Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Whenever I am asked by business leaders if they should reward employees or make them feel like they are about to lose their jobs, I always have the same response: "Uh?"  What are they talking about?  Why do we business leaders feel we must trick our employees into doing the right thing?  The principle I teach in this respect is to treat employees how you would want to be treated.  Too simple?

Let's look at the choices that we have.  We can either trick our employees into submission or treat them well and expect a good outcome.  If we've prepared properly going way back to the time we saw the need for an employee, we would have properly sought the right candidate, interviewed several times, providing the proper training and orientation, and then continue to treat the employee with respect.  If we've hired the right person, all is well.  If the employee still takes advantage of us and turns out to not be who we thought we hired, then we let that person go, learn a lesson, and move on.

Keep it simple and treat your employees with respect.  Don't trick them into anything.  The smart ones will reciprocate and offer respect and the other ones will either not like the culture and leave or you will have to remove them.  Stick to your integrity guns and don't play games.  Your wise, good employees see right through that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Winning Like Lance Armstrong... Without Cheating

 "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the Chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."  --- Sam Walton

Lance Armstrong was a hero to many not just in the cycling community, but the entire sports community as well.  He was also seen as an American hero representing the United States in the Tour de France and many other international racing venues.  Armstrong was recently stripped of his seven Tour wins for having used enhancing drugs to give him an edge in racing.  I'm certain there will be more to this story unfolding over the next several months, but if true, Armstrong ruined what was a good run of winning.  He wasted all of that hard work training and sacrificing over many years. 

As business leaders, we also work hard and sacrifice and scratch and claw to create a winning team with a winning streak.  As we've witnessed over recent years, business leaders also get caught cheating on their way to the victory podium.  Some started out on the right foot and were even surprised when they began to spiral into the depths of unethical play.  They took shortcuts and used performance enhancers that ate into their otherwise strong integrity.

I see three tips that can keep business leaders on track for winning the natural way:

1.) Build a team of enforcers.  Whatever Armstrong did or didn't do, he probably wouldn't be in this mess if he was surrounded by a caring team that held him accountable for his actions.  A good team supports its leader.  When you build your team and share your vision and mission for the business, everyone on the team knows what it takes to get from point A to point B.  Shortcuts usually don't exist and if they do, team members should examine them to make sure they are not landmines on the path.  Team members need to be empowered to correct wrongs when they see them as well as correct other members when they are going off course.

2.) Practice self-preaching.  We all get tempted from time to time and it is easy to let our guard down when we are tired at the end of the week (or even the beginning!).  Reading good business books, magazines, or listening to a podcast from a successful business person is helpful.  It is like having a cheering section encouraging us to move forward on the straight line.  Writing good business quotes and taping them on the mirror or office wall serves as reminders for the course we need to continue on.

3.) Teach others.  A known prescription for people that are hurting is to go help people who are hurting.  Helping at a women's shelter, feeding the hungry, or volunteering at a hospital helps to speed up the healing process.  So too with balancing on the beam of business ethics.  Teaching or mentoring young business leaders on the importance of building a business with integrity actually helps to strengthen your stance on building a winning team naturally, and with no performance enhancers.  Teach others so that you can continue to increase your reliance on good business practices.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Action in Leadership

Business leaders today have so much on their plate in trying to lead their team toward success.  Good leadership requires that all stakeholders are considered when making business decisions.  The community, the customers, the stockholders are all vital considerations to the success of the business.  However, the smart players look at their roles as having a responsibility for their employees first.  The most successful businesses have business leaders who always look at their employees as not only good and needed assets, but as part of a growing family working toward a common goal or mission.  This is a great responsibility business leaders should not take lightly.  It means that if there has to be layoffs, that as a business leader, you hurt for those being let go and that you do all that you can to provide for them and their families.  I realize this goes against the grain of what is widely accepted today as good business sense, but it in fact creates a healthier bottom line.  It also means that when an employee is hospitalized that you visit them, care for them, and make sure their needs are met.  It doesn't mean that you rely on Cigna or Aetna to handle it.  It means that when your employees fail, you train them; when they succeed, you celebrate them; when they cry, you taste salt; and when they are in danger, you do everything in your power to protect them.

Included in protecting your employees is to protect them from an abuser.  That's right.  It is your job.  We still have many business leaders in our community who believe that
domestic violence means "at-home violence."  I could easily sway business leaders by spouting off statistics like $75 billion is spent annually by businesses due directly to domestic violence.  Sixty-eight percent of the costs from assaults and 63 percent of the costs from self-inflicted injuries were in males aged 15 to 44.  Do you have any males in that age range in your workforce?  I could let you know that while working or on duty, U.S. residents experienced 1.7 million violent victimizations annually from 2000 to 2007 including 1.3 million simple assaults, 325,000 aggravated assaults, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults, 70,000 robberies, and 900 homicides, and that workplace violence accounted for 18% of all violent crime between 2000 to 2007.  I could also share that most of the $75 billion in costs associated with violence were from lost productivity ($64.4 billion), with the remaining $5.6 billion spent on medical care.  I know that those figures have an impact and that it does get the attention of business leaders, but it shouldn't take that information to sway you to do the right thing.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  If you have not taken any action to protect your employees and to educate your team on domestic violence, please do so this week.  It doesn't take long and it doesn't cost you.  It is a simple three-step process:

First, simply adopt a domestic violence policy to include in your employee handbook. This policy provides guidelines and resources that you can customize for your business.

Next, assign a point person to act as a liaison between the victim (we consider them "survivors"), and available resources.  This person is not a counselor, expert domestic violence professional, or law enforcement officer.  It is a person with a heart who cares for others.  This is the person that the employee/survivor can turn to for help.  The point person simply opens doors for the survivor.

Finally, go through a short training class through Harbor House of Central Florida.  These loving folks will come to your office and provide your staff with the proper training and resources.  This seminar teaches you how to recognize domestic violence and what to say and not say to the survivor.  The course will open your eyes.  I had one business leader tell me before the course that he doesn't have any employees in his workplace with bruises or bleeding lips.  After the course, he was amazed at his lack of understanding.

Please do the right thing.  Implement the policy, assign a point person, and take the class.  Show responsibility for your team members.

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