You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Work Here 3

bxp59950Staff engagement – it’s rarely about the money. They stay because of the people they work with. They stay because it’s a fun place to work. They stay because they see an opportunity for advancement. According to a recent survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, employee engagement in North America is at an all time low – down to 63% of the workforce. If those numbers are accurate that means 37% of your employees are not engaged, they are just going through the motions, or worse yet, they are actively disengaged, and our bent on trying to undermine what you and your engaged employees are trying to accomplish. That means 37 % of your staff have turned off or have tuned out.

Worth Remembering … “Get to know your people, what they do well, what they enjoy doing, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and what they want and need from their job” – Robert Townsend

What are you doing to retain the talent you have? Every organization has an identity – a culture that is best described as the values, beliefs and attitudes that are shared by everyone in the company. It starts at the top and trickles down. It never starts from the bottom and trickles up. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos believes that if you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own. What are you doing to engage the hearts and minds of everyone in the company? Answers to exit interviews conducted by the Saratoga Institute and outlined in Leigh Branham’s book “The Seven Hidden Reasons Employee’s Leave” may hold a few clues. According to those surveyed “Workers felt devalued and unrecognized, workers suffered from stress due to overwork and work-life balance and there was a loss of trust and confidence in senior management”

  • You’ve got to give people a reason to stay.
  • You’ve got to make them feel part of the process by soliciting their input.
  • You’ve got to communicate often by letting them know how well they are doing
  • You’ve got to let them in on your plans for the future, where they fit in and where the organization is going.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of business and that’s people.” – Oprah Winfrey

What are you doing to attract new talent? Everyone is competing for the same recruit. Why would someone want to work for your company instead of your competitors? And remember it’s not about the money. You just can’t sit back and throw money at them. At some point you won’t be able to pay them enough money to stay. According to a 2012 Bersin survey, $720 million per year is spent on employee engagement without much of a return on that investment.  If you want to attract new talent then you need to understand what they are looking for in the companies they choose to work with and commit to changing the way you communicate and interact. Life outside of work has become just as important, if not more important, than life at work. Especially among Millennials who will make up 50 % of the workforce by 2020. What are you doing to promote a healthy balanced life-style?  Advancement should be based on merit not on seniority. What training dollars are you willing to invest in their future? If you aren’t willing to invest in them, then don’t expect them to invest in you. Do you have a mentorship program? Have you identified your next crop of managers and enrolled them in your management development program? Can they work at home or do you offer a flexible work schedule? Company mission statements, values and code of conduct should be more than just fancy platitudes. You and everyone in the organization need to “live” them.

  • You’ve got to give people a reason why they would want to work for you
  • You’ve got to make them feel part of the process by soliciting their input
  • You’ve got to communicate often by letting them know how well they are doing
  • You’ve got to let them in on your plans for the future, where they fit in and where the organization is going.

I hope you are starting to see a pattern here? People are people – it doesn’t matter what generation you are from – we all want the same thing. We want to be seen and treated as partners. We want to work for an organization that wants us to be successful and are willing to invest time, energy and resources in us. And we want to work for an organization that makes us feel valued and trusted. 

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or training session? Let’s talk. briansmithpld@gmail.com. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit – http://briansmithpld.com

The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century 3

images (1)It doesn’t matter what environment you work in – retail, manufacturing, construction or the corporate world, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Your success as a manager or business leader is no longer dependent on your technical ability alone. Soft-skills – your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. It doesn’t matter what book you read, the workshops you participate in, or the seminars you attend, know for certain that there are no silver bullets here. Unless you are committed to a new way of managing and leading others you will get left behind. The workplace is changing and if you don’t adapt to keep pace with those changes you stand the risk of falling by the wayside.

Do you feel at times that your staff are turned off or have tuned out? Is it getting more challenging to motivate others? Are you finding it difficult to attract or retain talent? You are not alone. Gallup’s ongoing survey findings indicate that 70 % of workers are not engaged. According to Gallup   “Millennials are most likely of all the generations to say that they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves”. If you want to re-engage the disengaged and attract new talent then you need to master the art of managing and leading in the 21st Century.

The Four Step Leadership Development Model (C)

I believe the key to retaining and attracting new talent is to develop and fashion your leadership style around these four easier said then done disciplines:

Congregate: People work for people they like. Learn how to build collaborative teams and develop those all important relationships.  No one is successful by themselves. Together everyone achieves more. Always keep in mind that you need your people a great deal more than they need you.

Communicate: If you can’t communicate, then you can’t manage or lead others. If you can’t communicate in a language that others will understand – then whatever you say will mean absolutely nothing. You can never communicate too much. Be open and receptive to what others have to say. Give your people a voice.

Educate: People aren’t born knowing what they need to know – it’s a learned behavior. It’s your responsibility as a manager or leader to teach them the skills needed to take the organization to where it needs to go. Take the time to discover what your people do well and then put them in positions where they can play to their strengths.

Delegate: Surround yourself with people who do some things better than you do. You’ve got to give up control to get control. If you aren’t sharing some of your responsibilities with the people around you  – you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith. Excerpts taken from Brian’s soon to be published second book – “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century” (C) To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Entrepreneurship – It’s Not for the Faint-of-Heart 23

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Are you thinking of taking the next step and starting your own business? Have you always dreamed of being the one that makes all the decisions – the one that calls all the shots? Are you tired of working for someone else? Before you take the plunge and jump into the deep end of the pool have you done the market research – put a business plan together – and really thought it through? Have you thought about the impact it will have on your family and your personal life?

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It’s certainly not for the faint-of-heart. Not everyone is prepared to put in the hard work and sacrifice and do what they need to do to be successful. Without question I think I have the greatest job in the world. I get to travel around the country talking to people about how to talk to people; and about how to get the best out of themselves and others. I truly love what I do. I can’t see me doing anything else. But I’ve paid a price to get here. I left a well-paying job that afforded my family an above average lifestyle. My wife and son wanted for nothing. I went from high six figures to $18,000. in my first year.

If you are contemplating getting into business for yourself you might be interested in my answers to a series of questions I was asked recently by a former student of mine – who was thinking about starting his own small business. I hope my answers provide you with some valuable insight into what I think it takes to be a successful business person. Of course, success is totally subjective. It all depends on how you define success. It all depends on why you’ve decided to get into business for yourself in the first place.

What made you decide to get into business for yourself? Timing – it really boiled down to timing. I knew I wanted to make a career change. I was beginning to feel stuck and unfulfilled. For me – it’s never been about how much money I made. Now don’t get me wrong – money is important – but if it’s your only reason for getting into business for yourself – then you’re going to be disappointed – especially in your first few years. I had an opportunity to get involved in a new venture as a contract trainer and consultant so I took a leap of faith and jumped in. For me – the fun part of being a general manager was working with others – helping them become better managers and supervisors. So this was a great fit for me. I got to travel around the country delivering customer service workshops. At the same time  I was doing that I started teaching entrepreneurship, skills for success and professional selling at a local business college.

What are some of the challenges you faced in starting your own small business? I faced – and continue to face some of the same challenges everyone else faces day-to-day. The added pressure for any self-employed person is realizing that if you aren’t selling a product or delivering a service then you aren’t getting paid. And if you aren’t making money it’s tough to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and the creditors away from your front door. Self-employed persons don’t have the luxury of a steady pay-cheque coming in. That puts a great deal of strain on your personal life. Everyone must give up something to get something. Before you take the leap of faith and get into business for yourself you need to decide what you and your family are willing to give up so you can live your dream. Everybody needs to be on board. You need to be committed to doing whatever you need to do to be successful. If you and or your family aren’t willing to pay the price – then it’s best you stay where you are.

Any lessons learned that you can pass on to anyone wanting to start their own business? You need to be able to stand up in front of a group of people and have them “buy” into what ever you are saying or selling. You need to be really passionate about what you are doing. You need to be prepared to work 80 hours a week for very little money. You need to be willing to continue to improve and hone your craft. And you need a thick skin to be able to take rejection. Look at everything as a positive by taking something away from each negative so that you can build upon it and do better the next time. Network like crazy. You are the “Brand” – somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who has a need for your product or service. Have a budget and stick to it. Don’t spend money you haven’t generated yet. Find your nesh. Become an expert in something not a generalist in everything. What do you know or what product are you selling that someone else will pay you money to learn or have?

Food for thought: The two major reasons businesses fail are (1) Lack of management skills – and (2) Lack of financing. Most businesses fail within the first three years of start-up. (When I say most I mean over 90% fail) How much income will your business need to generate to sustain you, your family and your business? We have a tendency to over-estimate revenue so divide your sales projections by half and run it by those numbers. You need to live and die by the numbers. Make business decisions – keep your emotions out of it. Always think worse case scenario. That will help keep you grounded. If I haven’t talked you out of getting into business for yourself after reading this article – then maybe – just maybe you have what it takes. That maybe – just maybe – you’ll make it to year five.

One last thing: I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been self-employed now for 14 years. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-of-heart – but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And in spite of all the pitfalls, missteps and personal sacrifices I made along the way – I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  But that’s me – it may not be you – and that’s OK. – Cheers 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Author, Communications Expert and Management Consultant specializes in soft-skills training and leadership development. Brian can be reached at briansmithpld@gmail.com – To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com