Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Something to ponder as we approach 2009:

Do you know what the definition of insanity is? It is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results!

Happy New year to all of my readers. I wish each of you Godspeed during 2009.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Attitudes in the Workplace

Considering the challenges we are facing these days, this is a good quote to remember:

"Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out". (Author Unknown)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Performance Reviews

As a manager, do everything you can to make the performance review a positive, constructive experience for your employees. Remember, if you dread conducting the reviews, your employees will dread being reviewed. A properly conducted performance review can make your employees feel valued, and thus more productive.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Performance Reviews

Don't wait for a year until the next annual performance review-meet with the employee every other month during the year to coach him regarding his performance. These meetings can be very brief and still be very effective.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Performance Reviews

Always start the performance review on a positive note, then review any negative performance items, then end on a positive note. Remember, you are constructively criticizing an individual's performance, not that individual's worth as a human being. He needs to leave knowing that you want to help him improve his performance.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Performance Reviews

Many managers don't know how to properly conduct performance reviews. This can be a major de-motivator to employees. Each employee deserves to receive a comprehensive, honest, and constructive review. Let's examine some of the major keys to a successful performance review.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attitudes in the Workplace

"We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them." Elbert Hubbard

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attitudes in the Workplace

If, on the other hand, you consistently, and I mean consistently, encourage and affirm that employee-(in other words, find the good in that individual)-you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. You might catch him "off guard". He is so used to negative responses from others to his negative behavior, that when you don't match his bad behavior, it gets his attention.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Attitudes in the Workplace

Can you change an employee's bad attitude? Sometimes you changing YOUR attitude when you are around that employee. Have you ever thought about it in that way? If you have "given up" on an employee because of his negative behavior and you think he is going to be negative no matter what you do, you will be proven right.

If, on the other hand.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Attitudes in the Workplace

What is an attitude anyway? Can you change/improve an employee's attitude? Should you hire primarily for attitude or aptitude?

Let's answer the first question-one definition of attitude is "the direction in which you lean"-(either toward the positive or toward the negative).

If your direct reports were asked-is your boss's attitude generally positive or generally negative, what would they say about you?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


One of my readers posted these comments: "I have found that trust happens best when employees can give open and honest feedback and where the entire organization has a "culture" of seeing each person succeed. When the culture nourishes the team, the team succeeds."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


So, who are you going to vote for today to lead our country into the future, John or Barack? Do you trust the person you are voting for? Why do you trust him? Do you know enough about him to trust him?

Thursday, October 30, 2008


What happens to an employee's productivity when he knows that his manager is fully committed to his success? (In other words, he knows that she will help him on a consistent basis to use his gifts and creativity). What happens to an organization that is run by these type of managers? What a cool and profitable place to work!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I ran into a friend yesterday at a local restaurant. He has been very successful in his chosen profession:I asked him to share with me the keys to his professional success. At the top of the list was his sincere desire to serve his clients, to help them succeed. His clients know this, so that is why they do business with him, that is why they TRUST him. What happens in the workplace when employees are confident that they can trust management to do the right things for the employees?.....

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

One of my readers posted these comments on my blog-"It's all about talking with your employees---getting to know them both personally and professionally. Letting them know how important they are to the company and listening to what they have to say---open communication builds trust."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

What does understanding have to do with trust? Everything-it means that you take the time to understand/to learn what your employees are concerned about..... and also what they are capable of doing for your organization that they are NOT doing now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

T.R.U.S.T.-"Trust requires understanding-start today"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

The word As a human resources professional, are you trustworthy? Are the members of your management team trustworthy?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

The question that I asked in my last post was on a final exam given by a professor at a university. He was teaching his students the value of communicating with everyone in the workplace; because no matter what your job title is , you still are important to the success of your company.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

Do you know the name of the janitor that cleans your office/work area?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

As an example,you are an HR Manager at a manufacturing company. On a typical day, you pass by one of the Electrical Engineers at your facility. You say "good morning" and keep on walking. That particular engineer does not care about the new performance review process that you are currently designing, or the fact that you know what EEOC, FMLA, OSHA, and FLSA stand for-he wants you to stop and spend a few minutes talking with him about his career progression at the company, what training opportunities are available to him, how his son is doing in college.....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Human Resources-Employee Relations

The following statement may not sit well with some of my HR colleagues, but it is what I believe-if you are in Human Resources and you are not spending at least 10% of your workweek interacting with your workforce, you are failing as an HR Professional. (The 10% number amounts to 4 hours a week-less than an hour a day).

Give me chance to prove my point.....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Employee Recognition

So, after reading the last post, did you remember the last time you made a co-worker feel important? If you can't remember, it is time to act. Stop thinking about what YOU have to get done today and make SOMEONE ELSE'S day a bit easier. Just go do it after you read this post-it will take you all of 30 seconds or less .

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Employee Recognition

One of the best quotes (and best advice) I have ever read regarding employee relations:

"Make your people feel important." Mary Kay Ash

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

Think about this for a minute-lets say you have an employee who works for you for a year and makes $40,000 a year. She is an entry-level accountant. Over the course of that year you have a number of people who collectively spend a significant number of hours training her. You may also send her to off-site training. It probably takes several weeks before she can work independently for an extended length of time. The point is, do the math-it probably does cost you at least $40,000 when she leaves after a relatively short period of time. It doesn't matter whether an employee is slinging hamburgers or performing brain surgery. When she leaves, you see a large investment walking out the door. To avoid this, make sure your interviewing process is first-class so that you will be able to hang on to your investment!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

Multiple studies have shown that the cost of replacing an employee who has left your company can easily amount to one to one and a half times the employee's base salary. For example, if a departed employee made $40,000 per year, then it will cost your company somewhere between $40,000 to $60,000 to replace him. That range seems way too high, doesn't it? However, it is accurate.

Let's review why next time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

From the company's perspective, why is the interviewing process so important? One of the obvious reasons is that the on-going success of the company depends upon hiring the right people. We all know this fact. However, management at many companies never calculate the cost of hiring the wrong person. Do you have any idea what this figure amounts to? Stay tuned...the amount may surprise you. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

The candidate is probably taking notes during the interview-you as the interviewer should be taking notes also-listen attentively and record the candidate's responses to your questions. After the interview, take (15) minutes and review your notes, then rate the candidate before you interview another one. Sounds obvious, but many interviewers fail to do this. As a result, the candidates all blend in to one person in the interviewer's mind-confusion reigns!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

We listen to what others are saying in one of two distinct ways: we either listen to respond or we listen to learn. Listening to respond means that we are formulating our response to the candidate while she is talking to us-therefore we do not really hear what the candidate is saying-we miss important information because we are saying to ourselves-"when is this person going to shut up so that I can dazzle her with my brilliant comments!"

Listening to learn means that we really focus on what the candidate is saying-we pay attention-we keep our ego in check, and therefore we learn a lot about the candidate that is not on her resume. She is telling us what we need to know to make the right hiring decision-all we need to do is listen to her.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

(To my readers-I am back after a family vacation and a training event).

We were last talking about the interview process from the interviewer's perspective. When they are conducting interviews, interviewers utilize different techniques-some spend a lot of time asking the candidate questions about his/her background using the candidate's resume as a reference-others ask each candidate the same set of questions-some interviewers use a combination of these two (2) techniques. What ever technique you chose to use, make sure that you ask the questions, then STOP TALKING AND REALLY LISTEN TO THE CANDIDATES' RESPONSES TO YOUR will be amazed by what you learn.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Interviewing Candidates

One of the biggest mistakes that interviewers make is that they talk too much during the interview. I interviewed once for an HR Manager position at a local manufacturing plant. My interviewer was a Vice-President of this particular organization...and he did not know the first thing about conducting an effective interview. He talked almost the entire time-when we were done, he really did not know anything about me other that the info. that was on my resume.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


In the past I have talked about interviewing from the interviewee's perspective. Now I will talk about the interviewer-what does this person need to do in order to fairly and accurately determine if a candidate is a good fit for the job opening?

Many employees who interview candidates have never had any formal training in interviewing techniques. Therefore, they tend to do a below average job when they interview candidates.

What do you think is the biggest mistake that many interviewers make?

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The coach in Jacksonville knew a coach in the Miami area that had just taken over a football program. Mark called him-they hit it off almost immediately. Mark flew down to Miami, interviewed, and was offered the job as Defensive Coordinator. He accepted, and he and his wife and 3 children are currently in the final stages of relocating to Florida. As an added bonus, this particular high school football program was one of the best in the entire country just a few short years ago.

From unemployment to the Defensive Coordinator of a premier high school football program that is on its way back to the top-all in a few short months. It simply took determination and a few phone calls. Networking can work wonders-just ask Mark.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I guess if I had given it some thought I would have known that this no-nonsense, ex-college linebacker would charge full-speed ahead with his job search. He got on the phone and started calling everyone he knew, just like I suggested. One of the guys he called was someone he had coached with in North Carolina. This individual didn't know of any openings;however, he gave Mark the phone number of his brother-in-law, who is a football coach who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. He encouraged Mark to call him, which Mark did. This is when the process got really interesting and kicked into high gear for Mark.....

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I suggested that Mark accomplish one task right away -write down the names of every single person he knew-football coaches, friends, family members, people from his church, neighbors, his wife's friends-this was the beginning of his networking list. I have coached a lot of people over the years re. their job search. Compiling their networking list is always the first assignment I give to them. It is one of the most effective job search techniques.

Mark followed my advice-he "dove head-first" into this assignment. Not everyone I have worked with approached this assignment with the determination that Mark showed me.

Monday, June 9, 2008


An excellent example of how powerful networking can be is to review Mark's journey. Mark is a friend of mine who happens to be a high school football coach. Last fall he became the head football coach at a local high school. Mark was given the impossible task of turning around a woeful program in just one year. It did not happen. (No one could have done any better than he did.) His contract was not renewed. This was his first head coaching job. Previously, he had been a highly successful defensive coordinator for several years at another high school in the area.

He sought my advice regarding his job search. Mark is married with 3 small children and a mortgage, so he had a sense of urgency. He had to find another coaching job ASAP.....

Friday, June 6, 2008


The US economic news from today is a bit scary-the biggest one month surge in unemployment in over (20) years, and crude oil prices rose sharply during the last 2 days. Why do I mention this bad economic news? Because it emphasizes that in good economic times, and especially in uncertain economic times, you should always be networking. There is no guarantee that your job will be there tomorrow. I hope that it will be, the chances are good that it will be, but no position is guaranteed!

So what is networking? defines it as "a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest." Networking should be a never-ending activity. For example, if you are in Human Resources, join the local SHRM Chapter. No matter what you do for a living, you should also consider getting involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer to serve on a Chamber Committee. Help build houses for the poor via the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Contact the American Red Cross and ask how you can help. Let me be quick to add that when you volunteer in your community, your primary goal should be to help others. An added bonus is that when you volunteer, you get to know people in your local community that you would not otherwise ever meet. These folks then become part of your network.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


After the interview has concluded, go home and write a brief handwritten thank-you note to each person that you met, and mail them that same day. In addition, consider doing something that very few job seekers do-within 48 hours after the interview , e-mail your main contact at the company and outline a plan to help him/her with some of the company's challenges. For example, lets say you are interviewing for a position as Director of Human Resources. One of the company's biggest problems is high turnover in their Engineering Department . Create a basic plan that you would implement to begin to successfully deal with this challenge. This is so effective-it makes a huge positive impression, yet few candidates do it.

The next several posts will deal with how to network successfully. I will review an example of my friend Mark and how he recently used networking to land a great job. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Questions that you as the interviewee should be prepared to answer include: 1) "What do you know about our company?", 2) "Tell me a little about yourself?", "3) "Why did you choose (human resources/accounting/ electrical engineering/purchasing,etc. as a profession?"), 4) "Why should I hire you instead of the other finalists for this opening?"5) Example of a past behavior question-"Tell me about in time in your past when you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it."6) "What would your basic plan be for the first month on the job?" 7) "What have been the main reasons for your success in your past jobs?" 8) "Please give me an example of a failure in a past position and how you overcame it?" 9) Please give me an example of a personal or professional goal that you accomplished in the past and what you did to achieve that goal." 10) "What are the main reasons you are interested in working for our company?"

Friday, May 30, 2008


Don't be afraid to ask questions during the interview-wait for an appropriate time-it will come. Asking questions shows that you are fully engaged in the interview. Examples of good questions to ask your interviewer are-"tell me a little about your background", "why did you choose XYZ?", "please review your career here at XYZ Corp.", " what is the company culture like here?", "what do you like most about working at XYZ?", "what do you see as the greatest challenges facing the company?"

Thursday, May 29, 2008


OK-the interview has begun and you are busy listening to the interviewer and taking notes. (By the way, if she interviews (10) people for the opening, you may be the only candidate that brings a notebook and takes notes during your interview). It is important for you to remember that an interview is simply a conversation between (2) adults. Guess what? She is interviewing you, but you are also interviewing her and her company. This attitude should increase your confidence and improve your focus. When you are preparing for the interview and during the interview, you should be saying to yourself: "If I receive an offer for this job, great! On the other hand, if I don't receive an offer, that is OK too-it is their loss if they don't hire me."

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Why is it important to take notes during your interview? #1) It shows the interviewer that you are serious about the interview, that you are interested in what she has to say. #2) At the end of the interview, after quickly reviewing your notes, you may have important questions to ask the interviewer before you leave. #3) You will have written notes to review at home after the interview is over. These notes will help you decide if you are really interested in working for the company if you receive a job offer.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Much has been written about interviewing. I am confident that most of my readers know a great deal about the subject. Therefore, I will concentrate on what I consider to be the most important elements of a successful interview. First of all, make sure that your cell phone is turned off! You have been shown into the interviewer's office and have gone through the normal introductions. Most likely the interviewer will talk about the weather or some other general subject to help you relax. OK, now she is ready to begin the formal interview. Always bring a portfolio with you that includes a legal pad, pen, and at least (5) copies of your resume. At the beginning of the interview, ask the interviewer if it is OK for you to take notes during the interview. The answer will always be "yes".....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


If the company has a receptionist, why is it important to treat that person with respect? Because if you go out of your way to engage her in conversation, there is a good chance that she will tell the person/persons that are interviewing you. She will tell them that you stood out among the pool of candidates as a positive, friendly individual. Who knows, you may be the only one of the interviewees who took the time to talk with her. Your gesture may prove to be one of the reasons you are offered the position. After a standard greeting, what else can you say to her? Ask her some questions about the company; "how long have you worked here? Are sales good? Who are your primary customers? Do you like it here?" Make sure that you also say positive things about the company;" your website is really first class, I enjoyed reading about your planned expansion in the local newspaper, your property is really well maintained."

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Arrive 15-20 minutes before your scheduled interview time. If your interview is scheduled for 11:00 am, don't show up at 10:58 am. You may think-10:58 am is still "on time." However, the interviewer is thinking-"will this candidate cut it this close if I hire him?" Will he be a "last minute employee?" You also don't want to be too early-(example, an hour early), because they will not know what to do with you. Arriving 15-20 minutes early allows you to catch your breath/visit the restroom/engage the receptionist in a friendly conversation.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Let's talk about interviewing-your networking is starting to get results-you have several interviews scheduled to take place during the next few weeks. Many job seekers dread interviewing. Why? Because you are meeting with a total stranger-it can tend to make you nervous! However, think about this-what is an interview? It is simply an exchange of information between two adults. You have a problem-you need a job. The interviewer has a problem-he needs to find the right person to fill his opening. He is a little nervous too, because his performance is partially based upon the people he hires. And also remember are interviewing the company too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Structured Job Search

And when you call Jackie, guess what happens?-he says: "I am glad you called-your phone call reminds me that I heard from one of my friends about an opening over at XYZ Corporation-I think you would be an ideal fit for that opening...tell you what-call my friend Bob Kline-he can give you the details...his number is....." Your follow-up call to Jackie may well lead to a job that you would never have known about if your follow-up call to Jackie had never occurred.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Structured Job Search

Of course you can also keep your contact notes manually-just use legal pad paper and keep a separate set of notes for each contact-electronically or manually, why do it? Because it keeps your job search organized and "structured". Your notes serve as reminders of "who, what , where, when, and how"-who did you talk to, what did you talk about, where did you meet, when did you meet, and how will this contact be most helpful to you. If you don't keep notes, the entire process gets jumbled and confused quickly. For example, one day you think about one of your strong contacts, Jackie Hildebrand. You think-I don't need to follow up with him yet-I just spoke with him a few days ago. However, the truth is that it has been (3) weeks since you last had contact with Jackie-time goes by quickly. So having a system reminds you to contact the members of your network on a frequent and regular basis.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Structured Job Search

Let's go back to the assumption that you started with only (25) names in your network-you now see how this list can quickly grow to (75) names and beyond. How do you keep up with all of these people?! It is a simple process, and you can do it manually or electronically. If you choose to do it electronically and you have a Google account like I do, you can set up a "Label" for each of your contacts. Each time you interact with someone in your network, you can e-mail yourself with a summary of your notes regarding that particular interaction. For example: "I had lunch with Lee Bussard today at Applebee's. He gave me the names of (3) people that I should contact. Before I e-mail these people, follow up with Lee by the end of this week to make sure he has told them about me."

Friday, April 25, 2008


For my readers who live in the Lynchburg, Virginia area, I want to make you aware of a great opportunity that is available:Leadership Lynchburg is an opportunity for professionals to develop both personally and professionally. This program is administered by the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, and has a successful (30) year history and over 800 graduates. Some of the many advantages of attending Leadership Lynchburg are the opportunities to network with other professionals, to develop as a leader, and to develop more skills as a member of a team. I have never met anyone who attended this program that has been disappointed-it always receives rave reviews from its graduates. If you are interested in learning more about Leadership Lynchburg, visit and click on the Leadership Lynchburg tab.

Structured Job Search

Let's say that you had only (25) people on your original list of personal contacts in your network. You meet with (5) of them each week. You ask each of them for the names of (3) of their network the original list of (25) people has grown to (75) people. Imagine if you started with (100) people in your would grow to (300) people! This is why I tell the people that I have coached during their job searches over the years this fact-using this networking method, you will find the job that is right for you BEFORE you exhaust this list of (300) people.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Structured Job Search

OK, you are sitting in front of your network contact-now what?

1) First of all, keep your promise and make sure the meeting lasts no more than 15 minutes-set
your watch timer is you have to- :0) -just make the meeting brief!

2) Thank her for seeing you.

3) Tell her that you are not there to necessary inquire about employment at her company-you
just need her advice and suggestions.

4) Make sure to bring copies of your resume-give her one if she has not already printed a
copy-briefly review your background and what type of position interests you.

5) Ask her if she has any questions about your background and career goals.

6) Now here is an important and valuable technique-ask her for the names of (3) people in her
personal network, then write down their names.

7) Ask her if she is willing to e-mail each of them a copy of your resume along with a brief
introduction of you.

8) Thank her and leave before your (15) minutes runs out....and by the way, some contacts will
be so impressed that you are keeping your "(15) minute promise" that they will give you
more than (15) minutes!

9) Send her a WRITTEN thank you note, NOT an e-mail. Buy (50) of these thank-you notes at
Wally World (no one calls it Wall-Mart anymore!) and use them. Most job-seekers will send
a thank-you different! Stand out from the crowd by sending a written thank-you
note. Trust me-it will make a positive impression.

More on this particular technique is coming soon....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Structured Job Search

OK-you have started the process-you sent out (5) resumes yesterday (Monday). Wait until tomorrow (Wednesday-48 hours later)-contact each person by phone. Review the following:

1) Did you receive my resume?

2) Can we set up a time when I can meet with you for (15) minutes to discuss my job search?

3) If it helps the process, volunteer to meet with your network contact early in the morning for
coffee, for lunch, or after normal work hours. Remember, he is doing you a favor-
accommodate his work schedule.

4) Follow up immediately after your phone conversation with an e-mail thanking him for
agreeing to meet with you.

Now, what do you say during this brief meeting.....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Structured Job Search

One of my readers recently shared some excellent suggestions on my blog under "comments"-

"I think some people don't really put the effort and heart into searching for a job that is needed. You have to use and exhaust every possible contact and network possible to find that one job that is right for you.....One has to use unconventional methods when talking to acquaintances and bring up what you are doing and want to do to friends and family.....they might say one thing that you haven't been doing that could really get things going.....they might actually have a contact or network that they would be willing to let work for you."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Structured Job Search

One of the the most effective job search techniques is to contact the people in your personal network. Simply sit down and write down the name of every single solitary soul that you know-the list should include business contacts, friends, relatives, neighbors, members of your faith community, parents of your kids' friends, people that you bowl with, people in your Corvette Club, retirees-you get the idea-include EVERYONE. You will probably come up with more people than you think you will.

Start by sending a brief e-mail with your resume attached to no more than (5) of your contacts. Give a brief review of your particular situation and what types of job opportunities interest you. State that you will follow up with a phone call within (48) hours. Limiting the number of e-mails to (5) or less each day gives you a realistic chance to follow up on each one within (2) days.

Repeat this process each weekday-sending out (5) resumes, then following up with a phone call (2) days later. Now you have started to "get the word out" to the people that have the best chance of helping you find your next job.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Structured Job Search

It is very important that an individual who is looking for a job conduct a structured job search. A structured job search is an organized job search. Many people don't follow this method, and it usually costs them a lot in time and missed job opportunities. These folks, whether they are right out of college or have (25) years of experience, conduct a search that is random and lacks focus. They check the local newspaper want ads and send out a few resumes. Then they are surprised when they don't secure (5) interviews within the first week of their search. Well, a successful job search doesn't work that way. Many years ago I learned first hand what does work, and I have taught literally hundreds of people over the years how to find their next job the right way.

This successful journey begins with your personal network. You will be amazed on how well this process works.....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Structured Job Search

Its time to take a break from talking about change and focus on what I call the "structured job search." The US economy is shaky right now-many employees have lost their jobs-others are still employed, but looking for something better. So it is a good time to learn how to conduct a successful job search. It all starts with putting structure to your search.....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I like what one of my readers said:

"I view change as a positive when it comes to expanding your horizons. Many times, it is essential for change in the workplace to improve operations and conditions. I wish more employees would be more accepting to change."

This reader's fundamental, positive attitude about change is refreshing. It also reveals a key point- an organization's culture will not change unless its employees change, one by one.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


What are your beliefs about change? Do you believe that you can change what you need to change in your life?

I like what Henry Ford said-"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

A good example is weight loss-if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to fundamentally change the way you think about food-in other words, is food fuel or is it for pleasure only? Do you eat more when you are depressed or bored? If you think of food strictly as something that makes you "feel better", you may lose weight on one of a number of diets, but you will gain it back quickly-why? Because you did not change your beliefs about food.

So.....successful change starts with your belief system.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Change can be a very good thing! All progress involves change-and success creates change, too. It is interesting to note that a lot of folks fear success more than failure.....that's right-sounds weird doesn't it? But it is absolutely true, because being successful means having to deal with change, and some of us don't want to deal with it. So we don't go back to school, we don't accept that promotion, we don't get on that airplane since we have never flown before-and what happens? We miss out on so many good things!

So what are the tools that we can use to embrace change and therefore benefit from it! The process starts with our beliefs and our attitudes.........

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


It is a good idea to face change with confidence and courage rather than with fear. But think about this... we get used to things, don't we?-we eat the same breakfast cereal day after day-when we shower, some of us wash our hair before we wash the rest of our body, some of us do the opposite, we sit in the same pew in church, we go the same restaurants (even when we have multiple choices). In other words, even regarding everyday events like those mentioned above, some of us get into a rut.

Then what happens? When faced with a major change personally or professionally, we freak out! But it does not have to be this way-we can embrace change with confidence, learn from it, grow as a result of it.....stay tuned for more on change.....I am confident you will like what is coming.

On a humorous note-"The only person who likes change is a wet baby." :0)

Monday, March 31, 2008


How did you feel the last time you faced a major change in your life? Were you excited or fearful? Be honest-think about it for awhile-if you take the time now to reflect on it now, you will relate more to what I am about to say.....

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The top (3) fears of the average person in the United States are (in order)

1) change

2) public speaking

3) death

Sounds strange doesn't it? Or does it? (On a humorous note, Jerry Seinfeld interpreted this to mean that we would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy at a funeral!) :0)

Getting back to analyzing the list-maybe the fact that change is in first place is not strange after all.....let's examine this fact.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


What are the top (3) fears of the average person in the United States?

Stay tuned for the answer.....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This happens all of the time-a manager in a company goes to see a well-known speaker talk about leadership-ex. Colin Powell, Tom Peters, or Jack Welch-he gets "motivated" and returns to his workplace all charged up. You have lunch with this manager-he tells you all about the seminar-he is ready to manage more effectively and change the company's culture. Then what happens? Three weeks later you have lunch with the same manager-you ask him how he has changed his management style based upon the seminar-he respond-"what seminar?" It has already faded, just like cotton candy. Why? Because the manager could not change/improve the company's culture by himself-he needed support from the senior leader of the company.

And this should be one of the senior leader's top priorities-to improve the culture of his company-change the scenario that I just reviewed-what if the senior leader went to the seminar, came back excited, determined to improve his company's culture? Could he do it? Absolutely! Because he is in the unique position to drive permanent, positive, lasting culture change.

If this leader in this particular example sees the bottom-line value of culture change, he will be committed to it-and the change will start with him.

Friday, March 21, 2008


As I mentioned in my first entry re. employee recognition, most employees want (3) things above everything else:

1) Fair compensation and benefits

2) Recognition/Appreciation

3) Information/Communication

And who sets the example for all (3) ? The individual in the "corner office". It is important to re-emphasize the fact that improving the culture of an organization is the fastest and most effective way to improve a company's financial success. Do you know that 90% of all culture change initiatives fail? That's right-90%. Why? One of the main reasons is that the senior exec. does not consistently support the initiative because he does not believe that culture change will work/make any difference. And then it turns out that he was right- the culture did not change/improve. And it is his fault. Many times the leader says-"everyone else needs to change except me".....duh!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


If there is a member of a leader's management team that has a lot of potential, the leader should take the time to coach and mentor that individual. An organized, structured approach is the best way to help that individual grow and use her potential. If the leader fails to do this, (2) things can happen:

1) The high-potential management team member might feel frustrated and ignored. Therefore,
she would not be as effective in her current position.

2) She might decide to leave the organization to accept a position with a company that will help her grow and develop into a leadership role.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


As I reviewed in my last post, sometimes a leader will not hire the best candidate for a senior-level position because he feels threatened by that individual's talent. This is not a good thing because it weakens the organization for the present and the future. Something else can happen-his management team may follow the example set by their leader-they may in turn not hire the "best and the brightest".

A leader should be focused on hiring the best candidate available. This will not only help his company, it will make him look good too-it will bolster his career.

A leader should also be a good mentor- because he may not need to hire his replacement from the outside-he/she may already work for the company-more about that later.

PS to my readers-if appropriate, please pass along my blog address to your colleagues, friends, and family. Thanks!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Most employees want to be lead-they want a leader that inspires and motivates them-that sets an example for them. Unfortunately, over the last several years we have seen many leaders who failed regarding their responsibilities-examples include leaders at Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, and Arthur Anderson. Effective leadership is critically important if organizations are to succeed in the 21st century. However, many business writers are saying that we are not developing the next generation of leaders. I think in some organizations this is true.

One of the tasks of a good leader is to train and mentor his/her replacement. If this is not being done, then that leader is failing in a critical area of his responsibilities. Sometimes a leader will not hire someone because he believes that particular candidate is smarter and more capable than he is. This happens all the time-but think about it-the leader should be hiring someone as good or better than him. It is his responsibility to the future success of the company. However, sometimes ego and pride get in the way. The leader feels threatened by this strong candidate-yet in reality hiring this candidate will help the current leader and the company.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Employee Recognition-Bright Idea #5

When you want to recognize an employee for an accomplishment, be creative. A gift certificate to a local restaurant is fine.....but why not "think outside of the box." For example, you want to show your appreciation to a mechanical engineer for a design modification that saved significant dollars. Ask Human Resources to let you know where the engineer went to school. Let's say he graduated from Iowa State University. Go to the University's web site, click on the bookstore tab , and order him a sweatshirt, stadium seat, or something else with the school's logo on it-I guarantee that this will impress him.

Upcoming posts will focus on effective leadership.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Employee Recognition-Bright Idea #4

Once a month, the facility's top executive hosts a simple luncheon for all employees whose birthday falls during that particular month. It need not be expensive (order pizza/Chinese/subs) nor last for more than 45-60 minutes.

Consider doing something fun during the party-ex. hire a juggler to perform, or the executive relates odd/funny events that occurred in history during that month (Google provides tons of info.). Another idea is to ask for a volunteer to tell the group about his/her most memorable birthday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Employee Recognition-Bright Idea #3

Consider recognizing individual employees on their anniversaries with your company.....this idea is not new..... unless you decide to recognize them in ways that are memorable to them:

1) Give the employee a card signed by members of his work team. Ask each of them to note
something about that employee in the card that they value- ex. his sense of humor, his
positive attitude, his passion about NASCAR .

2) His supervisor also notes in the card a specific work accomplishment during the past year-ex.
perfect attendance, a work procedure suggestion by that employee that was implemented and increased productivity.

3) Include a small gift certificate for something that the employee would really use-ex. a free car
wash that includes detailing, a gift certificate for dry cleaning. At a facility with 100
employees, this practice might cost $1000-$2000 per year-no big deal-you are spending
that much on coffee.

The whole idea is to show your employees that you really are glad they work with you. When we feel valued, we work smarter and harder for our companies. And guess what? That $1000 you spent turns out to be forgotten..... since you generated $10000 in additional profit via those motivated employees.

Employee Recognition-Bright Idea #2

An employee has a personal challenge that she is dealing with (ex. a child with a serious health condition). This employee decides to tell the HR Manager about her personal challenge-sometimes employees just need to be able to talk to someone at work. The HR Mgr. listens sympathetically and shows genuine concern. He then receives permission from the employee to mention her challenge to the Plant Manager. (Of course you need to be sensitive to confidentiality issues at all times). The Plant Manager then takes the time to go out to the manufacturing floor and spends a few minutes with the employee. This is not only the right thing to do- it also makes a significant, positive impression on that employee that the top boss at her facility cares about her family.

Not all employees will share their personal struggles with their co-workers-and that is OK. For the ones that do, it is an opportunity to create a more positive, affirming workplace culture.

Employee Recognition-Bright Idea #1

As reviewed in my prior posts, buy a supply of "Thank-You Notes" and keep them in your office. Make it a habit to use them to recognize specific accomplishments by your individual team members. Employees really do enjoy receiving them..... it motivates them every time!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Do you know the definition of insanity? Most people would say that a person who is insane is crazy. I heard of another definition, one that is humorous but so true: insanity means doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We can all relate to the second definition, because we have all been there. It is like a person that goes to McDonald's and orders a Big Mac, a large order of fries, and a diet Coke! Now that is "insane"...... just go ahead and order a regular Coke!

Part of the purpose of this blog is to get all of us thinking differently about valuing our employees. We need to not only value them in our minds, but we need to do something about it. Many organizations do a great job in this area, yet others don't. For example, the president of an organization goes to a conference and hears a world-class motivational speaker talk about employee recognition. This speaker even gives specific examples of how to recognize employees. The executive is all fired-up about the speech. He/she comes back to work and is ready to make some major culture changes. He/she meets with the management team-everyone becomes excited. However, two weeks later the excitement is gone-they are back to where they were before the seminar. (Most of you have seen this happen).

Why does culture change not last? It is very simple-it is usually because senior management does not see the value in improving the company's culture via paying more attention to the employees. He/she fails to see that improving a company's culture is the fastest and most effective way to increase productivity and profit. If management does not understand this, they are "living in the 1950's." Effective twenty first century management means really understanding that the most important asset in every organization is the employees.

I have been writing about using thank-you notes as one way to recognize employees. I have also given some examples of how people respond in positive ways to recognition. I have written about how appreciating your employees increases productivity and profits. In the next several posts ,I will be giving a number of specific ways to improve your workplace culture for the long haul. Let's get rid of "insanity" in the workplace once and for all-lets focus more on our workforce-lets revolutionize your company's culture together.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Answers to the "Oscars Test"

Best Picture for:

2006-The Departed
2004-Million Dollar Baby
2003-The Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King

Did anyone get all (5) correct? Last week during a meeting I gave this same test to the group-none of them could come up with any of these movies! (Unless you are a member of the Screen Actors' Guild, most people will struggle with the answers).

There is a second part to this exercise-take a minute and write down the names of (5) people who have helped you in your life journey (personally or professionally)..........I bet you had no trouble creating that list...neither did the folks in that meeting last week.

Any questions?

Friday, February 29, 2008

"And the Oscar Goes to....."

OK-the Oscars are over-after weeks and weeks of media hype, the winners have received their gold statues. "No Country for Old Men" won best picture. Now I have a test for my readers to take-please take a few minutes and write down on a piece of paper the winners for "Best Picture" for the previous (5) years, (2002-2006). And no cheating!!! Don't go to the Oscars web-site! :0)
I have already done that-I'll give you the answers in my next post. And I'll explain where I am going with this.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Withholding in the Workplace

When it comes to the workplace, withholding certainly is an important concept to review. When you withhold, you don't share. In other words, if an employee is ignored by her supervisor, she will certainly not be motivated to share her good ideas. Why is this a bad thing? Because she might have an idea that would reduce waste by 5%. If implemented, this new process would save her company $5000 a month/$60,000 a year. However, she choses not to share it, and "money is left on the table." And this happens all the time in the workplace.

So what is the point? Appreciating your employees is not only the right thing to do, it can often generate additional profit for your organization!

Many years ago I heard a story that illustrates the withholding concept in a powerful way. An hourly employee in a manufacturing plant was retiring after 40 years of service. He had been a loyal and hard-working employee. Over the years he had thought of several good ideas for process improvement, but no one had ever asked his opinion about anything. So he "soldiered on" and kept his good ideas to himself. At his retirement party he looked at the plant manager and said-"you had my hands for 40 years-you could have had my mind for free." How much money did that company "leave on the table" by ignoring that employee?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Amazing Grace at Wal-Mart

I have been talking about recognizing employees at work. This also applies to total strangers. Not too long ago my wife and one of my daughters were at Wal-Mart. They were there to buy tote bags and supplies to decorate the bags. While they were checking out, the cashier noticed what they had bought. Now she happened to be very young and very pregnant. She told them that she wanted to buy one of their bags for her baby's diapers and other baby supplies. My wife and daughter told her they were decorating the bags for personal use, not for sale. She said "OK" and finished checking them out.

This is the powerful part of the story. My wife and daughter proceeded to drive to Penny's, bought that girl a tote bag that was already decorated, and returned to Wal-Mart. There was a long line at the girl's checkout line. My wife handed the bag to the young girl. She was so overcome with emotion that she could not even look at my wife and daughter...but all the people in that checkout line saw what happened. Best sermon they might ever hear.

An individualized, positive response to one of your fellow employee's needs can be just as powerful. For example, the plant manager at a manufacturing facility with 400 employees hears from one of his supervisors that a new employee has a child that has some serious health issues. The plant manager then takes the time to go out to the production area and talks with that new employee about her child. The conversation lasts for about (10) minutes. How will the new employee now feel about her new employer and the plant manager? She is thinking-"I had never met this guy, I am a brand new employee that is still learning her job,yet he takes the time to show concern for my child." She will never forget this act of kindness.

There is also a strong probability that this new employee will be a very loyal and productive member of that plant manager's team.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Do You Ever Think About the Way You Think?

As a follow up to my last post about working with people on public assistance-When I am training these folks, this is one of the questions that I ask them-"Do you ever think about the way that you think?" None of them has ever been asked this question. I ask them-why do you have the bad habits, the negative attitudes, the self-limiting beliefs, and minimal expectations for a successful future? It is because of the way that they have been influenced/conditioned by their families and by their environments. They expect to fail because no one has ever taught them to believe in themselves and their incredible, un-tapped potential.

What does society say to them? If you are African-American, female, and poor, then you must not be very smart. Of course this is not true-it is pure nonsense, but many of them believe it.

Because they have such a low opinion of themselves, I help them to see that they are in fact intelligent, capable human beings who can use their gifts to succeed in their chosen career field. This is the point where lasting change occurs-and it has little to do with the amount of money the government spends on them.

Come to think of it, this applies to all of us, doesn't it? As the saying goes-"We are what we think."

Henry Ford said it best-"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Personal Story from one of my Readers

I received this from one of my readers-it is a great example of the powerful effect that one simple gesture of appreciation can have. It happened (20) years ago, and it is still remembered in detail...Wow!!!

Thank you for including me on this list. You are absolutely correct about the written thank you. I remember my first job out of college as an engineer for Pella windows. After a very frustrating week trying to solve a production issue on the manufacturing floor (not really my job), the manager of that department (not my supervisor) took the time to write me a hand written thank you note. In it, he thanked me for my work and said he was impressed by my dedication to the company. Even though this took place in 1988, I can still remember where I was sitting when I read the note, roughly what it said, and how much it lifted my spirits. These notes are few and far between (I am not sure I have received any others, but I am probably mistaken). As far as other effects of the note, from that time on, I would go out of my way to help that manager, even though I didn’t directly report to him

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Power of Saying "Thank You"-Employee Recognition

The positive and powerful effect that saying "thank you" to your subordinates and to your other co-workers is often underrated. Employees really do want to know that they have done something that causes you to thank them. When we do say thanks, it is usually done verbally. And that is OK. However, an even more effective technique is to write that person a thank-you note. You can buy (50) 3x5 thank-you notes with envelopes for less than $5.00 at Wal-Mart. Keep them in your office. When someone goes the extra mile for your team, take (60) seconds and pen a word of thanks to him/her. You have no idea how much this will mean to that person. When they receive them, some employees frame these thank you notes! Why? Because the notes motivate them and yet they seldom receive them.

Think about it - when was the last time you personally received a thank-you note? How did it make you feel? I always feel good after I receive one. It shows that I helped a co-worker/friend in a meaningful way that inspired that person to take the time to write a note to me. And by the way, e-mails don't count! Written notes are much more effective.

Why not give this technique a try? I am sure that it will produce better results than you think it will.

And always remember - the more workers are appreciated, the more productive they become.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Helping the Poor to use More of Their Potential

I have conducted job readiness training for people on public assistance for many years. When I begin a seminar, I always ask the class to list what their greatest challenges are. The list normally includes the following:

1) no job
2) not enough money
3) not enough education
4) poor childcare
5) inadequate housing
6) no transportation

However, this list does not include the biggest challenge that almost every person on public assistance faces. It is a challenge that rarely occurs to these folks. Their biggest challenge is themselves, the way they think. Their belief system tells them that they are not very smart and they do not deserve success. Successful use of one's potential is for other people, not for them.

However, when the clients begin to think more effectively and use more of their potential, the list shown above starts to get shorter. They begin to use their gifts to solve many of their challenges. Their beliefs, attitudes, and habits begin to improve.

Some of the readers of this blog have heard me say this before, and it is worth repeating. You can "bury" our clients in benefits-triple their TANF ("welfare")check, increase their food stamps, give them childcare assistance. None of this will have any lasting effect on them unless we teach them to THINK SUCCESSFULLY.

Via my blog, I want to share what has worked for me over the years. I have trained and worked with TANF clients from several different localities in the State of Virginia. Using my approach in concert with many dedicated DSS workers, we have helped create many, many successful client stories-individuals going to work and keeping their jobs for longer periods of time ,obtaining their GED, going to college, and developing healthier personal relationships.

Do you agree with me? Can effective thinking help our clients achieve lasting success that will allow them to transition off of public assistance?

Employee Recognition

Thanks to each of you that contributed some really good ideas regarding employee recognition-keep them coming!

Valuing and recognizing your employees is not just some "feel good exercise". It is one of the most effective ways to increase the productivity and profitability of your organization! Have you ever thought of it that way? There are a lot of extremely successful companies out there that have made employee recognition an integral part of their culture.

I am the son of a retired airline pilot, so I know a little about that industry. Southwest Airlines is a great example of what I am talking about in this post. Southwest does a lot in the area of employee recognition, and it pays off on the bottom line.In 2004, Southwest Airlines celebrated their 31st consecutive year of profitability! No airline comes close to matching that record of accomplishment. Go to their website ( and scroll to the bottom of the website. Click on "About Southwest" ,then "Colleen's Corner", then "History" and you will see what I mean. Colleen Barrett is the President Of Southwest Airlines, and her column features Colleen's recognition of her Executive Assistant, Vickie Shuler.Clicking on "History" will show you Southwest's record of profitability over the years.

An organizational culture that consistently recognizes it's employees has a very good chance to produce some pretty amazing results. Southwest Airlines has revolutionized the airline industry in many ways-and they did it by focusing on their employees as much as they focus on their customers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Comments Regarding my First Poll

Over 50% of the visitors to the poll chose "a brief ceremony in front of the employee's work team that includes recognizing the employee with a certificate/plaque" as the best way to recognize an employee for a job well done. This type of ceremony is not for everyone-some folks would be embarrassed by it. However, many employees would really like it.

During my career, I have found that employees want (3) things:

1) To be paid fairly
2) To receive recognition/appreciation from their boss and their peers
3) To receive consistent and honest information/communication, which includes the "good, the
bad, and the ugly" about their company

One of my many goals with this blog is for us to share ideas about how to recognize and appreciate our most valuable asset, our employees.

During your career, in what ways have you personally been recognized by your employer that meant a lot to you?

Please click on the "comments" link below this post to submit your response.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Hello and welcome to the launch of HR Water Cooler!

This blog will cover (3) exciting and useful topics:

  1. How to create and maintain a positive, productive, and profitable company culture

  2. How to conduct a successful structured job search, and

  3. How to help individuals on public assistance use more of their potential

Please visit again for updates: I can even notify you by e-mail when there is new information! Simply scroll down the page, and on the right hand side you will see a box where you can enter your e-mail address to receive instant blog updates.

Remember to take the poll at the bottom of the page before you leave!

Thank you for stopping by!

In your opinion, which of the following is the most effective way to recognize an employee for a significant accomplishment at work?