time, then re-evaluate the situation.

A Story of Workplace Compassion

I love this story from a now-retired HR Manager: There was a long-time employee causing his boss and coworkers lots of grief with his moody disposition, rude behavior, and negative attitude during the work day. In previous years, this man had been a great employee, but that was no longer the case. The HR manager had a heart-to-heart talk with the employee about his behavior. In turn, he chose to share some of his situation with her. However, the situation he was facing did not change the fact that he had to find a way to improve his attitude and behavior toward others. She was sympathetic (and wise), so instead of firing him, the HR manager told the man to take a few weeks off (paid!) so he could try to remember why he took the job to begin with and to reconsider all its benefits. He did take some time off, and when he returned, all was well once again and (to my knowledge) stayed that way.

conversation between two professional figures

What I appreciate most about this case scenario is that the HR Manager addressed the problem directly with the employee and didn’t skirt around the issue. He was going to lose his job if his attitude didn’t improve in a big way. She remembered that the costs associated with losing and hiring a new employee are just that . . . costly! Was her gamble with the employee (a.k.a. compassion) worth an extra $1,000 or $2,000? Absolutely! The company held on to a great employee who was simply going through a crisis and needed some time to refocus. She was happy with the outcome, and so was the employee. I can assure you that the “compassionate accountability” she required of him will never be forgotten.

Leading With Compassion

the trust factor in the workplace

Walking with employees through the ups and downs of life can be costly, but worth every penny when you see them come through those valleys successfully. As far as building loyalty and trust among your employees - wow! There may not even be a need for fancy employee engagement or retention strategies when you practice kindness and moral support. So, invest in your people today and see what leading with a little compassion can do for employee engagement and retention at your place of business.

For more information about Brannon Professionals and its staffing/consulting services, CLICK HERE.

12 Interesting Insights About Millennials and the Up & Coming Gen Z-ers

millennial man in glasses

Millennials and Gen Z-ers . . . everyone wants to know and understand these generations better.

  • How to attract, engage, interview, learn from, work with, train, and retain them.
  • How to understand their experience, their expectations, and their strengths as well as their shortcomings.
  • Finally, how to best capitalize on their extraordinary skill with digital technology and heartfelt desire to be the change that this world needs.

We hope the following insights will help you plan for the future as Millennials and Gen Z-ers make up greater and greater percentages of the overall workforce in America.

Insight #1

The Age Range of Generations Y and Z

The current age range of Millennials or Generation Y is between 20 and 35. Following them is Generation Z with ages ranging from 2 to 19.

Insight #2

digital technology items on work desk

Their Experience with Digital Technology

They tend to work at a very fast pace when it comes to technology, and they are a quick-study when it comes to new technology. They want and even prefer a digital experience. It is their comfort zone, and most older generations could learn much from them in this regard.

Insight #3

The Purpose of Transparent Leadership & an Open Work Environment

open work / office environment - 3 workers

Have you ever thought about transparency as a teaching tool? Millennials have an appreciation for an open work environment which serves as a learning tool as they watch leadership in action. Company purpose, values, and end goals take on a whole different level of meaning as the energy, inspiration and rationale behind the decision-making process play out directly in front of the entire team.

Insight #4

puzzle piece missing representing skills gap

The Supposed Skills Gap

Some people report a skills gap among millennials, but members of this generation have and are making careers out of their unique skill-sets and deep-seated passions. Furthermore, they possess the technological skills to overcome any perceived gap regarding their skill-set.

Insight #5

The Ever-Sought-After Work/Life Balance

work at home millennial

Working remotely may interest a few millennials; however, it is more of a fluid type of schedule that they desire – one in which they can move back and forth between the office, home, and personal business all day and evenings too.

Flextime is a huge perk! What if your top employees were allowed to work from home one day each week?

Insight #6

The Opportunity to Learn & Grow

These generations like to learn, so professional development opportunities such as night or online classes (even training on the extensive uses of LinkedIn), conferences, and the chance to invest in business-related books should abound.

A Few Suggestions: Reimburse employees for yearly training expenses up to one week's salary. Also reimburse them for any associated traveling expenses up to one week’s salary. Managers should keep up with what their employees are learning and utilize those skills as often as possible. Furthermore, why not share the specifics with everyone in the company? It's an excellent way to brag on your employees for their accomplishments and to effectively, albeit briefly, place them in the spotlight.

training and development

Insight #7

The Value of Networking and Mentoring

Create networking opportunities through brown bag lunches and mentorship programs. Reverse mentoring is also a great thing as these methods of networking help improve company-wide collaborative initiatives and can enhance peer engagement.


You can make mentorship opportunities more prestigious by making them “by-invitation or by-application only” and by involving senior management in this learning process. Depending on the transparency and humility of those in leadership, some 2-sided learning might even occur. And try not to place the responsibility all on one party. Instead, conduct 6-month or 1-year long mentorships, and imitate BNY Mellon, a Boston-based wealth management powerhouse. That is, allow the mentee to work several different types of jobs during the mentorship: a) working with clients; b) in operations; and c) in a back-end role such as accounting or administration.

Insight #8

The Unique Benefits & Purposes of Internships

teamwork at computer with intern

Improve your employer branding (image) and attract more members of Gen Y and Z by offering 1 to 3-month long internship opportunities to college students. Where is your greatest need? Which departments can barely meet the deadlines set before it? Where is your overtime coming from? Which manager is overwhelmed? Hire interns for these departments.

Insight #9

The Correlation Between Instant Gratification & Successful Outcomes

The desire for instant gratification that millennials are much berated for can translate into the desire for successful outcomes in the workplace. So, it is best when management provides these generations with a deep understanding of their role and the potential impact that a “job well done” will have upon the overall business. In this way, Gen’s Y and Z will find satisfaction as they achieve the “desired outcomes” which managers have set before them as goals.

Insight #10

The Risky ROI . . . Managed

ROI image - stacked coins and clock

Some hiring managers firmly believe that millennials lack loyalty and that the potential return on their investment (ROI) is risky at best. However, some of that supposed lack could be better managed by doing these 3 things:

  • Invest in the personal growth and career development of your employees. Even go so far as to conduct employee evaluations for recent graduates every six months rather than every year or two and give at least one opportunity for a promotion if possible. The goal is to build trust and loyalty.
  • Challenge them to strive toward success in meeting all their short and long-term goals.
  • Encourage them to feel good about the individual successes they achieve along the way.

Insight #11

be the change in our world - 3 figures giving high five

The Merging of Enthusiasm & Excellence

These generations possess energy and enthusiasm, especially over what they find interesting and/or challenging to them personally. They want to “be the change” and possess both the knowledge and skills to be the force behind new innovations. Build the overall excellence factor, especially regarding professional etiquette and communication skills, and they will be well on their way.

Insight #12

The Construct of a Good Citizen in a Needy Community

2 volunteers talking a selfie

Build good corporate citizens through volunteer work with charities, especially those providing educational opportunities for young people. It may be a daycare that is interested in improving the services it offers children. It may be a non-profit that provides computer training. It may be a mission that simply needs more donations to support their cause - and consider matching your employees’ donations, dollar for dollar.


For even more interesting insights regarding Millennials, check out these related Brannon Professionals' articles:

  • How to Better Understand the Mindset & Motivation of Millennials - Click HERE
  • How to Successfully Interview a Millennial - Click HERE
  • What to Expect from Millennials in the Workforce - Click HERE
  • Millennial Recruiting and Retention Strategies - Click HERE





How to Become an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a label that was created by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer (both researchers) and then made popular by Dan Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence, 1996. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE is much more than understanding how to be likable, sociable or sensitive. EI is the ability to "recognize, understand and manage" one's own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Head - brain - emotional intelligence

According to Travis Bradberry, author and expert on EI, here's how emotional intelligence works:

"Unlike your IQ (intelligence quotient), your EQ (emotional quotient) is highly malleable. As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, it builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. As your brain reinforces the use of these new behaviors, the connections supporting old, destructive behaviors die off. Before long, you begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it." 

woman in conflict.jpg

As you work to improve your emotional intelligence (EI) and become a more effective and desirable manager, here are some specific behaviors and scenarios which may help you better understand EI and how it might play out in the workplace. The articles referred to below also offer several proofs or signs of emotional intelligence, and you will see some of these referred to in the examples I've set forth in this post.

13 Methods for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

A) Acknowledge the part of any problem that is you. To be sure, you have strengths, but you also have weaknesses. We all do. Consider the time and attention you give to the individuals surrounding you in the office. When you do give them the time of day, are you honest with them? Do you convey genuine concern?

Do you care that everybody despises your bossy, arrogant and rude administrative assistant? Have you noticed that the new guy never has anything to say because he’s super shy and that everyone pretty much ignores him? Does it bother you that you told your accounting assistant that she can’t get a promotion because she has no degree, and that after completing her degree, your company still failed to promote her? Perhaps you weren't being completely honest and forthright when you told her that the lack of a degree was the only thing holding her back from a promotion. Maybe it's her absolute lack of professionalism that is the real issue.

Proof of EI: You recognize your strengths and weaknesses (Bradberry) and then actively engage in improving the areas where you fall short. You also recognize weakness in others and actively engage in helping them grow in their career. 

business people working.jpg

B) Look around at each employee. How do you label them? Is it with colorful descriptions behind their backs or as people with real value, feelings, goals and ideas? Stop with the stereotypes and get to know your staff.

The loud, funny lady who is such a joy is currently struggling to pay her bills. That’s why you sometimes catch her crying. The girl at the front desk is new, and she has some great organizational management ideas. But you’ll never know what they are because neither you nor anyone else in the office values her enough to spend time in conversation asking important, relevant questions. The new guy seemed nice during the interview process but now his attitude stinks. You don’t know why because you just ignore him. But by simply addressing the attitude, you might learn that he is offended because his office is beside the men’s bathroom. He was hired in at $90K and honestly feels that he deserves better.

Proof of EI: You are curious about people. (Bradberry) And you treat them in a respectful manner at all times. You are able to show empathy and understand the feelings of others. (Bariso)

C) Explore the true motives and feelings of your staff; don’t assume you know what they are all about.

If an employee is angry one day during work hours, don’t assume that it is because of you or a coworker. Perhaps it is due to a conflict with a friend or family member outside the office. But anger is something you can and should address with an employee because it affects others. Your employee isn’t obliged to share details with you, but they will need to manage that anger in an appropriate manner while at work.

Proof of EI: You are a good judge of character and motivations. (Bradberry) You also address problems in the workplace quickly and effectively.


D) You are either a motivator, building up your team, or a demotivator, constantly bringing them down with your attitude and rude demands. Which kind of leader are you?

Regardless of the money a person makes doing their job, their level of engagement with the job depends on much more than the salary. Having a manager and coworkers who are friendly and pleasant to work with is also a priority. Put yourself if your employees’ place. Would you enjoy working for you?

Proof of EI: You are genuinely liked and respected by your staff.

E) Observe attitudes, moods and stress levels because they usually reflect you and your leadership style to some degree, for better or worse.

emotional - anxiety sign.png

When you give a somewhat stern or undesirable directive, take the time to look around and notice anxiety levels and attitudes. Don’t keep silent but address the negative reactions. One on one is preferable unless the attitude is widespread. But you must take care not to single anyone out or carelessly dismiss what the general feeling / attitude is.

Proof of EI: You don't seek perfection, but you do seek understanding of others and their emotions. (Bradberry, Bariso)

F) Hold your temper and choose to listen to others. Practice holding your tongue and being patient and calm when unfortunate circumstances arise.  Be mindful of reactive expressions, careless words that attack others, mean-spirited behaviors, negative attitudes and quick, emotional decisions. Avoid them.

angry emotion.jpg

When you are angry at a staff member for making a costly mistake or for mishandling a situation with a customer, wait at least 30 minutes before responding. Calm down, think about what you want to achieve and how to best to manage the situation, then make your move.

Proof of EI: You're able to let go of mistakes, both yours and others. (Bradberry)

G) Remember how you got where you are.


Why did you take this job originally? If you have been promoted, remember what it was you did that merited that promotion. Why are you a good leader? Or if you aren't, why not? Are you happy in this position? Happy in your personal life? Is it possible you are taking some of your unhappiness and stress out on your staff? If so, this is not right. Do all you can to correct the problem. And by all means, apologize.

Proof of EI: You won't let anyone (or anything) limit your joy. (Bradberry)

H) Learn how to be a better communicator.

Here’s a scenario for you to consider:

In the Accounting department of your firm, a new boss arrives. He is highly qualified and somewhat of a quiet leader, but friendly with an open-door policy. He is a supportive manager and assures his staff that he will always address any negative or concerning issues that crop up before he discusses them with others or makes any decisions based solely on the issue. He does just that, and good relations prevail. Both employees and managers are happy and engaged.

worried man.jpeg

In the Sales department, another new boss arrives. She is highly qualified and very direct. Perhaps a little threatening in the sense that you realize she will be looking closely at every person and position to see who/what is working well or not so well. So, the pressure to perform is high. Her tendency is to point out shortcomings without offering advice for improvement. And that's it, the warning shot. Many people leave, are fired, or get laid off as a result of her leadership and management style. This is worrisome and stressful to the remaining employees, many of whom choose to leave to avoid the same potential treatment.

As a manager, being tough and direct is a part of the job. However, in all of your acts of leadership, remember that kindness, honest conversation, wise and thoughtful decision-making, and a non-threatening leadership approach can also play a role in creating a happier, more effective and engaged worker not to mention a more successful business.

Proof of EI: You don't water down the truth (Murphy), but rather, you convey it with sincere care and concern for the person in front of you.

I) Learn how to praise and appreciate your employees.

When is the last time you said "thank you" to someone at work . . . for anything? Are you too busy? Too ungrateful? Too self-centered? Too distracted and stressed out?

thumbs up3.jpeg

People want and need to feel valued. They need to hear their supervisors and managers give them credit where credit is due. Simple comments such as, “Good job!” or “Thank you!” can often do the trick but doing and saying more regarding specific tasks or projects is highly recommended.

Proof of EI: You give others the opportunity to shine, whether in the form of attention, appreciation, performance, or praise.

J) Learn how to resolve conflict. However, being willing to face the conflicts in an office is the first step towards becoming a problem solver.

You are a department manager with an office staff of ten. Many of your agents are out of the office daily, but not all. The ones who remain in the office are constantly exposed to the obnoxious behavior of the department’s secretary. Nobody enjoys working with her. She irritates and angers everyone, but no manager has ever been willing to call her out regarding her unprofessional behavior. She offends and hurts others’ feelings constantly. Whether they fear a lawsuit or are simply afraid of her, she has gotten by with that attitude for many years. As the new manager in the office, can your employees trust you to manage ALL your staff or just the ones who are easiest to manage?

Proof of EI: You understand how to manage conflict and you do it to help those involved as well as your department and the company as a whole. (MTCT, Bariso)

K) Be the type of decision maker whose choices are both well-informed and carefully considered.


Nobody wants a hothead or an impulsive manager. Slow down and be mindful; consider all your options. Seek out truth. Be sure your decisions are based on fact, not mere emotional reaction, gossip, or others' false perceptions of reality.

Proof of EI: You pause and slow down long enough to think logically before making any quick, irrational or highly emotional decisions. (Bariso, MTCT)

L) Recognize your values. Is your integrity in tact? Are you a manager worth emulating? Or do you compromise your values when it works to yours or the company’s advantage? Do you compromise your manners or professionalism when you find yourself annoyed and angry? Your employees are watching and will judge you accordingly.

When your company’s cash flow is lacking, do you lie to your creditors? Do you say that the check is in the mail when it absolutely isn’t? Do you speak to collectors in a rude manner? Do you deny others what is honestly owed to them? As managers, we are constantly setting the standard for dealing with challenging situations.

Proof of EI: You hold yourself accountable. (MTCT)

M) Talk with your employees. Engage in everyday conversation with them. Do not ignore them or fail to learn their names and a little about their lives.


Saying hello is good, but it’s really not enough. As busy as you may be, slow down periodically to join in a conversation, make a joke, or initiate a conversation. Your staff needs to know that you are more than a manager. You are person with life, family and fun times outside the office. Share a little of that with your employees. It’s a great way to show that you care and see them as more than mere hires to do your bidding.

Proof of EI: Your conversations with others are authentic. (Bariso)

The 5 Building Blocks of EI: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills

self awareness1.jpg

These are just a few of the myriad signs of high emotional intelligence among leaders in the workplace.

SELF-AWARENESS: Being aware of your emotions as well as those of the people around you is advantageous to a leader.

SELF-CONTROL: Yet learning how to control or regulate those emotions is even more impressive and helpful, especially when working with a socially and emotionally diverse group of folks.

MOTIVATION: Staying motivated as a leader and manager of others is also helpful in maintaining that positive, hopeful outlook which is so important for us as human beings.


EMPATHY: As to empathy in a leader, it's imperative. According to the Mind Tools' Content Team, "Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it."

SOCIAL SKILLS: Finally, developing one's social skills can make a tremendous difference to those within your circle of influence leading to better communication with employees, feedback that builds trust, and less conflict in the office. Who could ask for much more from a manager? (MTCT)

To learn more about emotional intelligence or to discover what your level of EI is based on assessment, contact Brannon Professionals, an authorized provider of TTI Success Insights' assessments for over 15 years.



In the Workplace: How to Be an Exceptionally Effective Customer Service Employee

customer service focus

The Makeup of a Customer Service Minded Person

I believe that success as a customer service employee stems from a person’s honest desire to help others. That said, first and foremost, I must ask, “Are you (or your CSRs) motivated by a desire to help and serve others, to meet needs, to solve problems?” These are some of the motivations most prevalent among customer service-oriented employees. Other characteristics of strong customer service-minded individuals include a pleasant personality and disposition, an “I can do it” sort of determination, and a mindset that extends outward rather than inward.

If Shiu Singh is correct, and the “purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers,” then businesses need to hire people who will provide awesome service experiences for their customers – to the point that those current customers can’t help but share their wonderful experience with others.

happy customer service employee

Here’s one example . . .

Happy employees are invariably linked to good customer service. Show me a happy person, and that joy, that smile, and that contentment will spill over into every aspect of customer service in the workplace.

I’m reminded of a teen girl who recently started working at a nearby grocery store. I work for Brannon Professionals, a staffing firm, and every time this young lady waits on me, I think about asking her if she would like our help in finding a better paying customer service job. But she’s a student, and not available for full-time work just yet.

Why am I so impressed with her? It’s her smile, her cheerful attitude and friendly demeanor, her exceptional communication skills, her sincerity and confidence, her pace. . . you name it, she’s got it when it comes to customer service. She’s probably making around $8 per hour. If she has the computer skills most millennials have these days, we could easily place her in a position paying at least double that. The problem is . . . what she possesses is far too rare these days. But wouldn’t you like your customers to feel this positive about your employees and their customer service experiences?

What she possesses is natural customer service skill. Positive words. Helpful actions. Friendly expressions. Professional manner.

What she possesses is natural customer service skill. Positive words. Helpful actions. Friendly expressions. Professional manner.

Every communication and encounter we have with another person is either positive or negative. We will either drain others of energy or make them feel better, even energized. We might be so helpful and inspiring that people have a difficult time hanging up or walking away from us. Or the customer may try to find a way to speak with us every time they call. People are almost desperate for decent customer service experiences. Then when they have one especially significant, you can be sure they will share that experience with others.

“A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.” – Shep Hyken

Think about your daily encounters for a few minutes:

happy & smiling customer service worker

A) What FACIAL EXPRESSIONS and EMOTIONS do you portray to your customers?

Looks of anger, annoyance, arrogance, boredom, concentration, contempt, curiosity, disgust, fear, frustration, joy, peace, sadness, surprise and weariness WILL affect your customers one way or the other.

Smile & Personality - “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” – Jay Danzie

Face to Face & Active Listening - “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” - Ross Perot

B) What types of WORDS are coming out of your mouth daily as you serve others?

excellent customer service question - how can we help you?

Words of hope, confidence, apology or appreciation, offers related to convenience, curious and questioning words, positive and encouraging expressions, truth expressed in helpful, empathetic and thoughtful ways, words that convey trust and respect. Negative words and phrases may include complaints, threats, whining, cursing, reprimands, and even directives if not sprinkled with a little kindness.

Confidence - “Customers will want to talk to you if they believe you can solve their problems.” – Jeffery Gitomer

Attitude Trumps Words - “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John Maxwell

Words That Make Others Feel Important - “I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person’s neck that says, ‘Make me feel important!’” – Mary Kay Ash

“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” - Jeffrey Gitomer

“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” - Jeffrey Gitomer

C) What are your ACTIONS toward customers like?

Kind, determined, mean-spirited, generous, resentful, service-oriented, careless, nit-picky, (un)friendly, stubborn, professional, enjoyable, unforgiving, or truly helpful - as in going the extra mile - above and beyond what the customer ever expected?

"A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity." – Christopher McCormick

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

D) What ATTITUDES are conveyed to your customers?

Does your attitude reflect a caring, sincere, thoughtful and obliging disposition as well as a willingness to go beyond the call of duty? Or is your attitude more pessimistic, assuming the worst - even rude, rushed, and completely annoyed?

smiling customer service team in circle leaning down for picture

Serving with Sincerity and Integrity - “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money. That is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

“When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed." - Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico

“When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed." - Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico

Serving without Negative Assumption

I like the quote from Ms. Nooyi because it rings true in so many areas of life. Here’s another real-life case scenario:

Suppose you have a customer who has failed to pay their bill on time. Rather than trusting that the customer actually wants to pay their bill, you assume that the customer is "one of those" who is always late due to lack of funds and uses every excuse in the book to get out of paying their bill. So the progression of problems begins:

The first month, the problem is that the company fails to mail a paper invoice, so the bill doesn't get paid. The customer calls to request a bill.

The second month, the bill is mailed, but not in time to make an on-time payment. However, the customer pays (for 2 months) by phone although she is charged a late fee.

customer service agent in headset

The third month, the customer calls in to make a payment by phone since the payment will be late again if it is mailed. This is because the bill was received only 4-5 days before the due date. However, the customer isn’t allowed to pay by phone because the last payment apparently didn’t go through properly. The company is convinced she intentionally gave the wrong account information; however, she is certain she did not as it is a very simple account number. She argues that the CSR must have entered the information incorrectly but to no avail. This infuriates the customer, but she mails in a payment (for all 3 bills) anyway.

The fourth time the customer calls, it is to request that the bill be mailed earlier or that the due date be changed. She is still not allowed to pay by phone, and there isn’t enough time to pay the bill by the due date, so there is another late fee. The company will not oblige her with a change in due date. The company also refuses to reimburse her any late fees. The customer has a meltdown over the phone and says that all she has ever wanted to do is to pay her bill – like she ALWAYS has until this change in ownership and billing procedures. The CSR says nothing, just waits on her to calm down. The customer decides to talk with a supervisor. She talks to supervisors until there are no more supervisors available. None of them will budge on the late fee or the taking of a payment by phone. Such is life. They're just following the script they've been given from management.

Then, the customer calls again later regarding a different matter, and the customer service is awesome. Kindness and understanding are the rule of the day. They notice that all fees and payments have been made, if not timely, then without exception. Paid in full. The CSR announces that the most recent late fee(s) will be removed. The bills begin to be received in a more timely manner and paid on time. All is well.

Finally, consider this analogy . . . 

excellent customer service is like a beautiful flower bloom

A business is like a flowering plant. Its roots are ALL the employees and their inherent desires to make a positive impact, to serve others, and to grow professionally. Customer service is the stem which is there for all to witness as the plant develops leaves and begins to bud. The petals inside these buds are individual successes - company wide - which eventually blossom into something utterly beautiful - a happy customer. Yet a faded bloom or one missing even a single petal can lessen the beauty. It doesn’t necessarily equate to utter failure, but the constant goal is the formation of a perfect blossom - a perfectly satisfied and LOYAL customer - with preferably MANY more in the making.

Here's to serving your customers well and building that loyalty factor . . . All the best!


How to Successfully Interview a Millennial

According to a recent article on the TTI Success Insights® website, retention is irrelevant. The writer further elaborates, “Nowadays, individuals are hiring a company to hone their skills, achieve their personal goals and fulfill their dreams. If you are still hiring based on resume and traditional interviews, you might want to try something new.”

millennial woman in professional attire

Something new.

A non-traditional approach.

Asking similar interview questions, but from a different perspective.

Making the candidate’s skills, goals and dreams your primary focus.

Discerning whether the candidate’s motivators are a good match for both the job and the company.

The Standard Interview

Here’s how a normal interview might progress . . .

Tell me about yourself. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? How will your references describe you? What motivates you? Share 2 or 3 of your greatest accomplishments thus far. What type of work do you find most satisfying? In your research, what have you found most interesting about our company? Why do you want this job? What are a few of your long-term career goals? The salary for this job is $$$. Are you interested? When could you start if we decide to move forward?

interview - no faces  - man & woman

The Millennial Interview

Here’s one idea of how an interview with a millennial might progress . . .

Say, “I am very impressed with your resume and skills.” Then pursue the line of questioning suggested in Section A, "How to Address Millennials' Skills". (see below)

Say, “While there is always more to learn, your current skill-set is certainly impressive. I wonder, however, if this job will meet your expectations and sufficiently challenge you.” Then follow the line of questioning in Section B, "How to Address Millennials' Goals".

Ask the candidate about their level of interest in the job thus far. Then follow the line of questioning in Section C, "How to Address Millennials' Dreams".

A) How to Address Millennials’ Skills

1. Know your candidates’ skills and capabilities as thoroughly as possible, and be prepared to discuss them. Understand the limited or extensive range of those skills. If it is not obvious, ask relevant questions.

skills - competence - growth - experience - learning

2. Look at more than just their resume. Check out LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets also. You may discover additional skills not mentioned on their professional resume.

3. Be aware of potential training opportunities available with your company. The more details you can share with a candidate, the more trust will be established. Additionally, many businesses have learned that providing (carefully chosen) mentors for new employees can be extremely helpful in the training process.

Ask the following:

  • Do your current skills fall short of your personal or professional aspirations in any way?

  • How do you anticipate this job helping you improve your skill-set or craft?

  • Are there any skills which you are particularly passionate about learning or improving?

B) How to Address Millennials’ Goals

1. Discuss any new skills, computer programs and experiences to which the candidate will be exposed.

2. Know what previous employees in this position loved about their job, then convey those inspiring aspects of the job to the candidate.

goal - man in suit - arrow graphic

Ask the following:

  • How do think this job might help you accomplish your extended career goals?

  • What life goal motivates you the most currently? (does not need to be work-related, just ask, and see where the conversation takes you)

C) How to Address Millennials’ Dreams

1. Make an effort to discover what unique gifts, traits, insights, skills and experiences they might bring to the table. You need to know what one thing stands out about this person in the eyes of his or her references.

2. Discuss personal motivation. Why? Because this is important insight for both the employer and employee to possess moving forward. The aforementioned article from TTI Success Insights® provides a brief overview of 12 different types of motivators which can help managers understand what drives their employees to act in particular ways. 

do what you love

The 12 driving forces/motivators include the following: 

  • Intellectual - all about truth, knowledge, learning

  • Instinctive - driven to make decisions based on intuition

  • Resourceful - motivated by efficiency and ROI

  • Selfless - willing to complete a task simply because it needs to be done

  • Harmonious - focused on the experience and balance, viewpoint is subjective

  • Objective - interested in the functionality of things in one's surroundings

  • Altruistic - being supportive ushers in personal satisfaction

  • Intentional - being helpful and willing to assist others, but with a specific purpose in mind

  • Commanding - all about status, recognition and control

  • Collaborative - being supportive with little need for recognition

  • Receptive - open-minded, interested in finding new ways to accomplish daily tasks

  • Structured - follows tried and true methods for accomplishing tasks

Review a sample 12 Driving Forces® (Motivators) report HERE. To learn more about these assessments/reports and how they can help you discern the type of candidate who would be the best match for your job and company, contact Brannon Professionals, an authorized TTISI® provider.

3. If at this point you see the candidate as a strong possibility for hire, go ahead and answer all those often unspoken but always relevant questions. Say, “If we offer and you accept this position, this is what you can expect." Be honest. They need a realistic idea of what all the job can offer them. Share specific information about salary (even if you must quote the minimum starting pay rate or a range of pay), benefits, perks, and career opportunities. Let them be excited about a potential job offer from your company.

Ask the following:

dream job signage - arrow pointing this way
  • What advantageous role do you think this job might play in helping you achieve your dream?

  • Explore the candidate’s strengths, outside interests, and volunteer or service project involvement. Try to establish solid connections between those passions and your company. This may lead to discussions regarding cross-training, leadership opportunities, or new company-wide initiatives.

  • Millennials have been exposed to so much more (especially regarding technology) than generations prior. Why not ask good questions to see what you might honestly learn from them and then (without taking unfair, uncompensated advantage) see how you might utilize their talents to accomplish more than simply the job at hand?

Traditional, Resume-Focused Interviews vs                Non-Traditional, Candidate-Focused Conversations

interviewing figures sitting in chairs

These are some ideas which may help you capture the interest of the very talented and passionate Millennial generation.

Explore. Candidate skills. Candidate goals. Candidate dreams. Candidate motivations.

This type of interview definitely requires some effort and a different focus, but the benefits can be extensive. And as I always say, asking even one of the above questions can provide insight which you might otherwise miss.

Try it. You may never want to return to those old standard interview questions again, not with any generation.

How to Better Understand the Mindset & Motivation of a Millennial

True or false?     Millennials are lazy. Millennials are     entitled. Millennials are     narcissis    tic.

True or false? Millennials are lazy. Millennials are entitled. Millennials are narcissistic.

The Hidden Truth Behind These Statements

Do these statements ring true about millennials in general? Are they true about the millennials you know personally, including the ones in your own family? 

My personal opinion is that the statements are somewhat true, but there is so much more to say about millennials! In spite of any perceived laziness, they are also extremely passionate about pursuing their interests. As for feelings of entitlement, maybe, but I have found them to be willing to work most diligently when attempting to meet and/or finance their goals. And narcissism? Who can blame them for being so completely self-absorbed when social media pretty much demands it? Who's coaching them to live life differently? Some parents and teachers are, but not all.

A Truthful Assessment Regarding Millennial Behavior

millennials in discussion

The truth is, some millennials behave exactly in this manner (lazy, entitled, self-centered) while others do not. Many millennials are often motivated to be industrious rather than lazy and people-centric as opposed to self-centered. As to that whole entitlement thing . . . there's  a lot to say about that one.

The Truth About the Entitlement Factor

Entitlement is associated with thoughts and behaviors such as selfishness, high expectations, demand for the best, and assumption that all will be as one wishes it to be.

My rationale flows something like this: First of all, whose tendency as a young person isn't selfish? And aren't high expectations supposedly a good thing? Parents dish them out on their children constantly. As to wanting the best . . . as long as it's tempered with giving your best, would we rather them aim for less? Regarding assumptions, each of us may need a reality check at times, but that reality may hit millennials especially hard.

The True Potential of Millennials

Below are some quotes and links to both articles and interviews which are meant to help us sort through the labels placed on millennials and perhaps see beyond those negatives to how these millennials are much more than the labels their world has assigned them. While they also  have much good to offer, they still need older generations to make an effort to seek a deeper understanding of them.

working millennial at desk with laptop and coffee

This article is an attempt to take you into their world. By exploring their thoughts, motivations, expectations, and experiences, and by heeding the valuable insights of their managers, we can learn a great deal about how best to work with and guide millennials as they enter the workforce and strive to make their mark upon this world.

Millennials and Maturity

What it means to be a grownup

"Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you're grown up. Growing up means being patient, holding your temper, cutting out the self-pity, and quitting with the righteous indignation." - Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York

Perspectives on Millennials  

The desire to make the world a better place  

"I'm very encouraged by millennials and their drive to make the world a better place." - John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Market

The gift of individualism  

man on the move

"One of the things I admire most about millennials is they celebrate individualism, and their singularity is encouraged. To be different is to be cool as opposed to weird." - Sutton Foster, American actress

The gift of intellect & the work of serving others  

"These Millennials are volunteering more; they're smarter than ever." - Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California

The gift of engagement

"The Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged -- with potentially seismic consequences for America." - Neil Howe and William Strauss, Millennials Rising

Millennials’ Work Ethic

man thinking - wheels turning as clock is ticking

When the work you do everyday matters

"The very first thing I tell every intern on the first day is that their internship exists solely on their resume. As far as I am concerned, they are a full-time member of my team. For all the negative stereotypes about millennials, you would be astounded by how hard they work when they believe their contribution matters." - Jay Samit, American author and digital media innovator

When the correlation between one’s work and one’s purpose is excellence

"The more a business is able to develop and articulate a core purpose and engage with millennials, who equate purpose with business excellence, the greater chances for long-term success." - Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

The opportunity to thrive vs The status quo

"Recruiters sometimes have their wires crossed when it comes to what Millennials really want at work. While fancy perks are great, many Millennials are more excited about growing and thriving at a company that appreciates their talent and will help them continue to learn." Kathryn Minshew, CEO and Co-founder of The Muse

handshake among 3 professionals

Mentoring vs Managing

“Millennials don't want to be managed, they like to be led, coached and mentored. This generation is on fire and ready to go. Are you ready to change the world?” ― Farshad Asl, Best-selling author, international speaker

Hunger for growth & development vs Hunger for the complimentary, “Job well done!”

feedback written on chalkboard - 2 professionals talking

"Millennials tend to appreciate regular feedback because they want to feel that their work matters and that they are making a difference in the workplace. As the youngest generation at most organizations, they also tend to be hungry for growth and development opportunities." - Kathryn Minshew, CEO/Co-founder of The Muse

Stubborn leadership vs Flexible management

"Organizations that can’t—or won’t—customize training, career paths, incentives and work responsibilities need a wake-up call." - Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors

Millennials’ Priorities

Communicating core purpose as a priority

"Millennials want to work for organizations that prioritize purpose as well as profit. It's as simple as that." - Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte

words related to purpose and priorities

Culture of the workplace

"Where people work and their environment is becoming more and more important, especially for millennials." - Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber

Central concerns

A recent study by Bentley University revealed 3 priorities held by millennials:

  • Prefer talking with colleagues in person rather than texting or emailing

  • Value health-care benefits more than frequent pay raises and promotions when choosing a job

  • Believe that flexible work schedules make the workplace more productive for people their age

4 millennials using digital devices

Millennials and Technology

Learning by doing vs Learning by questioning

"Millennials, and the generations that follow, are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation. And they don't question; they just learn." - Brad D. Smith, CEO of Intuit

Other Millennial Insights

ways to create a happy work environment

Where millennials thrive

Fascinating interview between Bentley University and YNAB – check it out HERE, “Companies Where Millennials Thrive: You Need a Budget”. Read to the end so you don’t miss the CEO’s top three insights about hiring, employing and retaining millennials.

Addressing alignment

To learn more about addressing alignment between employers and potential employees, click HERE to read the article, “5 Tough Questions for Millennials and Employers”. 

happy coworkers in front of a computer

Workplace culture

For more about creating a workplace culture which millennials will find enticing, click HERE to read, “Create This Sort of Work Environment If You Want To Retain Millennials”.

Hopefully, these thoughts, tidbits of insight, quotes and links will be helpful as you seek to increase your successful engagement with the Millennial generation. Moreover, if Brannon Professionals can serve you as a talent acquisition partner or in your own job search, please connect with us online at www.brannonprofessionals.com.

Do You Need to Build More Humor into Your Life and Workday?

Has anyone ever told you that you don’t have a sense of humor? Maybe you honestly don’t, and that irritates you. But if it’s true, wouldn’t you like that truth to change?

Has anyone ever told you that you don’t have a sense of humor? Maybe you honestly don’t, and that irritates you. But if it’s true, wouldn’t you like that truth to change?

"A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road." - Henry Ward Beecher

"A good laugh makes any interview, or any conversation, so much better." - Barbara Walters

How We Become Humorless

Heed this warning from neurologist, Joseph Collins:

“By starving emotions, we become humorless, rigid and stereotyped; by repressing them we become literal, reformatory and holier-than-thou; encouraged, they perfume life; discouraged; they poison it.”

Which parts of this quote are the most desirable? Of course, it is the part which suggests that when our emotional state is healthy, the sweet aroma of life will once again pervade our senses.

Are you that emotionally healthy? That free? Do you understand what is meant by the perfume of life? And are you experiencing it – day in, day out?

The Emotional State of a Humorless Individual

Not to say that all humorless people are in this particular boat . . . but is your emotional side "starving"? Do you feel ignored and empty on the inside? Hurt, depressed or angry because your emotional needs are being unmet? Not that these aren't completely legitimate feelings, but have you shut others out? Perhaps you are shy and protective of your thoughts and feelings and have no interest in revealing them to others - through laughter or otherwise. Are you so wrapped up in yourself and your troubles and so untouched by the humor, happiness and life of those around you that you cannot join in? You may feel that shutting off your emotions is like shutting off the pain and fear.

Truth: We ALL have these types of feelings at times, but the feelings have far ranging effects as people deal with them differently. 

what a laugh is .....

Did you know . . . 

"A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing." - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sometimes when our emotional needs have been forced to take a backseat, it actually plays out in life as though our emotional needs are in the front seat, and everything else in life has been stuffed into the backseat. What I mean is – we find ourselves laughing at nothing because all that really matters or could possibly affect us in a positive way (or help us laugh freely again) is getting our emotional need(s) met.

Therefore, we behave in a “rigid”, “stereotyped” or distant manner. Yet we might behave differently were we not supressing our emotions just trying to do life, such as it is, or as we perceive it to be . . . without laughter.

"A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable." - Billy Graham

Repressed Laughter

young woman looking sad

Why do people hold back their laughter? Sometimes you know they want to laugh because you see it in their eyes or on their lips, but they withhold that joyous sound from the world. Or perhaps there is simply no laughter in their eyes or on their lips; the ability to laugh seems to have faded away. Then again, maybe the person is ignoring you and your wit or repressing their laughter for an unknown reason. Even self-deception may be playing a role.

According to this article from awakeningstate.com, here are 10 signs which suggest someone may be suppressing their emotions, as well as their laughter: memory problems, glaring eyes, being overly sensitive, increased stress, depression or anxiety, weight gain, use of alcohol, sleepiness, attitude of superiority, or lack of interest in things which they used to care deeply.

Consider this proverb from Scripture: "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

Managing Your Emotions

emotional intelligence - head image

Do you discourage your own emotions? Block them out? Human beings were made to feel emotion. So, whatever you feel, own it. Record your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Face the truth of your emotions, especially when they feel extreme and heavy. Don’t pretend that everything is okay when it isn’t. Don’t lie to yourself. Confide in a friend, family member or counselor. Tell your spouse how you feel. Seek professional help. Don’t ever deny yourself the freedom of feeling and facing your emotions, frustrating or depressing as they may be, especially not when hope and help are available nearby.

"A sense of humor... is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life." - Hugh Sidey

That said, once you are ready to deal with the reality of your emotions, you must learn how to manage them. This ability is also known as emotional intelligence, and you can learn more about that by reading any combination of the sixty EI/EQ articles published HERE

Learning How to Laugh (Again)

laughing smiling ladies

Laughter Tip #1:

Can you laugh at something in which you honestly find less than humorous – simply because you choose to enjoy the lighter side of life? Next time you have the chance, choose laughter. Join in. Be intentional. You will know that you have succeeded in real laughter when the humor lightens your eyes and your upturned lips don’t immediately return to their natural set.

"Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It's the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one's fellow human beings." - Maya Angelou

Laughter Tip #2:

Do you ever find yourself repressing laughter over a joke with which you find fault? Perhaps it’s not based on fact. Or it’s too metaphorical. It's not even funny. Just not your taste. Maybe it’s a bit on the tacky side. I’m not saying you have to laugh (especially at something truly tacky or personally offensive), but how are you going to prevent others from viewing you as stoic, annoyingly literal and far too holier-than-thou in your attitude toward others? Do you need to loosen up a bit?

"Humor can alter any situation and help us cope at the very instant we are laughing." - Allen Klein

Laughter Tip #3:

laughter - woman smiling with book on her head

Are you able to laugh in the privacy of your own home? Own office? Own car? Or are things so bleak that you find no laughter to be had anymore? It may be that even a smile is personally challenging for you at this time. If so, start there.

Practice smiling at others as you say good morning. Practice makes perfect. Build up to laughter. Practice being funny with whatever type of humor suits you best. Self-deprecating humor is relatively simple and effective – as long as you don’t use it to indirectly solicit compliments.

"It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously." - Oscar Wilde

Laughter Tip #4:

Make yourself laugh. Watch a favorite childhood television show. Comedic preferences for me would be programs like The Carol Burnett Show or I Love Lucy. Listen to a favorite comedian. Read a book with a delightfully witty character. Listen to morning radio humor. Watch some funny YouTube videos. Whatever you do, start exposing yourself to humor again. Allow yourself to laugh at something everyday. By doing so, you are giving yourself the freedom to feel and get outside your own circumstances for a while. It can bring health and healing to your emotional state.

laughing man with be happy sticky note on forehead
"Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place." - Mark Twain

Laughter Tip #5:

Spend time with a child, a teacher, a police officer, a nurse, a waiter/waitress . . . or a friend. These people usually have the best stories to tell of shocking, funny, and all-too-true tales. Invite them into your life. Get outside your own head. And laugh. 

2 women in lawn chairs laughing - smiling
" . . . science confirms that positive emotions invoked by humor have healing effects." - Charles Hunter, Healing Through Humor

Laughter Tip #6:

Learn to tell your own funny stories. Have 2 or 3 readily available. Just look for an appropriate opening and start talking.

"Story has the power to transmit emotion, and humor helps to deliver positive emotions. Hence, humorous stories make for one of the best mediums to connect with an audience." - Ramakrishna Reddy, Connect Using Humor and Story: How I Got 18 Laughs, 3 Applauses in a 7 Minute Persuasive Speech

A Smile for Today

Allow me to share a couple of my all-time favorite stories from decades ago when I was teaching in Belize, Central America. Once a day, I would leave my class of 7th and 8th graders to go and teach English to the 5th and 6th graders. One of the classes had extra difficulty in following my instructions, so I orchestrated a plan to correct this problem. It was test day – all about locating subjects and verbs. I wrote the instructions on the board and read them aloud. Then I demonstrated exactly how I wanted everything labeled, explaining as I wrote. Finally, I asked the students to begin the assessment.

2 pencils with erasers

Within 1 or 2 minutes, my most conscientious albeit individualistic student slowly and hesitantly inched his hand up with a question. I knew it was coming; I was just biding my time. He asked, “Excuse me, Miss, but would it be okay if I . . . instead of . . . ?” He was asking if he could do it his way rather than according to my prior instructions. This was exactly the reason I had begun the testing by going over the instructions so carefully. I responded, “Yes, you may do as you wish . . . if you want to fail.” He immediately got the most panicked expression on his face and began speedily erasing all the work he had completed thus far.

If you knew this wonderful child (a doctor now) and all his perfectionist tendencies, you would understand how completely humorous this was to me and his other teachers. To this day, the event ushers in not only a good laugh, but also another story about this young man’s older brother.

teacher with students

One morning the 7th and 8th grade classes were preparing to perform a skit during the school-wide chapel program. As we were trying to rehearse, it felt like everything was in utter chaos, and I was quite stressed. It was at that moment that the brother raised his hand and said (with a smile as if he were telling a legitimate story), “Miss, when I woke up this morning, I had one nerve left, and YOU are getting on it.” Silence ensued.

teacher with glasses

What would the teacher’s response be to this outburst from one of her most well-behaved and respectful students? Well, before I answer that question, I have a confession. I am well-known for saying that things/people are sometimes getting on “my very last nerve” – in the most lighthearted way, but I used to say it often. Obviously, my students had picked it up and were now attempting to use it against me – in a most humorous way. So, I laughed, and they all laughed with me although the brother making the joke was also breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t recall him ever making another joke in class, but I think it felt good for him to break out of his shell that day.

I will never regret responding in laughter rather than with a reprimand, which was never a real temptation anyway. Besides, in all my directing and disciplining during the chaotic rehearsal, I’m quite sure his comment was a complete and accurate assessment. By the way, the skit was played out perfectly by the students, and I was so proud of them. And this brother also became a doctor!

Sharing Stories and Laughter

emojis with various moods and facial expressions

What are your stories – the ones that make you smile, giggle, or howl with laughter? Remember and share them as you have opportunity. Laughter does the heart good. So, don’t resist it. Engage in it. Laugh with others. Laugh at yourself. Laugh out loud and enjoy life with those nearest to you. See if it doesn’t have an immediate and positive impact upon your current outlook on life. Consider it a challenge!

Emotional Intelligence and How It Is Linked to Career Success 

Emotional Intelligence Defined

emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) may be a new expression for some readers, so allow me to share a few definitions.

Definition #1

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is the "ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people."

We could probably all use a little help in this area! And the ability to cheer someone up or calm them down? What an asset that would be to any of us!

Definition #2

MindTools.com records the definition of emotional intelligence as the "ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they're telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively."

This definition reminds me of the role a counselor plays in helping others work through the emotional ups and downs of their relationships. As to understanding how our emotions and/or expressions affect those around us, I say, “How many times has someone quizzed me to see if I was all right when I was perfectly content and feeling good?” The problem is that our outward expressions (both positive and negative) don't always match what we are thinking or feeling on the inside. The result? We are subjected to wrong interpretations, assumptions, and judgments.

Definition #3

On the TTI Success Insights® website, it states that their Emotional Quotient Assessment can accurately measure a person’s emotional intelligence, which they define as the "ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power of overall emotional well-being to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity." The assessment offers an impressive array of feedback and is useful in developing leaders, engaging teams, coaching and in succession planning.

This is the definition I want to focus on in this article: emotional intelligence in the workplace and how "to facilitate (those) higher levels of collaboration and productivity."

The Importance of Critical Thinking and Emotional Engagement Skills

Artificial Intelligence and People Smarts

According to Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) June 2017 article entitled, “In the AI Age ‘Being Smart’ Will Mean Something Completely Different,” the age of artificial intelligence is ushering in a need to increase our critical thinking and emotional engagement skills. Why? Because this is something that smart technology can’t always do – piece things together and engage successfully with others to solve problems and to accomplish what only humans were made to do. Interestingly, Ed Hess, the author of this HBR article and co-author of the book, Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age (Berrett-Koehler, 2017), also included humility as a necessary virtue since we must overcome both fear and vanity as we attempt to add something valuable to our high-tech world.

productivity at work

Thus, in the competitive world in which we strive, we must learn to value collaborative work above our own ego and do whatever it takes to remain truly productive in the workplace. In this article, we will address three points which are relevant both to this goal and to the aim of increasing one's emotional intelligence:

  • The problem of sleep deprivation as it relates to EI
  • The strengths and weaknesses of one's emotional quotient in the areas of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill
  • The role that personal humility plays in the workplace among emotionally intelligent leaders

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Emotional Intelligence

In a recent Inc.com article by Julian Hayes, it suggests that a lack of sleep is wrecking people’s emotional intelligence. Because sleep is so closely linked to cognitive function, not getting enough of it affects everything about our life and work – and not in a positive way.

sleep deprived cartoon man

Do you want to improve your emotional intelligence? Start today by creating a sleep schedule for yourself. Plan for it. Prepare your family. Inform your friends. Consider what adjustments will need to be made as you put your laptop and cellphone aside at least 30 minutes before the bedtime you establish for yourself. Wrap your mind around having an actual scheduled time for sleep. Visualize it. Then lie down and relish a good long sleep. Enjoy waking up early, refreshed and ready to get going.

When human beings get enough sleep, they may see noticeable improvement in the following areas:

sleeping figure
  • Ability to focus and finish tasks more readily
  • General improvement in attitude and demeanor when interacting with others because getting enough sleep is an automatic mood enhancer
  • Greater likelihood to exhibit emotional stability during stressful situations
  • Overall improved work performance and production may leave more room for investing time in team building activities and developing relationships with others 
  • Increased competence when it comes to communicating, prioritizing, scheduling, and making tough decisions
  • Ability to experience joy over the most basic pleasures of life will become more commonplace
  • Creativity, inspiration, new interests and greater curiosity may become welcomed new habits
  • Feelings of weariness and fatigue (even stress) should begin to subside a little at a time

Do you see a theme emerging? All these improvements are related to your cognitive skills, productivity, collaborative efforts, and overall success – all because you are no longer sleep deprived.

The Emotional Quotient Assessment

If you choose to learn more about your own level of emotional intelligence, you may find TTI Success Insights’ Emotional Quotient assessment to be very insightful. It addresses the following 2 aspects of emotional intelligence (EI):

  • one’s intrapersonal EI, having to do with self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation
  • one’s interpersonal EI, having to do with empathy and social skills

According to the TTI Success Insight® website, the dimensions of emotional intelligence may be defined in these 5 ways:

  • Self-Awarenessthe ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others
  • Self-Regulationthe ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and to think before acting
  • Motivationa passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status and the tendency to pursue goals with energy and persistence
  • Empathyone’s ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people
  • Social Skillsa proficiency in managing relationships and building networks
self awareness

Suggestions from TTISI® for improving these areas of EI might include some of the following:

1. To improve Self-Awareness . . .

  • identify with your emotional triggers more fully by describing them to someone you trust
  • determine whether your self-perception is accurate or not

2. In striving for Self-Regulation . . .

  • discuss ways to alter a negative mood with a good friend or advisor
  • keep an on-going log of self-management skills most effective for you
set goals1.jpg

3. To maintain Motivation . . .

  • include dates when setting goals
  • create very specific objectives as you reach for overall goals; celebrate accomplishments along the way

4. To increase Empathy . . .

  • try to understand others before communicating your point of view so your message is clear
  • observe others’ body language for non-verbal cues
social competence in the workplace

5. To improve Social Skills . . .

  • remember unique facts about others
  • if involved in a miscommunication or negative interaction, be certain to take accountability and make amends right away

The Emotional Quotient Assessment and Report

pie graph

The TTI Success Insights’ Emotional Quotient (EQ) reports are based specifically on individual responses to the assessment questions.

Topics in the report include the following:

  • an introduction to the 5 dimensions of emotional intelligence
  • an overview of your own level of emotional intelligence broken down into 5 distinct categories
  •  the areas of EI where there is room for improvement and where you rank among a majority of the population
  • your overall intrapersonal, interpersonal and total EI rankings
  • brief statements about your current EI level along with several specific suggestions for what you can do to improve in each of the 5 categories (excellent tool)
  • the EQ wheel provides a pie-chart type of ranking showing your scores in each of the 5 categories

To inquire further about these EQ assessments and subsequent reports, please contact Brannon Professionals or checkout our website.

Emotional Intelligence and the Critical Role of Humility

Last, but not least, let’s consider the aspect of humility in how we seek to engage with others successfully in a smart-tech world. Merriam-Webster states that to be humble is the opposite of being proud, haughty, arrogant or assertive. Humility is also reflected, expressed, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission. It involves (professional) courtesy.

Think about the ways you currently present or share information with others in a collaborative context:

  • Are you humbly authoritative or obnoxiously so in your leadership approach?
  • Do others perceive you as smart but rather smug or as smart and always so humble?
  • Do you come across as someone to be reckoned with or someone with true team spirit at heart?
  • Do you thrive on the inspiration and input of others, or are you a one-man or one-woman show?

Do you recall that the MindTools.com definition of emotional intelligence involves your perception of others, understanding how they feel, and allowing that knowledge to help you manage relationships more effectively?

4 team members holding word TEAM

Work to establish yourself as just one part of a great team. Show your intelligence and present your ideas but not in a condescending or arrogant manner. Listen to others and their opinions. Respond to them with appreciation, and strive to understand their perspective with true patience and legitimate curiosity.

Teams are established by management for a reason; they believe everyone has something to contribute. So, practice humility. Work to be a valuable part of that established team, not to be the one and only.

Just because arrogant confidence and condescension may have worked to your advantage in the past does not mean that they always will. These are not attractive qualities and should not be perceived or accepted as such.

Your job is to produce but also to listen, pay attention, heed, and work with others’ knowledge and skills to accomplish great things. You can only do this when the focus is on the team and its goal - not simply on yourself and your preferences. Emotionally, you must find a way in which to relate and work well with others to the point of success; otherwise, you may be left behind.

Emotional Intelligence and What to Do Next

If you are serious about improving your emotional intelligence, be sure to develop your understanding about what EI is and how to improve yours. Learn how to talk about it. In this article, we’ve established the importance of getting enough deep sleep to improve overall cognitive function, presented methods for practicing humility in a team environment, and provided you with a successful method (TTISI’s Emotional Quotient assessment) for gaining insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your own level of emotional intelligence.

The future is bright. And so are you.

AI versus man's intelligence in future

Will you seek to develop your emotional intelligence as you strive to ensure your future career success?

The next step is yours!

Contact Brannon Professionals at 662-349-9194 or 901-759-9622 today.


How to Help Your Employees LOVE Their Jobs

unhappy disengaged employee face

In our ever-changing world, employee engagement continues to be a well-explored topic. And with the number of Millennials in the workplace increasing daily, the workplace and its employees have the potential to be a dynamic duo.  Regardless of the type of staff you have, there are most assuredly numerous ways in which owners and managers can help their businesses increase employee engagement for the betterment of all concerned. 

Management must intentionally build a collaborative community of trust, engagement and productivity within their organizations. But how? Here are 10 ideas for your consideration:

communication ball

1.  Create and communicate a deeper understanding of company goals and objectives.

When both managers and employees understand the overall financial picture of the company and what is needed to grow the company, they can promote the overall products and services of the company with a fresh, problem-solving approach in their specific job and department. Many employees will develop a strong sense of ownership as they work with a higher purpose in mind.

2.  Make each of your employees feel highly valued and respected. 

Don’t be standoffish or rude, but treat your staff like family. Engage in normal, everyday conversation with them. Acknowledge their accomplishments. Remember to say thank you often. When the company does well, share the fruits of labor with your employees.

3.  Build employee satisfaction by valuing their input and fresh ideas. 

idea shared between 2 professional figures

Realize individual potential. Ask good questions, listen well, and interact with your staff often. Do you know that Millennials tend to be effective problem solvers, critical thinkers and decision makers – all because of the giant strides in information technology? Utilize their exposure to technology and remember to promote a collaborative culture!

4.  Don’t waste your staff’s valuable time in meetings that aren’t necessary or in which they make no contribution. 

staff meeting

During staff meetings, keep it focused on 2 to 3 priority items and include only the people who must be there to move the agenda forward. If a quick stand-up meeting can accomplish your goal, consider it the preferred meeting option. If you have a sit-down meeting, do not allow cell phones or laptops to be on/open. As you’ve often heard it said, the rules of presentation are, “Be brief, be bright, and be gone.”

5.  Give voice to vacation time and make it a requirement.

vacation - get away from the office

Both long and short vacations have 3 impressive restorative qualities to them: 

1) Good for the brain and increasing productivity.

2) Great for the body and relieving stress.

3) Employees tend to be more motivated and creative upon their return.

6.  See what motivates your employees.

Regarding motivations, did you know that people have certain motivators, which if plugged in properly within a work environment, will cause them to engage more naturally and happily, generally resulting in a love of their job and a natural increase in productivity? 

motivation - man holding sign

To share a few examples . . . 

  • Socially-motivated individuals will have a natural concern for people and will typically shine in a customer-service role. They will find satisfaction in talking with clients and meeting their needs.
  • A utilitarian-motivated person will strive to make the most out of their time and resources. S/he will also excel at connecting customers with the best resources and solutions available. They often make great salespeople.
  • Finally, a theoretically-motivated employee will thrive on solving problems and discovering truth. S/he will enjoy taking knowledge gleaned over time and sharing it with others - ideal prospects for teaching, training, coaching, etc.

7.  Care about what your employees really want and need during the holidays and offer flexibility when possible.

merry christmas tree and star ornaments

During the holidays, be as understanding and as flexible as possible to those who are in the office working rather than vacationing or enjoying family time. Most people in this world appreciate employers’ awareness and concern with work-life balance. 

Here are a few ways a manager might offer flexibility to their staff during holidays before leaving to enjoy their own time off:

  • Reduce staff on light work days. Why require 5 to be there if 2 can do the job? Offer additional paid time off or even the opportunity to miss work without pay. 
  • Why not allow the employee(s) to bring their spouse or child to work with them on super slow days? I'm sure this would be more appropriate for smaller businesses, but could work for others too, if well planned.
  • Make down-time or regular office time fun. Grant permission for an in-house afternoon movie and a few party snacks. Or if the nature of your business permits flexibility in regards to dress code, allow your employees to dress more casually on holidays.
  • Allow remote opportunities, even if it’s just for an afternoon. If an Excel project can be completed from home, provide that option. 

Just be sure to give all employees equal opportunity and keep the managers accountable in this respect.

8.  Discover how satisfied your current employees are.

busy engaged employees

Why wait for an “exit interview” to discover valuable employee satisfaction information?  Survey your current employees (without negative consequence) regarding how they want to be managed by their supervisors, what’s working and what’s not, what they find to be a truly motivating factor for them in the workplace, and what their primary goals are for the next year or two. 

To retain your current staff, know what they like, desire, and long for in the development of their career with your company. Try to ascertain these tidbits of information outside the realm of yearly evaluations. Then bring these insights to the table during evaluations, but do your homework first so that you know how to advise and encourage them in their position (and future) with the company. You do your part and inspire them to do theirs as well, to the benefit of all.

9.  Employee engagement can be difficult to manage/promote once an employee is hired.

employee efficiency and engagement

To successfully hire a strong, engaged, even ideal candidate for a specific job on the front end, consider the useful tools of behavioral analysis and predictive analytics. TTI Success Insights® assessments, subsequent reports and consultant’s advice on proper interpretation of these reports can make a tremendous difference in the revolving door some businesses struggle to rid themselves of. TTISI® offers businesses the opportunity to reduce the number of bad hiring decisions by assisting with the search and retention of great talent, properly matching strong candidates to the right job, and easily identifying top performers based on unbiased assessments and reporting tools.

10.  Invest in TTISI® behavioral assessment reports for great hiring insights & management tips.

target bull's eye

As stated above, TTI Success Insights®' behavioral assessments provide unbiased insight into what type of person is needed to be a success in a certain job. According to their website, this includes consideration of the following: the knowledge a person needs, the hard skills vital to the job, personal attributes required to drive success, rewards for superior performance, behavior necessary to perform at peak level, and intrinsic motivators.

The Bottom Line

arrow holes on target - many missed bull's eye

Employees leave when they are unhappy, and we all know that replacing an employee is costly. So is training someone new. Maybe the person was a bad hire from the beginning, but maybe you simply had the person in the wrong position. Maybe you didn’t respect them enough to value their opinions.  Perhaps they would have excelled in an auditor role but failed in the accounts payable position. Or could it be that the company has developed a revolving door due to outdated management practices? Perhaps it is time to try some of the recommendations mentioned above. 

Consider contacting Brannon Professionals, a professional placement and consulting firm in the Memphis area, for assistance with your employer-employee management skills and hiring/retention needs. We utilize TTISI® assessment tools often, and our staff would be happy to work with you and your company on these matters and more. Contact us today at 662-349-9194 or 901-759-9622 for assessment options, pricing, consultation, or other questions.



Why Behavioral Interviews Are Best & How to Get Started

According to  businessdictionary.com ,   behavioral interviewing   is a "job interviewing technique whereby the applicant is asked to describe past behavior in order to determine whether she is suitable for a position. For example, an interviewer may ask 'Tell me about a time when you dealt with a disruptive customer'. Responses are expected to give an indication of an applicant's professional conduct."

According to businessdictionary.com, behavioral interviewing is a "job interviewing technique whereby the applicant is asked to describe past behavior in order to determine whether she is suitable for a position. For example, an interviewer may ask 'Tell me about a time when you dealt with a disruptive customer'. Responses are expected to give an indication of an applicant's professional conduct."

Perhaps you’ve heard about behavioral interviews and have wondered just how to approach this interview method. That is what this article will attempt to answer for you.

We will provide you with 8 excellent benefits of the behavioral interview approach and then explain 4 ways in which you need to think and plan differently as you prepare for interviews with promising candidates.

Finally, we will conclude with a few brief tips on how to word or “style” your chosen questions, then highlight the results of behavioral interviews and offer a little guidance on how to get started.

thumbs up from man in suit

8 Impressive Benefits of the Behavioral Interview

1. An excellent way to get past the easy, standard, and rehearsed interview responses.

2. Avoid much of the disappointment and frustration caused by poor hiring decisions, wasted time, and candidate replacement costs.

3. It provides each candidate with ample opportunity to showcase his/her communication skills and expertise – or lack thereof. And you will be afforded the opportunity to listen critically, to discern wisely, and to ask important follow up questions to the candidates’ responses.

4. You will better understand the rationale behind candidates’ most relevant behaviors and decisions in the workplace. This, in turn, will help you more accurately know what to expect regarding their future reasoning and corresponding actions.

2 puzzle pieces being connected by 2 hands

5. You can learn how to discern a truly good fit by engaging in questions which provide you with a greater understanding of an applicant’s actions and attitudes. Delving into their past experiences and outcomes will give you valuable insight into what you can probably expect from the candidate.

6. Avoid the biases and instinctive preferences given to candidates who make a great first impression and who possess that WOW factor but may later blindside you with unsuspected flaws and shortcomings.

7. You will be able to confirm the rightness or wrongness of your gut instincts as you learn how to ask the most appropriate and relevant behavioral questions.

8. Gain insight as to how the candidate might respond to specific, albeit hypothetical, future situations which you present to them during the interview.

4 Considerations When Approaching a Behavioral Interview

behavioral skills - competence - experience - responsibility

1. What types of questions will you ask?

It will depend upon what your priorities are, but here are a few lines of questioning you may wish to pursue:

  • Questions related to the most challenging aspects of the job

  • Questions related to the primary company and/or departmental objectives

  • Questions related to the vision of the organization

  • Questions related to the candidate’s interpersonal relationships

Your goal is to get a core understanding of how a candidate’s mind works and how that way of thinking and responding has played out in their past workplace experiences as well as how that might play out in the future.

There are numerous websites which can provide you with various examples of behavioral questions, but you must be the one to prioritize the skills, experiences, attitudes, goals and behaviors which are most important to your job and to the company you represent. These priorities should be a guide to the types of behavioral questions you choose to ask and explore with your candidates.

2. What types of questions should be asked to get beyond both positive and negative generalizations, stereotypes, strong egos, verbose individuals, boring, pat answers, and even personal biases?

Experience - woman working at laptop

As a hiring manager, you know that there exists every type of candidate imaginable: introverts, those with moody, dark dispositions, nervous and stressed out individuals, socially awkward people, and thousands of other types!

If you obtain a few good professional references, you may think you have all the proof you need that a candidate really is a low risk hire and sufficiently qualified for the job at hand. However, it is highly recommended that relevant behavioral questions be asked before the person is hired to further ensure the applicant’s ability to be successful in the job for which he or she is being hired.

Moreover, regarding any observable concerns, go with your instincts and address them as needed. Here are a few examples:

a) I notice you really enjoy talking. Has this caused you any trouble in the past? How do you intentionally control the amount of time you spend talking to others during work hours? Please elaborate.

b) I don’t mean to misunderstand, but it seems like you are not that interested in this job. Is that an accurate or inaccurate assessment? Would you mind sharing with us why this job is desirable to you? Will your references confirm the sincerity of your interest in doing this type of work? If not, what will they say?

c) It is obvious that you are very confident in yourself and in your abilities. Has your ego ever prevented you from being successful in a past job? If so, please elaborate. Explain what you learned or how you changed as a result of that insight.

3. What types of questions can be asked as you explore candidates’ core motivations, personal interests, attitudes and values?

In spite of the fact that personalities can be categorized, you will never meet two people who are exactly alike. We all have our reasons for making certain choices. Each of us are uniquely motivated and inspired. Most of our values stem from those with whom we have been most closely associated – family, friends, church members, etc. And for better or worse, the attitudes we display are our own – a resounding reflection of all that we are, believe, want, and don’t yet have.


As hiring manager, you can apply your intuition, hopes and assumptions about an interviewee OR you can seek to validate these things by conducting a behavioral analysis of your top candidates.

Behavioral assessments can help you understand not only how a person can be expected to behave in the workplace but will also provide you with an understanding of why the person can be predicted to behave in a certain manner.

For minimal costs, behavioral assessments can supply you with insights which will REALLY help you to know the right behavioral questions to pose to your top candidates.

For example, what if you knew (by way of behavioral assessment) that your top candidate needs a tolerant boss because his tendency is to be a little too social around the office? If the potential boss is normally intolerant of behavior like this, you would want to explore this topic more thoroughly with the candidate and ask an appropriate behavioral question to predict how these two differing personalities might be able to work together successfully . . . or not.

recruit and select the best

Talent acquisition is not simply about a candidate's experience; companies want to hire people who are also a good fit with their established culture and current staff.

For more information on TTISI's® behavioral assessments, contact Brannon Professionals, a local, authorized provided of TTI Success Insights® assessments for more than 15 years.

  • DISC (4 Styles of Behaviors: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance)

  • PIAV (Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values)

  • 12 Driving Forces® (Motivators)

4. What types of questions will help you move beyond what you already love and believe about a candidate and his or her resume?

Hiring managers must seek to recognize, expose, and explore any contradictions in their candidates. Ask the “Do they really…..?” types of questions, and then follow up with a behavioral style question.

question mark on puzzle with missing pieces

a) Do they really love a challenge? Do they thrive on solving problems and working through conflicts? If so, have them describe a time they experienced the thrill of working through a serious problem toward its subsequent resolution. 

b) Do they really embrace change, diversity, and modern methods, or not? Ask the candidate to elaborate on how they felt about and worked through a major change in the workplace.

c) How truly motivated, driven, or competitive is the candidate? Ask for an example of how their drive has resulted in success – and for a time when it has not.

d) Does the applicant really enjoy helping others? To the point that even when exhausted, making sure the customer is satisfied remains a priority? Ask them to provide a detailed example of their superior level of commitment to customer satisfaction.

e) Do tedious, detailed tasks really bring them personal satisfaction? Ask them to give an account of a time that they successfully performed such tasks on a repetitive basis.

How to Appropriately Word a Behavioral Interview Question

Regardless of the specifics of your questions, there are certain ways you want to pose the questions. Do not ask yes or no questions without following up by asking for a further demonstration of the subject at hand.

active listening

Questions are to be probing and open-ended. They should allow the candidate to communicate a complete response regarding a past or potential situation.

As you listen to applicants’ answers, you may desire to pose even more extensive questions, especially as you discover the value of applicants who really know their business and possess the sort of experience you strongly desire.

Here’s a brief guide . . .

  • Explain in detail how you managed a high-pressure situation . . .

  • Describe a time that you utilized your skills of persuasion to move a sale forward . . .

  • Detail one of your most creative successes . . .

  • Describe a time when you learned by doing, risking, perhaps even failing . . .

  • Explain your style of teaching . . .

  • Give a detailed example . . .

  • Describe (in step-by-step format) your problem-solving approach for . . .

  • Elaborate on a time when you found it appropriate to bend the rules a bit and show your flexibility . . .

  • How would you respond to this potential crisis . . .

  • Detail your method for staying organized, on task and on time . . .

  • Describe a time when you worked through a complicated situation with an angry client . . .

The Results of Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral questioning leads to greater discovery regarding what various applicants may bring to the table if they are hired.

Behavioral questioning leads to greater discovery regarding what various applicants may bring to the table if they are hired.

Even if you are new at interviewing in this manner, asking just one or two well-planned behavioral questions can provide you with insight which you might have otherwise missed out on. It may even lead you to make a better immediate decision on who the best candidate really is.

Example: Perhaps you have two qualified office manager candidates: You must choose between a lady with a thoughtful and serious personality and the happy-go-lucky disposition of your favorite candidate, but you realize during the interview that your need for a truly thoughtful candidate far outweighs your original preference for the more outgoing personality.

You come to this decision after asking these two thought-provoking, behavioral interview questions:

yes yes yes
  1. Describe a typical day as Office Manager in your previous job.

  2. Describe your most stressful experience as an Office Manager and explain how you worked through that stress.

After hearing the responses of both candidates, your decision became clear and certain. Your personal biases/preferences were no longer relevant once you heard the honest responses of both candidates. You realized that the wisest choice - the candidate who really deserved to hear your "Yes" - had actually been your second choice prior to asking the behavioral questions.

How to Move Forward

figure scratching his head standing next to question mark

You must start immediately to explore the types of questions to ask potential candidates -- without asking every question in the book. Review the 4 considerations mentioned above. Establish priorities – both for the company and the individual jobs for which you hire. Then begin forming your behavioral questions. Work with managers to ascertain the most relevant questions to ask. Do the research.

Several sources of good information are listed below. Just follow the links:

success held in one's hand

As you continue to research and study the behavioral interview approach, we wish you much success in all your efforts.

If you are in the Memphis metro area and Brannon Professionals can serve you in any way, please contact us at 901-759-9622 or 662-349-9194. Whether you need professional staffing assistance, a business consultant, or would simply like more information about behavioral assessments, we look forward to hearing from you.