Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Note

As Christmas quickly approaches (tomorrow actually) don't forget to thank the people that have supported you all year. If you think about it for a minute you'll probably come up with a much bigger list than you thought you would. Thank your:
  • supervisor/manager,
  • team members,
  • assistants,
  • organization,
  • mentors,
  • family members,
  • business associates,
  • students/learners,
  • office mates,
  • financier,
  • lawyer,
  • dry cleaner,
  • insurance agent,
  • mail delivery/newspaper delivery, and
  • God.
The list goes on.

You didn't get where you are, all by yourself. You can't do what you do, all by yourself. Skip to the end of the Scrooge movie and go right to the thanks!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Look For Results, Not Salutes

“Look for results, not salutes.” This is a great quote that comes from a chapter in Captain D. Michael Abrashoff’s book, It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. In it he describes how he broke down the time honored traditions of officer/enlisted separations. Not completely, of course, but enough to make a harmonious difference.

It takes just simple things sometimes to make a difference, and to show that you, as a manager/supervisor, are part of the team and not just the overseer. For instance, Captain Abrashoff talks about taking his place at the end of the food line at steel beach picnics (cookouts on the flight deck). This just normally is not done – officers go to the front. It wasn’t long, of course, before other officers took his cue and were doing the same thing. Going to the end of the line was one of many ways of showing his crew that he genuinely cared for them and he was working WITH them.

You can easily use these same types of techniques in civilian business. Just like the military, we also have ranks and privileges – executive parking spaces, cafeterias, even restroom’s. But take a look at the difference in where you spend most of your time. In your office – which is segregated far from the lower ranks?

I often talk about Tom Peters' concept of MBWA (management by wandering around). Step out of your hideout and become part of the team. Make it habit to eat in the break room once a week. Give staff the opportunity to talk with you freely, whether they’re happy about something or concerned. This is where new ideas and improvement comes from.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Than A Manager

In order to be a successful supervisor or manager you also have to be a motivator. With that comes a number of roles - coach, facilitator, and trainer. You must constantly be working with your staff in order to help them be more successful. Motivated staff means greater work performance and more success for your business.

You have to understand that YOU directly affect your staff's motivation to perform. You also have to understand that you're either a positive or negative motivator. Be a coach, a facilitator and a trainer, and you'll be the positive motivator.

Motivation, for the most part, is intrinsic, meaning it comes from within us. We naturally want to be involved rather than just being a bump on a log. A big part of motivation comes from having the ability to do things for ourselves and being involved in projects. Knowing that we're an actual contributor to the organization. There has to be more than just incentive bonuses and awards. Those things would take on a whole new meaning when it's the result of increased responsibilities and knowledge.

Your staff need to know that you care, not just that you know your "job". Coach them and train them. Keep them interested and involved. You'll find that it goes a very long way.
By the way - yes I'm a Bears fan!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tense Times

In tense times people tend to change in one way or another. They take shortcuts in procedures, they hurry through steps, they skip steps in reviews. Procedures are made for a reason - to document correct ways of doing things so that there is consistency throughout the organization.

Supervisors need to step up during tense times to ensure that procedures are being completed correctly. Depending on the type of company you work at, skipping steps may not be a real big deal. In others, like the medical field for instance, it could literally mean the difference between life and death.

Do things right the first time, all the time! If people are allowed to slack off at particular times there's a good chance that it's going to happen more often than what you want. They soon begin to reason for themselves in order to substantiate non-conformance. That will then trickle down to other staff and soon into the training of new employee's. Then you've got new employee's thinking that it's the common practice and you have new issues to work with - in particular, additional time for retraining.

Walk the talk. It's up to the supervisor to be a role model for employee's. If they see you slacking off and taking shortcuts it becomes an excuse for them to do the same. Put yourself in the customer's shoes. No matter what kind of business you're in, would you as a customer, tolerate anything but perfection? Of course not. Act as if you're part of the team, not always the head of it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Employee Partnership

Fostering a sense of partnership with your employee's is an important aspect of motivation. People typically want to do good and feel like they belong. Don't just focus on the success of the company or your management team. Realize that you can't do it all yourself. The increased success of the company rely's on the future success of its employee's.

Continuous training and communication is a must if you want employee's to develop and succeed - or help the company succeed. You need to take a proactive role in looking at what's required. Take a look at any kinds of barriers there are to success. This very often has to do with a lack of communication or hoarding of power. If you hoard power and knowledge, someone's not getting information they need that may increase productivity and quality of work.

A former manager of customer satisfaction at Disney summed up success like this:
"Recruit the right people, train them, continually communicate with them, ask their opinions, involve them, recognize them and celebrate with them. If you show respect for their opinions and involvement, they will be proud of what they do and they'll deliver quality service."

Don't forget about your new employee's once the next crop comes in. Set them up with a partnership to help them grow from the start. They're going to need guidance while they're getting used to their jobs and responsibilities. And make sure you "take them" to the corporate culture - don't let the culture come to them. That will be a topic for another day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Using Humor to Make Your Point

Over the past few months I've been given a fantastic example of just how important humor can be in getting your point across. A friend of mine sent me a training video that his organization had made that was produced by a physician. It was to be shown to all of their staff of "semi"-professional medical people. The information was way over any of their heads, and there was a lot of it. On top of that, the physician himself narrated the video. We've all known medical types that just aren't quite, shall I say, exciting. My friend told me that by the time the short video was over, most of the people were either falling asleep or talking amongst themselves. In a different setting of people this video probably would have gone over much better. It just didn't fit this group.

A couple of months later this same friend sent me their revised video - a cartoon. When I first turned it on, my first reaction was, "what the heck?". "This is just too goofy." But then as I watched it, I noticed that I was much more intrigued with the cartoon than the original video. Why? It was cute and comical. Even kind of silly. And you know what? I soaked in the actual point of the cartoon a lot easier and quicker than I had in the original. It turns out that it produced the same reaction with the employees of my friends organization.

According to the book, Motivating Employees, by Anne Bruce and James S. Pepitone, "humor helps us put things into perspective." "When you encourage people to have a sense of humor about their work, it forces them to take a step back from the situation at hand. When they do that, they can usually see more clearly and in more detail everything surrounding the situation."

I'm not saying that everyday has to be "Hee-Haw" (70s TV), but there is a direct correlation between having fun on the job and staff productivity, motivation, and retention.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Honor, Courage, and Commitment

Honor, Courage, Commitment - the core values of the United States Navy. These are attributes that can guide anybody, in any business, at any level. It should especially hold true to the supervisor or manager. These are three sound values that will make you stand out in a crowd of otherwise average people.
  • Honor - "I am accountable for my personal and professional behavior." Everyone is accountable for themselves. You must take full responsibility for your actions and keep your word. Dating back to at least 1500 Scotland, the motto "my word is my bond" still holds true today.
  • Courage - "Courage is the value that gives me the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity." Overcome challenges while adhering to your own personal high standards. Make your day to day decisions based on the good of the organization and your employee's.
  • Commitment - "Join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves." You must be able to care for your employee's AND respect them - no matter what level they're at (including up the chain) or how long they've been with the organization. High personal standards and morals are your ladder up.
Just like attitude, what you put out there is what you're going to get back. Adopt these three values and you're sure to go far.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Personality Assumptions

I recently went back in time (1960) to read an article by Douglas McGregor. In The Human Side of Enterprise Douglas describes two interesting concepts of human nature, Theory X and Theory Y. As I read his two lists of assumptions I realized that I have known and worked with supervisors and managers that actually buy in to Theory X a lot more than Theory Y.

Assumptions of employees falling into Theory X goes like this:
  • Work is inherently distasteful.
  • The average person is lazy and unambitious.
  • People prefer close supervision.
  • Typical workers avoid responsibility.
  • The principal worker incentive is money.
  • Workers must be coerced or bribed to achieve the organization's goals.
If you subscribe to the Theory X concept, I think you have some soul searching to do. Now don't get me wrong, there are people who fall into portions of this concept but research over the past few years has proven a number of these points wrong.

Check out Theory Y:
  • People enjoy work.
  • Work is as natural as play.
  • Recognition and self-fulfillment are as important as money.
  • Employees are committed to their work.
  • Employees exercise self-direction and seek responsibility.
  • Workers at all levels will exhibit creativity and ingenuity when given the chance.
As research and surveys have been showing, I think Douglas was way ahead of his time. Compare employee attitude and management styles of the '60's to today and you'll see just what I'm talking about.

These two theories determine just how you interact with your employee's. It determines what motivation (or unmotivational) tactics you use. It determines your overall relationship with your employee's.

Human nature causes us to act on our assumptions, opinions, etc. Take a step back and look at the true attitudes of your employee's and compare that to your assumptions - and act on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Motivates You?

A lot of supervisors think that what motivates them motivates everyone else. That's simply not true. Everyone is different. If you're going to hold a public presentation of an award for one of your staff, you may just be DE-motivating them. If they don't like public attention, they may just fall back and punt, not wanting it to happen again.

With respect to awards and motivation, The Walt Disney Company does something that more organizations should think about doing (one of many). When a new castmember is hired they're given a survey which asks them how they like, and don't like, to be rewarded and what motivates them. By doing this, their supervisor can tailor, to the particular castmember, the way they're rewarded.

It's commonly believed that money is the biggest motivator for employee's. Nope. A number of research papers over the last few years have proven this wrong. Sure people like money, but they also like recognition, career development, and influence.

Two of the best types of recognition are peer and customer. It's very easy and cheap to start a peer recognition program where co-workers can nominate others for going above and beyond. A certificate and maybe a gift card is all you'd need. It goes a long way.

Customer recognition is another biggie. If you have ANY means of receiving customer feedback in which employee's or teams are named, SHARE IT with them. They can then see that what they do really matters to someone other than the boss.

Whatever you end up doing, make sure that your motivation techniques and rewards always revolve around organizational goals. Employee's often attribute their success to how they're able to contribute to the organization.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leading by Example

Almost nothing can create as much credibility as leading by example. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you do thunders above your head so loudly I cannot hear the words you speak". In other words - actions speak louder than words.

One of the jobs of a supervisor is to be a role model. You were put in that position because you "fit the mold". You are a "model" employee. Just because you are now a supervisor/manager doesn't mean it's time to sit back and take it easy. You are expected to be setting an example in keeping with the standards of the organization. That may mean MBWA (see 08/22/08 blog) or rolling up your sleeves and giving a hand.

There are a few things that I think may guide you down this road to better leadership:
  • Don't be afraid to get out there and see what's going on and be the first to give praise - sincere praise - not just a painted smile and "good job".
  • Infuse inspiration into your talk, your body language, your memo's, etc. Let people know that you're excited about your job and your organization - 'this is a great place to work!'.
  • Share in your rewards and at-a-boys. Chances are, you didn't do it all yourself. Let your staff know how much they're appreciated. A small gift may be in order, or a pizza lunch.
  • Along with sharing in rewards comes taking responsibility. If you mess something up, take the hit. Never play the blame card. This will encourage others to do the same. And you know - you'll spend alot less time trying to figure out 'what happened?'.
  • Be honest. Anything less than that and you can kiss everything else you've done good-bye. No honesty - no trust.
Doing anything less than these five things will surely produce an unmotivated team for you - if you have a "team" at all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don't Get Even

Getting even. One of the easiest ways for supervisors to lose their integrity. With getting even comes a focus on something that has absolutely no purpose or good. It's unproductive and just causes a wedge to be pounded in between you and your staff.

You'd be much better off trying to resolve issues with staff - or bosses. Getting even or carrying a grudge causes phyiscal, emotional, and mental draining. All of which is unhealthy. Why should you put yourself in such a position? Is it all worth it to "show you who's boss" if you're also the one that's getting hurt? I bet you had no idea that scientists from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah suggest that this type of stress may induce cancer at an earlier stage. Wow. I don't know about you, but I see no benefit here.

It pays, not only personally but physically, to stay upbeat and positive around your staff. Anyone who's had any kind of communication training should know that whatever attitude you send out, you're going to get back. Getting even with someone just starts a vicious circle in which that time could be better used in improving your relationships and increasing productivity. The need to get even underscores every personal weakness. All you do is magnify them.

There are a handful of things that really separate winners and losers. One of those things is the ability and speed that we drive out our grudges and desires to get even. Remember, most employees don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dream, Believe, Dare, Do

Dream, Believe, Dare, Do - the four basic standards that drive Disney. Think about it. How can this work for you?

You're probably much smaller than the U.S. Government, but they also hold these standards. Take the space program for instance. Dream-going to the moon, Believe-President Kennedy believed in this program, Dare-we sent rockets into outer space, Do-astronauts stepped foot on the moon.

You can't rest on the past - "it's always worked for us" takes you on the road to nowhere. Open up and allow staff to participate in these standards. It will make them feel more a part of the organization. Who has the most first-hand information? Frontline staff. A lot of their motivation comes from knowing that they're valued.

In the book "The Disney Way", by Bill Capodiagli and Lynn Jackson, they list the 10 concepts that are at the heart of the Disney standards:
  • Give every member of your organization a chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody.
  • Stand firm on your beliefs and principles.
  • Treat your customers like guests.
  • Support, empower, and reward employees.
  • Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners.
  • Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition.
  • Train extensively and constantly reinforce the company's culture.
  • Align long-term vision with short-term execution.
  • Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems.
  • Pay close attention to detail.
Now these are the standards that Disney follows. But you can't BE Disney. Every organization needs to have their own unique brand and identity. Gain an understanding of these standards as they apply to your business, gather your supervisors and managers, and put them to work.

Develop an organizational culture and mission that's open to change, with Dreams (ideas) coming from all levels of the organization. Talk about motivating! If you take a look at the most successful organizations today, you'll find that staff participation is a major reason for their success. Look at Disney today and remember, "it all started with a mouse".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Developmental Training

Walt Disney once said, "The growth and development of the Walt Disney Company is directly related to the growth and development of its human resources - our cast". This is true in ANY organization. Think about it. Where would you be without your employees?

Just to put someone through orientation (one of my sore spots) and train them on their job is not enough. In order for them to perform at their best, training must be functional, complete, and on-going. Developmental training needs to be given top billing. It's an essential investment in your employee's future. Without it, how do you expect them to get better? How do they become leaders, or better leaders?

You can't sit on the bubble for years saying, 'we should be doing developmental training'. By the time you finally get around to it, it's usually to late - at least for the employee's you currently have. Habits have set in. When I first joined the Navy, it was near the beginning of the "kindler, gentler Navy". The "in your face" days were on the downswing and being replaced by 'would you do this' and 'please' - and even providing explanations (gasp). ALOT of the old-timers resisted and I even know some that ended up retiring just because they couldn't stand it anymore.

To many organizations developmental training means sculpting for leadership. If you subscribe to this type of belief then you're wasting a valuable resource - your front-line. Everyone must be included. There is a plethora of training out there. Google "soft skill training" and you'll find numerous places that will give corporate discounts for groups of online courses. Everything from customer service to computer skills to communication and time-management. But remember, just providing this type of training isn't quite enough. You need to set up some type of recognition for completing courses. This provides motivation to go even farther.

With development training investment, you'll see improved retention because it shows employees that you're taking an interest in their future, cost savings (caused by retention), higher quality output and even strengthened customer service. Learning causes positive habits which benefits both the individual and the organization.

Now don't you think it's time for you to recognize this win-win program? You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Busywork, as opposed to busy AT work, is a habit that all supervisors, and all employees, should watch out for. Yes, I've fallen victim to it just as much as the next guy. And I tell you what - at the end of the day I feel like I've just wasted 8 hours of my life or someone elses.

Merriam-Webster defines busywork as: "work that usually appears productive or of intrinsic value but actually only keeps one occupied". Busywork is when you feel as if the work you're doing is useless or unproductive. It's usually done just to occupy time.

In a lot of jobs there's often a higher focus on activity rather than results. Giving people menial tasks to perform only bores people and actually causes them discomfort in their job. If you're giving people things to do just so they have "things to do", chances are they see that and probably feel less than essential. Supervisors will give employees things to do in order to keep them occupied so they themselves can concentrate on other things and not be bothered. I've seen this type of busywork backfire many times. The employee sees exactly what the supervisor is doing so he/she gets the work done as quickly as possible so the supervisor has to keep coming up with more "things to do". Talk about a time waster.

If you're in a position where employees are often needing additional tasks, do them - and yourself - a big favor. Make up a list ahead of time and constantly keep it updated. Put some some thought into it and come up with some "busywork" that actually adds value to the day/business/organization. Not only will the employee feel better about their job and their worth, but you'll feel that much more successful yourself.

Friday, August 22, 2008

MBWA Revisited

Since I first got into TQM while stationed at Naval Hospital Orlando back in the early 90's, I've been a great proponent of Tom Peters' Management by Walking Around (MBWA). The whole idea revolves around getting out of your office, cube farm, etc and walking amongst your staff. There is no better way to get a real picture of what's actually going on in the "trenches". By getting a first hand look at the atmosphere you can actually head off potential problems before they happen, or get the opportunity to reward someone as they do something good.

Most employees won't go to their managers with problems - they just go to other employees. This is in no way a productive, motivating way of business. In MBWA the supervisor is "around" so employees don't have to go out of their way to find them. Talk to employees and find out their feelings and ideas. Let them know that their input is encouraged and appreciated. This is not a spying mission.

A lot of supervisors just don't like to get out among the troops, but the benefits of just walking around strongly outweigh the "inconvenience" of it. The thing that you, as the supervisor, must expect is - da-da-da - honest feedback. But if you make MBWA a routine part of your day - every day - you'll find that suspicions will go away and productive honesty will increase.

Check out Tom Peters. He's been around awhile but his ideas are still highly relevant Mr. Peters' books In Search of Excellence and The Pursuit of WOW! are still on my best-read list.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Restaurant Service

I had such a great customer service experience this weekend I just have to share it. My wife and I went to Buffalo Beach in Virginia Beach this weekend. This is a "family-friendly spin on the sports bar and grill". We'd been there once before and really enjoyed the atmosphere AND the food. Judy ordered the Caesar Salad with chicken. When it was brought to the table some of the chicken was pretty burnt. They were very busy, so we understand "stuff" happens. About a minute later our beverages were brought over and we asked for the dish to be taken back - we didn't realize it was the bartender, not a waitress. Without hesitating or looking for the waitress, she apologized and took the dish to the kitchen. In the next 5-10 minutes, both the bartender and our waitress stopped by at least once to ask if they could do anything else - all with a smile - every time. They seemed so dedicated to making sure that we were happy with our dining experience.

I was so impressed with these two that I asked to talk to a manager. The person who came to the table actually happened to be one of the the owners, Steve. I told him how we appreciated their staff's concern and smiles and that it was because of their service (and the atmosphere and the FANTASTIC food) that we'll continue to come back.

It's opportunities like this that staff have to kick it into a different gear. If handled wrong, this could have easily turned into a "we won't be back" situation. I like to tell people about good restaurants we've been to and the better the service, the higher the praise. Four thumbs up to Buffalo Beach!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

To Smile or Not to Smile

Donald Trump wrote in his blog this week that "a German scientist has proven that people forced to smile and take on-the-job insults suffer long-lasting stress that may harm their health". C'mon now. Is this really something that today's business leaders need a study to prove?

Any descent leader - at any level - should know that if someone is 'mentally abused' and forced to keep their feelings inside by masking them, they're going to be miserable. In order to be a successful leader, you must always be open to the feelings of your employees and counterparts. This is basic damage control. You wouldn't abuse your vehicle and expect it to consistently give you its best would you? Then why would you do that with a human-being - and a colleague at that.

Employees shouldn't need to be babied. They shouldn't need to have their hands held. And you surely shouldn't hold back from expressing your displeasure with someone. What you should do is watch the temper. Insulting and yelling does not cause motivation. It's just the opposite. Sure the person may then turn around and give you a better product. But how long do you think that's going to last? How long do you think they're going to last. I've known people, and I'm sure you have to, that have left great jobs at wonderful companies ONLY because of their leader. You'll find that most people quit their boss, not their job.

So take a deep breath and rethink your response the next time you want to tear into someone. You might just be saving their job - or their life.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Attention To Detail

I recently had a conversation with someone about how attention to detail affects customers. Staff's attention to detail may not be noticed by customers. But you know - that may be the best outcome. That's where I remembered a couple of great attention to detail examples.

Take Walt Disney World (WDW) for example. Most people have been there or Disneyland at least at some point in their lives - or have seen pictures. Think about when you first come into Main Street and walk down the sidewalks. Have you ever noticed the hitching posts? Most everyone I've ever asked say they haven't noticed them. Is that good or bad? In a way, it's good. What would cause you to notice? Knicks, scuffs, chips in paint. The good people at Disney realize just that. That's why the hitching posts are painted EVERY night. They'd rather have you NOT notice them then to notice that they're all scuffed up. That's attention to detail.

Being a Disney fan I have another good example. One of their most extraordinary exhibits is the Hall of Presidents. Anyone who's the LEAST BIT interested in the history of our great country would enjoy it. Anyway, that's where they have life size replica's of all of the U.S. Presidents on a stage where a number of them talk to you. Pretty cool - and perfectly lifelike.

We all know (most of us) that Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio. That meant that he wore braces on his legs. What I bet you don't know is that if you were to lift the pant legs on FDR in the Hall of Presidents that you would find - a complete set of braces on his legs. You can't see them otherwise. It's all about accuracy.

Attention to detail makes the difference.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Employee Orientation

Formal orientation programs should be something that is constantly looked at. Orientation can either make or break a new employee. I've actually known of people who have quit their new job because of orientation. Orientation quite often shows a direct correlation to your organizations overall training system. If orientation is unbearable . . . chances are so are the rest of your training programs.

Organizations normally want to get their new employees up to full productivity as soon as possible. That means cramming all of the new employee material into a reduced amount of time. Bad news. If employees are immediately overwhelmed with information that they probably won't remember anyway, there's no way they'll be able to contribute effectively to the team or be able to give quality customer service. If they're taught right off the bat to get through as fast as possible, then that's the way they'll approach the job from there on in.

If you have a number of things that need to be taught, keep to the basics. Cut out the "nice to know stuff". Give more time and repetition to critical information. The human brain can only hold on to so much new information. Overload it and it shuts down.

Facilitators also hold a very important role for orientation. These are some of the first people that the new employee will meet. Make sure they're enthusiastic, personable, and can project a positive perception about the organization. Without these characteristics bad attitudes could begin right here.

Remember - orientation is another type of welcome to your new employee. Make it count just as you would with a customer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Home Depot - Building Family

A fellow employee (we'll call her Reaper - from the TV show) recently took on a part-time job at The Home Depot (THD). After a few days of hearing her talk to different people about her early experiences I thought, 'hey, this sounds like a place that cares'. So, I had to check it out. From what I found, I wish more companies would take a cue from THDs Values

The number one Value on a list of eight is Taking care of our people. The thing that really intrigued me is that this goes right along with the things that she's been describing. THD doesn't just talk it - they walk it. The description begins by saying, "The key to our success is treating people well." I'll say a million times over - if you treat your employees well, they WILL provide better customer service. Excellent customer service is number five on THDs list of Values. It can be that low because of the focus on their own people. Excellent customer service will come naturally.

The second part of Taking care of our people says, "We do this by encouraging associates to speak up and take risks, by recognizing and rewarding good performance and by leading and developing people so they may grow." I'm getting excited here. Encourage employees to be a part of the company, not just a warm (for most people) body to put on the sales floor. Allow them to develop. Reaper told me about the incentives they get for learning about the different areas of the store. The more areas they learn about, the more they get. In this case it's monetary, but incentives come in an abundant amount of possibilities. Check out Incentives Magazine

Another Value that caught my eye - actually made me go oooooo - is number seven, Entrepreneurial spirit. "The Home Depot associates are encouraged to initiate creative and innovative ways of serving our customers and improving the business and to spread best practices throughout the company." This is the epitome of employee empowerment. THD has specific overall guidelines, I'm sure. But to be able to do your job without the constant fear of being told 'you're wrong, it should have been done this way', employees can be more open and service oriented with customers.

The whole theme here is to make employees part of the company. With that comes happiness, dedication and sincere customer service.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Easy Diversion

A little fun heartfelt recognition for employee's can be so easy and cheap. It can even spark creativity. How many companies have little or no immediate recognition program? Quite a few I'm willing to bet. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant or expensive. You don't need trophies, or gift cards, or big productions. It can be as simple and cheap as a white board and a couple of markers. One of the best types of recognition comes from peers. Put up a white board in an area that's highly traveled (hallway, break room, time clock, etc) and let them have at it. When a co-worker has done something extra or over-the-top on any particular day, peers can jot it down for everyone to see. As a supervisor, you'll see things here that you would never have heard about otherwise.

The white board form of recognition not only recognizes the individual or team, but also serves to motivate others to better themselves and their work so that maybe they'll get the chance to see their name(s) on the board. A caution though - keep an eye on the board to be sure that it doesn't become a bitch n moan board instead.

One thing I will say over and over again when it comes to any type of employee "program", - if you start it, keep it going. It's not enough just to begin it. It WILL die an agonizing death.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Opus Dei Management

I recently read an article by Jeffrey Pfeffer called The Benefits of Company as Family. It caught my eye because of the reference to Opus Dei which was a big part of The Da Vinci Code - good movie. Pfeffer talks about the three weeks he spent at IESE, a Spanish business school founded by Opus Dei in 1958. There they have a bigger emphasis on ethics and values than other business schools.

Where alot of schools AND businesses overlook the personal relationships of their staff, IESE emphasizes the long-term. They have more personal commitment to their students/faculty with a caring culture. The alumni association boasts enrollment of forty percent of the schools alumni - Wow. The dean of the school arranged all doctors appointments and transportation for Pfeffer's wife when she took ill while visiting. Take care and get to know your students/staff now and they'll be there for years to come.

In Pfeffer's same article he talks about U.K.-based Innovation Group. They have lowered their employee turnover from 30% to 4%. Huh? No typo here. When new staff come on board, their spouses receive flowers as a welcome to the company. Family members are invited to every social function they hold - no sneaking around the copy room. And because there is so much travel involved, the company offers concierge services and gifts to recognize their sacrifices. FOUR PERCENT turnover. The industry STANDARD is 30%.

Take those extra steps - they count. You don't need to spend an exorbitant amount of money or go way out of your way to make an organization more liked. Just be more "human", less "corporate".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It Begins

Welcome to the first blog in which I hope to share some personal ideas, and reviews of things I've read, heard and experienced. My focus will be on supervisory and managerial techniques as they relate to the motivation of staff. Working mainly in training & development for the past 20 years, you'll see quite a bit of that also. It really all goes hand-in-hand.

This is a place for all to share experiences and ideas - for me to learn as much as for you. I'll be posting at least a couple times a week.

Things have been changing over the last few years - definitely for the better - in the way that companies are treating employees. They're looking past the traditional benefits and providing more "perks". I'm sure you've all heard of Google and the way they've re-drawn the office setting. But yet there are the ever present "cube farms". Not too conducive to quality work. Don't even get me started there (although I'm sure I will).