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and performance

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Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Keeping your word with yourself…are you trustworthy?

Eight Flying Doves


As I work with senior executives and business owners, a frequent complaint is “employee lack of follow-through”.

So, ask yourself, what does it take for you to follow-through?

Consider these statistics shared by Association for Talent Development on your chances:

  • 10%       Hearing an idea
  • 25%       Consciously decide to adopt it
  • 40%       Decide when you will do it
  • 50%       Plan how you will do it
  • 65%       Commit to someone else that you will do it
  • 95%       Have a specific accountability appointment with
    person committed to

When was the last time you promised yourself to try something new, only to realize six months later you never started?

Guaranteed ways to get and keep your employees communicating…at work!

Employee communication is critical to getting maximum contribution from your employees. Poor interpersonal and communication skills are consistently ranked in the top five reasons managers fail. Poor communication skills can manifest themselves in many ways, including:

  • Feuds
  • Avoiding communication with co-workers
  • Hostile attitudes

These are all dangerous, but avoiding communication with co-workers has some of the biggest implications. The best way to make sure you do not fall into this black hole is by creating a culture of open dialogue at your workplace. Employee communication automatically improves when employees sense that communicating new ideas is encouraged by management. Here are easy ways to make sure you are creating a culture of open dialogue in your organization:

1) Create ground rules: Before ideas and opinions start flying, create and enforce ground rules to make sure everyone keeps it friendly. This includes rules about curse words and discriminatory comments.  Make sure you emphasize that all comments need to be professional and relevant  to the issue at hand. Guidelines prevent employees from getting off task, when
they are more likely to make inappropriate comments.

Why this matters: Nothing derails employee communication faster than discriminatory and rude remarks. If an employee is on the receiving end of these remarks, he or she may shut down and refuse to provide valuable opinions, insight and direction. The goal is to make sure everyone feels respected and feels like their opinions matter.

2) Don’t just say there is an open-door policy, create it: It is vital that you walk the walk when it comes to promoting employee communication in the workplace.  Begin by setting the example. Make sure you are continually asking for your
employees’ opinions on major decisions. It is also important to leave time to regularly meet with your employees.

Why this matters: You can tell your employees that there is an open-door policy, but unless they see it, they will not feel comfortable speaking up. If employees consistently try to meet with you to no avail, they will eventually assume that employee communication is not important to you and stop trying. But if you lead the way, by creating multiple opportunities for employees to speak up, they will.

3) Regularly update employees: Keep your employees in the loop on upcoming decisions, events, mergers or any other changes you anticipate will be important. If your employees have complete information, they will be able to
make more informed recommendations.

Why this matters: Open dialogue in the workplace will only be helpful in an environment where employees are informed. If they are not, they will fire off suggestions that are not in line with where the organization is headed strategically.

4) Help your employees develop effective presentation skills: There will come a time for most of your employees when they will have to present ideas in formal meetings. Do not let poor presentation skills be the hurdle to having your employee’s idea considered by executives. Utilize training programs if necessary.

Why this matters: Open communication in the workplace is not just about throwing all of your thoughts out there. It is about being able to present your ideas in a way that others will understand. Effective presentation skills will help you do this. People are more likely to respond favorably to an idea communicated in an effective, professional way.

Contributed by Profiles International


Managers, pay attention!

If you are looking to run a high-performing team that flourishes, pay attention.

It is the minimum ratio of positive comments and feedback to negative comments and feedback  a team needs to achieve success.  That’s about 3 to 1.  Have you tracked how often you praise your team lately?  I bet your team knows.

Often when I am coaching business owners and senior executives, they sigh when the topic of positive recognition comes up. As visionaries who drive the organization forward, they tell me they are concerned with addressing the concerns they see ahead, not reviewing what’s already happened.   Would a glance in the rear-view mirror serve them well…once in a while?

Keep tally this week with two bowls on your desk-one for the positive comments and one for the negative, using paperclips, pennies or slips of paper. At the end of the week, total your score.

If you have difficulty reaching 3:1, consider this.  Research Psychologist, Marical Losada, found that a high-performing team has a ratio of 5.6 positive to negative comments.  If you reached the goal, congratulations! If not, look deeper.  It may be time for some in-depth analysis to determine why that goal block exists.  Is it with your management or the team make-up?

To learn more, request a copy of The Powerful Act of Coaching Employees .

Take the Leader’s Challenge

4 wings
While celebrating with my CEO coachee her recognition into the 2011 “40 under 40”  class, the keynote speaker introduced some reflective questions and character-building actions for all leaders. Consider these words of wisdom Jeff Sandefer of ACTON School of Business shared with the top young professionals recognized this year by the Houston Business Journal. 
  1) Ask 5 people, ” What do I do best in the whole wide world?”

2) Make a list of  your ” I absolutely will not ___________”.  Store in a desk drawer that is handy to reach, so in times of ethical crossroads you can review your core principles.

3) Who is a someone you have never thanked, that has had a significant impact on your life?  Write a letter to that person.  Then, go to that person and read it to them.  You will be transformed for the several months to come.

These suggestions, if acted upon, (1) will create change, (2) build character and (3) instill gratitude.  Which of these 3 areas in your life are you seeing others lacking?   Now, work the question with the associated number to complete earnestly and sincerely.  Begin to see others changing around you!

Hurricanes, Tornados and Floods, oh my!

Nice New World
Let’s face it, a natural disaster causes retention problems for employers.  Their staff moves and sometimes never returns to their “home”.  After a coastal business had seen their employee count reduced due to a natural disaster and available new employee options thinned out, they were very concerned about keeping the good employees they had! So, we were asked to examine the consistency of their hiring process, profile their top performers for a Talent Audit, and review how effective they were communicating internally.    

How did they review their employees?  “We don’t like our review system at all”, we were told. They had a formalized approach for all of their company employees when assessing their performance.  Their company consisted of executives, management professionals, administrative and production personnel.   Upon closer review, the directors of the company were being assessed as if they were performing the same job as the manufacturing floor personnel…all because someone had provided a template solution.   

It is not uncommon for an appraisal format to be swapped or shared among consultants or companies, with little regard being paid to the impact that it can have on the results the company is achieving.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many companies I’ve written appraisals for like an interactive conversational style review.  We provide an opportunity for a self-evaluation that the employee completes prior to the appraisal.  There are many advantages to doing so because it:  

  • helps to jog the memory of the employer if he has missed any highlights during the year
  • reveals the mindset of the employee…what is their perception…did they think they had an exceptional year, average or possibly have areas needing significant improvement?
  • reduces the anxiety on both sides of the table, reinforcing the quality of work the employee has accomplished throughout the year

 The Reluctant Reviewer

One employee told me that his supervisor was not a “communicator” and wanted to cover his annual performance appraisal by email…and her office was right next door! 

Not every manager finds that communicating comes naturally.  If an owner finds conversation difficult, I’ll suggest a review where a list of core values, traits or measurable tasks can be reviewed by the employee.  Both the manager and the employee  select from this list ranking each item in order of importance.  This can be a good “icebreaker” to help the manager understand why the employee views his job the way they do.  The manager can then follow up with questions and review the ranking, asking why each was ranked as it was and why they see it that way. 

One manager was considering terminating a long term relationship with an employee he judged as “having an attitude”.  He interpreted certain behaviors as resistant and rebellious.  After utilyzing the alignment system, the employee-employer relationship transitioned to a new level of understanding and cooperation after experiencing years of misunderstanding.  

Employee Retention Downfalls

Every review has an evaluation scale of some kind whether verbal or numerical.  One of the quickest ways to build resentment which usually leads to a retention issue is to inadequately explain the evaluation scale.  Any ambiguity equates to “I fill in my own interpretation.” 

When a manager rates someone as a 5-6 (meeting expectations) and the employee thinks are a 9-10 (exceptional performance), there is room for confusion and hurt feelings. If the employee understands that “exceptional performance” means there is absolutely no room for improvement and one consistently leads the company/department in this area…the evaluation rating takes on a new light. 

The manager can open up communication channels by asking how the employee believes their performance can reach the higher level.  If they do not know, provide examples as to how the next level of performance can be reached and how you can coach or mentor them.

The quickest way to lose an employee is to take out your anger or disappointment in a review based on something recent that has occurred.  One manager fell victim to a misdirected email regarding their personal policy about mandatory overtime and passively lashed out at the employee by rating an employee harshly in their review.  They revealed later that their overreaction and harsh rating drove a wedge in their business relationship that was never repaired.

Penalizing Performers 

Although forced ranking is a popular management philosophy of the day, I suggest we continue to reward performers at all levels. I was asked this question after speaking at a national convention …” should be a set number of “A, B and C performers “in each department”?  If a manager is doing an exceptional job of hiring and developing Top Performers in his department , why should he be penalized by a company formula limiting the number of A performers he has?

Lesson from Frank Maguire: Treat everyone like a rock star!

When I received the sad news that Frank Maguire, my lifelong friend, mentor and FEDEX founding senior executive had passed away on a business flight, my immediate reaction was one of grief.   What would I miss the most?  The stories of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the early days?  His experience in the White House when JFK was in office?  How he took the time from his international speaking circuit to speak about his cherished memories of my father at his funeral?  

Anyone who knew Frank would say, “how he made me feel”.  My mind flitted back to when he was the keynote speaker at a conference in Houston many years ago. His charismatic persuasiveness made the least touchy feel-y of executives break through their defenses, hold hands and bellow, “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” with Frank leading the chorus. It was amazing to witness his impact on others. 

Moving through the crowd toward his hotel, he cut a swath of smiles and satisfied nods as we crossed the conference center floor.  Why each hotel staffer was told how they personally made a positive difference to his stay!  Even  Carmela, the housekeeper.  Frank exclaimed, “why, my wife’s name is Carmel. I’m on my way home to see her…let me kiss you on the cheek for that,” with that Irish twinkle in his eye. Carmela  and her co-workers beamed as he was whisked away in his limousine.    

Did it take any extra time or effort for Frank to be observant of those lives he touched? Maybe, a little.  Yet, every time he found the “light” in us, his grew brighter.  And Frank, I, for one, am going to miss that “little light of yours” that still burns very brightly in my heart.

Recognition: Hey, Boss, I’m starving!

Talking in LanguagesStep into the middle of this board room conversation …”I learned my wife doesn’t care about getting gifts or flowers, she wants me to help out around the house. Oh, not my girlfriend, if I don’t tell her how special she is to me all the time, she thinks something is wrong!” After several female board members piped in about what their beliefs were about their husbands and partners preferences, someone suggesting reading   The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Being a consultant who works with companies with people conflict, I pondered on the “appreciation languages” of my consulting client’s employees…were they hearing the right language?  

How many times had I interviewed employees who were starved for recognition from their manager? Research had reported countless times that money was not a motivator, so what could an employer do?  Most look to books for an idea list of recognition methods, without any idea of what would speak to the individual. 

If Dr. Chapman’s ideas work for love, how about for business?

With my apologies to Dr. Chapman, how about a quiz which flags the primary way our employees want to be recognized at work? 


Select your number 1 and number 2 preferred method of appreciation from the choices below.

I feel most valued when a person/manager/co-worker:

  1.  ______Tells me how grateful they are for me and the things I do for them or the company
  2.  ______ Gives me their focused attention without any interruptions
  3.  ______Brings me a gift or other tangible item of appreciation
  4.  ______Pitches in to help me, perhaps taking over something that I’m behind on or find routine or boring
  5.  ______Expresses positive feelings through acceptable physical contact- like a pat on the back, high-5 or knuckle bump

According to Dr. Gary Chapman’s work, there are 5 Languages.  Learn which top 2 languages make you feel the most valued.

1 = Words of Affirmation

2 = Quality Time

3 = Receiving Gifts

4 = Acts of Service

5 = Physical Touch

This week observe how others are expressing appreciation toward you and others.  Which “language” makes you feel most valued and what happens when someone uses your least preferred language?

Try giving this simple quiz to your employees.  Start speaking their language, feed them with the right kind of appreciation and you’ll notice  productivity soar!

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell


Profiles Int'l