It is Time to Thaw Out!

I wrote the following Blog two years ago, and when I read it again I thought, wow it is still applicable today!

Here we are about to start a brand new year, full of hope for the future with change being the marching orders of the day!  So why then are so many people and companies frozen in time?

For a country that is so willing to change that they voted in mass last November for it, why are we so resistant to moving again?  Could it be that we as a nation need to go through a refresher course in change management?  Are we really stuck in the first phase of denial to the point we are unable to move?

For the past year I’ve been working with a lot of colleagues in the learning field that have been putting everything on hold, or on the back burner, or cancelling plans altogether.  And over the past couple of months I’ve been watching these people shocked that their companies are laying them off and closing up their learning functions.  Hello?  Were you a return on the company’s investment, or an expense that could be eliminated?

Now as long as I am wagging my finger I might as well talk to the companies that have also been frozen in place, waiting on something to change before they will consider building skills that are lacking in their employees.  How are companies supposed to solve these new challenges if not through the same people they are ignoring? 

There was an article in a Seattle newspaper recently that said if there was any kind of training that needed to continue during these difficult times it should be management and leadership development.  Because the absence of these programs was telling existing employees that we have plenty of managers and leaders to get us though and there was no need to develop bench-strength.  Imagine being an employee in this kind of environment?  Gee, if we don’t need to train any new managers, I wonder how long before we close the doors?

I recently had a freezer stop working, and it was full of food.  Thanks to next day delivery, I had a replacement freezer in place ready to move my food from the old freezer to the new one with very little food thrown out.  Yet also thanks to the miracle of the freezing process, the items in the back were still rock solid and in the same state as when first frozen.  If those same items had been up in the front they would have been defrosted.  I thought how similar to some of the people and companies I had been talking with lately.

The ones in the front of the economic issues were defrosted and moving forward.  The ones that were waiting, or sitting in the background were frozen solid.  And unless the power goes out through a bankruptcy, layoff, or complete closure, they will remain frozen in time.

I realize that here we are in the middle of winter and much of the landscape in this country is frozen.  But just like in nature, there will be no new growth until the spring thaw.  So folks, rather than wait until your freezer is shut off, how about defrosting yourself now, and get out there are make things happen!  I am ready for change in 2009, are you?

I am ready for change in 2011, are you?

Appreciate UP

Anyone that knows me, should know that I believe recognition to be one of the best motivators.  About 5 weeks ago I wrote a blog here about recognizing employees and the many benefits that come from those actions. 

I have not had a manager myself in the past 5 years since I became an independent consultant.  Not only have I had no one to report to, I have also not had anyone to appreciate for helping me with my job.

I miss that opportunity that had been something I had when I was working in a corporate environment.  Not that every manager I have had was the perfect prize, but there was at least something I could find in our relationship that I valued.

Most managers are a bit leery about receiving any kind of appreciation from their staff.  Almost too reverse of roles for many to handle, and yet I always found it to improve my relationship with the boss.

Try this if you are unsure how much to do.  Find one to two things that your manager does that makes your work easier.  Maybe it is the way they casually check in with you on a project.  Maybe it is a regular meeting where you catch up.  I once had a manager that came by the office for a cup of coffee and brought a Danish for me and we would just talk about what was going on.

In any case, find what matters most, and jot them a quick note of appreciation in a holiday card, or a traditional “Thank You” card.  Use the end of the year to thank them for whatever makes them unique and tie it up with how it benefits you.  Keep it simple and sincere.  (My version of the KISS acronym)

Let me know what makes a difference to you and if it improved your working relationship with your manager.

Sears Walks Their Service Talk!

I’ve heard it said that when we as individuals receive poor customer service we tell at least 10 others, yet when we receive good service we often tell only one or two other people.

Humans I believe, like to complain.  So it stands to reason that we tell more people about bad service than good service.  Yet I try my best to do just the opposite.  When I have a great or even a good customer service experience I look for ways to tell people about it.

And before you start thinking I’m just Mr. Positive, actually my line of work has been more about fixing problems and looking for things that are not working.  Personally, I am on this campaign to tell others about good service because I find it so rare!

Black Friday, the Sale Day after Thanksgiving, is chock full of stores with “bargains” to lure you to their store.  Like so many Americans I read all the sale ads looking and prioritizing what I want to buy.

Recently I had a lawn mower that has been trying to tell me that it wants to die.  I kept trying to make it last, but it had other plans.  Sears had a great mower on sale for Black Friday, but the clerk told be they had not received any, but to check back the following week.

Long story short, I land up speaking to the store manager, who tells me they had 3 mowers, the last sold at 3:00pm on Black Friday.  I said, “so you had at least one in stock at 8:00am when I was trying to buy it?” 

Although the manager was well within his right to tell me to pound sand, (read the fine print on these sales ads) he said he would give me a hundred dollars off any mower in the store, which all were on sale that week.  So I landed up getting a much better mower, for the same price as the one I had planned to purchase!

It is service like this that makes me return to Sears for every major appliance in my house!

Share your story of great service, and let’s focus on those that walk their talk.

Being a Person of Excellence

I read a daily devotional written by Joel Osteen, called “Your Best Life Begins Every Morning.”  On Monday I read the following:

“A person of excellence and integrity goes the extra mile to do what’s right.  He keeps his word even when it’s difficult.  People of excellence give their employer a full day’s work; they don’t come in late, leave early, or call in sick when they are not.  When you have an excellent spirit, it shows up in the quality of your work, and the attitude with which you do it.”

I’ve always called this spirit “Passion” and try to bring it to work every day whether it is for my own work or on behave of a client.  It is sorely missing in a lot of people, which makes those who do strive for excellence to stand out even more in the crowd.

I challenge you to not only become a person of excellence for yourself, but to model it for others to aspire to themselves.  As managers and leaders we play the dual role of both employee and employer.  We want our employees to be people of excellence the same as our manager wants it from us.

What can you do to be a person of excellence in your company?

Pay Without Working

Every consultant and self-employed person in America understands the concept of pay without working.  It simply does not happen!  Working is always required for a paycheck, and often there is a lot of work without any compensation.

I’m flabbergasted at the amount of paychecks that are being dispensed each week to employees that are producing very little for that check.  Week after week I run across people who are busy running around, talking, in meetings, answering the phone, and reading emails but the only real thing they produce is a laundry list of excuses for not completing anything.

There are so many people in this country that are unemployed that would give their eye teeth to have a job.  May I suggest that in 2011 that managers focus on making that a reality for someone who actually wants a job.

Yes, aside from personal responsibility to do a day’s work for a day’s pay, managers need to start managing productivity.  Managers need to set goals, and objectives for individuals and hold them accountable for getting things done.  If not, then coaching followed by corrective action needs to occur, and if all else fails termination.

If it takes termination to weed out the person who wants pay without working, so be it.  Then the manager finds a person who actually wants to work for their paycheck.

Thoughts on this revolutionary management concept?