Tabitha Dunn Show Notes

Tabitha Dunn was given the responsibility to pull together a team to determine the best way to measure customer service. After collecting information inside and outside of the organization Tabitha’s team presented their recommendations on what to keep and change. When their recommendations were met with resistance by executives, Tabitha felt like she was punched in the gut. Listen to Tabitha tell her story about what she missed and how you can move onward and upward faster.

Tabitha grew up moving around quite a lot since her father was in the military. Born in California and having lived in New York, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon, Colorado, Greece and Germany. By the time she graduated from high school, she had lived in more places than most people live in a lifetime.

Growing up with so much change has given her the experience to confidently face new things and change. This pattern of change has followed her into adulthood where she has worked across multiples functions in business (from Quality and Operations to Customer Service and Account Management) and in various industries (such as government contracts, semiconductor, manufacturing, healthcare and software).

Tabitha’s current career passion is building and leading customer experience functions. In her current role, she leads the customer experience discipline for Concur, an SAP company.

Tabitha currently resides in Bellevue, Washington and is happily married to her best friend for the past 20 years, has a 12 year old daughter and loves to read books and ballroom dancing.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @TabithaDunn and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“I’m the person that can make changes; I can’t ask other people to change.” Click to Tweet

“I try and remind myself…look for what’s working really well.” Click to Tweet 

“One of the best ways to make changes is to get ideas of what would work.” Click to Tweet 

“Get them involved and help apply their passion.” Click to Tweet 

“It is about helping one another and being able to lean on one another.” Click to Tweet 

“If we use both the positive as well as the negative side…it helps to bring people along.” Click to Tweet 

“One of the best things I can do for my team is to share stories.” Click to Tweet 

“They get to make their own mistakes, but not mine.” Click to Tweet 

“You’ve got to bring people along for the entire journey.” Click to Tweet 

“If I feel like I’m not able to make a difference than I’m really not happy.” Click to Tweet 

“What am I going to do to make a difference?” Click to Tweet 

“What am I going to do to help my people?” Click to Tweet 

“If I’m that excited to do it, they’re likely just as excited to do it.” Click to Tweet 

“It should be my job to shift to coaching and help them grow and reach.” Click to Tweet 

“Making a difference is not always doing…often it’s coaching the people.” Click to Tweet 

“Tell me if I’m giving you enough coaching and support.” Click to Tweet 

“We’re not planning for perfect, we should stop thinking it will be.” Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Tabitha Dunn was given the responsibility to pull together a team to determine the best way to measure customer service. After collecting information inside and outside of the organization Tabitha’s team presented their recommendations on what to keep and change. When their recommendations were met with resistance by executives, Tabitha felt like she was punched in the gut. Listen to Tabitha tell her story about what she missed and how you can move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Do not plan for perfect. Get it right enough to move forward.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Not enough sleep.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Work in different parts of the business, so you can see how they all work together.

Secret to Success

I get up at 5am and workout.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Constantly learning.

Recommended Reading

The Martian

Contacting Tabitha

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tabithadunn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tabithadunn

Resources

The power of the word “Together”

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

048: Tabitha Dunn: I feel like I was punched in the gut

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

“Whether in the office or on the road work with your community or coach to practice great behavior and produce great organizational results capture real-time behavior practice competency-based development plans and invite feedback in an elegant and simple application. Take top performance mobile by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

Jim Rembach:    Thanks, Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader Legion, I finally got this person on the show today that I’ve been trying to get for a while, I’ve known her for a little bit but she’s just one of those people who’ve always intrigued, we banter and kid with each other, she’s brilliant and I’m so excited that you’ve got the chance to meet her today. 

Tabitha Dunn grew up as a military brat. She was born in California but lived in New York, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Colorado, Greece, Germany and by the time she graduated from high school she had lived in 10 different places, eight states across couple different countries. Growing up was always change has given her the experience to confidently face new things and changes. This pattern of change has followed her into her adulthood where she has worked across multiple functions and business from quality and operations to customer service to account management and in various industries such as government contracting, semi-conductor, manufacturing, healthcare and software. 

Tabitha’s current career passion is building and leading customer experience functions. In her current role she leaves the customer experience discipline for Concur an SAP company. She currently lives in Bellevue, Washington where she is happily married to her best friend for the past 20 years and has a 12-year-old daughter and loves to read books and do ballroom dancing. Tabitha Dunn are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Tabitha Dunn:    Oh, I certainly am. And boy, you’re making me blush for all of that. I had to say, every time I talk to you Jim, you always makes me smile, I think that’s particularly special gift, I love that. 

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate that. I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you, but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?

Tabitha Dunn:    Absolutely. Hush! There’s so many passion, but it really comes down to—I can’t stand for to go by my life where I haven’t been learning something. So for example, this year I finally, after 20 years, talk my husband into doing ballroom dancing with me, and he’s falling in love with it. He got to pick the dance, we’re doing Argentine Tango lessons together. Every week there’s so much fun, my daughter’s learning French and I thought, the best way to learn and know a language is to get to speak it with other people. So, my husband and I are learning French with her so that we can have the fun of being able to do that. We look forward to maybe going to France someday, maybe next summer, to try out our French language and get to go see another culture.

Jim Rembach:    Listening to you tell that story, thanks for sharing, is that there’s a couple of things that definitely resonated and connected with me. One of things that I’ve been trying to do in the past couple years is not to repeat the previous year. They say as you get older the years start to seem to go by faster and faster and if you break down you look at some of the neuro-science and brain science associated with aging, one of the main reasons that it seems to occur and move faster as we get older is because we’ve built so many habits in our lives and so what happens we’re essentially on cruise control, we’re on automatic pilot, we’re not disrupting enough inside of ourselves. 

And so, I’ve really try to be conscious and make a conscious effort of not repeating that same year and doing some things that are really dramatically different and the Fast Leader was my effort of doing that for 2015. I can tell you it brought so many things to my life, like this opportunity just to spend with you and to share our conversation with others that has been a blessing. I’m trying to do the same thing for 2016 so to me I got drawn to that. When you go through those shifts and you try to make those big adjustments you need a lot of inspirations to do that and we focus on quotes on the Fast Leader show to help give us that extra push. Is there one or two quotes that stands out for you that do that?

Tabitha Dunn:    Those are always, I think, such a tough question because quotes are hard for me to remember but I have on my desk this little disk, it’s a heavy metal disk, and it’s, “To be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I know that’s been improperly attributed to a number of different people over the years, but wherever it came from it just resonates with me because it reminds me that I’m the person that can make changes. I can’t ask other people to change that’s just not an expectation that’s ever going to come true.  I can change though, and that change reminder that quote is just too powerful for me. 

Jim Rembach:    It definitely is for me as well.  Even when you started talking about your story of learning ballroom dancing, getting your husband do it, your daughter learning French and everybody learning French, that is almost true. I had just the opportunity to interview somebody who’s talking about culture change in an organization and being part of an organization that maybe has been a had a culture that’s been around for a very long time and moving that barge can be really difficult. A lot times it’s easier to start a new and building the culture you want, but happens when you go and try to change one that’s already in place? He talked about that barge is moving so we need a tugboat, that’s a great analogy. 

Tabitha Dunn:    It is, I love that. 

Going back to the quotes and the story telling and the things like that. When you start talking about trying to inspire others to make changes in the organization, be more customer focus, be more customer centric, what are some of the things you do or used to help make those connections and make that movement? 

Tabitha Dunn:    A lot of times when we’re trying to make a difference we focus on what’s not working well, we want to go fix something, I think it’s internal part of human nature. I admit it I am definitely a fixer. But I try and remind myself that I also look for what’s working really well as well and go find those things, because those are the things we can build upon. If I think about customer experience and I think, okay, often the best ways to make changes is to get those ideas that would work from people across the business and help get them involved and help apply their passion to help bring us all together. I know I use the word ‘help’ a lot because it is about helping one another and it’s about being able to lean on one another and make that difference. If we use both the positive as well as the negative side to think about all of those differences we want to make, it really does help bring people along in that change. 

Jim Rembach:    You’re right and it’s not just opinion that has proven that to be the fact, there was a study that I was reading that was stating—and you have to be genuine with this is what I’m getting ready to share, this is a genuine issue is that, using the word and focusing in on the  concept and the meanings of together, by people believing they are in something together and it is genuine, just by using that word and people feeling it causes performance to skyrocket. 

Tabitha Dunn:    That’s fascinating. I haven’t read that, I love it if you’d share that with me, that’s interesting. 

Jim Rembach:    I’ll see if I can find and make it available on the show notes page for your episode which you’ll be able to find at fastleader.net/Tabitha Dunn, I’ll try to do that.  When you started talking about your story of being an army brat, moving all over different places, and I know you’ve been with a couple of organizations trying to implement this customer centric and human centric organizations, there’s a whole lot humps that we have to get over in order to reach some goals we want to reach, is there a story that you can share with us that can reveal some of those humps that you had to get over so it can help us? 

Tabitha Dunn:    I always feel like one of the things that I can do for my team the best is to share stories things that I didn’t do particularly well in the hopes that helping them. Felling my pain will help them, make sure that they won’t repeat that, they get their own mistakes but maybe not mine. I use to work for Xerox. I work for Xerox during the time of incredible pain and suffering. It was the time when Xerox was in the news every single day. I’ve never going, “When it’s going to go bankrupt?” I am okay, he’s got to admit that’s going to go bankrupt. And she was determined that we weren’t going to do this. That we we’re going to fight to save the history of our company and make a difference and really turn it around. I know Harvard Business Review has even written a great story about that turn around. And being married during those years gave me an incredible opportunity to turn my hands to so many different parts of the business to go help and make a difference. 

One of them was where we try to look at different parts of our services organization to be able to align metrics and I was asked to pull together a team to say, “Let’s figure out what the best ways are to measure customer service. Let’s figure out like how are we doing other parts to services and Xerox how do we do it in our part, and what are best practices elsewhere.” You and the team should comeback with a recommendation for what the new set of metrics could be and show what we’re going to keep and why. Show where are we going to change and why. And my team and I were super excited and we put it a ton of work and a lot of heart into that process. I remember when we got up and we each to turn and we’re sharing throughout the whole process and the entire time that we were presenting, I think that my heart fell all the way to the floor because there was so much resistance in the room. I could see my team just like, supplanting over their chairs and feeling almost like they were being hit even though I know now that those leaders in that room were not trying to have that impression. 

I remember walking out of the room and my executive ** looked them in said, “Well, that didn’t go well did it?” And I’m like, “No, no it didn’t.” And he said, “We should talk about why that went wrong.” And he said, “Do you understand what you did?” And I’m like, “ I feel like I miss something really important.” And he said, “ You missed the other people in the room. You and your team did great work at getting input but you didn’t let it with anyone of these leaders beforehand. You didn’t get like, how much resistance they give you, even just having a chance to have a sneak-peak at what you guys were thinking about to that they could have a say or even just know what was coming, they would’ve appreciated it so much more.” And I’m like, “Something that simple, I thought the presentation was supposed to give them that insight?” And he said, “No, no, no you’ve got to bring people along the entire journey, and they weren’t with you for that journey, and they didn’t see what you see.” And so, now we’re going to have to start over. And I still—even telling that story I feel a little like I was punch in the gut and that was like, How could I forget something like that? How important that was?  But I swear I have never, never forgotten that—how important it is to bring people along on a journey. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great story, and thanks for sharing it. As you were telling it I started thinking about issues that I think everybody has to contend with when you start talking about doing just that very thing, and that is time, we were all overloaded, and so when you start—I don’t have time to do that—the fact is that you have to have that time, you have to make that time, you have to plan for that time. If your project gets extended, then it gets extended if you’re not allowed for the project to be extended you’ve got a find another way to still build that in because it is such a critical component. But oftentimes, like they talk about as far as training and development of people, what’s the first thing to go when times get tough? What was that developing? 

Tabitha Dunn:    Yeah, they’re true. But we’re going to have it. 

Jim Rembach:    Definitely do. 

When you start talking what you are currently working on, you and I have the opportunity to also be experts for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and try to help others as well as our jobs, all of these things are family and they are so important—learning French and ballroom dancing, there’s just so many things that we have as interest and I think that’s pretty common when you start looking at folks that are contact centers, customer care, leadership roles for that example, it doesn’t matter if you’re in charge of us, that creative piece and that drive and having several interest and growth are so important but when you look at all of those what are some of the things that you have that are part of your goals setting?

Tabitha Dunn:    Wow! One of the integral parts of what makes me happy in a job is making a difference. If I feel like I’m not able to make a  difference then I’m not happy in my role and I’m probably will look for something else that will give me the opportunity to do that. I am almost always start goal setting with two things, what am I going to do to make a difference? And what am I going to do to help my people? And those two things are the center piece of my goal setting. As I looked at my setting goals for this year, I really looked at what are the things that I can do that makes difference? And what are the things my team can do to make a difference? And what are the things that are going to get them motivated and excited and help them grow. I have a joke that I say but it’s a true joke it’s the fact that the more excited I am that I want to put my hand into something in a project or to do a specific project the more that I have thought myself to let go of it and give it to one of my team. Because if I’m that excited to do it they’re likely just as excited or more so and it should be my job to shift coaching and help them really grow and reach for that thing. And it’s thought me that, that making a difference is not always doing the thing, often it’s coaching the people so that they can do that thing. 

I think I have my own epiphany right there are you share that, thanks for doing that. Also to if I don’t give those things up because of my excitement, I start taking over. 

Tabitha Dunn:    I have the same problem. So I was like, “Oh, no, no I can’t do that, I have to let go more. And then you just got to tell your people, tell me if I’m giving you enough coaching and enough support, enough of the safety net, or if I’m giving you too much because they’re the only person that can judge how much or how little they need at each of the process as they go through and work on that project or that initiative. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great point. If you’re to start talking about everything that we’ve shared at this point, what would be one piece of advice of advice that you would give to Fast Leader listeners? 

Tabitha Dunn:    One piece of advice—advices are so hard, I always think that it’s so important for it to be specific to what people need. We have a huge transformation we’re doing right at work for our services organization and I and my team are leading it. One of the thing I keep telling to all the leaders involved, “We’re shifting to this new service model in January it’s not going to be perfect. We’re not planning for perfect and we should stop thinking that it will be perfect instead we think about, what do we need to do to make sure it’s right enough for us to have a good basis to move forward? And then find all the cracks and fill them in as we go, but that design for perfection, boy…We kick ourselves all the time for that, don’t we? 

Jim Rembach:    That is so true Tabitha and the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

“Contributing to the annual $150 billion loss in training and development investments is downright demoralizing, so raise your spirits and training ROI by increasing learning transfer with ResultPal. Get over the hump now by going to Resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright, here we go Fast Leader listeners, it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Tabitha, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster.  Tabitha Dunn, are you ready to hoedown?

Tabitha Dunn:    Oh, I so am. 

Jim Rembach:    Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Tabitha Dunn:    Not enough sleep. 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have received?

Tabitha Dunn:    Works in different parts of the business. You can learn how all work together. 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Tabitha Dunn:    I always thought I was late nighter, turns out you can become an early bird. So I get up first thing in the morning 5:00 o’clock and I go work out. 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Tabitha Dunn:    Constantly learning.

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners, it can be from genre?

Tabitha Dunn:    I’m going to go for five, my favorite book this year was The Martian. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to other bonus information and that book from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Tabitha Dunn. Okay Tabitha this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Tabitha Dunn:   I would remind myself I made a very good decision at 25 cause that’s when I married my husband. But I think that the thing I would have wanted to do is I wish I’ve been better listener. That’s why I wish I’d taken the knowledge of listening and taking in what people are telling me. And I wish I did so much better back then. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Tabitha it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?

 

Tabitha Dunn:    Absolutely. I am on LinkedIn it’s pretty easy to find, Tabitha Dunn, and it’s also easy to find me on Twitter as well, anywhere you look for me just Tabitha Dunn.

 

Jim Rembach:    Tabitha Dunn, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

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