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Posts Tagged ‘Business Leadership’


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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Let’s face it. We live in a world of rapid communication and that communication can make or break your business. Potential employees can surf the internet to find out what employees think of the companies they work for or have worked for in the past. Potential customers can view customer service complaints on millions of websites to see what experiences others have had with your company. A simple Google search could reveal a ton of information about your business that may not be favourable at all.

In spite of all of this, I am continually mystified by the reluctance of many companies to actively try to engage their employees and their customers. How can they not accept the reality that the world has changed and that corporations are no longer as powerful as they used to be? The days of being able to hide your problems from the public are long over and it simply doesn’t pay to live in denial!

An engaged workforce will at least triple your current bottom line results so it is well worth your while to invest in leadership and employee development programs and to concentrate on building an engaged corporate culture. Failing to do so means your business results will only be about 29% of what they could be. That is because on average, only 29% of employees are engaged and they are carrying the results of your entire company. The remaining 71% of your employees are dragging you down and since this condition is reversible, it makes good business sense to work on increasing employee engagement!

I understand that soft skills training is often seen as being a nice thing to do, if you can afford it, but the fact is a good training professional will be able to tie training to solid business results. It really is not fluff and if your employees are like those in most companies, you truly cannot afford to let developing your employees become a low priority.

I have seen what’s out there and I know why we training professionals get a bad rap. It’s because there was a time when less than competent people thought they could cash in on the gravy train when companies had money to spend. They produced nothing, held no one accountable, took away a cheque and drove off in their Beemers. Meanwhile everyone who participated in the sessions went back to their old habits and nothing really changed for the business.

Sadly, those guys are still out there and they still get business from those who have a poor point of reference. They look super slick and act like they’ve got the world by the tail, but they are not true professionals. Look for training that is focussed on achieving results and comes with a guarantee. In my opinion, anyone in my profession who is not willing to stand by their work isn’t worth hiring.

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I am so proud and happy to report that my new book, Engaged for Growth is getting top ratings from Indigo shoppers. Feel free to check out the listing, make a purchase and post a comment for the world to see. The book is a quick read and is meant to give the reader the most important things they need to know to get their people engaged at work. http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Engaged-for-Growth-Ren%c3%a9e-Cormier/9781897453285-item.html?ref=Search+Books%3a+%2527renee+cormier%2527

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By: Renée Cormier

Did you know that an important part of securing employee engagement means making sure your employees have the tools to do their jobs effectively?  In spite of this, a surprising number of companies force their employees to wing it. It seems ridiculous that sales managers would send their reps out without the benefit of a presentation binder or a script to work from, but many do. Similarly, it is pretty common for employers to force their people to work with computers that continually crash, or software programs that do not quickly and effectively produce necessary reports. Ineffective tools and systems waste time and money and will most certainly lead to employee frustration of mammoth proportion. Those frustrated employees become quickly disengaged and will ultimately harm your business results!

If you think you are saving money by not purchasing top notch equipment for your employees to use, then you are sadly mistaken! As an employer, anything you do to help your employees be more effective is money well spent. Here are some areas to keep an eye on in your company:

Sales: Since I spent many years working in sales roles, I know how important it is to have a structure to follow. Now, I know many sales people complain about having to follow structure, but you will find that the most successful sales people will tell you they use a presentation binder and they know exactly what they are going to say when they go into a sales meeting. Professional selling is a process. It doesn’t happen by accident. Skilled sales people follow a finely developed process that works. If your company hasn’t developed a process, then doing so is a must! It is also important to make sure your people stick to it. If you have developed a process that doesn’t seem to work very well, then get input from your people to help you fine tune it. You’ll be glad you did!

Customer Service: Sales people always complain about the gap between what they promise customers and what actually gets delivered. Interestingly, Customer Service people complain about the same thing! Part of providing excellent customer service is getting everyone on the same page. Each department in your company is dependent upon the other. No one can function efficiently without the support of others, and your customers will most certainly be let down if your various work teams are not in sync. Successful companies have solid systems in place for taking orders and delivering products and services to their customers (both internal and external). If something is not working, then the whole team needs to get together to see what tweaks can be made to the existing system to make it more effective. Striving for continuous improvement is a vital part of creating engaged employees and securing customer loyalty!

Continuous Improvement Systems: Toyota implements 99% of the suggestions received from employees. The result of doing so has paid off significantly. The people who actually use your systems and equipment are in a much better position to tell you where you need to improve than any “Lean Expert” or consultant. Just look at GM and Ford. They employed tons of Lean Manufacturing experts, and most likely forgot about the people running the equipment.  The moral here, is develop a system that allows employees to help you improve all of your processes, and then implement the best suggestions. You will be more likely to have effective systems, and your employees will know they are valuable to the business. Valued employees are engaged employees, and as long as you are striving for continuous improvement, you will continue to rise above the competition!

Meetings: In many companies meetings are a great way to waste time and talk about what needs improvement. Meetings should be a springboard for action, not a forum for inaction! Structure your meetings so that you have objectives. Do not have a meeting just because it’s Friday and you always have meetings on Friday. If you’ve got nothing to address, then you don’t need to have a meeting! If you do have issues to address, don’t add too much variety to the agenda. In fact, the fewer items you address in a meeting the better. Many companies save a whole bunch of items for a long and boring meeting and then wonder why they never act on anything that was discussed. The reason is that you will be more likely to take action on the one thing you discussed than on the twenty different items you discussed. It is far better to have several short meetings that end with an action plan, than one big one that ends in, “I can’t wait to get out of here!”

Remember, successful companies are all about structure! Develop systems that work, support your people, and give them the opportunity to be the best they can be. Of course, you can always call me if you need my help!

Renée Cormier is the President and owner of POWERHOUSE CONFERENCES, a company dedicated to working with businesses to increase efficiency, productivity and profit. A specialist in the area of Employee Engagement, Renée has spent the last 12 years as a training and development professional. She has been an entrepreneur, worked for both large and small companies, managed both people and sales effectively, and developed systems and habits that brought her much success. Renée uses her experience in Business and Adult Education to develop and implement training programs that show business leaders how to engage their workforce and get guaranteed bottom line results! Clients say her learning sessions are lively, engaging and valuable. Contact: renee@powerconferences.ca

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workshop facil.By Renée Cormier
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” – Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Do you know where your company is going? What about your people? Are they really clear about the direction in which you are heading and do they really understand how their work contributes to the overall growth of the company?

You’d be surprised at how many companies drop the ball on this one. Many mid-sized companies haven’t even got an articulated vision and many larger companies don’t speak of the mission, vision and values outside of the executive boardroom. It is not enough to post statements around the office. Successful companies live by these statements and work with employees at all levels of the organization in realizing the vision. They do this by involving their people in discussions about the business and referring to the mission, vision and values whenever decisions are being made.

If you are a little confused about why you need to have three separate statements, let me clarify their functions for you:
Your mission statement is a statement about the overall purpose of the company. Your mission may be, “We strive to be the largest supplier of top quality widgets in North America.” Mission statements don’t have to be complex. In fact, the simpler, the better. Your employees will be more likely to support you in your mission if they understand it and remember it. Many companies have fancy statements that read like Latin bibles and then wonder why everyone seems to be running in different directions.

Your vision is basically a description of what your mission looks like as it is being carried out. So in developing your vision, you should ask the question, “What is happening as we are accomplishing our mission?” Again, keep it simple. You want your employees to remember the vision and to be able to actually visualize the success. Your vision statement could be something like, “By exceeding customer expectations with our top quality products and service, we are the preferred supplier of widgets in North America.”

Values statements are important in the realization of your mission and vision, because they are at the core of every decision you make (or at least they should be). Your customers will react to your values because how you conduct business will depend on what you really value. Saying you value customer service is not that same as really valuing customer service so do make sure your values are a sincere reflection of who you are as a company. If you need to adjust your values in order to realize your mission and vision, then you need to take extra care when making decisions about the business. No decision should be finalized before confirming that it does not conflict with the company values.

When choosing which values you wish to operate from, solicit input from your employees and keep the number of values limited to six. Having too many values will complicate things. It may be easy to think of twenty or more values, so carefully choose the ones that will help you realize the mission and vision.
Remember, when it comes to developing an engaged workforce, direction is important. Everyone needs to know where they are going and to be moving in the same direction. That can only be accomplished once you are clear about what you are trying to achieve.

Renée Cormier is the President and owner of POWERHOUSE CONFERENCES, a company dedicated to working with businesses to increase efficiency, productivity and profit. A specialist in the area of Employee Engagement, Renée has spent the last 12 years as a training and development professional. She has been an entrepreneur, worked for both large and small companies, managed both people and sales effectively, and developed systems and habits that brought her much success. Renée uses her experience in Business and Adult Education to develop and implement training programs that show business leaders how to engage their workforce and get guaranteed bottom line results! Clients say her learning sessions are lively, engaging and valuable. POWERHOUSE CONFERENCES is a member of the Canadian Society for Training & Development. Contact: renee@powerconferences.ca http://www.powerconferences.ca

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Are your employees calling in sick a little too often? Are they having a hard time meeting deadlines? Are your customers complaining? Are you experiencing high turnover in staff? Do you feel like an overpaid babysitter? Give me a call. I’ll give you some strategies to help get you the results you’ve been wishing for.

Employee Engagement Specialist
1-888-MY-ETHER ext. 03844862

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By: Renée Cormier

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Probably one of the most difficult achievements for any manager is to assemble and maintain the right team to take their business to a higher level. Sometimes you get it right, and then someone leaves and the whole dynamic collapses. It can leave you feeling like you just fell in front of the finish line of a 100 metre sprint.
So what is the secret behind successfully assembling and maintaining the right team? Here are a few guidelines to help you accomplish your goals.

Assemble the Right Talent: When I say talent, I mean talent, not people. Engaged employees are employees who are working in areas that maximize their strengths. They are excellent at what they do and derive great pleasure from being able to use their talents to achieve successful outcomes at work.
Assembling the right talent may mean that you will have to juggle people around a little, and you will likely have to fire those disengaged employees (and so you should), but taking the time to do this will pay off in the long run.
When looking for employees, make sure you hire the best people possible, and pay them well. You don’t want your employees feeling like you’ve taken advantage of them. Many employers try to get the best for the least thinking they have a winning hiring strategy, but that is actually a deadly move. People may join your company because they are fearful of not finding something else, but as long as they feel exploited they will harbour feelings of bitterness and will not meet your performance expectations. They will quickly join the ranks of the actively disengaged and will either have to be fired, or will leave for another job. Either way, you lose.
As you examine your immediate hiring needs, think of your future needs as well. Great leaders hire great replacements. Make sure you are looking for people who will be able to fulfill your future leadership needs as well as your present support staff needs. It’s good to have a pool of potential leaders in place so that you can offer better opportunities to your existing employees and shorten the learning curve for someone who has been given a new position.
Attitude is another important component in talent selection. Most skills can be learned, but attitude is not a skill, and neither is happy, pleasant, co-operative or helpful. First look for pleasant, happy people, then try to get the skill set that is required. You know what they say: people get hired for their technical skills and fired for their people skills. Save yourself some grief and put nice people on the shortlist.
When hiring, don’t make false promises and don’t hire people who have ambitions that your company cannot accommodate. If someone has dreams of running the company and you have a family owned business, for example, then don’t waste your energy on that person. If he or she takes the job, they will become frustrated and quit because of lack of opportunity. Remember, frustrated employees are not highly productive. They are disengaged!
A great team is comprised of people who find their work challenging and meaningful. Make sure you always provide as much variety as possible and that your employees understand how meaningful their contribution is to the company.
Someone once commented to me that that is hard to do in some positions, because no one dreams of becoming a great CSR. I contend that hiring the right kind of people for the position makes it easier to show people how meaningful their work is to the company. Someone who enjoys the challenge of helping a customer solve a problem, or who feels a great sense of accomplishment when they turn an angry customer into a great supporter will always feel challenged by their role in Customer Service. If as a manager, you continue to support your people and show daily appreciation for their efforts, they will find their work to be meaningful as well. It’s all about choosing the right people and doing the right things with them.
Of course, a very important “right thing to do” with your people is to train them. Zig Ziglar once said, “The only thing worse than training people and losing them, is not training them and keeping them.” Needless to say, Mr. Ziglar is a man after my own heart. An untrained employee will quickly become a disengaged employee. A big part of supporting your people is providing ongoing training. By helping your employees become better, they gain mastery, increase confidence and self-esteem, and will automatically contribute to building the bottom line. Trust me!

Strive to Create a Diverse Team: A homogeneous workplace team will not be as successful as a diverse team. Having different kinds of people from different backgrounds on your team will allow you to see many points of view. You do not know what you do not know. Be open minded and allow yourself to benefit from other points of view.
When you think of creating a diverse team, think about hiring people from different cultures, age groups, genders, and even those with disabilities. There should be a place for everyone! Take the time to learn about different cultures and even different generations. We are working in a time when people from four different generations occupy positions in the workplace. Each has their own set of experiences and values that colour their attitudes about work and life in general. Add to that the diverse cultures that make up our metropolitan areas and you have a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into the changing needs of our society. Companies who understand this and hire people from all walks of life, do better than those who don’t.

Empower Your People: Empowered employees are engaged employees. You can’t have one without the other, but do you know what a truly empowered employee looks like? Employee Empowerment is a poorly understood term. Many managers have no real idea how to empower their people. They just know that it is something that is supposed to be good for the work environment. Because they don’t really understand how to create an empowered team, they often make mistakes that have disastrous consequences.
To empower your people you must first make sure everyone has lots of information. Share everything. You cannot expect great results when people don’t have a complete understanding of the business, so share the good, the bad and the ugly. Besides, withholding information creates mistrust, and no team can function effectively where there is an absence of trust.
Secondly, decide to not interfere with the process of getting things done. Allow people to make decisions and plan strategies for completing tasks. People will naturally rise to the level of responsibility you give them. Don’t micromanage!
Share your power by asking for input from your team. It is quite ok for the boss to say, “I was thinking of doing it this way. What do you think? Can you see any problems that may arise from this method? Do you know of a better way?” This is part of working with your team to uncover problems and provide solutions. Consider that you are in partnership with your team players.
The last important strategy for empowering your employees is to resist solving everyone’s problems. Have them bring you three possible solutions and then ask them which one they think is best and why? If you agree, then give the go-ahead. If you don’t, then present a case for your opinion and see if the employee can find flaws in your solution. Work together until you get it right. Odds are you will never have to re-evaluate a decision. Empowered employees usually make good decisions (because they are informed). If someone goofs up, try to learn from it and move on.

Create a Strategy for Continued Success: If you want your team to enjoy the kind of success that can thrive in spite of organizational or group changes, then you must employ strategies that will give your team stability. This means that as a leader you need to plan out what you will do if someone leaves the group. Even engaged employees can leave their jobs unexpectedly for reasons that even a great manager can neither prevent nor foresee such as if a spouse gets transferred, or a family member becomes seriously ill, or the employee suddenly dies. Always have a succession plan for each and every employee. You need to know exactly what you are going to do in an unexpected situation, so that you can keep up the momentum you have worked so hard to build.
Secondly, you must work with your team to document procedures. Anyone should be able to walk into a position and know exactly where to find directions if they get stuck. Not having a tried and true method of doing certain things, will turn every day business procedures and results into a crap shoot. Your team can provide you with a tremendous amount of helpful information regarding best practices. Develop and refine these together and keep everything documented. You don’t want to lose all of your procedures when you lose an employee.
Use an employee suggestion system to help you develop and refine those procedures. Toyota is known for implementing more than 99% of the suggestions it receives from its employees. In 2005 that was almost 600,000 suggestions implemented! That mentality of striving for continuous improvement is a huge part of the company’s success today.
It is often said that the mark of great leadership is not how well things run during a leader’s tenure, but rather how well things hold together after the leader has moved on. If the company or department falls apart after you have left, then you did not do your job well at all.
Renée Cormier is the President and owner of POWERHOUSE CONFERENCES, a company dedicated to working with businesses to increase efficiency, productivity and profit. A specialist in the area of Employee Engagement, Renée has spent the last 12 years as a training and development professional. She has been an entrepreneur, worked for both large and small companies, managed both people and sales effectively, and developed systems and habits that brought her much success. Renée uses her experience in Business and Adult Education to develop and implement training programs that show business leaders how to engage their workforce and get guaranteed bottom line results! Clients say her learning sessions are lively, engaging and valuable. POWERHOUSE CONFERENCES is a member of the Canadian Society for Training & Development.
Contact: renee@powerconferences.ca http://www.powerconferences.ca

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