Posts for Category: Employee Motivation

Become a Company of Giants

Posted on: May 10th, 2014

A friend of mine told me he heard a speech recently by a Ph. D. in physics. This man earned his degree about 20 years ago.  He made this statement: “More than half of the correct answers I gave on my finals 20 years ago are no longer valid. What we have learned in science in the past 20 years have yielded new truths that didn’t exist 20 years ago.”

We get it in science, but we don’t get it with people. We need to change and build upon what we now know about people to foster engagement in the workplace.

What is true today? Motivation – therefore engagement – comes from loving what you do. You love what you do when you’re in the right position and growing.
David Ogilvy said: “If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people bigger than we are, [we] will become a company of giants.”

People want to achieve at their highest level of potential. They want to be seen in the best light. They want to be fully engaged. Your people are your most valuable asset and therefore your responsibility. Help them love what they do, and they are yours – fully engaged.

Part-Timers Are Not “Coverage”

Posted on: May 5th, 2014

Many experts believe that within a few years the U.S. will face a shortfall of 10 million workers, mostly in the frontline service sector. As a result, it is predicted that it will be increasingly more difficult to find employees willing to work for minimum wage or slightly more. There is good news though. More and more part-time workers will be available, thanks to changing beliefs, values, work and job preferences, social needs and retirees who don’t want to retire.

The biggest problem faced by this increasingly important group of workers is the attitudes of their bosses, managers and full-time co-workers, who too often regard the part-timers contributions to the workplace as insignificant. Yes, part-timers are made to feel insignificant when in fact, the opposite is true. Our research reveals that part-timers’ performance scores are approximately 30% higher than full-timers’. Part-timers also show a higher energy level, do not get bored as easily, and are less likely to get caught up in workplace politics. After all, they simply have less time to develop these less desirable habits.


Engaged Workers

Posted on: February 18th, 2014

Consider what it means to be engaged. It means that a person is involved, occupied, committed, meshed, participating. For me, the most significant attribute of the engaged employee is that she is “unavailable to anyone else” – meaning other employers.

When fully engaged in her work, her energy and focus are laser-directed to outcomes and satisfaction. Results become rewards, producing euphoric feelings that boost self-esteem, and provide a sense of control over one’s destiny. Engaged workers believe that the grass is greener on their side; they wouldn’t think of leaving. They become a company’s strongest asset – one that cannot be wooed, tempted or stolen.

Any discussion of employee engagement must include recognition of employees as human beings – human beings with lives, problems and challenges that will and do affect their performance in the workplace. Unfortunately, many business leaders were raised in an environment where life was supposed to be separated from work, with the personal and professional lives stored in neat, non-intersecting compartments. It has only been recently that managers were given permission to admit emotions and acknowledge that personal lives impact the workplace.

Engaged people drive the success of an enterprise. Companies are only as good as their people, because companies are their people.

How are you differentiating between the engaged and the disengaged?

First to Leave? Your Best Employees

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014

Given the ever-changing factors in today’s pool of available engaged talent, managing human inventory is every bit as important – if not more – than managing product inventory. Why? Because in reality, people are companies and companies are its people.

Today, businesses have more difficulty finding and retaining productive workers than they do finding and building loyal customers. Even the best employees can become disillusioned and disengaged when they’re not treated as individual adults who are striving to become more than interchangeable cogs in the corporate machinery. In fact, your very best employees will be the first to leave if their needs and desires are not met.

Pay attention to your best employees. These are the people managers inadvertently ignore because they’re busy focusing on problem employees. Consider the advantages of improving a top-performer’s productivity by just 10%, rather than improving the performance of a mediocre worker by 10%. Keep in mind that the best employees are always the first to leave.

React to poor performers quickly. Your employees know before you do who is slacking off on the job and not contributing. Make it easy for caring workers to come to you with concerns about a fellow employee’s work habits. Emphasize that these conversations are confidential, but also indicate that you want specific examples – not random observations. Then, act on this information!

Disengagement occurs in stages. By the time an employee becomes “actively disengaged” it’s usually too late for intervention. By now the employee has become disruptive, unproductive, and has infected others in negative ways. It would be an impossible feat for him or her to retract everything she’s complained about and now adopt a positive attitude.

Important Note: Your good people are always the first to leave. They’re the ones with the most confidence and a proven track record. They know they’re talented and that their odds of getting a new job are very good. They also will not put up with someone else taking the joy out of their workday. In today’s world, people follow the natural leader, regardless of official job title.

Are you trying to deal with disengaged co-workers or employees?

“B” Players Are Not Disengaged

Posted on: December 3rd, 2013

Take what I call “A” players. These employees are hungry for results, impatient for promotions, willing to sacrifice life for work and it’s meaning in helping them identify who they are as individuals.

Then there are the “B” players – loyal, dedicated, focused on helping others succeed – preferring to shed the spotlight on someone other than themselves.


Disconnected, Detached, Disheartened

Posted on: September 18th, 2013

Why do people become disengaged in the workplace? No applicant takes a job with a plan to fail.  No employer hires with the intent to fire.  Both want to succeed.  So what happens?

Here’s a not-too-unusual example. The CEO of a 30-year-old successful specialty retail chain wanted to improve the hiring process and raise the bar on customer service. He told us that he wanted to hire people who naturally understand what service means. He felt that training was not the company’s answer.  He said, “We have some terrific people. We need more of them.”  Was it a question of hiring or retaining and engaging? Were “terrific” people already on board and overlooked?

Our company conducted an on-line survey of front-line workers, supervisors, managers at the store, district, and regional levels, and executives. They were asked questions related to their perceptions of several job positions as well as their view of company effectiveness in several areas, including employee development, recognition, communication, and performance issues.

The results were unexpected. Employees widely disagreed on what particular positions required in behaviors, attitudes, and values in order for a person to be successful. Qualifications for success in that company were based on what exists rather than what is possible. This is like allowing the performance of a second-string team to become the benchmark for top performers on the first team. Often top performers in one company would be only average if placed in the same position in another company.

Another important discovery emerged from that survey.  An individual who became a “good employee” was expected to remain at that level without much feedback, recognition, or involvement. The only way to get a raise or recognition was to try to be promoted to the next level, even though the employee might not want to leave a current position.

Final analysis revealed that managers played the most important role in employee retention, development, and satisfaction, yet they were never held accountable for this. A lack of accountability, however, reduced efforts in individual employee development and took focus away from talented employees, letting them do what they had to do rather than motivating them to grow.  Lack of accountability became a major cause of disengagement.

These findings pointed out that disengagement in that company was widespread and the result of distorted perceptions about how and why people do what they do and about what workers expect from gainful employment.

Engaged Employee, Strong Asset

Posted on: March 1st, 2013

First, consider what it means to be an engaged employee: involved, occupied, committed, meshed, participating.

The most significant definition for me is “unavailable to anyone else” – as in other employers. When a person is fully engaged in their work, their energy and focus is a laser directed on outcome and satisfaction. Think of an engaged couple and how they begin planning their life and setting goals – pursuing dreams. Results become rewards, producing a euphoric feeling of high self-esteem, control over one’s destiny, and approval from others. Similarly, engaged workers also feel the grass is greener on their side. They become a company’s strongest asset, one that cannot be stolen.

Disengaged Workers…You Know Them

Posted on: August 5th, 2012

You know a disengaged worker. He is your colleague, your direct report or the cashier at the local supermarket. He’s your client’s receptionist, the vice-president of marketing, or, he could be you.

Disengaged workers hide in plain sight, infecting departments, divisions and entire companies with a virus that promotes resentment, poor productivity and outright sabotage. People and profits succumb to this disease. So does customer loyalty – a critical resource that takes time and money to restore, if it ever can be restored. According to a recent Gallop poll, disengaged workers cost U.S.-based organizations more than $250 billion a year. Our own research has found that as many as 65% of all employees are disengaged.

Engaged Workers

Posted on: July 9th, 2012

Consider what it means to be engaged. It means that a person is involved, occupied, committed, meshed, participating. For me, the most significant attribute of the engaged employee is that she is “unavailable to anyone else” – meaning other employers.

5 Simple Principles for Employee Engagement

Posted on: April 28th, 2012

If I had to condense my employee engagement philosophy into a few simple principles, these are the ones I would highlight.
Think of them as “The Five Commandments for Achieving Employee Engagement”:


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