Posts Tagged ‘Service Orientation’

A Heart to Serve

Article submitted by Amy Sargent.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Had I really heard her correctly?

The cold months had been rough on Bessie, our red Subaru, and piece by piece, with daily driving in the harsh winter weather, my little car seemed to be falling apart. We’d had her for about five years, after buying her already well-used. Day in and day out, she carried the kids and I to and fro on our daily errands, and many a road trip, but though she was still running, was showing a good deal of wear and tear. The sunroof was splintered, the windshield was littered with cracks, and the engine was running a little rough. The brakes had started to squeak, and thanks to the lack of mature driving skills from one of my newly licensed children, she now had a nice big dent in her fender. Our family has always driven old cars, and we tended to drive them into the ground, so this was nothing new. But it was a few days after I posted on my social media page about how I was using duct tape to hold a section of her bumper together, trying to be funny,  when the phone call came.

“We want to buy you a new car.”

It was a dear old friend from college days, a kind, giving soul who always has something encouraging to say. She and her husband had decided they wanted to lay down a large portion of money to buy the kids and I a new vehicle. Being just a few weeks before Christmas, they were determined to share their blessings with our family during the holiday season. After much protesting, I humbly accepted their generous offer and went car shopping.

Who buys a friend a car?!

I’ve known some extremely giving people in my life.  My parents sacrificed much to make sure my brothers and I had a happy, loving home to grow up in. An aunt assisted me in procuring a scholarship to help with college expenses. A university professor paid my way for the college ski outing. A kind lady in our church offered to make our wedding cake. Friends and family babysat our children when we needed some time out, and once the kids were old enough, the acts of kindness they’d offer often brought tears to my eyes. I’d find a hard-earned $20 of allowance money tucked into a homemade Mother’s Day Card, enjoy occasional breakfasts in bed, and welcome their offers to help with chores around the house.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”― Anne Frank

Having a heart to serve others is a competency of emotional intelligence called service orientation. I like the use of the word, “orientation”. Miriam-Webster defines orientation as “a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination, or interest.” [] Note the words “usually general” and “lasting direction”. We’re not talking about a one-time do-a-good-deed for someone. Rather than a one-time service project, think of service orientation as a way of life. It’s having a mindset of anticipating, recognizing, and meeting others’ needs.

People who have a service orientation spend time getting to know others so they understand what their needs are. They are on the lookout to find new ways to increase satisfaction levels of those around them, and gladly make themselves available to offer assistance. They enjoy helping others and especially like providing assistance to the underdog. They have a knack for seeing things through the eyes of others and are quick to grasp perspectives different from their own.  People who are behave this way usually have a good deal of empathy.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”— Albert Schweitzer

Those who struggle with service orientation tend to think of themselves first and focus on their own needs before others. They’re not always the best team players and when asked for help, may do what’s required of them, but don’t often go above and beyond. They don’t stand up on the behalf of those around them and often speak poorly of others behind their back. These folks will often ‘pass the buck’ and even go so far as being discourteous and disrespectful.

Robert Greenleaf, author of the book Servant Leadership, observed that there are leaders who are in it for themselves and leaders who are in it for others. He concluded that those who put their focus on others were the most effective. According to Greenleaf, a servant leader must exhibit good listening skills, empathy, a desire to help heal those who are hurting, other-awareness, persuasion, conceptualization (the ability to dream), foresight, stewardship, commitment to helping others grow, and a heart for building community.

As with competencies of emotional intelligence, our ability to be of service to others can be developed and enhanced, no matter how far from having a service orientation we may be. From the ISEI Coaching Toolkit developed by Dr. Laura Belsten, here are some developmental tips to increase your service orientation:

  • Look for opportunities to be helpful, to be of service, to others
  • Anticipate and be aware of the needs of others; plan ahead to meet people’s needs if possible
  • Create a culture of service by modeling the behavior
  • Ask questions to understand another’s needs; act on or agree to a course of action
  • Under-promise and over-deliver; do more than expected
  • Follow through; check to ensure satisfaction

You may not ever have the opportunity to give someone a car, but there are many practical ways you can serve those around you, especially in the workplace. Here are some ideas: Offer a kind word of encouragement to your project manager, pick up a specialty coffee for a colleague, invite a coworker to lunch, thank your boss for her leadership, offer to help a team member on a project, ask your cubicle-mate about their weekend (and really listen). What else? Jot down a few ideas of your own then pick one to start with today. Taking an action to hep another is a great first step toward developing a service orientation.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens

Preparing for Retirement – Why Social + Emotional Intelligence can help with your career transition

Article contributed by Howard Fox, MA, ACC

I facilitated a workshop on Social + Emotional Intelligence (S + EI) recently for the staff employees of a local university, and was struck by “Robert”, one of the participants.  What was most interesting was his general demeanor towards his job, and how he was preparing himself and his employer for his last years prior to retirement.  Repeatedly during the session, Robert would state, “Why should I care? What does it matter? And, I’ll do what I need to do until I retire.”

As a consultant/manager, my reaction might be, “well, if this is the way you feel, how would you like to start your retirement early?”

As a coach, my reaction was:

  • How are these thoughts serving or not serving those around you in this room?
  • How are these thoughts serving YOU/or not serving you in creating a legacy for yourself?
  • How important is creating a legacy to you?
  • What would you like your peers and co-workers to remember you for?
  • What impact do you think your last years prior to retirement will have on you and others once you retire?

The workshop structure prevented me from fully engaging in a private coaching session with Robert, but if he did seek me out for individual coaching, there are a number of S+EI competency development strategies that I would use to assist him in creating awareness, insight, and possibility for what the remaining working and retirement years will have in store.

A successful coaching strategy could entail working with Robert across many of the S+EI competencies, but a number of competencies seem ideal in helping this individual work through the issues at hand:

Self Awareness – What does a “day-in-the-life” look like for Robert?  How does he feel waking up in the morning prior to going to work?  How does he feel at the end of the day?  What parts of the job does he enjoy the most, and what part the least?  How would he like to feel on his first day of retirement?

Personal Power – What parts of the job provide him with the greatest opportunities to solve problems and make a difference?  What does he do to relish in these achievements?  What parts of the job do not give him the satisfaction that he seeks?   What would it take to exert control over the things that he does not receive satisfaction in doing?  Or, what would it take to feel in control and make things happen? What are his dreams for retirement?  What does he envision these days to look like?

Initiative – What are the top five initiatives he would like to see happen in his job that will enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of his department before he retires?  Of these five initiatives which one could he undertake today?  What support from management or co-workers does he need to undertake these initiatives?

Service Orientation – It is said that people remember their interactions with us if they are treated in a helpful, respectful manner, and that the quality of these interactions drives their perception of satisfaction with their experience of us.  What would managers, peers, and co-workers have to say about their interactions with Robert?  How often does he make himself available when others need his assistance?  How often does he assist in completing a task or support an organizational initiative because it’s the right thing to do, not because he grudgingly (and sometimes loudly) feels he has to?

Intentionality – What activities could Robert plan for and undertake to ensure these remaining work years are as productive and valuable as possible for him and his organization?  What plans could he put in place and see through that would ensure his department can continue to function successfully after he’s gone?  And for his retirement years, what does he want to achieve for himself and his family? What kind of support does he need to produce this plan and make it actionable?

Interpersonal Skills – What opportunities does he have to interact with his peers and co-workers?  How can he ease the interpersonal transactions in the workplace?  How can he bring people together and find common purpose and direction?   An understanding of the Robert’s DiSC profile or Myers-Briggs Type (MBTI) would add to his interpersonal awareness and development.

Inspirational Leadership – What steps can Robert take to create a vision for his department?  What means does he use to communicate the importance of his vision and get buy-in from his manager, peers, and subordinates?  How often does he share his ideas and thoughts about how work ought to get done or new initiatives that ought to be undertaken?  Chances are, Robert has a great deal of insight into these arenas since he’s been with the organization for a good long while.

Coaching and Mentoring Others– As Robert prepares to create a vision and plan for how his years prior to retirement will unfold, what steps is he taking to prepare his colleagues for his departure?  What development, mentoring, and training will he undertake to prepare the staff?  How often does he provide constructive feedback and acknowledge and recognize the progress they are making?

Concluding Comments
The opportunity to coach an individual like Robert is a chance to help someone create a positive and lasting legacy, and plan for how they might enjoy and thrive in their retirement years.  There is no certainty of the events that Robert’s organization will face after he leaves, or what he might face during retirement.  What is certain is that being aware of and developing his social + emotional intelligence will help him show up and be confident in his ability to leave a lasting legacy, support the growth and development of others who will be stepping into his shoes, and in the long run, feel  a sense of pride.  Much better mindset than sitting back and asking, “Why should I care? What does it matter?” day after day, year after year until he retires.  Research suggests he’ll even enjoy better health and is more likely to thrive in retirement as a result!

A Great S+EI Story: Outstanding Service Orientation – A Must Read…

Because of their emotional tug, stories are one of the greatest ways to convey the meaning of the 26 Social + Emotional Intelligence competencies. Just thought you might all enjoy the following heart-warming story from one of our ISEI certified coaches, Kyle DeLoach. This particular story illustrates the S+EI concept of “service orientation.” THANK YOU, KYLE !!!!

Dr. Belsten,

I just heard a great EQ story on the news this morning. Thought of you and your telling of the British Airways story about outstanding customer service at NY’s Kennedy airport.

Rob Fyfe, CEO of Air New Zealand told this story to the interviewer in response to her question, “what sets Air New Zealand apart from its competitors?”

He said a passenger told his company rep that as she was hurrying to get to the sky ramp to board a flight in Auckland, with two very small children in tow (one, a babe in arms), a person ran toward her from the ramp area (the plane) and asked if he could help carry one of her children and help her board the flight. She thanked him and seeing his clothing, said to him, “its obvious that you don’t do this for a living at Air New Zealand. What do you do?” To which he replied, “Oh, I’m the pilot. I saw you from the cockpit window hurrying to board and I just thought you could use the help.”

What drives us to provide outstanding customer service? It’s just doing simple, basic things that help others move more comfortably along life’s daily highway. Being aware, getting to that place of conscious awareness, is often times the first step. And it is a “coachable” goal for all of us.

Continued success and happiness Laura!

Kyle DeLoach

Life Coach, Facilitator, Speaker

By the way, when I asked Kyle for permission to send his story out to everyone, he said “by all means, get the story out there!” And he added that he is currently reading and taking notes on Stephen Denning’s book, “The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations.” He says he is seeking to discover how people create meaning in their lives by telling stories as a way to interpret their own reality (thoughts / emotions / behaviors).

Thanks again for sharing, Kyle. And to all of you reading this, what stories do you use to illustrate and drive home the meaning of the various social and emotional intelligence competencies? Please share here, and I’ll compile a list and get them out to all of you.