Monday, June 28, 2010

Drive By Management

Has something like this happened to you? You’re at a weekly sales meeting when the Director of Sales steps into the room. “Uh, hi everyone, I want to recognize Ted for his outstanding service to the company,” he mumbles, as he hands Ted an oversized coffee mug emblazoned with the company logo. The beaming Director of Sales ducks out, as the room erupts in confused applause.

Or how about this story a friend shared with me… A terse e-mail from The Boss is sent out department wide, calling for a mandatory meeting in 15 minutes in the conference room. These meetings usually mean somebody’s leaving or some other disaster is looming. Once the department is gathered, The Boss presents a completely deserving (and completely confused) employee with a plaque for outstanding service. Pat on the back, hearty handshake, end of meeting, everybody get back to work.

I call this sort of thing “drive by recognition". I know of a place where there were sporadic bursts of praise from upper management every 6 months or so. The boss would take time at regularly scheduled team meetings to present awards, gifts and cards to employees recognizing their work …for a week or 2. Then the confusing new “tradition” would end as suddenly -and inexplicably- as it started. A few months later the ritual would reappear in a slightly different form. And so on. I don’t know if their management was getting directives that “the employees need recognition, so gosh darn it, get out there and RECOGNIZE!” or what.

I absolutely feel that employees need to be recognized for their service. Sure, at the end of the day everybody works for a paycheck, but knowing you’re appreciated by your employer makes for happier, more productive people at the workplace.

Recognizing career milestones, work-related victories, outstanding performances, or even just “time served” can boost morale and make for a healthier work enviroment.
The trick is to make recognition a part of the company culture, and not a random sneak attack. If management isn’t consistent with recognition, the team will see through any “drive by” efforts to institute it at random. You’d be better off not doing it at all, rather than flying sporadic divebombing runs.

Sincere appreciation of employees on a regular basis is a key to good work atmosphere. It’s got to be a part of how business is done, however, not a band-aid stop gap attempt to boost morale that comes and goes as profits rise or fall.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Goals. How to achieve them?

Loads of ink (or bandwidth, here in cyber-space) has been committed to talking about goals.That's not going to stop me from piling on, however! I'm going to focus on one aspect of a good goal setting program- achieving goals. This is an area in which I've recently learned some hard lessons and eaten some crow, so I know of which I speak! Like my old friend Kenny Rogers sang, "Promise me son, not to do the things I've done".

Once you've got your goals set, how, exactly do you reach them? Of course, you'll have a plan in place, with clearly defined action steps. But how does one commit oneself to sticking to the plan? This is an area I've struggled with all my adult life- follow-through, commitment, long term plans. The answer, I'm finding is not sexy or fun. It's not a program I can download to my smart phone or iPod. It's the same way you eat an elephant. A little at a time.

Zig Ziglar says in order to make a change in your life you have to stick with it for 3weeks- at that point it becomes a habit. It's kind of the way that investing over time slowly builds up interest.

I had a new project that, despite my initial enthusiasm and complete belief in, was going NOWHERE fast. I just wasn't putting in the time to get anywhere with it. I started out going great guns, but over time found excuses to work on other, newer projects. Over time my original project’s momentum slowed, then stopped completely. This, of course,bugged the crap out of me. But not enough to motivate me to jump start the project. I would make sporadic, “drive-by” efforts once in a while, but nothing to really move the thing forward.

I got inspired by the analogy listed above, how creating a good habit works in much the same way that compound interest grows money.
I like money. Just like my financial idol, Gene Simmons.

What I did is commit 15 minutes a day to working on my new project. I mean, anybody can spare 15 measly minutes, right? I wrote myself a giant reminder note and posted it on my computer every night when I left my desk, so it would be the first thing I saw upon returning. When I got to my desk, I doggedly set about putting in my 15 minutes of work.

A funny thing happened. First of all, it quickly became a habit. I even started looking forward to it after a while. 15 minutes wasn’t so bad! I could knock it out and move on to other projects. And then I found myself putting more than 15 minutes into it on a regular basis. Soon I was focused and really getting somewhere with it.

This method can work in just about any area of life. In saving money, in physical fitness (15 minutes of yoga, stretching, or simple exercise every day can be life changing over time!), relationships (spend 15 minutes a day talking to and really listening to your spouse and see what happens!), anything.

The hardest part is the initial process of getting started. There’s no magic formula. Like the great Larry Winget says, “if you want to change, just change.”

Go for it! You’ve got 15 minutes to spare, don’t you?

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