A week together!

Next week nearly all of Referential is gathering at our main office in San Jose.  Team members from 2 countries and 5 states will be here. We will be missing our team member from India, though we have creative ways to keep him involved and updated.  Subsets of us will be off to meet with local clients. There will be more security training. We’re ensuring the whole team is conversant in our newest service offerings. New product training is also on the agenda.  One evening we’re playing bocce ball.  Good food, and a chance to have some fun together is important.

Our newest hire will have her first day Monday, talk about great timing!  Not only will she get a shiny new PC, many of the rest of us will too.  Everyone is here, great time for a technology refresh.  In the photo you can see part of the assembly line that is getting the PCs ready with the newest software and security tools. Large monitors are here too so we still have the benefit of a large display with new, smaller PCs which will be great for travel.Unpacking new PCs

A week together is quite a treat. Nice to see each other in person, not just via video or phone. We’re all looking forward to it!

 

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Dress code – does your company have one?

This recent blog post from 4Imprint about dress codes was interesting.  In general, attire is much more casual than it used to be.  Of course that varies dramatically by region, by industry and other factors.  We do have a dress code in our employee handbook and we do talk to new hires, especially recent college grads, about what is appropriate to wear to the office, what is appropriate to wear to events where they are representing us or our clients, and what to wear in casual work situations.  College really doesn’t teach that!  The blog post recommends an employee fashion show, illustrating clothing dos and don’ts.  We gathered photos from various places for our own do or don’t wear illustrations. Being specific, with photos or a fashion show, helps ensure everyone has a common understanding of what is appropriate for your company and what you mean when you say terms like “business casual”.

Two of the sentences of our dress policy often referred to are: “A good rule of thumb is that if you are not sure if something is acceptable, choose something else or inquire first. Also, it is generally better to be overdressed than underdressed.”  Both are good points to keep top of mind.

We are a professional consulting team which is reflected in the work we do and also in how we present ourselves. In office or off site client meetings call for professional dress while Fridays are often more casual. It is rather nice to see a suit and tie once in awhile! Does your company have a dress code?

Already Fall!!

Fall

The year is going so quickly, hard to believe that today is the first day of Fall.  Even in sunny California the weather has turned a bit cooler, a leaf or two is about to change color, and pumpkin spice is ubiquitous. 

In the Southern Hemisphere it’s the first day of spring so our two team members on their way to Australia will experience another week of warmth and sunshine!  We hope they have a chance to enjoy it between rounds of customer interviews and filming.  Here, we will sip a pumpkin spice latte or two to usher in the new season!

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish?

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish? Hard to believe but the average person’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish! An article in Time Health quotes a Microsoft study which shows a human will pay attention for 8 seconds and a goldfish for 9!

Our digital lifestyle may make us better multitaskers but we’re also easily distracted. There is a lot of content out there, coupled with short attention spans, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd.

This  post from RO Innovation makes the case that video can be the way to go instead of the case study format. Our brains actually process video faster than text.

Think about how video might work for you as you share stories of your customers and your brand. Our clients have a clear need for written content but we’re seeing an increase in the desire for video. Often times our interviews will become both short and compelling video pieces and a complimentary case study with greater detail. We’re about to send a team to Australia for a second time this year to create video and written case studies for our clients. There are a lot of interesting customer stories among Australian businesses! Whether your customer is in Australia or right next door, think about the format which will tell their story best.

2 clients, 2 projects, 3 days, over 300 phone calls!

phone photoWe had two projects over lap this week.  One client needed us to follow up on survey results and another asked us to invite customers to participate in an important event.  Both projects were at the stage where it was time to leave email behind and make phone calls. Between the two projects, two team members have made over 300 phone calls quickly, all in just a few days.  One person even came in at 5:30 AM so he could connect with the East coast early in their business day. 

We were able to exceed goal for both projects.  We did leave a lot of voicemails but had great conversations with everyone who answered their phone.  A conversation is a great chance to meet your objective but also check in with advocates, see what other activities they might be interested in, see if anything has changed for them or their company, and answer questions. A lot of talking, but well worth the time!

Our Interns, and Summer, Are Almost Gone!

Hard to believe it but school is about to begin for our interns, and school starting is often seen as the sybolic end of summer.  It’s been great having them with us.  Two are employees of one of our clients, which we have hosted in our office, and one we claim as our very own.  So many benefits, for both them and us. 

They have learned much of the ins and outs of customer advocacy but that’s only the beginning.  With very little experience in an office beforehand they also learned communication skills, how to dress, business etiquette for meetings, and that lunch with your friends might allow for a different set of manners than when in a work setting.  They all go to great colleges but there is a lot about day to day behavior in the workplace that they have no way to learn until they are in the workplace! 

We benefit as well.  Nothing like having your documentation tested by someone with fresh eyes and that has never used any of the referenced applications!  We’ve been able to accomplish much more with their help. While we might have to do some teaching or reviewing they have been able to contribute from day one, allowing us to get to ‘wish list’ projects.  Having interns also provides a growth opportunity for Referential staff. Mentoring others is valuable experience and we did match each intern to staff for the bulk of their work. 

Being honest, we’re looking for a great pool of talent to help us not only in the summer but throughout the school year and just possibly to join Referential, or one of our clients, once they graduate.  We’ve had interns for years and the set we have now is great, we’ve been very happy to work with them.  And we must thank them for introducing us to a wonderful fried chicken restaurant, another benefit!

Take Your Vacation – All Of It!

Last year fully 54% of American workers did not use all their vacation according to this post from Business 2 Community written by Kristen Carlson.  Taking time away to refresh and recharge is valuable but do you know just how valuable? This article from Inc by Lolly Daskal has some interesting statistics.

When we do go on vacation 3 out of 5 of us do some work, some more than others! If you don’t take your vacation you’re likely to have higher stress levels and negatively impact both your cardiovascular health and even your year end performance rating!

At Referential we believe taking vacation is important.  We just did a quick mid-year reminder to everyone of how much vacation they have already used this year and how much they still have available. We encourage early planning for time off at the holidays, which is really important for us as our clients still need our services. We are open and stagger time out of the office so as to continue to provide coverage.  We discourage carry over, we’d rather people take their full vacation and get the associated benefits each year.  So far team members have had staycations, attended music festivals, visited the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, and Seattle, to name just a few places, with more exciting locations in plan.

Be among those that take all of their vacation time each year!  You’ll feel better and perform better as well.