Management Success Tip #115:Increase Employee Engagement with a Coach’s Mindset

Increase Employee Engagement with a Coach’s MindsetDo you want to earn employee loyalty, and with that, their enthusiastic engagement? Then behave more like a coach, not a teacher.

According to Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, “Coaches are specifically and explicitly on the student’s side… The focus is on helping the child get better, bringing out the child’s best so he or she can win.”

How does this apply to the workplace? Laura Vanderkam, discussing Khan’s ideas in a recent MoneyWatch/CBS News suggests: “If you’re delivering performance reviews this week, ask yourself this question: Am I behaving like a teacher or a coach? Is the point to label members of your team — your A players, B players and the C players who may be on their way out? Or is the point to figure out what your team members need to work on, and then figure out a way that you can work with them — as their ally — to shore up their weaknesses, practice repeatedly and ultimately to win?”

A coach turns average players into good players, and good players into great ones. That’s precisely what you can do, when you let your employees know, in word and deed, that you are their ally, that you are on their side, supporting them in every way you can.

Just like a really good coach.


Management Success Tip #77: Feed Your Success By Feeding Your Brain The Ultimate Brain Food—Positive Thoughts!

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It’s obvious that thinking positive thoughts improves your mood, but did you know that thinking positive thoughts improves your brain’s ability to think clearly, make sound decisions, and increases your creativity?

The physiological backstory is simple: brain research shows that thinking negative thoughts, especially thoughts of fear and anger, restricts blood flow to critical portions of your brain. Thinking positive thoughts, especially thoughts of appreciation and love, increases blood flow to those same critical areas. Your brain requires good blood flow to function. The math is obvious: restricted blood flow, restricted thinking. Generous blood flow, enhanced thinking.

A quick, easy way to boost your performance and success ratio, is to gear your mind toward the positive, whether that’s in the simple enjoyment of your ordinary day (how good that cup of coffee tastes, or that you’re warm and cozy inside while the weather rages outside), or in seeing the best in your employees.

Gearing your mind toward the positive doesn’t mean walking through life with blinders on. It means emphasizing the positive side of things.

For example, your employee has trouble getting up to speed on the new software: are they willing to work with a “buddy” or mentor? Focus on their willingness to learn, rather on their slow ramp up.

Or, does your departmental budget not allow some resources you believe would be a big assist? Focus on your employees’ ability to come up with viable work-arounds even as you do all that you can to round up those resources.

Feed your brain the ultimate brain food—positive thoughts!

Management Success Tip #64: Catch Employees In The Act Of Doing It Right!

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Ever wonder why your employees get that “deer in the headlights” look when you stop by their work area?

It’s elementary, my dear Watson: Most workers worry big-time when they see their manager looking over their shoulder or stopping by their work area because they are convinced that the manager is looking for something they did wrong.

They’re right! That is what managers are most often looking for. And that very worry will often make the employee do something wrong.

You may not think you are lambasting your employee with your disappointment or frustration or correction – but that’s how your employee can easily perceive it, and more often than not, he or she will feel small, diminished and devalued. Not a good springboard for improved performance, much less enthusiastic engagement.

Start a new trend. Get your employees in the habit of anticipating your visits as an opportunity to be appreciated. When workers know you’re on the lookout for good work, for things done right, that’s what they’ll want to produce.

When you expect to catch workers in the act of doing something right, you will be met with good work most of the time. Studies show that a manager’s expectations have tremendous impact on employee job performance, and that people respond far better to positive feedback than to negative.

Catch your employees in the act of doing something right. They may very well surprise you with an increase in performance and productivity. You certainly will surprise them!

Management Success Tip #57: A Secret Employee Motivator: Walk Your Talk!

A Secret Employee Motivator: Walk Your Talk!

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You remember that awful day when your kid brought you up short with “Why should I? You don’t do it.” It doesn’t matter that the subject was less than earth-shattering: putting a dish directly into the dishwasher rather than into the sink, nor that your excuse was a perfectly valid one: “I only leave my breakfast things in the sink when I’m late to work!” you’d been found out. Your child suddenly had – at least in their mind – little reason to do what you asked, since what they were looking at, was what you do.

The same is true of your employees, staff or anyone else who works with or for you. They pay a great deal more attention to what you do than to what you say.  When what you do doesn’t match up with what you ask of them, your employees become reluctant, if not downright averse, to doing what you ask.

For example, you ask your employees to be prompt in coming to meetings, and to come prepared. You, however, fly in five minutes after the meeting was to have started, your files in disarray, or worse, ask: “Now remind me what our objectives were for today’s meeting?”

Just because you’re the boss doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to be on time and prepared. On the contrary, the higher up the food chain you are, the better example you must set. It’s not just good policy, it’s superior motivation.

When your employees see you toe the line in the same way you require of them, they are far more willing to perform at that level.

Management Success Tip #55: Ask A Daring Question: “What Do You Think?”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

You’re the boss, the department head, the supervisor, the manager. You know exactly what your employee’s problem is and you have the answer to it. The perfect answer. One you could implement in your sleep.

For example, your employee typically mis-files orders and revisions in project sleeves. “Color-code!” you bark. “Color-code orders and revised orders. It takes one second and makes life easier for everyone.” End of problem. Or so you think.

Yet your employee can’t seem to get it right; sometimes orders get color-coded and filed correctly, sometimes they don’t. Since he or she is an otherwise bright motivated employee, you don’t get it. What’s so complicated about doing what you said to do?

Nothing. Except you didn’t bother to take a moment to understand why the mis-filing was occurring nor did you ask your employee for input as to a solution. You just assumed that you knew what the problem was and imposed a solution. Your solution.

People don’t like having decisions that impact their lives imposed on them. People, if they are to cooperate with a decision, need to feel that they’ve had a hand in making that decision.

Next time there’s a problem, describe the problem to your employee: “Orders you write up get mis-filed regularly. This slows down production.” Then ask the daring question: “What do you think’s going on?” And whatever your employee says in response, ask: “I’d like us to figure out how to do this better. What do you think?” or “How do you think we should proceed?”

Now whatever solution is adopted, it will have much better chances of actually being implemented!

Management Success Tip #54: Terminate Employees With Gain, Not Pain!

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Terminating an employee is rarely fun for a manager. You’ve invested time, money and effort into this person, so letting them go comes literally with a price. That’s true even if the employee was a slacker, a troublemaker, or a gossip-monger.

If they were a slacker, troublemaker or gossip-monger, or just plain under or poorly performing, it can be mightily tempting to tell your almost-ex employee so in precise terms. Not necessarily very polite terms, either. Ah, but here’s the rub . . .

In today’s world of connected-everything, your terminated employee is likely to tweet, text, post to his or her Facebook wall, stumble, linked-in, youtube, blog and who knows what else their experience. Their negative, in their minds unwarranted, experience with you becomes shared knowledge among their many friends (real and virtual), only to be re-tweeted, etc., to an ever increasing galaxy of potential employees.

Yes, potential employees. Who might have been a very good fit for your company but who will now shun you for your perceived inability to behave appropriately toward your terminated employee.

You see, it’s not the termination that matters nearly as much as how you conducted yourself during the termination.

A few easy guidelines:

– Treat your outgoing employee with respect. No matter what you thought of their work, they are still a human being, deserving of respect.

– Do your best to answer their questions calmly and fully. If you don’t know the answer to a question (“What about my insurance?”), be sure you can provide a resource to answer the question.

– End on a positive note. Stress your appreciation for whatever positive qualities your employee brought to the job (you did hire them, after all!), and your confidence that they will improve the areas that didn’t make the grade. Wish them well, both in tone and manner as you send them off.

Management Success Tip #41: Hog The Kudos, Lose Good Employees

When a company receives a compliment from a customer, or an account lets you know just how much your company’s efforts have contributed to their success, it’s natural to accept the kudo with pride, and thank the consumer in return.

Too often, though, that’s where it ends. The department, team, or employee primarily responsible for the product or service that resulted in the customer’s happiness isn’t told of the kudo. Their efforts are taken for granted—after all, they’re just doing their job, right?

Right. And wrong. Your best employees are never “just doing their job.” Your best employees are engaged, involved, enthusiastic and eager to contribute to your success—as long as you contribute to their success.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to share the good stuff! When a kudo comes in, share that overt mark of success with all those who contributed to it. Make a big deal of it! Tell your employees how proud you are of them. Spread the news company-wide that Team A received a terrific kudo for the bang-up job they did on Project Z.

And if you feel so inspired, offer a free lunch or afternoon off, or whatever would cement for your kudo-ed employees that they are never taken for granted, and that you always recognize and value their efforts.