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The ABC….D’s of Creating a Great Workplace

Boosting Employee Morale, creating a better employee experience and being the model of a great workplace is not such a difficult thing. Really; it’s not. As a matter of fact is’t as as easy as ABCD.

Ask for their ideas – Have you seen the TV show What Would You Do? Have you seen the bracelets WWJD (What Would Jesus Do? Guess what…….people want to be asked their thoughts and ideas. People want to get involved. People want to be able to use their brainpower to create a better organization. Ask for opinions. Ask for ideas. Ask everyone. And of course, use some of those ideas too!

Brag about them – I don’t know one person who doesn’t like to be recognized. It’s inherent in human nature. And it’s so easy to brag about people. Every single person on your team has probably made a difference, helped another, found a shortcut, closed a deal, salvaged a customer, saved the company a few dollars, made a valid point, etc. Every single person. Brag about them. Often. Daily. It’s not hard. Just yesterday I took a moment to write a simple post on the Facebook page of One Less Meal, Inc. to acknowledge the work of our summer interns. It didn’t take a lot of time at all. Why not put it as a daily reminder in whatever format of calendar you use?

Change it up – There is nothing worse than coming to work each day and doing the same task. Back in the day when I was an accounting/financial guy I used to look (and volunteer) for any task that was not accounting related. Crunching numbers was one thing; but sitting in on the discussions or strategy meeting that led to the number crunching was always more fun. Spending time in the field seeing the equipment and what it did was much more exciting than determining the ROI of an AS400. Can you give an employee a new task today? Can you let that employee see a different part of the business that might make their job a bit more interesting? Sure you can. After all…….we’ve all had this thought rammed down our throat…..”Change is good”, right?   

Develop them – I’m tired of hearing you have no money for training and development. I’m tired of hearing you have no time. You seem to have time to fill open positions. You seem to have time to have endless meetings and create initiatives around engagement, morale, and a host of other employee issues. You seem to have time to deal with sick employees; and workers who are stressed, feel neglected and are overworked; workers who end up suing you. Why not spend some of that time training and developing your team instead. There’s a ton of  things you can do; from free to cheap to expensive. You don’t always need a corporate training department. And even the expensive is often times still cheaper than the cost of a new hire or the hours spent in weekly initiative meetings – that seem to go nowhere. Here’s a free idea to get you started from my blog post of June 12, 2010 But whatever you do just make sure the learning has a purpose and is interesting and fun.

That’s it; the ABCD’s of a keeping employees engaged, increasing morale, creating a great workplace, decreasing absenteeism, and retaining people. You spent a lot of money and time attracting and hiring these people. Now take this simple approach to keep them happy and productive.

And I’m always here if you need help. Don’t be afraid to get in touch.

 

 

Give people a project; leave them alone; get surprise results!

I’m working with a group of youth interns this summer. They range in age from 16 – 20 years old. Their project: to help me build and grow One Less Meal. Inc. operator of the Double D Diner; The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger.

I gave them a task last Wednesday; to write a letter to the donor base asking them to donate again, soon. I gave them a few instructions and walked out the door for two days. 

This was their letter; with very few changes/tweaks by me:

Hello Double D Diner Hunger Hero!

We are writing in recognition of your previous donation to the Double D Diner; The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger! We are a group of youth interns from Waterbury Youth Service System Inc. helping to better the homeless and less fortunate; working with Clyde Sdale and the Hunger Hero and their contributions to many communities. We would like to personally thank you for donating to the Double D Diner. By you giving up or donating one meal for someone else you have helped many people.

Please consider donating again; summertime is when hunger relief agencies need help the most. We would like to help as many soup kitchens, shelters, and food banks as possible. On these hot summer days maybe you should try one of our delicious ice creams; such as Here’s The Scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream. You can also try our amazing Vera’s Milkshake, it’s absolutely refreshing. Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated, especially nowadays where the economy is not what it used to be. Did you know that the total cost of hunger to the American society is said to be about $90 billion a year? We would appreciate your donations, they will make a difference. We hope that you encourage others to come by the Double D Diner, have a slice of All American Apple Pie and help fight hunger too.

Once again, thank you for contributing to the Double D Diner and helping in the fight against hunger. We can assure you that your donations are and will continue making a difference. Please spread the word about the World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger. Have them pass by the diner at http://www.onelessmeal.org/. Remember, they choose what they’re NOT going to eat.

 Don’t Eat It. Donate It 

The 2011 Waterbury Youth Services Tech Media Group, Waterbury CT
on behalf of the Double D Diner, Operated by One Less Meal, Inc.
http://onelessmeal.org or http://DoubleDDiner.org

 

Employees are often empowered to get things done; yet bosses stand over them. We give people tasks and have this need to correct them. Often times it’s especially hard for new bosses to let go; you want to do what is right; to look good in the eyes of your boss. I say……….Give people a project and leave them alone. I think they’ll surprise you.

But even more importantly you’ll be able to do more of what you want to do: lead and come up with new ideas for the business.

Follow-up Note:
The first 2 donations appeared within 25 minutes of the email being sent.

When it comes to morale, employees are not out of touch; but some “experts” are

Several times per week I take a look at my Google Alerts and see what has come through. One of the alerts I have set is on the topic of employee morale. Another is set for the topic of employee retention. Today the first two alerts I clicked on frightened me……………….

Two so-called experts gave lists on how to improve morale and retain employees. One had a list of 5 items; the other 7 items. Both of these experts included pay raises and bonuses right up at the top of their lists.

Now I double checked just to make sure these articles were written in 2011. They were.

Seriously? Pay raises? Bonuses? 2011? These are “experts” on employee matters?

Don’t get me wrong; there are companies that are still offering cash to improve morale. They are not in the majority; and the pay raises that I have seen given by client companies are hardly anything employees are taking to the nearest BMW dealer. Heck they’re barely covering the gas to get people to the grocery store these days. And they’re certainly not increasing morale or keeping good employees from visiting Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com

But here’s a couple of sure-fire ways to keep morale high in these turbulent times.

  1. Give people interesting work. Employees are made of great stuff. Too often we don’t allow them to show that stuff as we bog them down with meaningless and mindless tasks. Sit down with them and find out what really gets them excited. Find ways to incorporate their interests into your needs. How can you make their work fun? Interesting? Can you give them work that matters? That makes a difference? This is what employees want.
  2. Get rid of bad bosses. You know who that bad boss is. Get rid of him or her. (Need a hint: Which department seems to always have open positions and high turnover) Now getting rid of a bad boss doesn’t mean you necessarily have to remove them from the payroll; maybe they need a “special project” or perhaps that title of Manager or Director doesn’t mean they need to have a staff. I’m suggesting getting rid of bad bosses; not good talent. Some people are just not meant to supervise. You actually might be doing them a favor.

80% of employees who leave a job, leave their employer because of bad supervisors. Yep, 80%. They don’t leave because they don’t enjoy the work. Take a hard look at both of these thoughts and maybe your morale and retention issues might not be issues.

Give people food; they’ll give you ideas

Yesterday began a 5 week project working with a group of interns to build and grow the nonprofit I founded in 2010 – One Less Meal, Inc.

We spent them about 2 1/2 hours together; time spent explaining the business, the concept, and the social media approach being taken to build and grow the charity. I expected questions and ideas after my brief talk.

Not many.

Then they went and ate lunch – which was reported back to me as a few nachos, some cheezy stuff and a peach. Hardly what I would call lunch; but the 30 minutes after lunch were chock full of ideas that laid the foundation for what some of these interns will be working on during the next few weeks. They were engaged, laughing, being creative and sharing and building upon ideas.

Amazing how food really gets people’s brains stimulated; and just confirms why meeting planners are so obsessed with food choices when making their plans. Give people food; their brains get stimulated and you just might be surprised what they deliver.

 

 

Why not having a clue sometimes makes for a great employee

I founded a charity in 2010; the World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger. The Double D Diner operated by One Less Meal, Inc has two missions:

  • One is to create a fun business model; and to really put the FUN in FUNdraising
  • The other and more important is to do our part to help fight the hunger problem in the United States of America

This morning I met with a group of teens who are joining me for the summer to grow the business. Without showing them the website, which I will do on Monday, I explained the concept of the business and the current business model.

And then a question was asked…..”So is it a game?”

Interesting question…………from a teenager. Of course he is thinking like a kid and not having a clue. Or maybe my explanation just sucked?

But it makes you start to think…….Could it be? Could it have elements of a game? Would it attract a completely different customer base? A new customer base? An additional customer base? Would it make The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger a bit more fun – which is a mission.

So is it a game?

The question reminds and reinforces something I share with my clients……Why is is that we only include the usual suspects when holding meetings and trying to grow a business or solve a business challenge? Why aren’t we including the “clueless”; the ones who we think have no idea what is going on? Maybe they have more of a clue than we think? Maybe they have a better, different or new idea? Maybe the clueless would engage more customers? Would engage employees? Maybe the ideas of the clueless would make for a more fun workplace and increase employee morale? The worst thing a business can do is not solicit the ideas of every single person on their payroll and give each idea some consideration. Every single one.

I’m excited about Monday and the possibilities this group of youth has to offer. I think this group of teens might be the clue and the Daily Special to take the Double D Diner to a better place. 

 

Could you organization use some different thinking to get people working harder and smarter for you? Get in touch and let’s talk. And hey, should you choose to hire me, 15% of your investment goes towards fighting a major issue in this country.

 

 

 

So who has ever wanted to murder a coworker?

Please do not take the title of this post to heart. And no, given the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial yesterday I am not suggesting murder and the right defense attorney will actually allow you to succeed. I’m here to have some fun and offer some food for thought………

I’m currently reading the book Murder Packs a Suitcase by Cynthia Baxter. Last night I came across the following paragraph:

“……there was probably no greater mystery on earth than the reason one person was attracted to another. Couples had their own secret life, one that no one else has privy to. Even attempting to comprehend it was usually a waste of time.”

And it got me thinking of workplaces. Every company has that one person; that person we all wonder why the boss keeps him or her around; no matter how toxic they are to the environment. And you try to make some sense of it! Do they bring in so much revenue that it makes sense to keep them? Are they the biggest source of creativity and new ideas? Are they a catalyst for driving others to be better; even with what might be viewed as arrogance? Workplaces around the world are packed with people who make us all shake our heads in disbelief; lead us to just not understand.

Maybe we’re not supposed to understand. Maybe we’re just supposed to smile, laugh, secretly plot their demise at lunch, and do our best. Maybe those people, in their own “special” way, are giving us opportunity to get better at what we do? While their approach to life might be different and the way they express themselves might not be what we understand or how we express ourselves, perhaps we need to look past  that and learn something that allows us to grow?

Maybe we need to question them and the thoughts behind their actions instead of running from those actions or having hallway/lunchtime conversations about those people? After all haven’t we all misinterpreted someones words or actions because we chose not to ask that person directly what exactly they mean, but choose to interpret those actions based on our beliefs? Maybe if we questioned them enough we would understand how they think and find out we have a lot more in common than we believe.

Because if you really think of it, a relationship between a couple is very similar to a boss/employee relationship.