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Showing posts from March, 2010

Make It Easy For Employees To Volunteer

April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week. That's the week when nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. will celebrate and honor their volunteers.

If you are not already volunteering, what a great time to start.  Make a commitment to yourself to start volunteering before that week starts!

And, if you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to your community you are:
building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hires In fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives.

Fortunately, throughout the U.S. there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis.

To find organizations in need of …

Do Exit Interviews

Knowing why an employee leaves your company can help you to reduce your employee turnover rate.

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.

So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee.  Ask each person:
Why they are leavingWhat they liked about their jobWhat they would have changed about their jobHow they felt about the cooperation level among co-workersHow they felt about communication and interaction with co-workersWhether they received the necessary training to do their jobWhether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisorWould they recommend a friend apply for work at your companyHow they felt about their payHow they would describe the morale in the company and in their departmentWhat they would change about th…

Read Good To Great

Near the top of virtually every list you'll see of the best leadership books, you'll find Good To Great, by Jim Collins.

The book, five years in the making, and published in 2001, addresses the all-important question of: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?

Some of the lessons from the book are:
"Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.""Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision.  It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.""Good-to-great companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.""Engage in dialogue and debate."Good-to-great companies are those who have the ability to get and keep enough of the right…

Involve Your Employees

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You'll be a more effective leader if you work hard to involve your employees.
Here are 10 ways to do that: Have active ways to listen to your employees. Check often with employees to see if the information you are sharing with them is what they need and what they want. Share information about customer satisfaction with employees. Discuss financial performance with your employees and be sure everyone understands the importance of profitability and how they can contribute to profitability. Allow ad hoc teams among employees to form to address organizational problems and work with those teams to tackle the identified issues. Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement whether those ideas are large or small. Take an idea from one employee and share it with other employees and teams and let everyone make a contribution to build upon that idea. Train! For long-term employees, find ways to keep their jobs interesting through new assignments and challenges. Conduct meetings around specif…

Don't Let E-mail Zap Productivity

The typical at-desk employee in the workplace loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions, reports Basex, an IT research and consulting firm.

Those interruptions come from e-mail alerts, instant messages, cell phones and handheld devices that constantly buzz.

The typical employee also checks e-mail 50 times a day.  Each time, the employee gets sidetracked, and their attention span suffers.  Productivity drops.  Thinking time decreases.

As a leader in the workplace, work with your employees to manage e-mails and to lessen daily interruptions.  Try these techniques:
Turn off all visual and sound alerts that announce new e-mail.Check e-mail at designated times during the day.  Attempt to not check e-mail more often than every 45 minutes.Whenever possible, communicate by phone or face-to-face.  This can actually save time and helps to build relationships, which suffer when e-mail is a workplace's predominant mode of communication.Resist using the reply-a…

Be A Better Listener

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March is Listening Awareness Month according to the International Listening Association.

Being a good listener is absolutely essential to being an effective leader.

When you really listen, you:
Remember names and facts correctly.Hear "between the lines."Show respect.Learn more about what's going on within your workplace. Here are 10 tips on how to be a better listener:
Look at the person who's speaking to you.  Maintain eye contact.Watch for non-verbal clues, body language, gestures and facial expressions.Eliminate all distractions. Don't multi-task.Ask questions that let the other person know you have heard them, and that you want to learn more.Don't interrupt.Don't finish the other person's sentences.Avoid using words, such as "no," "but," and "however," when you respond.Don't prejudge.Display a friendly, open attitude and body language.Ask questions to clarify what you heard.

Be A Leader Outside The Workplace

While I volunteered at this past weekend's "Million Meals For Haiti" event in Kansas City, I was reminded of the importance and power of leaders outside the workplace.  Here's what inspired me:

It took 10,000 volunteers to pack up 1,091,228 meals for earthquake victims in Haiti at this past weekend's event, organized by Numana and the Salvation Army.It also took hundreds of leaders throughout the community to organize the volunteers and to encourage participation among the groups of two to 20-plus volunteers who came to help.Those leaders included:Leaders within churches Leaders of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops Leaders within neighborhoods Leaders among groups of high school students Leaders within family units Leaders from other nonprofit organizations And, it was these leaders who used their leadership skills and persuasion to influence volunteers to accomplish good things --one of the most important attributes of being an effective leader.
And what a powerful remind…