A true leader displays personal power rather than position power.
Leading the charge is an important element in employee partnership. When I was a child, my mother would say, “Do as I say and not as I do.” Which choice do you think I made? Sure, I’d do as my mother “did” and frequently got in trouble for my actions. If this scenario sounds familiar, you better change your approach.
“Be sure you’re prepared to live the values you profess—your people will ‘hear’ what they ‘see,’ not what you say.” Dan McNamara, Senior Vice President, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America told me this when I interviewed him. He really learned about perceptions in employee partnership.
High-Performance Employee Partnership
If you want to develop high performance employee partnership, you must do so by example. One way to lead by example is to exhibit self-confidence. You can show that you are a confident leader. A leader has personal power. A boss gets his or her power from the title on a business card. Show your confidence by delegating tasks and responsibilities to your team members. Delegate in a way that builds alliance relationships so team members become interdependent with one another rather than dependent or independent. This will give you an integrated organization.
Listed below are some tips for high-performance employee partnership through delegation:
Adjust your attitude and be willing to hand over control, if you can.
Identify which tasks can be delegated and then define the delegation for your employee.
Create a training program because delegating without educating is a formula for disaster.
Show trust in your team and encourage trust between members. Your employees will enjoy no greater honor than your trust.
Spell-out the limits, explain results wanted and define authority. Create a safety net so individuals can take risks. If they make a mistake, still acknowledge the risk they took. This will go a long way in building a robust relationship.
Ask for, and agree on a project/delegation deadline. Wow, what a concept, let them tell you when they can get it done. First give the time parameters and then get out of their way.
Set intermediate goals and check to be sure the goals are being achieved. Regular follow-up is crucial to success. Be careful though, a new employee needs much more follow up than one who has been around for years.
Delegate with a purpose, no busy work. Explain the reason for the delegation and how the activity affects the workplace in total. Your employee will then have buy-in or better yet, an ownership in the project.
Delegate the what, not the how and get out of the way. Do not micro-manage. Micro-management is the kiss of death in building partnering relationships with employees.
Be honest with your team members and assign tasks fairly based on ability and past performance. Be careful of the teacher’s petsyndrome. Discrimination for whatever reason is destructive to workplace harmony.
Avoid perfectionism, especially if you are one of those analytical types. Give people a reasonable margin got error and accept that different can also be effective.
Debrief after the project delegated is complete. Ask for feedback from the person you delegated the task to. Did you give them the authority and tools necessary to successfully complete the delegated task within the deadline? Also give helpful feedback to your employee on how they could improve the next they receive a delegated task.
Do not take on the projects of others until you are sure you want the responsibility. If you take on something from your team members, which they should be doing, you can easily become the supervised rather than the supervisor.
Do most, if not all, of the things listed above and you will be successful in building synergistic employee partnership and developing empowered employees. Empowered employees take risks, are innovative and make the kind of decision that you would make. What more could you ask for as a leader? Good luck and much success.
Every organization wants high performance teams. Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart, said in his autobiography, “The associates did it [the Wal-Mart Cheer] for President and Mrs. Bush when they were here in Bentonville not long ago, and you could see by the look on their faces that they weren’t used to this kind of enthusiasm.” Would you like to have your staff enthusiastic about coming to work and serving your customers? If so, outlined in this article are many elements necessary to build your high performance teams. Partnering with your employees is the window through which to view all that follows.
Element #1 –Leaders Display Personal Power Rather than Position Power
Leading the charge is the most important element in partnering with your employees to build high performance teams. When I was a child, my mother would say, “Do as I say and not as I do.” Which choice do you think I made? Sure, I’d do as my mother ‘did’ and frequently got in trouble for my actions. If this scenario sounds familiar, you better change your approach. “Be sure you’re prepared to live the values you profess. Your people will ‘hear’ what they ‘see,’ not what you say,” says Dan McNamara, Senior Vice President at Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America.
If you want to lead high performance teams, you must lead by example. One way to lead by example is to exhibit self-confidence. You can show that you are a confident leader. Be a leader who has personal power rather than to be concerned with the title on a business card. Show this by delegating tasks and responsibilities to your team members. Delegate in a way that builds alliance relationships so team members become interdependent with one another rather than dependent or independent. Listed below are some tips for high performance partnering delegation:
Adjust your attitude (be willing to hand over control).
Identify which tasks can be delegated and then define the delegation.
Create a training program (delegating without educating is a formula for disaster).
Show trust in your team and encourage trust between members.
Spell-out the limits, explain results wanted and define authority. Create a safety net so individuals can take risks.
Ask for, and agree on a project/delegation deadline.
Set intermediate goals and check to be sure the goals are being achieved (regular follow-up is crucial).
Delegate with a purpose (explain the reason for the delegation and how the activity effects the workplace).
Delegate the ‘What, ‘ not the ‘How’ and get out of the way. Do not micro-manage.
Be honest with your team members and assign tasks fairly based on ability and past performance.
Debrief (feedback to and from the person who was delegated the task).
Do not take on the projects of others until you are sure you want the responsibility. If you take on something from your team members, which they should be doing, you can easily become the supervised rather than the supervisor.
Element #2 – All Team Members Need Clear, Concise and Focused Goals
On order to lead high performance teams, consider:
Determine exactly what you want.
Determine the price you are willing to pay to have what you want. Lunch is not free.
Select a date when you will have or achieve what you want.
Create your action plan (map) and begin at once.
Write a concise statement detailing what you want and how you are getting it. Write this document in a way that what you want is coming to you.
Read your document twice daily, in the morning when you rise and in the evening before you retire.
Element #3 –Help Individual Team Members to Create a Mutually Beneficial Work Environment
This idea starts with attitude and a willingness to make Relationship Bank Deposits. Similar to the cash deposits you regularly make to your company’s checking account at your local bank. Without these deposits you cannot make withdrawals to pay your suppliers. There are two basic types of deposits you can make, those with strings attached and those that are unrestricted. It is understood that the latter are the ones that will allow you to make future withdrawals.
Element #4 – For High Performance Teams Foster Each Individual’s Desire for Team Success
In team dynamics, members can have a buy-in or an ownership in the plans for success. Like the executives at Mitsubishi Motor Sales found out, buy-in does not necessarily lead to success while ownership generally does. If you and your team members intellectual understand what must be done to build a partnering alliance environment but have not yet developed an emotional ownership at the core of your being; chances are that the team will not be as successful as possible. A commitment to participation is essential along with the need for all involved to also commit to have fun. If things get too dull, your team will loose their edge and bickering will follow.
Element #5 – Be Vigilant with Consistent, Professional Performance and Behavior Standards
Take out a piece of paper and start listing the standards of performance you want all of your team members to follow. Offer them as a start to the team and invite them to add to and modify your list. Once the team has come to a consensus, print out the list and have the individual members (including you) sign the document. Give each team member a copy and post the original in a location where the team regularly meets. They will have more than a buy in; they will have an ownership in the standards of performance they helped to create. They will embody high performance teams.
Element #6 – Create Information Free-Flow in All Directions
What is the value of withholding information? Generally the answer is power, the power over others. This is not the behavior of a leader, a person who derives their power from the person they choose to be. This is the behavior of a boss with low self-esteem who believes they will be diminished if they share information (power).
What might be the value of information sharing…high performance teams. The list goes on and on; communication, productivity, comfort, security, feeling good about the workplace just to name a few. During the first six months of 1995, I did an informal survey of hundreds of working people who attended my seminars across the country. The attendees ranged from entry level to executive level. I asked them to write one thing their company could do to improve their loyalty to the company. The replies that I most frequently received were: praise, recognition, communication, comfort, security and feeling good about the work they did. Do you see any similarity to the lists?
Feedback is an important part of open communication. Try the Three-on-three method I learned from my mentor, Patricia Fripp, is an excellent way to build a partnering relationship with your team members. This is truly making relationship deposits, the right kind. Here is what you do. Start with the team member that you get along with the best. Ask them to tell you three things they do not like about the way you lead the team. After each response, answer with nothing more than, “Thank you.” Then ask them to share three things they do like about how you lead, answering again with only, “Thank you.” Get back with them in a week or two and review your progress so they will know they were doing more than talking to a brick wall. Do this with each team member once a quarter and within a year you will be amazed just how open the communication is within your team.
The difference between praise and recognition is that praise should be, from your heart to theirs, and in private while recognition is usually done in public. Delivering the correct choice goes a long way in developing high performance teams.
Keys to Praise and Recognition:
Reward the behavior you want repeated.
Be sure that your praise and recognition work.
Do it immediately.
Be consistent in the performances that you reward.
Combine verbal praise with activities or things.
Reward all improvement.
Tell team members the exact reason they are being rewarded.
Be sincere. If you must, fake it ’till you make it.
Keys to Reprimand:
Be consistent and fair.
Specify and reinforce the behavior you do want.
Reduce the attention of other team members.
Reprimand privately whenever possible.
Be the calming force in the interaction between you and the person receiving the reprimand.
Say only what you mean and mean what you say.
Reprimand unacceptable performance and behavior, not people!
Element #8 – High Performance Teams Celebrate Their Successes
Celebration in a natural human activity, it is the payoff for all the hard work. Sure everyone wants money but in my survey, it was far from being the motivator many think it might be. Celebrate achievement, positive results and phase completion or reaching a new plateau. A celebration can be as simple as a box of donuts during a break or as grandiose as a trip over seas. No matter the type of celebration, celebrate soon and often.
Believe in your team as Sam Walton did if you truly want to partner with your staff, employees, associates or team members to build a high performance team. In the postscript to his father’s book, Rob Walton, chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, stated, “President Bush and the First Lady would be traveling to Bentonville to present the metal [Presidential Metal of Freedom] to Dad, and he was thrilled by the honor. At such an occasion, of course, Dad could have invited anyone he wanted to attend the ceremony, but we hardly had to ask whom he wanted to be there with him: his Wal-Mart associates.” Sam was an integrity partner with his associates. You can do the same if you simply make the same choice as Sam.
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Praise for a job well done! Was the response most frequently given to me during my six-month Employee Loyalty Survey in 1995. At seminars across the country, I asked attendees to tell me the one thing that would improve their company loyalty. Present, were of all levels from entry to executive, and recognition is what American workers want most!
I believe most executives, owners and managers secretly yearn for employees who have an emotional ownership in their company.Employees that operate as if they owned the company and always looked out for the company’s best interests. Unfortunately, few are willing to do what it takes to cultivate this emotional ownership. Often, I hear managers saying that loyalty is too costly. But, how much does it cost to say, “Good job” or “Thank you?” Not a cent! The cost is the manager giving of him or herself–and to some, that price is too high. I have found that a little bit of recognition goes a long way.
Cost Effective Employee Recognition
Praise for a job well done, find creative ways to recognize your team. Don’t let your creativity limit you, ask your employees what they might like. Ask colleagues what they have done. Listed below are 50 “easier” low cost recognition ideas offered by my seminar attendees.
A visit from the president.
E-mail from the president.
Notice to all employees of a special performance.
Letter of recognition in employee’s permanent file.
“Highlighting Employee” section in company newsletter.
“Well Done” pens.
Company coffee cup.
“Attaboy or Attagirl” stickers.
Paid time off.
Recognition at meeting.
Lunch with the president or other executive.
Gift certificates to local restaurant, theater or video/DVD rental store.
Special parking space.
Private verbal praise.
Team pot luck celebration.
Choice of work assignments.
Certificate of Appreciation.
Team congratulatory song.
Selecting the workplace radio station for a week.
Come in late or get off early card.
Get the workplace recycled soda cans for a month.
Hand shake and “Thank you.”
Company specialty advertising items.
Boss for a day.
Care package to spouse or children of employee.
Wash employee’s car.
Food: all-day suckers, pizza, donuts or maybe something healthy.
“Get Out of Meeting” card.
Free vending machine privileges for the week.
Gold star on desk.
Facial, pedicure or massage.
Cater breakfast at employee’s desk.
Party at owner’s or executive’s home.
“We’ll do it Your Way Today” card.
Software, special keyboard, new chair, etc.
Notice about employee accomplishments in local newspaper.
Assign additional responsibility.
Guaranteed quiet/thinking time.
Include employee in decision making.
Decorate office for holidays.
Lunch or dinner at long meetings and training classes.
Listen to the employee.
Allowed to attend a seminar of their choice.
In The Art of Partnering I wrote about Management By Partnering Around (MBPA). I believe MBPA is the best possible solution to greater productivity. This applies to anybody who considers them a manager or better yet, a leader. Use Ken Blanchard’s model from the One Minute Manager, find employees doing things right and give them a “one minute praising” on the spot. What a great way to build relationships.
When I suggest partnering around, I’m simply suggesting that you create mini-alliances throughout your organization with employees, teams, executives, and others. As in networking, your goal in MBPA is to get to know as many employees as possible. Next, learn their strengths, weaknesses, and their interests. This knowledge will allow you to successfully put people together using the “Adaptive Organization” model. It will serve you well by unleashing employee creativity and more effectively utilizing their unique abilities. And don’t forget to offer them praise for a job well done.
If you will commit to MBPA, you can add my favorite recognition program to all your other incentive or motivational workplace programs.Rigsbee’s Recommended Recognition Program is that of offering negotiable corporate tender. The benefits to this recognition system are: Immediate and customized recognitions. We all want to know how we are doing. Who would not like their “reward” customized to their individual preferences?
Employee Recognition Certificates, Praise for a Job Well Done
Too expensive you say–not at all! This is the best deal in town if you do it correctly. Print recognition bucks assign a value and hand them out when you catch your employees doing a great job. It’s praise for a job well done. Who should hand out the certificates? It should be supervisors, managers and executives/owners.
Assigning the value is a bit tricky. You want them coveted by the employees but not so valuable that your managers are hesitant to hand them out. An Air Force major I met in Alaska assigned the value as a paid day off but for most companies it is too valuable. Managers are much less likely to hand out days off than a coffee mug.
First look at what you already have that would create value in the lives of your employees, vender freebies, specialty advertising items and so forth…excellent praise for a job well done. Then see what toys can barter for within your community and then post a list of “recognitions” and assign how many certificates needed for redemption. One certificate might be worth a paid hour off or a T-shirt. Two certificates might get your employee movie tickets for two or lunch at a local haunt. Five certificates might get a company jacket of paid vacation day. Play with it, put up new postings each month of the newly acquired goodies. Be creative, always add something new to keep the program fresh and your employees guessing.
The Employee Recognition Program Works, Praise for a Job Well Done
This program only works of the supervisors, managers and executives/owners will give of themselves to find employees doing things right and reward them for a job well done. Take a risk and try it. All you have to lose is the productivity your not now currently getting.Whatever method you select for recognizing your employees, the important thing is to start now. Praise for a job well done is always an important step.
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To keep employees motivated, you are dealing with their fears and anxieties—both about the well-being of America and the security of their own jobs. To put their feelings in perspective, perhaps you might think back on a difficult financial time of your business, a time when even meeting payroll was in question. Somehow you survived. Your business today is living proof of your survival instincts. Think back on the enormously high level of anxiety you experienced. Resulting from current events, many of your employees are experiencing those same kinds of anxiety levels in both the areas of national security as well as job security. Everybody has some feelings of helplessness. We all want to do something to help our country, and in a way that will create value for others—not just doing for the sake of doing.
Many people, and not just in urban environments, are also truly questioning their safety and security. A recent Wall Street Journal article on worker’s needs in cataclysmic times quotes David Stum of Aon Corp.’s Loyalty Institute as saying that, “Bosses who ignore or rebuff basic needs will see employee commitment and output fall.”
Not all people deal with stress, sorrow and anxiety in the same way. Some are more resilient than others. To help you understand levels of resilience in people, I recommend you read Linda Nash’s fabulous book titled, The Bounce Back Quotient.
Linda suggests that you help your employees, as well as yourself, to take control of what you can in this turbulent time. She believes that to the extent you take control you will reduce your stress and powerless feelings. Linda says that you can’t control what happened—you can’t fix it—you can’t turn back the clock. “Your world has changed without asking your permission,” states Nash. She continues, “Begin to take action—small is OK. Send a card, listen to someone who is grieving, take him/her food, hold a hand, give blood, attend a religious service, bake some cookies, volunteer, or assist in any way you can. Process your emotions but don’t allow them to take total control. Do something!”
Linda warns employers not to expect to go full speed back to normal. She says, “You may feel unusually tired or listless. Do what you can to regain your balance and take on usual tasks. Eat properly, take a walk, visit friends, get enough sleep, go to work and begin focusing your thoughts elsewhere.”
For the people that tend to be more emotional, they express their feelings. But, for people that keep their feelings bottled up inside—daily, they could be teetering on the breaking point. The key message in this article is: To keep your valued employees, it is crucial that you help them in the way THEY need help rather than how YOU think they need help. Please stop now and cement this idea in your head. Acting on this understanding is what will make the difference between high and low productivity in these difficult times.
It would also be helpful for you to have an understanding of the heritage, generational and historical culture of your employees. If you are a middle age Anglo and all of your employees are middle age Anglos, and from the same small town, that is one thing—but more likely, there will be a generational and cultural mix. There is never a one size fits all solution for people of different heritage and generations, yet sometimes there can be some general solutions that will help many.
As example, Carlos Conejo, author of Motivating Hispanic Employees, says that in times of stress, Hispanic employees need to be more involved in decision-making and problem solving. He suggests that you open more widely your channels of communication with your Hispanic employees.
Corporate psychologist, Dr. Barton Goldsmith suggests that to help your employees in turbulent times, you must understand the grieving process. He says, “After a significant crisis, every person and every company needs an adjustment period. Companies that don’t make room for this psychological necessity find it more difficult to move ahead. Encourage and support your people to recognize and experience the loss, even if it’s the loss that comes from giving up the ‘We’ve always done it this way’ syndrome. Grief includes five key stages (denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance) that may come in any order except for acceptance, which is always the final stage. Guide your family and your team through the process, giving them room for their feelings to be expressed. Make sure to do the same for yourself.”
I recommend that you pay close attention to the six employee need areas listed below. Please understand that not all your employees will need attention in all areas. Some might not need any attention at all while some could need attention in several of the below listed areas. Your role in helping your employees is to keep your eyes open to their special needs. It might also be helpful for your employees if you could communicate your willingness to help. Perhaps a memo or posted notice stating that you are available to help them in this difficult time would make it easier for them to approach you about their needs.
Employees Motivated That Need Support
Some people, in turbulent times, need a bit of a crutch on which to lean. You, as an employer, very well may be that support mechanism. In times when people need this shoring up of their fortitude and morale, they could also need additional guidance. President George W. Bush, during his September 20, 2001 address to the joint members of Congress provided America with both an emotional and moral compass. You as an employer can make a big difference in the lives of your employees by providing, on a daily basis, the same emotional and moral compass.
Employees Motivated That Need to Reassess Their Priorities
A good number of people are taking a closer look at their life and how they have selected their priorities. It is common, following a critical event in one’s life to reassess. You can help your employees by being open to the changes they select. You may find it necessary to allow some people, which have been deeply affected, to transfer into a new position or set of responsibilities. Be open to the possibilities.
Employees Motivated That Need New Challenges
Some employees may feel a need to share in the leadership role. This might help them to have some sense of control in their lives. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Harvard University conducted several employee productivity studies at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works. At that time they concluded that people were more productive when they had some control over their work environment—the same is true today. Perhaps an employee could head a new project, take the lead in learning a new technology, or even participate in management meetings representing the rank and file employees. Donnelly Corporation of Holland, Michigan has had great success worldwide for several years with the idea of employee representation.
Employees Motivated That Need Guidance and Mentoring
Most people, sometime in their careers, need some guidance and/or mentoring. Living through tragedy can amplify this need. As perhaps you are, your employees, especially GenXers, are in the process of sorting things out—emotions, feelings, priorities and other issues. This is the time for you to shine. Help your employees by sharing your successes, and failures. Show them the path to improvement and success. Not only will it make you personally feel good, it will help their productivity. If you help them so well that they want to start their own business, become their partner. I watched Bruce Scott, owner of a burglar alarm company build his network using this method. I also watched him net a fortune for him and his partners when the business was sold.
Employees Motivated That Need a Cheerleader
Cheerleading, at all times, and especially now is a crucial element in successful leadership. Periodically, everybody needs to be told how valuable he or she is to an organization. Some need this reinforcement more often than others. In turbulent times it is so important to show your pride in your employees. Perhaps now is a good time to push their creativity buttons and cultivate their star power. Give your employees the opportunity and tools to amaze you. Many just need a bit of direction and a pat on the back and they’re off making things happen. And, when they do amaze you, acknowledge and reward their accomplishments.
Employees Motivated That Need To Be Left Alone
While I realize that it might be difficult to understand that some people need to be left alone to deal with issues in their own way without assistance or guidance, it is true that some do better this way. Their behavior might manifest as something that resembles work avoidance or hide and seek behavior. Be sensitive to their issues, and if you must involve yourself, this is the time to use the carrot rather than the stick.
I believe it essential to repeat that the important key in dealing with your employees and helping them through, and keeping them motivated during these turbulent times is to focus on what THEY need, and how THEY need it, rather than imposing YOUR cultural, generational and empirical experience on them. Stepping back and viewing a situation through a new window can, at times, be difficult for even the most caring of employers. Yet, it is what you have to do.
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Motivating your employees in these times of conflict and uncertainty requires showing acceptance of each as fully functioning, rather than apprentice human beings is a necessary element in employee motivation. The Western Electric Company, Hawthorne Works, Chicago in a study (late 1920s and early 1930s) reported by Harvard (Mayo & Roethlisberger), detailed that American workers did not leave their personal concerns at home but rather, brought their problems to work. It was also discovered that employees became much more productive when they had some say or control over the issues at work that affected them. While these discoveries were monumental, the information was ignored in American business for decades.
Show acceptance of your employees through validation. Since the time you were a child you have been in search of things that made you feel good about yourself. As far back as you can remember you have wanted to feel good about yourself, your efforts, and also several other areas including your work. Are you different? Absolutely not, we’re all in this together.
As a professional speaker, I receive my validation through my audience every time I present a keynote or seminar. As a writer I find validation much more elusive. This phenomenon is experienced by 99% of the people in this country who work for another. Why is feeling good about oneself so important? I believe it is a self worth issue. While I’m not completely sure, what I do know is that the need is real.
Visualize for a moment the worst boss for whom you’ve ever worked. Let the negative feelings, the venom flow throughout your body. Even if this person maybe, possibly believed he or she was a decent human being, your only reality about this person is the current conversation and emotion you are having with yourself about him or her. What is your reality?
The sword has two sides. What might your employees be saying about you if asked the same question? What a thought! What is their conversation (off the work site) about you?
Most of us want to feel good about the way we treat others. While there are some exceptions, your efforts can be easily derailed. Are you letting your efforts to partner with the persons in whom you come in contact, become victim of oversight? Has the Door Ding Fairy ever visited you? You know what I’m talking about. You get a new car. The first time you drive it to the store and forget to park in the north 40, smash, you have a door ding. And nobody knows how it got here. Your employees can do the same thing to your business, consciously or subconsciously, if you treat them poorly.
Business success comes with a price, the price can be that of self-learning and improvement or the price of continual turnover, a turnstile of employees. So how can you validate and what type of validation is best? The following section on recognition will give you some answers. An important consideration to keep in mind is that different personalities prefer validation in different ways. A relationship personality person wants validation in making the workplace better for all. For a person with an expressive personality they want validation of themselves, the person they choose to be. A directive or controlling personality wants validation on their effectiveness in the workplace. And last, a perfectionist or analytical wants validation for their effectiveness in processes. Motivating your employees through your efforts to help your employees by understanding what makes them tick, also help them to understand the meaning of doing the best job possible.
In an OfficeSystems magazine it was reported what GenXers want. Who are GenXers? They are the children of baby boomers, born between 1967 and 1977 and they have been entering the workforce in increasing numbers. Some have been working full-time for a decade so employers should know a bit about them. Unfortunately, companies have been slow in making organizational changes to better utilize the skills of this talented generation. Often, managers try unsuccessfully to bend the GenXers into their own image and ways. It hasn’t worked too well for motivating your employees.
While not all are the same, the following list is a general indication of what creates value in the lives of GenXers:
Unlimited access to information.
Training for another job.
Total responsibility for projects.
Constant informal feedback.
Few rules and plenty of freedom.
The latest tools (hardware and software).
GenXers, Boomers and Traditionalists (also called Matures), were raised and synthesized at different chronological times and as such, see the world from different windows. In a mid-1990s Yankelovich Report, Rocking the Ages, they reported typical memories for the different generations.
Motivating Your Employees, Matures (Born before 1945)
The Golden Rule
Sex on your honeymoon
Motivating Your Employees, Boomers (1946 and 1966)
Do bees and don’t bees
Sex in the backseat
The Juice runs
Motivating Your Employees, GenXers (1967 and 1977)
Motivating your employees across the generations can prove to be tricky. Creating programs, policies and incentives that embrace the similarities and differences of these groups can make for high-level productivity and ageless motivation. Bruce Tulgan, in his book, Managing Generation X, states, “You need to give GenXers the rewards that they really want. The perfect rewards can be enabling them to learn new skills or giving them more responsibilities. They want to know that their hard work is valued and that their accomplishments are recognized. Even if it’s as simple as the manager buying pizza when they work late or giving them a couple of tickets to a show”
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the National Study of Changing Workforce, released in April 1998, by the Families and Work Institute put a common myth about GenXers to bed. The study was compiled from interviews with 2,877 employees over the age of 18. The study found that “contrary to the portrayal of Generation X . . . Young workers today are not a group of slackers. They work substantially longer hours on average and find their jobs more demanding than young workers 20 years ago did.”
Motivating your employees–what does all this mean to you? Simply put—help all your employees to feel welcome (regardless of decorative face hardware) and needed. Let them have some say about how they do their jobs and give them an occasional pat-on-the-back. Do these simple things and get out of their way—they’ll make you proud—and most likely rich.
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Employee Empowerment, in a perfect world might not be necessary. If employees would only take responsibility as if they were an owner or at the least, had a vested interest in the success of the company for which they worked. But it’s not a perfect world, is it? It is possible though, to create an employment environment where employees will take on responsibility. This is the activity all successful employers desire of their staff.
Motivating your employees to become proactive rather than reactive is what you want, isn’t it? Getting them to do more than react like a snail on Valium when things need to get done, or offer creative new solutions are necessary elements for business survival.
Past Labor Secretary Robert Reich commented on findings from a report the Labor Department commissioned which was conducted by researchers at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Ernst & Young. The study cited companies like Motorola, which estimates that it earns $30 for every $1 invested in employee training. And Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, which credits its employee management system with reducing inventories 66%, improving productivity 57%, and lifting unit sales volume 830%.
If you are willing to begin your Employee Empowerment journey (never a destination) to Partner to Empower, the above becomes possible. Let’s spell out the word PARTNER to discover the necessary partnering elements for you to achieve success:
Participation and involvement for Employee Empowerment
Participation and involvement is the first of the Partner to Empower elements. Like the muscles in our bodies, employees must exercise their abilities regularly to keep atrophy from setting in. The employee activities you must reward are risk taking, cooperation, mentoring, innovation, value-adding, and challenging.
Acceptance for Employee Empowerment
Acceptance of your employees as fully functioning, rather than apprentice human beings is the second partnering element necessary to Partner to Empower. This was brought to the attention of American management in the late 1920s and early 1930s by Harvard’s study of Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works, unfortunately though, few listened.
Recognition for Employee Empowerment
Recognition is the third element for your Partner to Empower model. It’s crucial that you embody that which you choose to praise and reward. The activities that you recognize, reward, and praise are the activities that will most likely be repeated.
During the first six months of 1995, as I traveled the country giving seminars, I asked all the attendees (entry level to executive) to write on an index card the one most important thing that their company or boss could do to improve their loyalty to their company. You might be amazed to know that praise and recognition was offered more than any other answer–much more than money.
Tell the Truth for Employee Empowerment
Tell the Truth about what’s really going on in your company is the fourth key aspect for your Partner to Empower endeavor. In my survey on employee loyalty, this subject was a frequent contender for top honors. Employees want to know which way the wind is blowing at their company. If you hold back information, they will simply “fill in the blanks” and usually what they fill in is far from accurate. Withholding knowledge generally will only serve the one who withholds in retaining power. Power is limitless, unfortunately many think that their power comes from their position. To the contrary, it comes from within–this is true leadership.
Net-of-Safety for Employee Empowerment
Net-of-Safety is the fifth element in your conversion to Partner to Empower. If you truly want your employees to actively embrace the activities in the participation section, you must create a climate of safety; nobody desires to get shot down for sticking their neck out in an effort to improve the workings of their organization.
When Tony Ciabattoni owned Pacific Business Interiors in Los Angeles, he had PERMISSION cards on his desk for employees to utilize when he was away from the office. If a decision needed to be made in his absence, the permission card was to wart off the possibility of a bottleneck situation slowing company progress. He acknowledged his staff for taking a risk and fully backs their decisions while still retaining the right to suggest that they make a different decision in the future. My alter call to you is this: Will you have permission cards on your desk within the next 30 days? Show your staff that you walk your talk and get the cards today!
Enthusiasm for Employee Empowerment
Enthusiasm toward your employees, their growth, and their risk taking is the sixth necessary element to Partner to Empower. Be excited about the growth of your team, be excited when your people take a risk (regardless of the success). Find that wonder of the world you had as a kid and hold on to it for dear life. If you do, your staff will be infected with your thrill of business and desire to serve customers in a way that will lead to absolute customer satisfaction.
Renewal for Employee Empowerment
Renewal of your commitment to excellence. This reawakening, last in spelling out P A R T N E R but surely not least, is crucial. Your employees are watching your actions much more than they are listening to what you have to say. Have a commitment resurrection; your commitment to your employees and your customers. Even if you’ve been a jerk to your staff in the past, today is the eve of a new era for your business. Show the world you’ve experienced a renaissance by your positive actions in spelling out P A R T N E R!
Partner to Empower, it’s a choice, it’s a journey, and it’s what will assist you and your employees in building a successful and synergetic relationship. One that will take all involved to greater levels of success–the choice is yours.
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The Magnificent Supervision tool. What an Idea! It was in the 1980s, when I owned a manufacturers representative sales agency that I heard Patricia Fripp talking about this idea in one of her success seminars. I tried the idea with my sales team and it worked magnificently. For over a decade now, I too have been sharing this tool with audiences across North America and have received numerous notes of success from attendees.
Let me first warn you—while this tool is simple to understand and quite easy to use, if executed incorrectly, can be crushing to your ego. But, what the hay—as a leader, it is your job to leave your ego at the door when you come to work each day.
The Value of this Magnificent Supervision Tool
The important value you will receive from this tool is that of knowing what perceptions your employees hold about you and their work environment. I absolutely believe that in every company—no matter how caring toward employees—exists a metaphorical two-story outhouse. Since we all know what flows downhill, your concern needs to be that of determining how to dismantle or tear down this barrier between you and your employees, no matter how inconsequential you believe it to be. Learning the perceptions of your employees is key to bettering the work environment for them. It is also true for creating an open door safety net that will allow employees to operate in an environment that encourages them point out overlooked mistakes before they become costly catastrophes.
The Magnificent Supervision Tool
The brief description of this tool is to sit down with your key employees, department heads or executive team—one at a time—and ask them to share with you three things that they do not like about how you manage them and the organization. Then to ask them to share with you three things they do like.
A Word of Caution
In order for you to successfully use this tool you need to realize that your employees will be very skeptical at first. They will wonder what’s gotten into you—what’s your true motivation in asking these questions? Also, you must be aware of the fact that they will “feel the water before jumping in” meaning that they will test you first before they will share their true perceptions. With this being stated, be cautious to only thank them for their answers rather than to question or challenge their answers in a knee-jerk fashion. If you do not understand what they are saying, it is okay to ask for clarification but any comment other than a “Thank you” will greatly diminish your employees’ willingness to take a risk and tell you the truth.
Magnificent Supervision Tool Implementation
Select the employee with whom you believe you have the best relationship for your first go at the Three on Three. Do this because you will be the most at ease with this person. After your first success, each consecutive session gets easier to conduct.
Find a neutral location (your office is unacceptable) and sit them down in a relaxed atmosphere.
Tell your employee that you have a desire to improve your management style and the work environment for all the employees.
Ask them for their help in honestly answering some questions.
Insure them that nothing they say will ever be held against them in the future.
Now ask them to share three things with you that they don’t like about your management style or the work environment. Remember, the first answer is testing the water so even if you feel like you’ve just been stabbed in the heart, you must only reply with, “Thank you.”
Repeat step #5 two more times. Generally, the second or perhaps third response is where you hit gold and get some real feedback.
In a sincere manner, tell them that you will work on what they said and that you will get back to them in a week or two to discuss what you have done about the items they shared.
Now you can ask for three things they do like about your management style and the work environment. Again, only respond with, “Thank you.” This is not the time to puff up your chest and talk about your greatness.
After the third positive response assure them that you are going to try to do more of those things in the future.
The master key to this whole process is that you MUST get back with this employee in the week or two that you promised and have completed some definitive action toward improvement on at least one of the items they shared with you as being a problem—an action toward all three issues is optimal.
Do this Three on Three process with your key people at least twice a year—quarterly is better—and at this time next year, I guarantee that you will have noticed results from this Magnificent Supervision Tool.
The necessity for a culture of Trust. I’ll never forget the warmth of the desert sun the day that I was told I did it all wrong. No training, but high expectations in assuming that I knew the difference between oil and water based paints.
Yes, when I was about 7 years old, the eldest of my three elder-sister and her husband took me for a weekend trip to the desert house of my brother-in-law’s father. I was excited to be helpful on the warm Saturday morning. The Father assigned me the task of opening up several partially used cans of paint and combining like colors in single cans.
When I finished the chore, I was quite pleased with myself. The Father checked my work and became angry and agitated. He realized that I had mixed together the water based and oil based white paints. I did not understand the difference in paint bases. He proceeded to tell me that I was a bad boy and could use a spanking. There was clearly no culture of trust in that household.
You might be thinking,
“Gosh—the Father should have instructed the 7 year old a little bit better as to the expectations of the job and offered a degree of training.” I agree with you whole-heartedly. Funny thing is, adults do the same to other adults quite frequently in the work place.
In most businesses, training and trust (T&T) makes the difference between high-performance employees and just average employees. This is also evident in seemingly productive environments. Even if your business had a 20% increase last year, do you know for a fact that your increase shouldn’t have been 25%?
must be done on a solid foundation of comprehensive and effective employee training. In all too many companies, I’ve seen the culture of employee training akin to that of throwing a child in the pool and expecting that child to swim to the safety of the pool’s edge all by themselves. You know what I mean, hiring an employee and giving them just enough knowledge to bumble along and figuring that in time, they will catch on. In a recent interview, the folks at Dell Computers even admitted that that’s how they did it in their early days.
Why not take the time and train your employees well from the start?
Is it because you do not have a methodical system for training that you can replicate accurately? This would be my first guess. Is it because you are just too darn busy? Is it because you never gave it much thought? Whatever the reason, understand that when employees are not trained well, there is the tendency among supervisory personnel to frequently check up and second guess the work of those under their charge.
This exemplifies mistrust.
When a supervisory or management person goes behind the employee, especially a veteran, and either supplements or changes the work or a completed task of an employee, what they are really saying to the employee, and saying it loud and clear is, “I don’t trust you.” If by word or deed, you say too frequently to an employee, “I don’t trust you.” The employee will eventually become demoralized and abandon any emotional ownership that they might have in the success of the enterprise. The result will be just another mediocre employee, that management considers easily replaceable.
Supervisors then find themselves babysitting employees
rather than seizing the opportunities for productivity increases and or resource savings. It all spirals into a culture of mistrust between employees and supervisors and management. The result being lost productivity, even if there might be productivity increases—just not the level of increases possible.
The solution is to develop a culture of trust upon the foundation of comprehensive and effective training.
Answer for yourself a few questions about how your organization operates.
Can your training system be replicated from supervisor to supervisor and from department to department?
Is your training system in writing?
Do you have metrics for measuring the effectiveness of the individuals that train new employees?
Do you have a periodic (one week, then one month, then six months) follow up system or mechanism for new employees to offer feedback on how well they feel they were trained to do the required job?
Do you have a bi-annual system for employees to rate their supervisors?
Are your supervisors aware that when they do things, change things, and/ or supplement things behind the backs of your employees, they are telling your employees, by deed, that they don’t trust your employees?
T&T is the answer!
Training well, and then trusting your employees is the key to high productivity. That does not mean you cannot check up on employees, by all means it is prudent to do that. But don’t do it behind their backs. If an issue is uncovered, go directly to the employee and re-train and re-educate. This will develop a culture of trust. And, in a trusting workplace, employees have a greater emotional ownership in the success of the enterprise.
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Use low-cost employee motivation to help your employees to have an emotional ownership in the success of your enterprise. Any time, especially in difficult economic times, throwing money with a strategy-less approach, at this challenge is generally not your best bet. However, putting energy and strategy into helping your employees will always serve you well. You can easily make employees your “Partners” in success, with just a little effort.
What business can honestly state that they have no employee challenges? Every business leader must excel at low-cost employee motivation for his or her employees. Through my two decades of research on this topic, I firmly believe that recognition is your Number One key to success. And, the best part is that you can do so much to enable this effort at little or no cost to your organization.
Below, you’ll find several no cost and low cost employee recognition ideas that I’ve culled from my years of work in this area. Embrace a newly energized for low-cost employee motivation effort to show your employees through both word and deed that they matter to you and your organization. Give them a modicum of respect and appreciation, and you’ll be amazed how they respond.
To start, how about a desk or workstation visit from the president? What’s that cost? Nothing. And yet the value is priceless. Are you getting the idea?
E-mail from the president. (Similar to the above.)
Birthday card mailed to employee’s home.
Afternoon Birthday celebration with cake and coffee.
Notice to all employees of an employee’s special performance.
Letter of recognition in employee’s permanent file.
Have a “Highlighting Employee” section in company newsletter.
“Job Well Done” pens.
Company logo coffee cup.
Attaboy or Attagirl stickers.
Paid time off (big in the military).
Recognition an important meeting.
Flowers from manager’s home garden.
Company T-shirt, polo shirt, denim shirt, cap, of jacket.
Private lunch with the president or other executive.
Gift certificates to local restaurant, theater or video rental store.
Special parking space.
Private verbal praise, especially in the presence of co-workers.
An office Pass-on button that states, “Job well Done!” or “Special Effort”.
Team potluck celebration.
Choice of work assignments.
Certificate of Appreciation.
Bake cookies for an employee.
Team congratulatory song.
Selecting the workplace radio station for a week.
“Come in late/get off early” card.
Get the workplace recycled soda cans for a month.
Handshake and a sincere, “Thank you”.
Specialty advertising items with company logo.
Boss for a day.
Care package to spouse or children of employee.
Letter about employee’s accomplishments to their family.
Specialty area diploma for employee, signed by department head and division executive or president.
Tank of gasoline for employee’s car. (This is a bigger deal today.)
Allowing the staff member to sit in or chair the monthly management meeting.
An afternoon off for shopping etc.
Recognition at regular staff breakfasts, verbally and by acclamation.
A CD/DVD record of the project or job, which led to the outstanding behavior.
Notice about employee accomplishments in company’s web site or newsletter.
Make your employee look good in front of his/her spouse/significant other; you’ll have won a large amount of loyalty.
I bet you could come up with a dozen more low-cost employee motivation ideas if you just put some thought into it. The important factor to grasp is that it is less about the material recognition and more about the bragging rights and emotional connection that an employee receives from being singled out for a job well done. Now please, go onward and spread the emotional wealth.
Recognition is how to motivate your employees. Do you fear that today’s employees are sometimes un-motivate-able? Here’s the good news; employee motivation is easier than you might realize. Today’s employees really are motivated through recognition. The key is to understand the various kinds of activities considered to be recognition of an employee’s abilities, hence motivational for today’s employees.
A while back I conducted an employee motivation research project while I was traveling North America for the Dun & Bradstreet Foundation delivering full-day public seminars, targeted to business. After several months and hundreds of responses to a simple question, “What can your boss, or your company, do to improve your company loyalty?” It was amazing! Over 50% of the responses were: recognition, or something very similar. Guess what, it is the same today.
Part of Something Bigger
When you can find a way to help your employees to be part of something bigger than them, they are more engaged and their work has a purpose beyond the daily grind,,that’s recognition. For most of today’s active workforce in North America , this involvement is perceived as recognition. They receive pleasure from participating in something special; a huge marketing and sales campaign, a contest, company reorganization, special research project, community activity, etc.
The smart employer that really understands employee motivation gets in front and leads. As an example, a community project might seem like a drain on resources for a small business, but really is a marketing/publicity campaign if administered correctly. Employees are allowed to spend a small amount of company time on the project and encouraged to spend some of their own time doing the same. The innovative business leader finds ways to “spin” the project for publicity which will translate to more community involvement with the company and into increased sales.
Give Them Some Control through Recognition
It has been proven over and over again since the famous “Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works” study conducted by Harvard back in the late 1930s that employee productivity increases when the employees have control over their environment. I wrote about a similar situation that I observed at a Grand Rapids manufacturing company in my first book, “The Art of Partnering.” When employees took over control of the worst production line at the factory, they solved many of the challenges. The line soon became one of the most productive and also desirable among employees to work. In both cases the employees were given the recognition of trust that they could successfully control their work environment.
Trust and Respect Are Powerful Recognition Tools
Today’s employees want to be trusted and respected as having something to contribute beyond mindless labor and compliance; and they want it now! For the “Baby Boomer” aged business leader, trust and respect is something that must be earned over a period of time. The natural gap here is the length of time. In order to motivate today’s employees, older business leaders must dramatically speed up their distribution of trust and respect—not a naturally easy thing to do.
For many of today’s employees, an employer’s recognition through trust equals respect in their minds; and respect equals belonging. If you can see your way to helping your employees to have an emotional ownership in belonging to the community of your organization, they will see that as recognition and will be motivated to participate at accelerated levels within the “community.” This accelerated participation, if channeled correctly, will mean accelerated productivity.
Give What They Cannot Buy
It goes without saying that you have to pay (total package) your employees well. If you do not, your competitors will. However, beyond the compensation package, you will find a myriad of opportunities to show appreciation for the value employees deliver to your organization.
Find, discover, and develop appreciation (recognition) in conduits with legs. When you hand out cash recognitions, the cash disappears instantly and is forgotten almost as quickly. Let’s say that you gave an employee $200. There are a number of consumable niceties that they could instantly enjoy—then they simply want more cash.
Or, perhaps take that same $200 and have your company logo embroidered on the back of a trendy leather jacket. Give the jacket to that same employee. How long to you think they will enjoy the jacket? Most likely for years, and every time they wear the jacket it is a reminder of your appreciation for their work. By the way, whatever you select as recognitions, make sure those items are not available to employees through purchase. Give them what they cannot but.
Recognition for today’s employees need not be elusive to employers. To motivate today’s employees, recognitions must be thought-out and implemented with the same care as a military operation; innovate, research, decide, organize, and implement. Do these things any you will motivate your employees to do more and be more than you had previously considered possible.