Posted on November 13, 2013 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Technology continues to transform virtually every aspect of the workplace. With an abundance of high performance laptops, tablets, smartphones, VoIP, and with applications such as WebEx and Skype employees can virtually work from anywhere and be as productive as working within an office. Many will argue that the benefits of virtual work abound, and that it is indeed the trend of the future. There is no question that there are many cost savings and environmental benefits to working virtual including reduced overheads, cheaper fuel and lower green gas emissions along with greater employee autonomy. Besides that, who really wants to put up with rush hour?
Realistically however, employers need to fully explore the issues that arise from virtual work and strike a balance that engages and connects the mobile workforce for maximum returns.
Culture – Workplace culture is the heartbeat of any company. It helps define company brands, and attract and retain top performers. What happens when employers allow a large segment of their workforce to go virtual? At what point or threshold does a “virtual workplace” start to affect culture and how do employers protect company culture from deteriorating? While the actual threshold may vary depending on the size of the company, a good rule of thumb is to start asking these types of questions as your virtual workforce climbs to the 15-20% level. Retaining a cultural essence with a large percentage of virtual workers becomes more challenging. Steps can be taken to ensure that scheduled in-office face time occurs at regular intervals for staff meetings, informal get together and other work type events.
Posted on November 11, 2013 | 5 Comments
Categories: Career, Entrepreneur
I recently found myself struggling with the toughest career decision of my life (you can read about that here). I was trying to choose between two very different options. One was to stay in my current job, which provided lots of reliable income and benefits as well as long-term financial security. But it wasn’t work I was unusually excited about doing. The other option I was truly passionate about, and through it I could make a tangible impact on people’s lives. But it provided no long-term financial security, and no steady paycheck.
I figure you’re never too old to benefit from someone older and wiser. So I wrote my 80-year-old father a letter and asked him what I should do. But instead of just giving me advice, he shared a story about himself as a young boy that I’d never heard before. His letter said,
“Son, when I was 5 or 6 years old I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a singer—yeah a singer—like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, or Tony Bennett. My mother always had the radio on listening to all the popular music of the day, and I listened. And I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
By the time I started 1st grade I knew all the popular songs—words and music by heart. About the 2nd or 3rd week of school the teacher asked if anyone in the class had some talent like dancing or singing or doing magic tricks—things like that. Well, I put up my hand and said I could sing popular songs. So she asked if I would sing one for the class. Despite the fact that I’d never sung in front of anyone except my mother, I said yes. I picked my favorite song, and I did it. I sang the whole song—all the right words and melody. I still remember the song. It was I Don’t Want To Set The World on Fire by the Ink Spots.
When I was done, the teacher and students applauded. And that’s when I was certain, that’s what I was destined to do with my life.
Well, that turned out to not only be the first time, but also the last time I ever sang in front of an audience. Life got in the way. But it really remained my dream for the rest of my life. I just never had the courage to pursue it. One day, son, you’ll wake up and be 80 years old like me, and it will be too late.”
And as if that story by itself wasn’t enough to motivate me, my father closed the letter with three sentences that literally took my breath away, and changed my life. He said,
Posted on November 6, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership
About six months ago, having been reliably informed by my 15 year old daughter and her 12 year old brother that I was now “way past” middle age and having been given a Nike Fuel band by my partner and an introduction to the MyFitnessPal app, I finally understood it may be time for me to become healthy!
So donning my newly purchased sports gear I walked into the gym. Whilst this experience reaffirmed my deep held conviction that restaurants, not gyms, are my natural habitat it did however offer me an insight into leadership development.
Amongst the shiny torture equipment, lying on its side, seemingly forgotten in the middle of the room, was a wobble board. For those of you uninitiated in the art of keeping fit, a wobble board is a disc with a half ball underneath designed to strengthen your core by having you maintain the necessary equilibrium to stay upright on the structure.
Now for the analogy and the (hopefully worthwhile!) insight.
Leadership development is like standing on a wobble board trying to maintain the equilibrium between three separate, yet, equally important constituencies
- your “superiors”
- and your “followers”
Having worked for over a decade in the leadership development field I have come to conclude that building core strength is the biggest challenge faced by anyone embarking on a leadership development journey.
Let’s take each constituency in turn. Read More…
Posted on November 4, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Leadership
I’ll also bet you’re your own harshest critic. You probably beat yourself up at the smallest perceived failure. Some of you do more damage to yourselves than that funky albino monk in Da Vinci Code did to himself with that nasty rope of his. Sometimes your self-deprecating humor isn’t very humorous.
Stop it. Now.
These negative thoughts don’t just affect your performance – they rub off on your team. If you’re not careful you can create an environment where your standards are perceived as unreasonable and where praise seems extremely hard to come by. Over time, that erodes your team’s morale and can eventually lead to turnover (not to mention a lousy standard of living for you).
We’re going to get a little cerebral and introspective today. I ask you to do so in the spirit of getting on a healthier mental track. Do so not just for the benefit of your team but for yourself, your friends, and your family.
So how can you do this? My suggestion: assess, admit, and act. Read More…
Posted on October 30, 2013 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Customer Service, Guest Blogger, Sales
Today’s post is by Chuck Wall, author of Customer CEO: How to Profit from the Power of Your Customers (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Here’s Chuck…
Tired of hearing brands blather on about how much they really care about their customers? Wouldn’t it be a lot more honest if they would just admit their real passion is to separate people from as much of their money as possible for stuff they don’t really need?
Maybe that’s a bridge too far, but there’s clearly something different happening in this social era. In Customer CEO: How to Profit from the Power of Your Customers, I write about what I call the Power of Purpose. This customer power confronts every business leader with a new reality; that today’s customer is thirsting to do business with brands they can really believe and believe in.
In my customer research work over the years, I have heard people say “Just do the right thing” more times than I can count. What customers are saying is they want to share values with the companies they do business with. These values have nothing to do with price. They are talking about being honest, showing integrity, providing fair treatment, demonstrating a caring attitude, being loyal, and doing it consistently.
Let’s be frank: for many companies facing the complexities of modern business, it is too much work to create, teach, and live values. They often cut corners and look the other way. Leadership either refuses to lead with values or tolerates poor values in their management ranks. Many customer-facing employees are left in their jobs far too long. The customer experience becomes a bad joke. This is why there is such a huge disconnect between the flawed advertising spewing forth from these brands; it hardly resembles the reality the customer encounters on a daily basis. Read More…
Posted on October 23, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Today’s post is by Aaron McDaniel, author of The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
“So, Peter, what’s happening? Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?”
I can still picture Bill Lumbergh, played by Gary Cole (the infamous boss from the cult favorite “Office Space”) saying these magical words, reaffirming that he is the boss who everyone loved to hate.
For managers, there are a number of scales that must be artfully balanced: giving specific direction versus the freedom to think freely; command and control versus consensus.
One that is particularly hard to balance is between being liked, respected and even feared by their employees. The question beckons, should managers strive to be liked?
The answer is simple yet complex. No, but also yes. Ultimately the goal should not to be liked but at the same time to be likeable.
Bill Lumbergh struggled on both ends of this spectrum. He was disliked by his staff and was also a giant jerk (not that likeable). The boss of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch (from the show The Office), Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrel), was too consumed with being liked by his staff that he became ineffective, letting them get away with many things, preventing them from reaching peak performance.
Effective managers find balance: a way to be likeable, so that their employees will follow their lead and buy-in to their vision and goals. At the same time, they don’t concern themselves with whether their team likes them. Respect is more important to employee empowerment than being liked.
Posted on October 17, 2013 | 3 Comments
Categories: Books, Customer Service, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Today’s post is by Susan Baroncini-Moe, author of Business in Blue Jeans: How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own terms, in Your Own Style (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
There’s no disputing that retaining customers is far more cost-effective to a business than recruiting new ones. But it’s getting harder and harder to develop customer loyalty. On the flip side, some companies seem to be able to get it right from the start. What does it take to create loyalty so strong that your customers keep coming back for more?
The Three E’s
1. Empowered Employees
Your first loyalty is to your employees. Why do they come first? Because your employees are on the front lines. They’re the ones serving your clients and customers directly and they’re the face of your business, representing your brand every single day. If you want your customers to be happy, you’d better make sure your employees are happy. How do you create a happy work force?
Hire Well. You start by hiring well. Hire people who fit into the corporate culture and who will be team players. It’s not just their skill set that matters—skills can be learned. What you can’t teach or train so easily is the soft skills—people skills—and the way people think. Focus on hiring for culture and personality and put people in the right positions where they can succeed, then worry about any additional skills training.
Compensate Well. Make sure your compensation structure is competitive. The first, best way to retain top talent is to offer generous salaries and compensation packages, because employees who aren’t paid well tend to look at their jobs as “just a way to pay the bills,” rather than being truly invested in how well they do their jobs. When employees are paid well, compensated in a variety of ways, and shown appreciation for their efforts, they tend to perform well in their jobs and to care about the results they get for their customers and for their company.
Posted on October 14, 2013 | 1 Comment
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training
Today’s guest post is from Joel Garfinkle, thoughtLEADERS instructor, executive coach and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
Are you protecting your most important asset? No, it’s not your buildings, your equipment, or your investment accounts. It’s your people. Especially those rising stars whose contributions affect your bottom line and your future success.
The true cost of losing an employee goes largely unrecognized in many companies. Yet that cost is significant. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it can cost you $3,500 to replace one employee who earns just $8 per hour. Other estimates place costs at 125% of an entry level employee’s wages, 150% of a mid-level manager’s salary, and as much as 400% for higher level managers and executives. You do the math!
Are you paying attention to this cost? Some managers shrug off this expense as a normal cost of doing business. Because there is no mechanism in place to compute the actual cost, the reality of the loss does not get reported to top management or discussed in terms of its strategic impact. But you can change all that.
Here’s the caveat: you need to be proactive. Don’t wait until turnover costs spiral out of control before you develop and implement a retention program. Start by mentally separating your employees into three categories:
- top performers
- mid-level performers
- lowest performers
While you may ultimately need to replace those in the third category, let’s concentrate on the other two. There are three important ingredients in an effective employee retention strategy: Read More…