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Showing posts from August, 2010

Make An Impact With Your Words Of Thanks

Your words of recognition and appreciation delivered face-to-face with your employees will be compelling, effective, meaningful and memorable.

As an employee's leader, you are likely the most important person to them in the workplace. Their knowing you appreciate their hard work and success is critical to keeping them motivated and engaged.

So, don't underestimate the power of a verbal "thank you" for a job well done!

Top Five Factors That Drive Employee Loyalty

A 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that job security is what matters most to employees. And, having that job security helps to keep employees loyal.  Okay, that's really not too surprising during these times of high unemployment.

Next on the list is benefits. The unstable economy, coupled with rising health care costs, make employer offered benefits more important than ever.

Third on the top five list is an employee's opportunity to use his/her skills. When employees feel good about their jobs and their abilities, and clearly know they are contributing to their organization they remain engaged and loyal. 

In fourth place is an organization's financial stability.

Compensation came in fifth on the top five list. Employee pay often is not the most important driver for employee retention.  Despite study after study that shows pay is not the top reason employees stay with a company, research results like these often surprise workplace leaders.

In …

Use New-Hire Employee Badges

If you lead an organization that uses employee ID badges, considering using a different color or a special designation on the badges for newly hired employees for at least their first 30 days and ideally up to 60 days. 

Imagine how welcoming it will be for your new hires when employees recognize your newly hired employees' status via their special badges and then when your longer term employees introduce themselves to the new employees in halls, on elevators, in your break room, in the parking lot and at large group meetings.

Some people call this a "hello" culture.  It's a culture that helps to quickly develop relationships.  And, it's a culture that ensures your new hires feel welcome during their critical onboarding time period.

Mix Praise With Constructive Feedback

When you provide overall feedback to your employees, mix praise with constructive feedback about what they can do to improve.

By mixing your input, you are satisfying a person's thirst for knowing both what he/she is doing well and what he/she can do to continue to improve.

Be sure to always start with the positive when giving feedback.

Don't Hire Someone Just Like You

Despite the temptation to hire someone like yourself, hire someone to complement your skills --not to duplicate your skills.

Managers often find it easier, more comfortable, or less threatening to hire someone with similar skills and work habits. But, to build a well-balanced team and to achieve maximum success, you need to have employees who can fill in your weaker areas.

So, if you are a great idea person, but a poor communicator, hire someone with strong communications skills. Similarly, if your team excels in sales but lacks organization, add an employee who leads in organization.

This may all seem like common sense. And you obviously need to hire someone to meet certain/minimum skill sets and who will be a good overall fit. But, do what you can to avoid the trap or temptation to hire someone just like you.

New Thinking About Employee Retention

Richard Finnegan has written a terrific new book called, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad.

One section compares traditional thinking versus new ways to think about retention and the vital role supervisors play in retaining employees.  For example:

Traditional Thinking:  Human Resources-driven programs like pay and recognition are essential for retention.
Rethinking Retention:  Ineffective supervisors trump programs and drive turnover.

Traditional Thinking:  All aspects of company culture contribute equally to retention.
Rethinking Retention:  Supervisor-employee relationships have a disproportionate impact on retention; the supervisor is the company.

Traditional Thinking:  Centralized communication and career programs impact all employees equally.
Rethinking Retention:  Supervisors drive what employees know and learn and help them prepare for careers.

Are your supervisors helping to retain employees or driving them away?

5 Tips For Generating Ideas From Employees

Your employees have lots of ideas.  So, be sure you provide the forums and mechanisms for your employees to share their ideas with you.  Hold at least a few brainstorming sessions each year, as well.

And, when you are brainstorming with your employees, try these five tips:

Encourage ALL ideas.  Don't evaluate or criticize ideas when they are first suggested.Ask for wild ideas.  Often, the craziest ideas end up being the most useful.Shoot for quantity not quality during brainstorming.Encourage everyone to offer new combinations and improvements of old ideas.

Lots Of Lessons From Post-it Notes

There are lots of lessons tied to those canary yellow squares, called Post-it Notes -- how ideas and innovations can come from anyone on your team at any time.  How they can be used by leaders to boost morale.  How test marketing is critical. 

Enjoy the history of those yellow squares.

Plan Monthly Job Learning Days

Having your employees learn more about what their fellow employees do is invaluable. When everyone knows how each job/position on your team fits together, your team can accomplish so much more. Plus, the new-found knowledge drives a better appreciation for what everyone does, and proves to the team that success comes only when all the pieces fit together like a well-oiled machine.

So, plan a half day where you pair up employees. Once paired, one employee explains to his (or her) partner what he does in a "typical" day. Allow enough time for sharing samples of his work and for Q&A. Then, it's the second person's turn to share about their "typical" day. If your half day is a morning, suggest the pairs of employees have lunch together, where they can finish by incorporating more discussion about away-from-work hobbies and interests.

Schedule your job learning days for once a month and have your employees meet with different partners each time. It's bes…

Know When To Change Your Decision

Leaders make decisions.

Good leaders are willing to modify their decisions as changing circumstances and data dictate.

If you are stubborn about a decision and think that tweaking your decision will be a sign of weakness, think again. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Often, circumstances change and new information becomes available after a decision has been made. If that takes place it is a sign of strength to modify your decision to fit the new situation.

Communicate Often And Tell A Story

"Most leaders' visions fail, not due to a leader's inadequacies, but due to the leader's lack of communication," said Margaret Reynolds of Reynolds Consulting, LLC in Lee's Summit, MO. Reynolds shared her expertise with me recently during an interview.

She added that it's not that leaders don't communicate, but that they don't beat the drum regularly enough. "Leaders need to communicate often, regularly and consistently," she recommended.

"In terms of how to communicate so people get it, it is pretty widely accepted that story telling is the most effective," explained Reynolds. Leaders need to paint a vision where people see it often. She recommends that leaders share their vision at least seven to 10 times with their employees, and to make it clear to everyone what specifically each person can do each day to help achieve the collective mission.

Reynolds' other advice to leaders is to be one who:
•listens with respect
•comm…

Go Old School...Use A Flip Chart For Gathering Ideas

Here's a great idea from communications consultant, speaker and author David Grossman:

And, yes it's old school. But, it works!

Grossman recommends that when you have something you want to get your employees' input on, post a question on a flip chart in your department or office. Provide Post-it notes, and watch the ideas grow as employees post their ideas on the flip chart.

This is an informal focus group of sorts, where employees can freely and without feeling pressure, share their ideas, see others' ideas, and then suggest even more ideas.

You'll get great collaboration without a meeting!

Do You Really Need To Read Leadership Books?

The answer is yes. 

And, fortunately, there are lots out there to select from.  However, if you don't have time to read books about how to be an effective and good leader, you can select a few words from the list below and then practice what those words mean, as you lead your team every day.

Leaders on the LinkedIn Executive Suite group came up with these nearly 50 words in answer to a discussion topic I posted in the group forum:  "A Good Leader Is [insert one word]."  A big thank you to that group for this valuable list.

Accountable
Adaptable
Approachable
Authentic
Aware
Bold
Brave
Candid
Caring
Clear
Challenging
Charismatic
Compassionate
Courageous
Credible
Decisive
Dedicated
Ethical
Empowering
Engaged
Fearless
Forward-Thinking
Gracious
Honest
Humble
Inclusive
Influential
Inspiring
Intuitive
Loyal
Mindful
Moral
Motivating
Objective
Open
Passionate
Pro-active
Receptive
Responsible
Respectful
Skilled
Smart
Steady
Strategic
Thoug…

Use A Board Of Advisors

David Burkus often provides valuable comments to my various Blog postings, and he's a person who effectively uses a board of advisors, instead of mentors, to help him achieve success.

"I've found that in my life, it was easier and more effective to set up a board of advisors," said Burkus, the editor of LeaderLab. "This is a group of people, three to five, that have rotated into my life at various times and that speak into it and help me grow. I benefit from the variety of experience these people have."

LeaderLab is an online community of resources dedicated to promoting the practice of leadership theory. Its contributors include consultants and professors who present leadership theory in a practitioner-friendly format that provides easy-to-follow explanations on how to apply the best of leadership theory.

Community users can download a variety of research reports and presentations about leadership and leadership versus management.

For example, a presentat…

Great Business Quote

Here's a great quote from author and speaker Harvey Mackay:

"When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience ends up with the money, and the person with the money ends up with the experience."

Let's Build A List

Let's build a list of the most important attributes of a good leader, and let's only use one word (or a hyphenated word) at a time to describe each attribute. 

I'll ask a similar question in some of the leadership groups on LinkedIn and then will publish all our words in one list to share with everyone.

Here's a start:
HonestCaringRisk-adverseWhat word or words do you want to add?

Thanks!
Eric Jacobson
Overland Park,  KS

Four Tips And Observations For Leaders

I really like these four leadership tips and observations from the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees:
Nothing creates more self-respect among employees than being included in the process of making decisions.Decisions must be made at the lowest possible level for management at the top to retain its effectiveness.Hold an annual "Olympics" at your workplace that includes competition in the areas of sales, production, administrative support, IT, etc.  It'll provide the opportunity for employees to show off their skills that will energize all employees and boost morale.Ensure employees know you've read the important reports they send to you.  Get an ink stamp that says "Read by [insert your name]" and stamp each report you read.  Then, route the report back to the applicable employee.  The quality of reports will likely improve!

Never Say These Words To A Customer

Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice in his recent column in the Kansas City Business Journal.  He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:
Can't -- As in, "We can't do that."  "We can't meet that deadline."  Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.Busy -- As in, "I'll call you when I'm not so busy."  "I'm really busy right now." The word "busy" gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.Safe -- As in, "Let's play it safe."  Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.Fear -- As in, "I fear that we may be moving too fast."  That tells your customer you haven't done your homework. MacKay writes, "Common sense, thorough research and sound adv…

Let Employees Learn From Their Mistakes

Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a manager and leader is to help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake.

If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee.

Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible.

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from reoccurring.

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were c…

Always Follow Through

Set a good example for your employees and follow through on everything you say you are going to do.

If you promise to get an employee an answer, get it for him or her. If you say you'll send a team member a report, do so. As the Nike campaign/slogan so aptly says, "Just Do It."

Too many managers don't follow through. Perhaps they get busy. Perhaps they forget. But, following through is critical to keeping your team effective and efficient. And it's necessary for gaining respect from your employees.

Following through also means doing so in a timely fashion. If you take too long to follow through, it's as bad as not following through at all.