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Archive for the ‘employee motivation’ Category


So you’re a manager or team leader and you’ve dumped on your people and treated them as underlings and ninnies for quite some time. Now you find you’ve got employees who give you lip, call in sick, refuse to do you favours and resist your direction. You know they talk about you behind your back. They’ve complained about you to your supervisor/manager and everything is falling apart on you. Clearly, no one has any respect for you and some don’t even care about the consequences of acting out their anger and frustration. You’ve received your wake-up call but don’t know how to fix the mess you’ve created.

As a bully manager, you are a liability to your company. Your behaviour can result in law suits being filed by employees and former employees. You cause turnover and you also cause people to take stress leave. Your behaviour seriously hampers productivity and causes customers to desert you.

Furthermore, I’ve never met a bully manager who wasn’t all stressed out by their conflicts at work. It takes a lot of energy to be a creep. If you have a history of being a mean-spirited, condescending jerk, then you need to understand that you are bound to have your comeuppance. As Groucho Marx once cleverly said, “Time wounds all heels.”

The process of building trust as a manager is one that takes patience and commitment, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, you can forget it. Naturally, it will be especially difficult if you’ve got a reputation for being a jerk (that’s the polite term). Take heart, though. I said it will be difficult, but it is definitely possible to create a positive environment even when your leadership has been less than exemplary. Here are some tips to get you started:

No Double Standards: If you want your employees to respect you, you need to follow the exact same rules you expect them to follow; and do it 100 per cent of the time.

Respect: You have to give respect in order to get it, so make sure all of your interactions with your team members are non-threatening. Never speak to others in a condescending tone. Ask politely and don’t give orders.

Show Genuine Interest: People naturally like people who take an interest in them. Ask your employees if they had a pleasant weekend; ask about their family, pets and hobbies. Ask about anything that isn’t too personal and take an interest in what they tell you.

Share Information: Share a little personal information and share information related to the business. Openness is an important part of building trust. When you share, others will reciprocate.

Be Helpful: Don’t set up road blocks for your employees. Give them every opportunity to be successful. Encourage them to be the best they can be by offering your assistance and friendly advice. Offer courses, books or whatever else you need to offer to build their confidence and skills.

Be Flexible: Even though rules are important, it is also important to be flexible enough to bend them once in a while for people. If you treat people the way you would want to be treated under the same circumstances, then you will know when flexibility is necessary.

Have Fun: Don’t take things so seriously all the time. It’s ok to let loose and relax with people. Tell a clean joke or a funny story. As long as your remarks are not negative or potentially hurtful to someone, it should be safe to have a laugh.

Don’t Be a Hot Head: If someone annoys you, don’t blast them right away. Cool down and find the appropriate moment to address the behaviour in a civilized fashion. You may find that after you’ve cooled down, that it really wasn’t that big a deal.

Pick Your Battles: Understand that you don’t always have to be right, and even if you are right, it’s ok if you are the only one who knows it. Some arguments just aren’t worth pursuing. If the matter is not really earth shattering, then don’t waste your energy on it.

Don’t Be Vindictive: Never try to get even with people. No one can respect or trust anyone who cannot take the high road. We win when we choose grace over drama.

Don’t Be a Control Freak: Give people credit for having intelligent ideas and capabilities. If things always have to be done your way, then you are doing a great disservice to the business. No one is perfect and acting like you are better than everyone else will only serve to alienate you from the people you need the most: your team.

Don’t Engage in Constructive Dismissal Practices: Constructive dismissal is a sleazy practice that doesn’t escape the notice of the victim’s co-workers. It seriously hampers productivity and fosters an environment of extreme mistrust and lack of respect. If you need to fire someone, then do it as nicely as possible. Civil behaviour is always best.

These tips just scratch the surface. I’m looking forward to the day when companies adopt and actually enforce a zero tolerance policy around bullying and workplace harassment. To date, I have seen a lot of companies who simply pay lip service. It makes me question how people interpret the word, “harassment” and I wonder why some types of harassment are condoned while others are not. Harassment is bad for business, no matter who is doing it or how they are doing it.

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It’s really been such a long time since I’ve posted anything to my blog. In order to regenerate readership and interest in what I do, I would like to offer Canadian residents a free copy of my book, Engaged for Growth. All you need to do is email me a request with your business mailing info, company name and position/title. I’d be very happy to cover the cost of postage provided there is only one book per person/company. Please send your request to: renee@powerconferences.ca

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An employee hands his resignation into his manager. The boss is surprised and disappointed. This guy was his best worker. He thought he was really engaged and had high hopes for him. When he asks his departing employee why he is leaving the company, the employee simply states he received a better opportunity from someone else.

What really happened? Do engaged employees really quit their jobs to pursue better opportunities? No they don’t. Being an engaged employee means being very committed to what you are doing with your current employer. It means your work is challenging enough, you are comfortable with the corporate culture, you feel like you are a part of the greater vision and you are making a measurable difference. Engaged employees do not quit. Not ever. It is only when they become disillusioned, frustrated, fearful, or experience some other negative emotion that they become disengaged and then quit “for a better opportunity”. That phrase, “a better opportunity” is really a euphemism for, “you suck”.

So what were the game changing moves that caused your precious employee to become disengaged? It is really important to ask yourself what went wrong. When you lose employees, you need to take it personally, because it is personal. They may not hate you as a person, but you somehow failed them from a management perspective and you will continue to lose employees if you do not reflect on the real circumstances of their departure.

Reflecting on the circumstances will allow you to get to the real issue. Don’t blow off the excuses. Drill down and find the truth you need to see. The employee will never tell you the whole truth, so you need to put your thinking cap on and drop your ego into the garbage bin. If they tell you they need more money, for example, they are more likely telling you they feel taken advantage of (money is rarely, if ever an issue for engaged employees). You need to then ask yourself why they would feel taken advantage of. What did you do to make them feel that way?

Taking the time to reflect on your failings as a leader will allow you to improve your skills. Asking yourself what you could have done differently and remodelling your style, so to speak, will give you better results as you endeavour to keep employee engagement at a high level.

Here are some of the real reasons people become disengaged and quit their jobs:
1. Something damaged the relationship between the manager and the employee
2. Doesn’t fit in with co-workers
3. Feels their job may be in jeopardy
4. Feels taken advantage of
5. Feels unsupported
6. Feels unappreciated
7. Confused about expectations
8. Embarrassed by performance of co-workers/company (lots of mistakes and angry customers)
9. Lack of equipment needed to perform quality work
10. No future opportunities for advancement or improvement
11. Negative corporate culture
12. Bored with tasks (work feels meaningless and unchallenging)
13. Personal values conflict with corporate values or scope of job
14. Life changes (spouse gets transfer, illness, etc)
Except for number 14, all of the above mentioned reasons can be dealt with before employees decide to quit. Communication is the key. Building rapport with your employees and fostering an environment of trust, excellence, respect and integrity will help you a lot.

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I can’t stand cheap people. I don’t mind frugality, but I detest cheapness. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Frugality is simply being sensible with money, but cheapness is far more pervasive. It is a refusal to give, and usually people who have trouble giving monetarily hold back on everything else as well. Cheap people generally withhold affection, are not particularly helpful, they withhold information, are happy to receive but cannot reciprocate, rarely do favours for people and in my mind, are generally not very nice to have around.

In my book, Engaged for Growth, I talk about the Seven Virtues of Leadership (you can also view the Slideshare presentation of the virtues on this blog site). While all of the virtues are important, I have to say that I believe the virtue of generosity is the virtue which gives the leader the ability to leverage the most influence over others. Having a generous spirit is also pervasive. Generous people give their time, do favours for others, reciprocate easily, are helpful and supportive of others, and are generally warm and loving people.

Human nature is to want to do for those who do for you. We are socially programmed to reciprocate. For generous people, this is a no brainer. Cheap people, however, have a lot of difficulty with this concept and will always try to find ways to not have to reciprocate. They try to create loopholes that relieve them of their obligations. They make promises to give but change the criteria to suit their own needs. You cannot lead this way. Your colleagues and employees will not be able to respect you if you always do what is socially reprehensible. Most people find cheapness to be a distasteful quality. Cheap people cannot command respect, so don’t be cheap.

What should you give? Give fair compensation, give your time, give love, smile, give information and show people how to do things, buy someone a nice lunch, give sincere praise, give a referral, or give whatever you would like to be given. Just be generous and be sincere. Never give with the expectaion of receiving. That is not true generosity.

I belong to the “what goes around comes around” school of thought. I believe that treating people well brings good things into your life, and treating people badly, means you will receive bad karma. I try to do the right thing with people. I happily give a lot to people, and I will continue to give. This blog is a free gift for anyone who wants to learn and I am committed to posting informative and useful information to help people be the best they can be. It is my deepest desire to change the way employers work with their people and to enlighten those who want to lead. Leaders are models for others, and our generosity inspires those around us to be better. Failing to be generous means you fail to inspire. If you can’t inspire others, then you are not a leader.

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It may seem shallow, but we all judge books by their covers and we all create impressions of people based on what we see.  When people look at your appearance, they pass judgement about your income level, your education, your morality, your social status, your degree of sophistication, how successful you are and your trustworthiness.

How your employees perceive you will affect the degree to which they can take you seriously and that will affect the results you get from them.  If you come to work looking like you picked your clothes out of a pile at the bottom of your closet, that screams incompetence, and no one wants to follow someone who is incompetent.

Anyone who has had to hire people can tell you about the number of candidates that come through the door dressed like they’re going to a ball game or the grocery store. Managers sometimes think that because they are the boss, they can wear what they want, so they come to work with torn jeans, wrinkled shirts or stains on their clothes.

Never go to work looking unkempt or really out of style. It affects your credibility. A bad dye job or hair showing 3 inches of dark roots looks horrible. Not getting your hair cut, neglecting to shave or keep a neat beard says that you are a slob. Men with long nails and ladies who don’t wear any makeup to work create the wrong impression. Take the time to look after your appearance. Your employees will be much more receptive to whatever you have to say if you are not visually offensive.

I have seen bosses who regularly came to work smelling of booze from the night before. It’s hard to respect someone who shows no self-control in their life and doesn’t respect the work environment enough to come to work ready for the job at hand. Sorry, but no one is at their best when they are hung over.

If you don’t look right for the job, then you won’t be taken seriously, and you will have difficulty developing rapport with your employees and other co-workers.

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I had a book signing event at a prominent book store on the weekend. Since I am an author and an employee engagement specialist, I asked one of the store’s managers if he was interested in business leadership books. His response to me was that he was not interested in developing his leadership skills and that he just punches the clock and does what he is told. Later, when I was leaving, I stopped by his office to say good bye and he was chewing out one of his staff for goofing off while someone was on break.

So there he is; another disengaged manager trying to engage his employees by yelling at them for being disengaged. Good grief! Here’s a news flash: You cannot engage employees if you are not engaged yourself! Your attitude is contagious. If you are enthusiastic and interested in what you are doing, then your people will be more likely to embrace your enthusiasm as you try to connect with them on a human level. If you are barely interested in your work and “punch the clock” then don’t expect much more from your employees. Your disinterest is the model of behaviour they are following!

When I left the store, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of company would even want a guy like that on their payroll. Are they so desperate for managers that they have to resort to hiring people who have no drive, or is that hiring manager just as disengaged as he is? Hmm. Something to ponder…

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 I like Seth Godin. I subscribe to his blog and just today received his posting called The Paralysis of Unlimited Opportunity. It made me think about all the distraction we face in our work lives and wonder how many of us are compromising productivity due to a lack of focus. How many of us possess the drive, ambition, know-how and desire to succeed but are distracted by a million little nothings in our day? You know what I mean; web-sites, phone calls, text messages, family, and life in general. It is easy to get pulled in a million directions. How many of us spend too much time sifting through email that adds no value to our lives? Are you spending more time waiting for opportunities than creating them? Are you flogging dead horses even though you know you are not Jesus Christ and cannot give life to the dead? Is this the paralysis of unlimited opportunity or just the paralysis of having a distracted and undisciplined nature? Maybe you are just spending too much time tuning into the white noise of being busy doing nothing.

Here are some tips to help you get around this:

1. Know what you are working toward. Have a very clear purpose, write it down and decide what exactly you need to do to achieve this. Failure to do this will result in your swirling in a sea of white noise for eternity.

2. Turn off the white noise at the end of every day and make a list of priorities for the following day. Your day isn’t done until you’ve accomplished them and written out new ones for the next day.

3. Find someone to hold you accountable. Having a friend at work or even outside of work who can participate in this with you is very effective. Your friend should also be setting goals and reporting to you. You can’t meet every week and have none of your goals achieved; it’s way too embarrassing! Mutual accountability is great for helping you move things along.

4. Read books that motivate you. Filling your head with fluff will result in your being less productive. A commitment to reading or listening to books that inspire you to achieve more, develop important skills and increase your expertise will allow you to become much more productive.

5. Hire a coach. I do provide private leadership coaching to my clients, and it is not terribly expensive. There are many ways to access coaching with the technology that exists today. If all of the above isn’t helping you, consider hiring someone who specializes in working with others to enhance performance.

Taking action to  overcome your white noise will be the difference that gives you an edge and will allow you to be all that you can be. Do something. As Seth Godin says in his blog post, just don’t do nothing.

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