For a Manager, Hope IS a Strategy

Former New York City mayor Rudi Guiliani is credited for that now oft repeated line, "Hope is not a strategy." But when he, like any good leader in a crisis, painted a picture for New Yorkers of rising up from the September 11 devastation, rebuilding the lower Manhattan skyline, and healing the city's wounded soul, Mr. Mayor was dispensing hope. And well he should have. It was the right strategy.   Why do I say this? Because hope is what professor Richard Boyatzis calls a "positive … [Read more...]

Employee Recognition: More frequently, Please, and Link it to Core Values

Companies are turning to employee recognition as an internal strategy to boost employee engagement and positively impact such metrics as productivity, ROA, ROE, and retention of both employees and customers. For example, companies that have a formal strategic recognition program in place had a voluntary turnover rate (i.e. people choosing to leave) of 14%, vs. 18% for those who don't. Here are several guidelines to make your recognition more impactful: Tie your recognition not only to … [Read more...]

Another Angle on Employee Motivation

It's the end of regulation time in a soccer game and the score is tied. It's time for the shoot out to determine the victor. You are the coach. How should you advise your five shooters, each of whom will get one shot at close range? "I want you all to concentrate on our scoring at least three times", OR "I want you to concentrate on our not missing more than two times." You first reaction is probably like mine, the first option, of course! It's a positive message, a positive objective, … [Read more...]

Build Relationships with Your Staff, for the Brain’s Sake

I can't stand it when a manager, hearing me broach the importance of building trusting relationships with their employees, blurts out the tired old term, touchy-feely. To dismiss the complex role of relationships in fostering sustained high performance is to just not get it as a leader in the 21st century. In a recent posting on the Harvard Business Review Blog, Naomi Eisenberter and George Kohlrieser raise three important points about this from their studies in neuroleadership. "…most of … [Read more...]

Ultimately, It’s Got to Be About Something Beyond You

How many of your employees are simply not engaged any more? Are there some who seem to just be going through the motions of their job? Yeah, they show up every day. They do the essential tasks. They don't miss deadlines or cause any major screw ups. But something is clearly missing. The spark has gone out of them and out of their work. They no longer speak up in meetings. They no longer volunteer to take on the additional project, to go the extra mile. Maybe they are just plum bored. The … [Read more...]

Every Job Matters (to Someone)

Recently I heard a presentation by Jim Gibbons, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries. In it he said that "every job matters." Every job has someone relying on the incumbent of the position to do their job well so that the other person can either: benefit or do their own job well. Your client/customer is either internal or external.You serve (or produce for) the external client or someone who delivers to the external client. This is true whether you operate in the private, … [Read more...]

Do We Stop Growing after Schooling?

I ran across a recent posting from the Gallup Management Journal that made a point have I never thought about before: "Raised through a childhood in which each new year brought novel opportunities, playing at ever more difficult levels of sports, growing physically, educated in a system of cleanly delineated grades -- freshman, sophomore, junior, senior -- many employees find themselves several years into their career wondering what happened to the momentum they used to enjoy. Being both … [Read more...]

Job Squeeze Is Real. Talk about it

My alma mater, the Industrial and Labor Relations School of Cornell University recently hosted a conference on "The Quality of Jobs." They looked at how trends in what they call the "intensification" of work, the restructuring of jobs, and classic downsizing have impacted the quality of jobs and the levels of satisfaction employees (who are left) are experiencing. While papers with their findings will be published in the new year, one clear finding is that these job and work disruptions are … [Read more...]

One Employee at a Time

Back in the 90's the Royal Bank of Canada had a series of TV commercials touting the theme, "Building a Better Bank, One Customer at a Time." The message, as I recall, was that RBC treats each customer as a unique individual and strives to win them over, one-at-a-time.   I frequently refer to this ad campaign in my management development workshops. The parallels are natural… RBC has customers, current and new. Managers have employees, current and newly hired. RBC seeks to … [Read more...]

(Re)Frame their Job as Something that Matters

Richard Florida is a provocative thinker around social and economic issues. He first became noticed from his book, The Rise of the Creative Class. In his latest book, The Great Reset, he shares data that the future growth of jobs will be in two areas: (1) knowledge, professional and creative jobs and (2) lower paying, more routine work in the service sector. Citing progressive companies like Wegman's, Whole Foods, REI, Zappos, Nordstrom, and The Container Store, his thesis is that work in the … [Read more...]