Management Success Tip #91: How One Small Word Change Can Powerfully Impact Your Business

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Michael Schrage discusses how:

“Former IBM Chairman/Europe Hans-Ulrich Maerki observed that one of the most important organizational and cultural shifts that occurred in the aftermath of IBM’s $3.5 billion acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting over a decade ago was a subtle but profound shift in language. That acquisition signaled IBM’s global commitment to become more of a professional services firm. But the company’s internal and external vocabulary alike emphasized the computer giant’s ‘product’ origins.

“After the acquisition, says Maerki, IBM began emphasizing ‘clients’ over ‘customers. The PwC consultants relentlessly stressed that “customers” were about managing transactions but “clients” were about investing in relationships. IBM needed to redesign itself around serving clients, not selling customers…Changing important words helped change important behaviors.”

When it comes to your employees, SouthWest Airlines made a similar tiny word change that had huge impact in how their employees viewed themselves. All SouthWest did was capitalize the first letter of “employee” in all their documents, articles, everywhere. So it now reads “Employee.” Suddenly, Employees were important! Anything capitalized is.

Think about it: what small word change could you make that would demonstrate to your employees how much you value and appreciate them? And make them very happy.

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Management Success Tip #90: Engage Positively with Your Employees’ Emotional Upset–It’s Easier than You Think!

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One way or another, that emotional upset, if not addressed appropriately, will either fester and get worse, or explode into something worse.

This you can’t afford. When one of your employees is having an emotional meltdown, start by listening.

Practicing business psychiatrist and CEO advisor Mark Goulston suggests a number of ways to listen effectively, the first of which is to ask your employee:

What are you most frustrated about? This is a good question because when you ask them about their feelings, it often sounds condescending. And if you start out focusing on their anger, it sounds as if you are coldly telling them to get a hold on themselves, which may work, but more often will just cause the pressure inside them to build up even more. However, asking them about their frustration is less judgmental and can have the same effect as sticking a scalpel into their abcess. Let them vent their feelings and when they finish, pick any of their words that had a lot of emotion attached. These can be words such as ‘Never,’ ‘Screwed up,’ or any other words spoken with high inflection. Then reply with, ‘Say more about “never’ (or ‘screwed up,’ etc.) That will help them drain even more.”

OK, so the image of draining an abcess isn’t pleasant, but it’s very accurate when it comes to emotional upsets. That emotion needs to be expressed before your employee can use their rational mind.

Once your employee feels that their emotion has been genuinely heard, it’s much easier for you to lead them gently to the solution phase, where you figure out together what’s the best next step.

Management Success Tip #89: Stop Dissing Your Millennials: Use Their Awesome Internet & Social Media Skills Instead!

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But here’s the thing: not everybody respects those oh-so-important features of your being, nor what they contribute to the workplace. Yet they should. Really.

Monique Valcour summarizes it well when she says: “One significant way in which Millennials are different from older generations is their relationship to and facility with technology. Using computers and social technology extensively since birth has shaped the ways in which they search for information, solve problems, relate to others, and communicate. They are adept at finding information and expect it to be readily available.”

That last line is the key: “adept at finding information.” There’s gold in them thar hills!

Use your Millennial employees’ swift and accurate ability to sift through the endless stream of cyber-information and social-media. Put them to work getting you the information you need: they’re good at it, they love it, and they do it well.

Yet another easy way to make your employees happy as they make you happy!

Management Success Tip #88: Low Cost Employee Rewards Yield Large Productivity/Performance Outcomes!

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Highly successful companies know all about making employees happy through rewards. The good news is, those rewards don’t have to cost much, sometimes nothing at all! Just some forethought and a little effort.

For example, as Jacob Kache reports:

“Web storage company NetApp has a long list of rewards and benefits that it offers its employees, but one of the most impressive is that the company’s vice chairman will ask for recommendations of people who are doing a good job, and then he calls 10 to 20 employees every day to thank them for their good work.”

Kache goes on to say, “Wegmans has an employee turnover that is surprisingly low for a grocery store chain, at just 3.6 percent. Part of the reason for this is that they reward their employees regularly with gift cards for good work.”

A small investment in tangible appreciation for your employees’ good work yields surprisingly large results.  How’s that for cost-benefit?!