Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pimp My Energy

Cash? Raise? Bonus? They may help a bit, but none of them will make an energizing impact on employees these days like they have in the past. The ole standby of threats and intimidation may have worked in days gone by, but now only serve to decrease morale and build up resentment. Employees today want their supervisors to hold their best interests at heart and to SHOW IT each day. They want more meaning and responsibility in their work.

According to Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, “trust, respect, and consideration from managers are the foundation of an energized organization.” Executives at the Cigna Group, “personally push coffee around the office, serving drinks and refreshments to their front-line partners.” This serves two purposes. First, the employees feel appreciated by the gesture made by top management. And second, they have the opportunity to raise concerns and resolve issues all at the same time – on the front line.

One of the best ways to involve employees in an organization, and to energize them in the process, is by asking for employee ideas. The City of Phoenix openly receives employee suggestions and then notifies each one “in writing about the final disposition of their suggestions within 60 days of the date the suggestion was received.” When someone’s suggestion is rejected, they’re also sent a letter giving a full explanation of why the idea wasn't accepted. How many organizations do you know of that do that? Actually, how many do you know of that have a SERIOUS suggestion program? Most talk, but don’t walk.

Who knows best what motivates your team better than they do? Get them involved with the process. That added bit of energy can come from the most “unorthodox” places. To challenge normal tech thinking, and to spur energy and creativity, Honda Motors (obviously not Toyota) places individuals who know nothing about technology on the company's design teams. Huuh? This is classic thinking outside of the box. Great ideas and discussions can come from the questions that arise from the person who knows nothing about the system. Things the people closest to the system would never have thought about.

Workplace boredom is a major cause of turnover. Energizing the job shouldn’t be a tricky task (if it is, maybe YOU’re in the wrong job). It just requires you to stay alert to opportunities to encourage people and to suggest ways for them to energize their own jobs.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Employees Show Me Up

Or, “How To Lose Respect From My Employees”. My wife and I went to a fast food place this weekend (Arby’s - yum) where I got to experience one of those, “really?”, expressions on my face. Supervisors should be the ones providing the walking-the-talk attitude for their employee’s . . . not the other way around.

The supervisor was running the register when we got up to the counter – very quickly, I might add. He took our order quickly and efficiently and then went around back to help with the preparation. At that point one of the employees relieved him at the register. She also was very nice and helpful to the additional customers. So far, so good.

When the supervisor placed the boxes with our sandwiches in the slide one of the lids opened up and we could see that the bread had not been toasted. So my wife said something and the supervisor’s reply was – wait for it – “the bread was accidentally put through the ‘warmer’ instead of the ‘toaster’”. That’s it! He didn’t have it toasted when he noticed it was not done correctly, nor did he even OFFER to fix it. He just continued on his merry way.

Upon seeing the, “really?”, look on our faces, the employee immediately told us that if we’d like the bread toasted that she would “personally” do it herself. PERSONALLY. Those should have been the words of the supervisor. As appreciative of this employee as we were, it should never have been up to her. She told us she’d bring the sandwiches out to us, finished taking a customers order, and went right back and fixed our sandwiches.

This was a perfect example of not walking-the-talk. Being the good supervisor he is, he’s certainly not making a very good example for his employee’s. It’s great to have knowledgeable and caring employee’s. It’s even fine for them to sometimes be more versed in their particular job than you. But NEVER put yourself in a position that, as a supervisor, you’re shown-up like that by an employee of yours. That gentleman not only lost any respect from my wife and I (and the other customers listening), but I’m sure he lost it (if not already) from that employee.

Walk-the-Talk. Act as you want your employees to act. Attitude=Attitude!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Xvxryonx Makxs a Diffxrxncx

Does the title look a little strange? I should hope so, otherwise you may want to get checked out. You can read it (Everyone Makes a Difference), but it’s difficult right? The “e” is gone, replaced by the “x”. That ONE letter makes a biiiig difference. Just like the employee’s in your business.

Take a look at this exercise from Tom Connellan’s book, Inside The Magic Kingdom.
Somxtimxs I gxt to thinking that what I do doxsn’t mattxr. But whxn I start thinking that way, I rxmxmbxr my old typxwritxr. Most of thx kxys workxd finx most of thx timx. But onx day, onx of thx kxys stoppxd working altogxthxr. And that rxally mxssxd xvxrything up. So whxn I’m txmptxd to say, I’m only onx pxrson, it won’t makx much diffxrncx if I don’t do this quitx right, I rxmxmbxr my old typxwritxr. And I say to mysxlf: “I am a kxy pxrson and nxxdxd vxry much.”

Every one of your employee’s is as important as the next. If not, then why do you even hire for that position? Huh! I remember in the Navy how the mess cooks were always looked down on. That they had menial jobs. That my job was more important than theirs. Think about it – what would happen if they decided that they weren’t important and all called in sick one day? How important would they be then? I better everyone would quickly change their tune a bit.

Think about this. Who’s the MOST important person in your organization? The CEO? The President? The Chief Financial Officer? The front-line manager? The custodian? Not one of them. They’re all equally important. Everyone has a specific job to do that contributes to the success of the organization. You couldn’t run the office without any one of these folks.

So lets work on one another to ensure that EVERYONE feels just as important as everyone else, no matter where they sit on the totem pole. Because Xvxryonx Makxs a Diffxrxncx.