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.