Management Success Tip #70: How Meaning Meets Profit: Show Employees Their Value To The Company’s Purpose

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Your employees need to know how they fit in with the overall goals, purpose and success of the company. It doesn’t matter if you own a trendy food truck or run the department of a Fortune 500 company, your employees will be more engaged and productive if they know what their contribution means to the company mission.

Before you sigh and click off as in “Oh please, not more of this I-must-pamper-my-employees stuff,” let me introduce you to the down-and-dirty real profits side of this equation. Research from the Wharton School on workers at a call center raising money for student scholarships – a truly thankless task considering the number of hang-ups and other such these workers must deal with – found that workers who heard a student speak about how the scholarship money had helped him more than doubled the calls they made, and tripled the amount of money they raised!

So no, this isn’t nice-nice theory. This is a practical, down to earth easy way to engage your employees to the level of performance and productivity they are capable of.

We all need meaning and purpose in our lives. With just a little creativity you can come up with ways to demonstrate to your employees the meaning their particular job has for your clients, customers, or even – the betterment of our world.

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Gallup Poll: Engaged Workers Give Companies a Competitive Edge

A Gallup Poll conducted last year gives credence to what many successful companies have known for years–engaged, involved workers impact a business’ bottom line in a positive manner. Gallup’s findings are the same across the board not matter what type of business and should serve as a reminder that employee wellbeing is critical to company success

            In 2012, Gallup looked at 49,928 businesses or work units and about 1.4 million employees in 49 industries in 34 countries. It found that “employee engagement is an important competitive differentiator for organizations” (Gallop Poll results: http://bit.ly/ZlPFPl).

              What Gallup found was impressive. Those companies scoring at the top in terms of employee engagement enjoyed 22 percent higher profitability and 21 percent higher productivity compared to companies scoring at the bottom. They also enjoyed 37 percent lower employee absenteeism, a 25 percent lower employee turnover rate, 48 percent few safety incidents and 41 percent fewer quality incidents.

            Companies that are lacking in employee engagement can take simple steps toward improvement. Most employees want to do good work. Give them the proper tools and they’ll succeed. This means clearly letting employees know what they are responsible and accountable for, communicating regularly with workers so everyone is on the same page–from upper management to warehouse workers, supporting good work with a steady stream of appreciation, and providing opportunities for employees to succeed at their own career goals.

            Gallup also found, in a separate study (http://bit.ly/Zwth1I), that regardless of the number of hours worked, weeks of vacation time or a company’s flextime policy, engaged workers have a higher overall level of wellbeing. Unengaged workers, even when given six or more weeks of vacation a year, still did not reach the same levels of wellbeing of highly engaged workers. Wellbeing translates directly into higher performance and productivity.

            Ultimately, the success of a business comes down to its workers. Thinking of them as disposable parts in a business’ machinery will eventually be a company’s undoing. Workers will only be as engaged as they believe the company is sincerely engaged in their success and wellbeing.


Management Success Tip #69: Do You Play Favorites? Your Business Will Suffer

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It’s hard to like all your employees. Actually, it’s downright impossible. There are always going to be some workers you like better than others, and yet . . .

When you treat employees differently because you like some better than others, the company as a whole suffers. Employees don’t like it when bosses have “favorites” and those who don’t make it to “favorite” status are likely to under-perform, if not downright sabotage, their jobs.

Sure, as Zenger Folkman point out in their research on disgruntled employees, those workers you don’t like probably have given you good reason not to like them. But that doesn’t change the fact that when you treat your employees equally regardless of likeability, your disgruntled employees’ behavior quickly improves.

Treating people with equal respect, patience, clear guidance and genuine feedback is critical to a thriving business. Certainly, high performers earn more money, kudos and the like. But workers, regardless of level of performance, regardless of whether you’d have them over for dinner in a heartbeat, or shudder at the thought, all deserve basic human respect.

Management Success Tip #68: Empower Your Frontline Employees: Give Flexible Customer Solutions Plus Feedback

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You know that your frontline employees, those who work directly with customers, are most successful when they are given the means to provide flexible solutions for various customer needs and concerns.

However, you worry that those “flexible solutions” end up costing you entirely too much money. After all, look what happened when your employees jumped on the “no questions asked returns and refunds” option, and used it as the cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution to absolutely everything.  Sure, it made life easier for your employees, but it still gives you a stomach ache just thinking about how your quarterly returns suffered.

The solution, however, is not to yank your frontline people’s ability to offer flexible alternatives to customers, it’s to give them better training and feedback in how to do it.

For example, give your employees specific examples as well as general guidelines in which alternative best meets both the customer’s needs and the company’s resources. Preferably in a manual, or FAQ they can refer to easily and quickly.

Pair up a more senior frontline worker with one just learning how to respond to customers. Peer mentoring can provide very effective training.

Most importantly, provide ongoing, continual feedback as to how well your frontline workers are satisfying both customer and company needs. Only then can your employees become adept at using flexible solutions without straining the company budget.

Management Success Tip #67: Nix The Basketball Court, Amp Career Development!

Nix The Basketball Court, Amp Career Development!

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Oh, how you yearn for the “good old days” when a paycheck was sufficient incentive to make an employee work long and hard! Uh-huh. Well, yearn all you want, but those days are forever gone, at least when it comes to your best employees.

Of course a decent wage is necessary, but job satisfaction is what will keep your employees working at the level of engagement and enthusiasm you need if your company is to thrive.  And you’re right, job satisfaction is not driven by pure wages. Not even by wages and the perks of basketball courts and free lunches.

No, according to a recent Blessing White Employee Engagement Report, job satisfaction is driven by opportunities for employees to apply their talents, to develop their careers, and to receive the training that allows them to do both .

You could weep. Now you have to figure out how to do all that for all your employees?! When will you ever get your own work done?

In truth, it’s simpler than you think. You don’t have to figure anything out. All you need to do is spend a little time with your employees, individually, a couple of times a year, and ask the right questions: What are your employee’s strengths? Weaknesses? What are their current work/career interests?

Then, be a resource person. Steer them toward those in the company who can mentor them, or guide them further. Suggest specific training or seminars, or who they can turn to for information on such.

An investment of fifteen minutes of your time a couple of times a year with each of your employees to help them further their goals, will go a long way toward motivating them to further your goals.

A Non-Waste of Time Team-Building Exercise [and yes you can try this at home]

You moan, you groan. Your manager has called one of his infamous “team-building” meetings, and it’s only the threat of getting fired that propels your butt out of your chair and into the meeting. What a waste! Sitting around doing departmental Kumbaya when you have piles of work marked “Urgent!” and “Rush!” on your desk.

So it isn’t exactly in a mood of eager anticipation that you park your unhappy self in the meeting room. Mobile devices are strictly forbidden, so you don’t even have the distraction of mindless browsing, tweeting or texting. You wish you’d learned the art of napping with your eyes open, especially when your manager announces with great pride, his latest and greatest team-building exercise.

He states that he wants the team to work more closely together, to think of each other more as family than as co-workers. And you’re thinking “Right. As in highly dysfunctional family.” He goes on to say that each team member has a particular strength they lend to the team, and that if each team member would bear in mind their teammates’ strengths, the team would function better as a whole. A highly cohesive unit. He states he will now point out what he feels is each team member’s strength.

Oh great, you think, he’s gonna tell us who the movers and shakers are, and pin a woeful L on the others. Like we didn’t know already who his favorites are. You stifle a yawn and pray for this to be over soon.

Your manager turns to the guy you consider by far the most innovative and creative in the bunch, and says “Your strength is energy. You bring tremendous energy to whatever project you’re engaged in.” You’re surprised. You would have thought he’d laud this guy’s innovations.

Your manager turns to another team member and says “Your strength is your ‘whatever’ attitude.” You smirk inside. Yup, he’s gonna nail the L on this guy, who was born with the sarcasm gene. But your manager takes a different route. He says “You don’t jump up and down enthusiastically, but you never complain. You say ‘whatever’ to any part of the project you’re assigned and take it on.”

You sit up and take notice. Your manager’s right. That is how Mr. Whatever behaves. Your manager defines another’s strength as ‘playfulness’ and appreciates how that individual lets in new ideas. You listen differently now, as your manager speaks to, not work accomplishments or the lack thereof, but to something positive about the essence of every person on the team. And he’s right on, every time.

Your manager concludes by stating that he wants each team member to think of the others in the light of these strengths. And darned if that isn’t exactly what happens! You start looking at your co-workers differently, not in terms of what they can or can’t do for you, how successful they are at this or that project, but rather how they bring their “energy,” or “whatever or “playfulness” to the mix, and how that does make the whole team function better.

No, you’ll never relish team-meetings, and some of them still feel like slogging through mud, but you have a newly acquired respect for your manager, and more importantly, for those you work with.

And work suddenly feels a lot less like–work.