Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

The Buck Stops Here (assuming that you have a buck): Dealing with your employees during tough economic times

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

The stock market is down, houses are in foreclosure, companies are laying off thousands or in bankruptcy and your quarterly numbers look like an airplane that just lost its wings..and its engine.


With all of that going on, December only 3 weeks away and raises, performance reviews and bonuses on the immediate horizon–what’s a Boss to do?

How do you deal with associates during such tense & economically challenging times?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Recognize that the grapevine has been going full throttle (with rumors ranging from the pending sale to aliens to mutterings that the office will be bulldozed to make room for condos)…so you need to clear the air, limit the speculation and get people on the right track.
  • Handle layoffs discretely and with dignity.
  • Make you office’s Holiday celebration consistent with the tenor of the other messages that you are delivering (e.g., avoid holding a black tie dinner with shrimp cocktails in the same month that you will be firing 50% of your staff).
  • Desperately search for a “good news” spin. Small bonuses are better than none; no raises are better than pay cuts and wage reductions are better than terminations.
  • Avoid conspicuous spending (redecorating your office now won’t win you any new friends).
  • Encourage “pot-luck” lunches to save money and build morale.
  • Offer financial incentives to employees whom can generate significant cost-savings ideas.
  • Avoid bragging about any new or conspicuous expenditures.
  • Reward employees daily with little things like gold stars, happy face stickers or a piece of candy (they will truly appreciate being recognized and continue to vie for your approval).
  • Instead of a more formally catered meeting or lunch out, bring in some pizzas.
  • Give your workers a choice in what they may have to give up (e.g., free coffee vs. buying their own bottled water).
  • Encourage the office to make bulk supply purchases from a big box warehouse.
  • Encourage everyone to contact their vendors and extract some cost reductions (you could even make it a contest).
  • Acknowledge anyone that is contributing and performing above expectations (even if you just say “atta boy/girl”).
  • Allow your workers more time to vent with you and each other.
  • Be a really good and empathetic listener.
  • Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve. Nervousness and fear are toxic and contagious.
  • Recognize that even your most innocent comments will be analyzed and dissected by your team, so think twice before you blurt something.
  • Today’s Tip: Tough financial times cannot be ignored by leaders. Associates can get easily rattled and distracted. Speak prudently, listen well and be creative. Employees will always appreciate acknowledgment, compliments, sensitivity and candor. In challenging economic times, you, as the Boss, need to serve as role model, parent, therapist and motivator.

    Stressed employees don’t need you to bet your bottom dollar…just give them your two cents.

    Penny for your thoughts?

    Summary Of All Tips: The Best In Verbal Dexterity (So Far)…

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

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    The Art Of The Business Handshake: Yes. In business, you will have to “Shake” your moneymaker. Like a tie, pin or pair of shoes, how one shakes reinforces or reveals a little more about you or your counterpart. Use it as an opportunity to radiate confidence, control and deliberation. If done right, you will leave the other person in a state best described as a “James Bond Martini.”
    That’s right. “Shaken, not stirred.” (from Blog Article dated 9-2-08: “You Must Be Made Of Jelly Because Jam Don’t Shake That Way”)

    How To Get Rid Of An Annoying Caller: Telephone salespersons are people too. Treat them with respect and politeness. However, if they are not willing to stop when you say so, it’s time to be a little more aggressive. Turn the tables on them and watch how fast they run. Respect deserves respect, but abuse deserves your clever on-the-phone reaction. (from Blog Article dated 8-19-08: “Sorry Wrong Number”).

    How To Take Criticism From Your Boss: It’s hard to believe that there are others that might not recognize or appreciate the perfection that is you…but it can happen. If the Boss calls you in and criticizes you: listen, focus, react intelligently and deliberately and maintain a professional composure. How you react to criticism may leave more of an impression on your Supervisor than your screw-up. Exhale, react and move-on…and try not to let the air out of his tires tonight. (from Blog Article dated 8-12-08: “Sticks & Stones & My Performance Bonus”).

    The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible : Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us. We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak. (from Blog Article dated 8-5-08: “Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak”).

    Knowing How To Make A Good Mistake: NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: The worst mistake that you can make is to make the “wrong” kind of mistake. Take a shot and go face this week’s challenge on your own: just be thoughtful, flexible and responsible. Remember, a baseball team can still win the game with a couple of errors.
    Just make the right kind of errors. (from Blog Article dated 7-29-08: “The Error Of Your Ways”).

    The Office Romance: Let’s be careful out there. At the end of the day, co-workers should share a vision, not a bed. Don’t dip your pen where the Company keeps its ink. It’s messy, unpredictable and really hard to get out the stains. (from Blog Article dated 7-20-08: “Love On The Photocopier”).

    How To Deal With The Pain-In-The-Ass Client: You can’t turn an Asshole into a Princess…but you can avoid making things worse. Understand your P-I-T-A’s personality, hobbies, preferences and never let them see you sweat. In the long run, preparation, stoicism and successful execution can tame and impress that difficult client. (from Blog Article dated 7-8-08: “If You Weren’t Paying Us I’d Kill You”).

    How To Pitch An Idea To Your Supervisor: Don’t just blurt out ideas to your Boss. Prepare and strategize. Treat it like a negotiation. Know their concerns and their next question…and be ready to persuade them. You have a great idea, so go for it and share it with your Supervisor. Clearly, you should Speak Up! (from Blog Article dated 7-1-08: “Speaking Upwards”).

    How To Change Your Speech in Mid-Stream: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn! (from Blog Article dated 6-25-08: “Making A Sharp Left Turn”).

    Who Can Put The Point In Power Point : Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen. (from Blog Article dated 6-18-08: “Hiding Behind The Slides”).

    Incentives & Discipline In The Workplace: Only the enlightened Employer can properly decide how to serve the “carrots” or throw the “sticks.” Just make sure that each is serving its purpose (it’s hard to throw a carrot and no one likes to eat a stick). (from Blog Article dated 6-11-08: “Don’t Like Carrots, Not Afraid Of Sticks”).

    Using Your Hands While You Speak: Your hands can help or hinder your oral effectiveness. Words and gestures should complement, not conflict with, one another. Clever use of your hands will get you the handshake that you are looking for. (from Blog Article dated 6-3-08: “These Hands Were Made For Talking”).

    Returning To Work After A Vacation: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella. (from Blog Article dated 5-27-08: “Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go”).

    The Over-prioritization Of Work In Your Life: You need to be focused and driven to succeed in today’s business world. The pace is relentless…but can come at a real cost: to your spouse, your kids and your health. Just remember that if you actually win the “rat race,” you are nothing more than the best rat. (from Blog Article dated 5-14-08: “Praying To The Work Deity”).

    Humor In The Workplace: Everyone wants to make their colleagues laugh. The real question is: What is the cost of a workplace guffaw? People love when others are made fun of (it eases tension and keeps attention away from them) but always remember when they were the butt of the joke. So, be funny, respectful and make sure that your next “punch-line” doesn’t knock you out. (from Blog Article dated 5-6-08: “Your Boss Slips On A Banana, Crashes Into A Stack of Dishes and Gets His Tie Stuck in The Shredder”).

    Differentiation: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success! (from Blog Article dated 4-28-08; “Viva La Difference!! -Differentiation In The Market Place”).

    Bargaining For Everything: Consider all purchases to be subject to negotiation. Sellers want to sell and buyers want a bargain. Try to find the secret middle ground (4-23-08: “Bargaining For Bread, CDs and Carpet”).

    Feeling Sick At Work: Getting sick on the Big Day is a prescription for disaster if not handled properly. Don’t let your ego get in the way of the correct remedy. Take two minutes to assess…and call me in the morning (4-18-08; “Getting Sick On The Big Day”).

    Being On Time: Lateness does not reflect well on you or your troops. “Watch” the clock, manage your calendar, take control of meetings and try to beat deadlines. Anything less is going to “tick” someone off (4-10-08; “Johnny Come Lately -Timely Advice To Beat The Clock”).

    How To Pitch A Prospective Client: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch (4-7-08; “How To Pitch Business Like A Pro”).

    Real Teamwork: A Team needs to be nurtured, trimmed, fed and cared for. Don’t just bring strangers together and hope. Help create the proper “chemistry” and watch the Team flourish (3-26-08; “There Is No Jerk In “T E A M” ).

    Trade Show Success: Trade shows can be wonderful opportunities to meet fellow specialists, network, to learn or to drive new business. Be polite, aware, aggressive, strategic and always be ready to put on your Spock ears (3-24-08; “Who Put The Swag in Swagger-Trade Show Strategies”).

    Good E-Mailing: Write your business e-mails in a pithy, spare manner and think about who really needs to be a (cc: or bcc:) recipient. Before sending out an enraged diatribe, take a couple of hours to cool down and assess. You can never delete a bad impression (3-17-08; “Mail Pattern Boldness -The Secrets to Good Business E-Mailing”).

    Attaining A Verbal Return-On-Investment: Businesses that truly invest in their associates’ verbal skills (speaking, presenting and persuading) will see a significant and dramatic ROI (3-11-08; “Does Your Business Have A Favorable Verbal ROI?”).

    Improved Sales: Sales don’t improve because they need to. They improve because the pitch, the execution and the follow-up are thoughtful, honest and energized. Clients (new and old) are magnetically drawn to superior fundamentals (3-4-08; “How To Triple Your Sales In 5 Minutes”).

    Tele-communications & You: Always keep all of your business contact info (telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) in at least two separate databases/locations. Otherwise, you will be only one computer meltdown away from a personal meltdown 2-28-08; “Giving Good Phone”).

    Summarizing You & Your Business: Don’t watch the elevator doors close. Always be ready to explain your business to others in a concise, clever and alluring manner (2-25-08; “Your Elevator Speech: Is The Elevator Going Up or Down?”).

    Corporate Jargon: Don’t fall into the corp-speak trap. Use clear, concise language to direct others or ask your leader to clarify. Nodding your head to phrases that are meaningless WILL come back to haunt you. You can bet your evolving paradigm on it! (2-21-08; “Drilling Down To The Synergies Of Leveraged Empowerment Opportunities…or Does Anyone Speak Plain English In Corporate America Anymore?”).

    Complaining: Before you go into a stream of consciousness rage, think before you complain. Use logic, past relationships and respect to score points with the listener.
    Your goal is to get what you expected, not a pound of flesh(2-14-08; “The Sweetest Whine Of All”).

    Networking: Your business card is a reflection of you.
    High quality, dependable and memorable individuals have cards of similar construction (2-11-08; “A Font Of Information”).

    Meetings: Schedule some unscheduled time into your workday to cover extended meetings and unexpected developments, emergencies and delays.
    It will help you finish the day “on time” (2-6-08; “Minutes To Go Before I Meet”).

    The Business Meal: A business meal is not a relaxing event. You need to be “on” from beginning to end and very aware of your manners.
    Others may judge your credibility and competence by your table behavior (2-4-08; “Some Things Are Hard To Swallow”).

    Conducting An Interview: An interview is like a first date. Your candidate will never look, sound or act better.
    Develop your interviewing X-ray vision and figure out exactly who the person across from you really is (1-31-08; “How To Interview Applicants With X-ray Vision”).

    Standing In Front Of A Room: Don’t let an upcoming speech stress you out. Forget the imaginary naked people in the audience
    Believe in yourself, ooze self-confidence and never let them see you sweat (1-28-08; “The Naked Truth”).

    Eye Contact: In any business context, eye contact can make or break you (1-25-08; “The Eyes Are The Window To The Goal”).

    Public Speaking: If you shake it up by changing your speaking location, voice and presentation, your audience will follow (from Article dated 1-23-08; “Is This Mike On”).

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    “Speaking Upwards” (How To Pitch an Idea Or Initiative To Your Supervisor)

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

    Every once in a great while, good employees have great ideas.

    Unfortunately, in the real world of work, they don’t have the power to unilaterally implement them.
    Instead of immediate execution, they have to make it past the “gatekeeper”—their Boss.

    Sell the Boss and you are golden: you will be considered a “mover,” an “innovator,” and a big asset.

    Fail to convince your Boss and you will feel like a loser and 1/2 an asset (an a-s-s).

    Here’s how can you maximize your chances for “pitching” an idea to your Supervisor:

  • Know their agenda and what motivates them (e.g., approval, money, creativity).
  • Have a clever angle
  • Be motivated and excited about your own idea (if you deliver it in a monotone, why should they care?)
  • Make an appointment with them (discussing great ideas while you walk through the hallways, like a character out of The West Wing TV show, doesn’t really work)
  • Do the research, know the facts and permutations and be ready for all of their follow-up questions
  • Pre-calculate the costs, the savings and the ROI
  • Have supplemental materials ready and waiting
  • Share or contrast the experiences of others that tried to do something similar
  • Dress appropriately (remember that old ad, “would you buy a used car from this man?”)
  • Follow-up with additional relevant info, case studies and write it up in a thoughtful proposal/memo
  • Today’s Tip: Don’t just blurt out ideas to your Boss. Prepare and strategize. Treat it like a negotiation. Know their concerns and their next question…and be ready to persuade them. You have a great idea, so go for it and share it with your Supervisor. Clearly, you should Speak Up!

    Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go? (Returning To Work After A Vacation)

    Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

    It is one of work-life’s simple truths: vacations are great, returning to the workplace, is not.

    Just when you got used to sleeping late, room service and planning your day in the sun, it all evaporated. In the blink of an eye you went from SPF’s to SOBs, from riding waves to making waves, from Mohitos to Moe, Larry & Curly and from sex on the beach to getting royally screwed.

    Yes, that post-vacation return-to-work can hit your head with the pounding force normally associated with surfacing too fast from a deep-bottom scuba exploration.

    Well, now it’s time to get back to work and begin the countdown until your next vacation.

    Here is how you can ease the transition:

  • Before you leave on your vacation: clean your desk, delegate assignments, set up your e-mail “away” message and leave yourself a list of what you need to do when you return
  • While on vacation, spend one (morning hour) every three days to glance at your Blackberry and scan your e-mails. It will make you feel better, reduce your anxiety and ease your return. Do not exceed this time allotment or your spouse/companion will make sure that you will be “sleeping with the fishes” for the duration of your vacation
  • Try to really focus on doing as many non-work related things while away. Clear your head, go on a boat, watch bad TV and goof around with your kids
  • If possible, try to schedule your return home so that you have one more day before you need to go back to work. It’s a great way to ease into “reality.” Besides, landing at the airport 7 hours before you need to go to work will stress you (and your family) out
  • On your actual return-to-work day, get up a little earlier, savor a slow cup of coffee and exhale slowly
  • Bring back vacation-related dood-dads to your colleagues as a thank you for covering some of your work obligations while you were away
  • Keep that pink umbrella in your desk. You can gaze at it and daydream whenever you need to

  • Today’s Tip: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella.