Posts Tagged 'human resources'

Celebrate Winners, Dump Losers…NOW!

As the year winds down, I want to remind everyone that the customer, while vital, is only half our management audience.  After a long, tiring season full of challenges and hard work, we all need to think about the players on our teams.  If you’re honest, you’ll face the fact that, in every company, on every team, there are winners and losers.

 Oh, I understand that you appreciate your good performers, the ones who show up each day, follow training procedures and meet expectations.  You are surely grateful for every helpful customer communication at the door, on the landscape or via a hand-written note.  And we all love those who hit goals consistently.  But gratitude and appreciation will not amount to much unless you communicate those positive feelings in a meaningful way to your winners.  Take it from me; you CAN make a difference in the way you are perceived by your staff.

 So, now is the time to let your staff know how you feel about their work.  After the Thanksgiving holiday, front line workers in our business begin to assess the year and wonder….was it worth it? Should I stick around after I get my year end bonus?

 If people feel appreciated and understand that you consider them to be important contributors to overall company results, they will be more motivated to stay on and become smarter, more productive veterans next season.  Make that happen now.

 Do the following to maximize positive motivation now:

  • Have a private, one-on-one discussion with each individual on your team.  Review their contribution and verbally acknowledge their personal importance on your team.  Give examples of positive performance that made a difference.  When people feel important their self image and confidence is enhanced.  Do this in private, maybe over lunch or a beer.
  • Look for ways to help people grow.  All of us are motivated as we feel more knowledgeable and useful.  Now is the time to determine which people you can grow with next year.  Who has the skill to grow?  Which people have expressed an interest in learning more, taking on greater responsibility?  When you decide, your next step is to provide additional training.  That can be accomplished through cross-training with other team members or attending educational seminars and events.  Pick topics you know will help and follow up to be sure the learning was taken seriously.
  • Ask each team member how you can be a better leader.  The very fact that you show an open willingness to hear feedback, positive or negative, is important to employee motivation.  If people with ‘issues’ feel you are attempting to make improvements, it makes a big difference in attitude.

What about the ‘others’?

 As you embrace your winners, this is also the time to get rid of those who are either unwilling to meet your expectations and/or are simply negative players.  DO NOT go into the new-year with them aboard!

 If you have provided appropriate job skill training, followed up with coaching on the job and allowed a fair amount of time for the employee to meet reasonable expectations, you have met your management leadership obligation.  Everyone doesn’t succeed. Your obligation is now to the overall success of your team.

 This I know, if you’ve done your best to train and provide inspirational leadership…and still have a loser on your hands, it’s time to cut bait. Hoping and praying for an attitudinal ‘turn around’ is a lot like buying a lottery ticket and expecting to win.  Get the ‘losers’ off your team now. 




New Administration, hard times, NOT business friendly

Like it or not, republican or democrat, the die is cast; there will be a measurable change in your business model, and soon.  My objective is not to sell you on a particular philosophy but to alert you to the inevitable.  With higher taxes on even small to mid-sized businesses and reduced discretionary spending, you owners and managers out there will now have to control costs more tightly.  If you don’t, the alternative will surely be less on the bottom line.

When growth comes, not from adding revenue and taking advantage of accompanying economies of scale but through budget crunching cost reductions, YOU WONT BE ADDING PEOPLE, will you. Soon, you will come to the realization that you are going to have to succeed with the people and equipment on hand.  And, if you are normal, this is a frightening concept.  

I’d like to suggest you think about the one thing that does make sense for the short-term future; get more productivity from the people you have!

I understand, asking today’s ‘gen y’ worker to do more is akin to blasphemy but…you gotta do what you gotta do.  The good news is, even workers who want more time off, more flexibility on the job and continuing benefits, even those folks will respond to greater recognition and an enhanced position on the team.

Think about it…the starting quarterback is injured. As he takes his seat on the bench, you look hopefully at the back up. You tell the back up; “This is your you can be somebody, you can help us win the game. And, when we win, YOU win.  More money, pride in knowing you are the best, maybe even a promotion to the staring team.” 

My point is, when you are in a pinch, if you understand how to impact human behavior, you can win every time.  So, you don’t  tell people times are tough, that the new congress has jacked your taxes and you will earn less money. You don’t say that because nobody but you cares! What you do say is this; “Team, I know everyone here is concerned about the economy, our jobs and our company future.  It’s natural to worry when all you see in the media is a growing unemployment number and businesses failing.  Well, we are not going to fail and YOU are not going to lose your jobs, period!  We’ve been handed a tough situation but, if we all pitch in, we will weather this storm…and we’ll do it by working together and working smart!

Having reassured your team, you explain that everyone, including you, the leader, will need to do more short-term but, when we win, everyone will share in the success. [Don’t say that unless you genuinely mean it]

What I’m suggesting is, in tough times, when you may even need to cut staff, you can still WIN with your core team. It requires “hands-on” coaching and an understanding that, if treated with a modicum of respect and shown they are important, no, vital to success, your people will work harder and do more to help your team win.

This is my consulting message to clients and I wanted to share it with you.  Thinks about your management style. Are you bossing or coaching?  Will your people go to battle for you becasuse they understand you will do the same for them? Or, are people simply cogs in a gear wheel?

Tough times require a refocused effort to create and maintain a positive workplace enviornment and it begins with letting your people know YOU CANNOT DO IT ALONE!

A Leader’s Secret Weapon

  “Can’t talk…gotta go”. 

 “Hey, boss, hang on…I got a question”.

 “I said I gotta go…upset customer”.

Humm….sound familiar?  Boss can’t talk to employee, has customer issue to resolve. And, of course, as we’ve all been taught, THE CUSTOMER COMES FIRST!  Or does he/she?

Take a closer look at how you really outght to run your business.  I have a slogan; I use it in all my triaining/consulting sessions. It goes like this: “CRM [Customer Relations Management] begins with ERM [Employee Relations Management].  Get my point?

I don’t care what business you are in, if you have customers, you need to focus on serving them in a special way.  If you don’t, in this economy, with choices galore, they will disapprear like the morning fog.

So, how do we successfully serve, retain and profit from our customer base? Through our people.

If you want happy customers, start by building a culture that includes and is based on happy people. “Can’t be done these days”, you say.  Wrong. It can is is being done…today.

Without a long explanation, suffice to say that a primary cause of business failure, is a preceding failure to focus on your key resouce, the human resource.  We work real hard on planning, figuring out how to execute, etc. But, when it comes to the people on whom we depend to make it happen, we spend little time and attention to ensure success. Period.

A moment on something I learned as a young, know-nothing econ student; The Pareto Principle. All who sell, or have ever sold anything, have heard of it.  Still, if the PP is unfamiliar, let me lay it out as concisely as possible.

In 1906, an Italian eonomist named Vilfredo Pareto, while studying the laws of distribution [how things are naturally spread out], discovered something important. Simply, that a majority [he figured about 80%] of the value of time spent and effort expended, came from a minority [he fiuured about 20%] of the things we do.  We get most of the return on our time and effort from a very few things we do during a typical day, week, month or year. Lately, this distribution principle has been termed, The Pareto Principle.

The lesson, to a young sales rep is, figure out who your highest potential customers are and spend you time with them. Don’t waste time on the masses that return little in payback for time invested.

The PP can be applied to management time in any business, as well. Ask do you spend your day….on things or on people?  Because people are tougher to deal with and control than things or tasks, we tend to gravitate to things we can control. Even familiar problems precede dealing with our people in terms of the percieved degree of difficulty and discomfort. So, for most managers/leaders, people come second.  The team comes second.

Now, that would be fine…except for one’s our people who enable us to succeed, to reach management and company objectives.  No doubt about it…as good old Vilfredo learned, you will get more bang from your time use and focus buck when you spend it on high payback activities that involve people!

What kind of activities? Oh, let’s start with recruiting, attracting the best in your business segment. Then, how about training them; ensuring they succeed, which, of course is hugely motivating to the worker, leading to greater productivity and lower staff turnover. And how about follow up coaching; reinforcing learning to form strong productive habits? Am I getting through?

Stop focusing on things, spend your time with your people and the investment will be returned 10 fold.

Smart managers and leaders know the secret to success…the secret weapon; the Pareto Principle.

If You Wanna Win, You Gotta Train!

I want this post to help managers out there who are serious about winning and understand that it will be their people, not them, that will put them over the top.

Two facts are important. First, untrained people fail or, at very best, underperform vs. those who have the skills to succeed.  Seems obvious enough, doesn’t it. Why then, is training typically an after thought on the priority list of most managers? Let that question soak in a while.

Untrained and, therefore, unskilled people cost lots of money; they are inefficient, prone to error, and have trouble solving the the easiest of problems.  So, can we agree…training makes good business sense? I hope so.

Below, are several suggestions that will make training easier for even the smallest companies.

· Commit to building a training culture. It all starts at the top. Without visible support for training, it just won’t happen. Too many other things to focus on…training can wait!

· Designate a trainer who cares. For far too long, the person doing the training is a burned out veteran, deemed unproductive by senior management.  Your trainer must want to train and have a fire in his/her belly for teaching people to win! Be sure the person you select is literate, can communicate effectively verbally and in writing…and simply enjoys mixing it up with people.

· Spend adequate time constructing a training program.  Too many companies pull the first the fist generic program off the shelf they can find.  Honestly, the best training comes from within the company.  Subject matter experts are your source, the trainer is your story teller/teacher.  Don’t train just to say you did.  By the way, “small bite” training works best with today’s gen y workers. They want to be taught, not told and they want it in concise, logical form.

· Organize your content on a need to know, sequential basis.  Most training covers too much for too long in too great detail.  What does the new player need to know today to win today? Teach that. Then, with an early success driving learner motivtion, come back tomorrow with another ‘small bite’ and another success. Sequence the training over time.

· Follow all training with “hands-on” coaching on the job. This is vital! People learn through spaced repetition.  Adults need for the learning to make logical sense; they need to know why we ask them to do this or that. Train logically, sequentially, based on skill development needed to win. Leave the nice to know stuff for another time.

I could go on…but won’t. If this makes sense, let me know. If you have a better way, toss it at me too.

Good luck!

For more on me, go to my website