Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wanted: Morale

I recently read a survey by the consulting firm Towers Perrin that said that "75% of employees polled believe that they can have a direct impact on their company's success and 72% derive a sense of accomplishment from their jobs".

Employees are looking for more than just a paycheck these days. They want to be treated like human beings, not just another piece of equipment. They WANT to be able to make a difference. The thing is, a lot of managers still don't get the idea. They're still in the age of "do as I say, not as I do". Employees are constantly under a microscope.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "do unto others . . .". It goes both ways. Just as you expect to be treated fairly and in a mature fashion, so do your employees. If you show them that you don't care about them, guess what, they show that right back to you. Show them that you care and can work for and with them, and they'll do the same.

Energize your employees - remember, we're all customers to each other in the workplace. Sharon Harwood, from Disney University said, "(Walt) Disney knew you couldn't have a supervisor in the back room yelling at you and then walk through the front door and greet a guest with a big smile as if nothing were wrong".

1001 Ways to Energize Employees by Bob Nelson, talks about how "energizing managers aren't afraid to tell their employees how much they appreciate them. When Ed Stewart, an employee of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, turned down a better-paying job offer to stay with Southwest, CEO Herb Kelleher walked into his office and kissed him". Now I'm not saying that you need to go around kissing your employees, but it doesn't take much to let them know how much you care for and appreciate them. People want to feel good about where they work and who they work for. They want to be able to wake up in the morning because they want to go to work, not because they have to go. The better they feel, the more committed and productive they are.

Dave Longaberger, CEO of The Longaberger Company summed it up pretty well - "Having a good time is the best motivator there is. When people feel good about a company, they produce more."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Lose Trust

Trust - a balance between what staff are giving and what they're receiving. If staff detect an imbalance between these two things, their trust in you or the organization will suffer.

You can gain trust by empowering people. Now that doesn't necessarily mean you have to give them the keys to the executive washrooms (that's another topic). It can simply mean trusting them to do the right thing, keeping them in the loop, or noticing the things that they do.

Every once in awhile you need to sit back and reflect on your relationships. Here's a list of behaviors, from Motivating Employees by Bruce and Pepitone, that cause employees to lose trust:
  • you say you'll empower them, but you find excuses not to,
  • you deliberately instill fear and anxiety in them,
  • you're manipulative,
  • you fail to deliver on promises or you make empty promises,
  • you inform the public about something before telling employees about it,
  • you don't tell them what you expect from them,
  • you give rewards that mean little or nothing to them,
  • you're inaccessible and always behind closed doors,
  • you delegate responsibility without authority.
Any of these sound familiar? If they do, it's time that you sit down and draft a new game plan. Give them what they need in order to do a good job and let them go at it.

Remember, I've said this before - most people don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well I'm baaaaack. I've been concentrating the last couple of weeks on the new job - and I love it. But it's time to get back to sharing my thoughts and "insights".
I can't remember what I was doing the other day when I saw the name Joel Barker. Wow. I hadn't heard that name in years. Barker wrote the book Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future. It's been one of my favorite books - and movies.

Barker is a futurist. He believes that paradigm shifts can happen at any time. And so do I. The thing is, if you look to the future, you may see them coming. This is where the futurist comes in with anticipation.

Too many managers lead with a reactionary skill. In his book, Barker discusses Peter Drucker's book Managing in Turbulent Times. He writes about the skills that a good manager needs and "suggests that one of the most important managerial skills during times of high turbulence (and anytime really) is anticipation."

Successful managers have always been strong problem-solvers. When a real problem occurs, they solve it. This is what they're paid for and this is what they concentrate on.

Drucker suggests that managers improve their skills in the area of anticipation and problem avoidance/opportunity identification. This is where you have the greatest leverage over the future - in business and in personal lives.

By looking ahead - anticipating - you'll dramatically improve your ability to deal with things before they happen, which in turn is going to give you more smooth sailing time. Sure, there are always going to be problems to solve. But by being a futurist and anticipating, you'll be able to head them off easier - or before they even happen.