Why Employee Engagement Matters

Posted on July 7, 2014 | 3 Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Engaged SignToday’s post is by Annalee Peters writing on behalf of O.C. Tanner.

For many employees, going to work is a dreaded chore. In fact, in the United States, approximately 70% of workers dislike their current job. That means that when they clock in in the morning and pull their chairs up to their desks, being motivated and efficient are often the last things on their minds. Unfortunately, having a workforce that would rather stare into space and kill time until closing is not exactly conducive to better business. When workers become emotionally distanced from their work, it can lead to reduced productivity, increased employee turnover, and negatively impact every other aspect of the workplace. However, if there was increased employee appreciation, those same employees can be re-engaged, then the benefits towards the business are almost endless. Here are a few ways that your business stands to benefit from connecting your disengaged employees.

1. Loyalty

Employee turnover is a major concern for many companies. When employees leave, their positions need to be filled quickly, before their absence begins to affect business. That means that managers have to take their minds away from their other duties and begin the often-times lengthy hiring process. Additionally, recruitment costs (such as advertising the new position or hiring temporary help) can build quickly, and may end up harming the company financially. At the same time, productivity will often dip while the position is vacant. Lastly, the costs (both monetary and opportunity-related) of training a new employee need to be considered. However, if employees are engaged, their satisfaction level naturally increases, as does their company loyalty. In short, engaged employees are less likely to leave, which benefits everyone. They are also much more likely to promote the company brand, and to consider its interests.

2. Creativity

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How much of your compensation should be performance-driven?

Posted on July 3, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Career, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How much of your total compensation are you comfortable having tied directly to your performance as variable compensation?

- 80% to 100% — I want almost everything tied directly to my performance: 5%

- 50% to 80% — I want a base salary but prefer that the majority of my compensation be tied to my performance: 17%

- 20% to 50% — I like predictability, but having some performance upside is attractive: 57%

- Zero to 20% — I prefer completely predictable compensation: 21%

Predictability matters. Clearly, people want something they can count on from month to month. Almost 80% of you want the majority of your compensation to be predictable and also desire some performance-based upside. The small minority of respondents who want to take bigger bets on themselves are clearly more comfortable sacrificing predictability for upside. It will be interesting to ask this question again when the economy recovers because there’s probably bias toward predictability these days, when simply having a job is all most of us could wish for.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

- Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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The Importance of Diversifying Your Business

Posted on July 2, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Sales, Strategy

Addict with SyringesI had a great conversation with a friend of mine. He was bemoaning the fact that his company was almost completely dependent upon one huge customer. He saw the inherent risks in that relationship but confessed his organization had a bad habit they couldn’t kick. They had succumbed to the addiction of predictability and comfort.

Is your business overly-reliant on one key customer? Is your organization tied closely to one key client or partner or supplier? If that customer went away, would your world come to a crashing screeching halt? The rule of thumb I’ve always heard is no customer should be more than 25% of your business (and the same holds true for your suppliers or partners).

We always hear about diversification but usually it’s in the context of our stock portfolios. If your 401k became a 200.5k in the past few years, you know what I’m talking about. It’s easy to do the diversification thing in a portfolio – sell a few stocks, buy a few stocks and presto! you’re done. Diversifying your customer base is much harder to do.

If you’ve never thought much about this topic (or even if you have) you need to understand the true risks involved in not diversifying, understand why it’s hard to diversify, and use some practical methods to achieve the diversification goal.

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How to Strike the Right Balance between Guiding and Micromanaging

Posted on June 30, 2014 | 8 Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership

US Navy LeadershipToday’s post is by Mark Nevius of

Whether you’re an entrepreneur who has recently opened his first office and hired the first set of people, or an eager-to-please manager, micromanaging tendencies can set in any time.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Some people confuse being a hands-on boss with micromanaging their staff. Others take it too far in the opposite direction. You want to avoid both extremes, and like a true enlightened being, walk the middle path to find your peace.

The Tendency to Micromanage

If you feel you have the tendency to micromanage, ask yourself why do you feel the need for it? Not getting psychoanalytical here but this is a pertinent question. Some of the common reasons for micromanagement include:

A lack of trust in employees

Some people have the bad habit of abusing Internet privileges or coming in consistently late or complaining about the boss to others on Skype. You will run into such employees from time to time, but that shouldn’t cause you to think that they are all the same.

You think your employees are incompetent

If you genuinely feel your employees are no good and that they cannot perform without constant supervision on your part, you need to ask yourself why you hired them in the first place. And in case you discovered their alleged incompetence after having hired them, why are you still persisting with them?

You’re a perfectionist

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How much do you involve others in your decision-making?

Posted on June 26, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How much do you involve others in your decision-making?

- I always seek outside opinion before making a decision: 30%
- I sometimes seek opinions but make many decisions alone:  63%
- I rarely seek outside opinion and make most decisions alone: 6%
- I never seek outside opinion when I’m making a decision: 1%

Trading off information for speed. In a tremendously complex and fast-moving work environment, it’s clear we never have all of the information we need. To make good decisions, gathering additional information is always a good thing as long as it’s done in a timely manner and doesn’t derail the decision-making process. Your job as a leader is to find that sweet spot between gathering information and building consensus without taking so long to do it that you miss your opportunity. Additionally, taking in too many opinions can erode your credibility as a leader because people might begin thinking you’re not confident in your decisions. Find the balance in all of these objectives, and your decision-making will almost always be sound.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

- Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Taking a Ride on the Leadership Highway

Posted on June 25, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership

Highway in AutumnAs I was driving to the airport the other morning, I couldn’t help but notice driving on the highway has a lot in common with leadership.

First I’d like to explore some leadership questions that come up when we think about driving on the highway.  Next I’d like to examine the different kinds of drivers (leaders) and I invite you to evaluate (honestly) which type of leader/driver you are.

Leading is like driving

First, you need a purpose for taking a drive.  Sure, sometimes you go out just to enjoy your car and the weather.  Other times you need to go to the store or to visit friends.  Sometimes you’ve got to catch a flight or be at an appointment right on time.  If you pull out of your driveway with no sense of purpose, odds are you’re going to get lost and frustrated on your drive.

Leading your team is no different.  When you take on the mantle of leadership, you need to understand your purpose for doing so.  Are you there to improve a broken team?  To take a group of high performers to the next level?  Do you need to grow the business?  Stabilize it?  Sell it?  Are you leading a downsizing?  If you’re not clear on your purpose as a leader, you’ll be just as frustrated as you would be driving around town not knowing where you’re going.

Second, your vehicle must be prepared to drive.  You need gas, air in your tires, wiper fluid, snacks (lotsa snacks), and all your mechanical and electrical systems need to be in working order.

Are you personally prepared to lead?  Are you taking care of yourself physically?  Mentally?  Do you have all the resources your team needs to be successful (budget, time, support from business partners)?  Your job as a leader is to ensure your team is ready to tackle the challenges it faces every day.

So what kind of driver (leader) are you?

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The Surprising Truth about Leadership – Everyone is a Leader

Posted on June 23, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Next Gen Leader by Robert C. McMillanToday’s post is by Robert C. McMillan, author of The Next Gen Leader (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

What Is Leadership?

To truly understand leadership, let’s break it into small, understandable parts. When you look at the word leadership, what do you see? If you were to ask The Leadership Institute at Harvard University what the word leadership means, they would define it as the skill of motivating, guiding, and empowering a team toward a socially responsible vision. The American Heritage Dictionary defines leadership as 1) The office or position of a leader; 2) Capacity to lead; 3) A group of leaders; 4) Providing guidance and direction. These definitions are very general in nature.

Another way to look at leadership is from the some of its whole parts. As asked previously, what do you envision when you see the word leadership? There are four distinct words with similar meanings but different impacts that make up the word leadership. The words in leadership are: leadership, leadership, leadership, and leadership.

To understand leadership, we must first break down and define each word separately. Most traditional and institutional universities do not take that into account when defining or explaining this most complicated business term. First, the word lead is defined as: 1) To show the way by going in advance; 2) To direct the performance of activities; 3) To serve as a conduit; 4) To have charge of.

Second, the word leader(s) is defined as: 1) A person who leads or guides; 2) One who is in charge of others; 3) One who has influence or power over others; 4) A person who has commanding authority or influence.

And finally, as defined earlier, leadership is: 1) The office or position of a leader; 2) Capacity to lead; 3) A group of leaders; 4) The act of providing guidance and direction.

Consider the following questions:

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How rigorous is your prioritization process?

Posted on June 19, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Innovation, Poll, Project Management

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How rigorous is your organization’s prioritization process?

- We do a great job of regularly prioritizing work: 21%
- We do an OK job of prioritizing: 38%
- We don’t prioritize well; we try to focus but aren’t always able to: 28%
- We prioritize poorly and pursue any opportunity presented: 13%

Saying “no” matters. Your resources are limited and two of those critical resources are time and focus. If you’re not being rigorous in prioritizing your projects, your focus is diluted and it impacts the quality of your work. Invest the time once or twice a month to stack rank all your projects, prioritize and draw the line below which you’re not going to work on. As projects above the line are completed or de-prioritized you can work on things below the line. Your execution will improve and your project success rate will increase. For the 21% who are rigorous in prioritization, just be cautious that you don’t become inflexible and that new high-priority projects have an opportunity to enter the work queue.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

- Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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The Importance of Knowing Your People as Individuals

Posted on June 18, 2014 | 3 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

Peeps Demonstrating IndividualityThe following is an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy). This post focuses on the importance of knowing and treating the members of your team as individuals.

The better you understand your people, the better you will relate to them. First you must treat them like individuals. No one wants to be a nameless cog in a big machine. All too often we inadvertently make people feel that way. You disagree, you say? Have you ever heard or said things like the following?

“She’s my analyst.”

“Talk to my project manager.”

“My VP thinks we should do this.”

Where are the faces that go with those statements? How different would the culture of our organizations be if “she,” “project manager,” and “VP” were replaced with “Terri,” “Jack,” or “Kim?” People lose their identities when we refer to them by title alone. They begin to feel interchangeable, one-dimensional, and replaceable. If you do not agree with this assessment, go home and refer to your spouse as “husband” or “wife” or your significant other as “fiancée,” “boyfriend,” or “girlfriend.” That would not go over too well, would it?

Referring to someone by position or title alone dehumanizes them. Harkening back to the “manage things, lead people” mantra, I would like to call your attention to the word “people” – not “positions.” Leading people requires you to treat and understand them as the unique beings they are. The personal foundation of the relationship between leader and led creates the common ground of trust and respect necessary for a good leadership environment. Leadership without personal understanding is superficial, impersonal, and ineffective.

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Turn the Bad Boss Blame Game to Your Advantage

Posted on June 16, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger

Boss Yelling at EmployeeToday’s post is by Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of Got a Bad Boss? (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Break room, 10:00 a.m. You’re complaining about your boss. You rant to your head-nodding-I-get-ya co-worker about your boss’s latest tirade: blaming you because you were unable to dig up the info he was looking for. The boss doesn’t want to hear about the software crash that prevented anyone from finding anything.

Your co-worker listens sympathetically, and launches into her own “Our boss is the devil” story.

And on it goes. All through the day, no matter what time you hit the break room, someone is angsting or raging about the bad boss’s behavior.

Which is perfectly natural, make no mistake about it. Getting frustrated, depressed or just plain angry about yet another unwarranted outburst from your bad boss is the human thing to do. After all, it is demeaning, disgusting and at the very least, disrespectful. However, wallowing in your misery prevents you from pushing through to the very success you long for.

Here’s an easy three-step process to get off the blame game (oh, you didn’t notice you were blaming your boss for blaming you?) and on to your own success:

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