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?

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