Management Success Tip #62: “Broken Windows” : A Great Employee Motivator

Broken Windows - A Great Employee MotivatorThirty years ago, Professors Wilson and Kelling introduced the “Broken Windows” theory, which basically stated that if you monitor and maintain urban environments, vandalism doesn’t lead to more serious crime. Fix those broken windows, clean up the graffiti, and you’re less likely to have murder and mayhem.

The theory has been applied with considerable success, notably by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is widely credited with reducing crime in New York City.

What does this have to do with your business? Fixing “broken windows” is one of the fastest, most effective ways to boost employee motivation.  Simply put, when you show employees you care about what matters to them, they will respond by caring more about what matters to you. They will be more motivated.

Try it. Put a fresh coat of paint on the employee lunchroom. Provide free fruit or muffins on Fridays. Make sure the sinks and toilets work in every restroom, and that restrooms are always clean. Add some freebies to the restroom; hand lotion, or disposable toothbrushes. Check out the florescent lighting, don’t let it flicker endlessly before you text maintenance to change a bulb.

All these, and many more seemingly non-business oriented details, matter to your employees. Remember, most of them spend more hours at work than they do in their own homes!

Take a weekly walk through your department. Make sure you aren’t allowing your employees’ workspace to be home to “broken windows,” and seemingly without any effort on your part, your employees work and commitment to their work will improve.


Attention Bosses and Managers: March 1 Is World Compliment Day

After 10 successful editions of “National Compliment Day” in the Netherlands, the creators have expanded the day to encompass the world. “World Compliment Day” takes place March 1. The day as a good reminder for bosses and managers about the importance of appreciation in the workplace.

            A Jackson Organization study shows companies that effectively acknowledge employee value by, for example, giving them compliments, see a return that is more than triple the return of companies that don’t. Giving heart-felt compliments to your employees has significant impact on how employees view their work, It’s human nature. When someone compliments us, we feel good about ourselves. A compliment given by a boss often prompts us to work a little harder. And from strictly a business standpoint, compliments can improve productivity and a business’ bottom line.

            The initiative, in contrast to Valentine’s Day, Secretaries’ Day, and Mother and Father’s Days, is not commercially oriented, so everyone can afford to participate. “‘World Compliment Day’ simply addresses the basic human need for recognition and appreciation,” says Hans Poortvliet, recognition professional and the driving force behind the annual event in the Netherlands. “Everybody gains emotionally. And therein lies its power.”

            March 1 is about consciously reflecting on what someone does well and letting that person know that his or her efforts are appreciated. “A sincere and personal compliment costs nothing, but the impact on the recipient is huge,” says Poortvliet. “Nothing stimulates more, gives more energy, makes people happier and, as far as business is concerned, increases commitment and loyalty faster than sincere appreciation. So why not use it a little bit more?”

            Poortvliet hopes that on March 1, every person pays at least three people a genuine compliment. “If we can do that, it will definitely create the most positive day in the world!” says Poortvliet.

            For more information on World Compliment Day, go to For more business-related appreciation suggestions, go to go to, on Facebook at or at

Management Success Tip #61: Wanna Keep Best GenXers? Make Sure the Job Fits!

Image courtesy of sattva /

Image courtesy of sattva /

Imagine you’re the coach of a basketball team. You want to keep your best players in the game, right? Yet you can’t prevent scouts from other teams taking a “look-see” at your players, and you certainly can’t prevent your rising stars from checking out if they can better their chances by joining other teams. Contracts, as has been said more than once, were made to be broken . . .

You’re in similar straits with your best employees, especially your GenXers. They’ve been in the game long enough to know there are other “teams” in town, willing to offer them better paychecks and/or perks. Even if that isn’t the case, even if moving out of your company isn’t moving up, GenXers are far more likely than previous generations to make lateral moves from one company to the next.

How can you keep your best GenXers in your game? One of the ways is to provide them with a good fit.

A good fit means that you periodically take a look at how the job/position your GenXer has been assigned to matches his or her skills, talents, abilities and aspirations. You don’t take for granted that if you’re not hearing employee-squawks, all is well. People change, people grow, people’s ambitions develop. You proactively assess whether or not what you are asking of your GenXer today is in line with their changing self, growth and ambitions.

Part of that assessment is, of course, to discuss the subject openly with your GenXer. Transparency is an increasingly valued attribute.

Provide a good fit, one that changes and evolves as your GenXer employee changes and evolves, and you’re far more likely to keep him or her in your game.

Management Success Tip #60: Keep Employee Morale High When “Stuff” Happens!


Image courtesy of ponsuwan /

Stuff happens. You lose a major account.  Or the “latest greatest” product your company launched doesn’t strike consumers as the “latest, greatest” – more like the “lamest, dippiest.” Whatever the “stuff,” you’re in charge of your department, your company, you’re supposed to fix it. And most often, when hardship hits your company, managers respond by tightening the belt. There’s less anticipated dollars coming in, so the natural response is to control the dollars going out.

But to your employees, that natural response looks like they are in trouble. They figure that someone’s going to get laid off (and probably several someones), and fear it’s them. Or your employees realize that the new software and/or other resources they’ve been begging for are now put off for who knows how long.

Whatever the scenario your employees spin out of the current hardship, it involves them losing something. And that tanks employee motivation, just when you need it the most.

There is, however, another approach. Any problem is actually a challenge to new thinking. You lost a major account. Before you go into belt-tightening mode, involve your employees in brain-storming: what unexplored customer needs might exist? How could servicing current accounts be upgraded?  Or with your “lamest” product goof: How could testing product mid-development be better effected?

And so on. With this approach, you demonstrate to your employees that hardship is simply a bump along the way, and that your employees – what they think, their opinions –  are essential to company growth. It’s an implicit “We can’t do this without you.” If some layoffs are still necessary, they are balanced by your positive engagement of employees. The delay in resources is better tolerated.

Stuff happens. But you don’t have to lose employee morale when it does.