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!

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