Monday, March 31, 2014

The Art of Employee Engagement

I was asking a friend what made his company so remarkable. He replied:

"we all like each other so much that we wouldn't want to let anyone down"

How about that? We view employee engagement as a catch phrase or a transaction or platform or a collection of rewards; does not the concept of engagement speak to the attraction of one person to another? We are afraid to use the word accountability because we acquaint it with rule by consequence. What if we were driven by obligation; not because we had to but because we wanted to.

How about that? A drive that is motivated by a belief that trumps a presupposed agenda for success... 

You wouldn't let your friend down simply because you wouldn't have the heart to face the consequences. This doesn't make you a coward it makes you courageous. Somewhere along the line we decided to pretend that caring is a sign of weakness. This makes it easy for people who don't care to systematically navigate success. Caring is the hard part, it's far easier to create a system to mandate effort. 

Indeed, in this world of Big Data we have predictive analytics to determine the viability of our every action. This way, no one has to take chances and we can waste our lives doing the safe thing.

There are those who remember Steve Jobs as a detail obsessed lunatic who was uncompromising in his vision to build a better thinking process. Mr. Jobs lead with his heart. His frustration has been documented because he did not guard it. It's hard to lead with your heart. When you care about something more than your brain can comprehend, your heart creates what the less-evolved are unable to engage.

:( Anyone can memorize a formula and pass a test. 
:( Anyone can plug into a system and mandate its navigation.
:( Anyone can pretend the creation of others are their own.

The engagement of human beings starts in the heart of a single person. Leadership has become a lost has employee engagement.

If you don't care... they will know. If you are unable to create... they will not follow.

To look back and realize those who you lead were working around you is only less-depressing than to be unable to do anything about it.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Marley

Hey Marmalade -
I hope you are having a great day celebrating your birthday with all your friends. I saw this thing on TV where a person shared moments of growing up with their child in the hopes they would one day have a time capsule to reflect upon. My dad didn't have the opportunity to document his every thought. I'm happy to share my life with you and all of the wonderful people who read my blog.

You were born on Grandpa Bob's 70th birthday. That's why your middle name is Bobbie. Many think you are named after Bob Marley but that is not the case. In fact, I wanted to name you after Margo Tenenbaum. Your mom loves me so much that she figured Marley would be a nice combination of Margo and the name that she had in mind for you. I sure do love her very much, you are lucky to have such a wonderful Mother.

I was the first person to hold you, you had a full head of hair and big blue eyes. You stopped crying when you hit my hands. I hope my presence in your life has been continually comforting.

I used to hold your little foot in my hand but you are growing up every day. Some people would be sad to see that progression, but not me! I am so proud of you! As your coach, I expect a lot of you but I'll let you in on a secret: I've never been as good at anything as you are at soccer. I remember the first game you played, I had no expectations, you jumped out there and scored a goal right away. You haven't stopped since. (in case you are reading this years from now, in our current indoor soccer session you have scored 12 goals in 7 games). 

You are funny and talented and you have a desire to win like no one I have ever met. Most people only hold one of these qualities.

So now that you are 6, I guess I should share a few more points of advice with you:

Two years ago I told you to be nice to everyone but not to take shit from anyone. I stand by that statement! Life is way too short to be unappreciative but you should never devote attention to anyone who does not respect you.

The sports you play will benefit you for the rest of your life. You should want to achieve the highest honors in everything you do but please know that the process is more important than the score. At some point, you will realize that people value the way you treat them more than the amount of toys you possess.

Our lives are carried on by those for whom we have provided tools. In essence, we can live forever if that which we have to teach continues to be practiced. Thanks for accepting the things I have had to teach and you have my permission not to apply what I instruct. One day, you will go to college and you will have an opportunity to create a life free of my then my best-laid-plans will be embedded within you.

One request: Please be nice to your Mom! She works really, really hard and has the extended obligation of administering the things I forget (for which there are a lot). Please also know that your brother loves you more than he will ever admit, he lights up when he sees you.

Every day is a joy to be your Dad!

There will come a time when posting a birthday blog for you will become embarrassing. I promise to hand write these notes once your friends are on Facebook.

Happy Birthday Mar Mar! I Love You So Much!

- Dad

Friday, March 21, 2014

10 Ways to Annoy Your Co-Workers

I facilitate round table discussions with Human Resource professionals on a consistent basis. It's a great way for people to get out of their silos, present common workforce issues, and to develop solutions rooted in peer feedback.

A recent discussion digressed from strategic to frivolous... it was the most fun the group has had together. While discussing conflict resolution we found ourselves immersed in a cause and effect tug-of-war. This lead us to develop a list of things that create friction in the workplace.

Here are 10 sure-proof ways to alienate yourself from your co-workers:

1. Reply to All - Sending an email to an entire team working on a project is a transparent necessity. You should never "reply to all" on an email sent to the entire organization. Even worse are the group emails that emphasize your individual accomplishments masked as a team congratulation.

2. Raise Your Hand - Team meetings (more often than not) hold us back from doing real work. We want to get them over with and get back to the task at hand. Don't stifle progress by asking question after question simply to prove your intelligence.

3. Touting Your Own Accomplishments - Never send an email to your team displaying your success. If you have done something extraordinary someone else will point it out.

4. Give Backhanded Compliments - 'Tis better to say nothing than to tell someone they did a great job followed by a "but".

5. Empower Wimps - People only suck at their jobs because they don't try hard enough and blame others for their failures. If you empathize with excuses you empower disengagement and ruin the team dynamic.

6. Compliment the Boss - Don't Kiss Ass! Even if you love your boss it never plays well to compliment greatness that has already been validated by a title and a bigger paycheck.

7. Beat Dead Horses - The topic came up, it was a bad idea, let it go! Don't argue with an organizational leader about an objective that is not going to be retracted.

8. Brag About Your Kids - We get it, you love your kids. Your co-workers may not be blessed with such wonderfulness (or maybe they hate kids). Tell your kids how much you love them... and leave it at that!

9. Talk About Past Accomplishments - That which you achieved last year, at a former company, or in another department means nothing to us today.

10. Share Your Religious and/or Political Beliefs - There is no quicker way to polarize yourself to your compadres than by forcing your belief system upon them. Deeply personal beliefs have heavy emotional baggage. Keep it to yourself!

Admittedly, I am an offender of 9 out of 10 of these personality traits. Guilty as charged!

We compete against the marketplace, other companies, and in some cases our co-workers; there is no need to make your job more difficult by getting in your own way.

There are things about the job you cannot control. Learn to control yourself.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, March 14, 2014

The Compensation of Validation

The battle for talent marches on:
Who are these new kids entering the workforce?
What can we provide our superstars to keep them engaged?
What are the most important functions of our business model?
How do we retain the aforementioned functions?

Companies exist to create revenue, so hiring/retaining quality salespeople is vitally important. Salespeople will always have options.

We consistently pontificate upon that which attracts salespeople to companies. Let me guess, money...? All salespeople watch The Wolf of Wall Street and seek a life of integrity-free excess. They want cars, coke and hookers. They will continue to work hard because they spend their weekly 5 figure checks over the weekend. It is a life of high highs and low lows.... each with their place in that salesperson's motivation.

Let's diffuse these stereotypes created by HR professionals that serve to marginalize poor salespeople.

Times Are-A-Changin'
Of course the duty of any good HR Blogger is to stereotype Millennials. I am part of a volunteer organization that helps college students find jobs. They are far less assholish than their fathers.

Fuel efficient cars are all the rave, non-profit organizations are more attractive than ever, and community service is a right more than a chore. Today's workforce puts the collective first.

Money is not sustainable!
There are several theories in Behavioral Economics that disprove the motivational value of cash. Money is only important to those who are not doing their job as well as they can. The disengaged will always complain about money while they should be doing what is important to earn it. People who are doing their job well make more money and complain less.

So let's assume everyone is doing their job well. Shouldn't that be the expectation? We don't hire people to fail, yet we cater every workforce initiative to the disengaged.

Example: Those who are our top performers seldom complain in meetings or on surveys. We don't celebrate the areas within the survey in which we are doing well. We look at the negative feedback from those at 50% of their quota and spend days trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

Do you validate?
More than money or opportunities to climb the ladder; salespeople need validation. We think of salespeople as the most arrogant of the flock. In fact, our salespeople are our least confident employees... salespeople need perks, trips and thank yous more than anyone.

How do you validate?

Paying someone enough money is only enough to motivate until more money comes along. Money is the ultimate transaction. How can we turn transactional work into transformational motivation?

1. Reward the business critical behaviors that lead to success (not just results).
2. Present challenges, create new ones, and track progress.
3. Don't prop up top performers as your best corporate citizens (they never are).
4. Partner with HR to discover non-revenue driving capabilities that turn individual contributors into great leaders.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Chase

I remember my best pal and I sitting on our 7th Street couch in Tempe, Arizona. We witnessed Matthew McConaughey accept an MTV Movie Award. His speech was unforgettable because he was the first "adult" who went out of his way to express his pride in the youth. At a time in our lives when we were no longer kids but not yet adults, we appreciated that someone would be humble enough to congratulate others during his moment.

More recently, Matt spoke of the continuum of self-confidence. That one must consistently recreate themselves and seek only to keep up with self-appointed standards. Not a cop-out but a well thought out way to boldly address one's public.

Why is this important?

In each time I feel as though I've got it figured out...I get thrown for a loop. I act out of character, I let myself down, I take things too personally, I engage people who I should not, I do not put enough effort into engaging people who I should, and I mistreat the people who love me. Life is too short to waste precious hours yet I do. Over and over again.....

The great John Roderick had noted that his addiction was driven by his need to challenge himself. He would, essentially, build himself up to knock himself down... over and over again. Sometimes we create challenges that we know we can conquer to create false reassurance. When things seem perfect we mess them all up so we can rebuild the Lego's that make up our silly little castles.

We often point at others as the source of our misery when it is only ourselves who have created the mess.

Be Your Own Hero
Ole' Matt said his mother demanded that he respect himself and it allowed him to respect others. People will frown upon things like caring too much, acting with self assurance, and possibly trying too hard. Those who frown and cross arms do so because they do not possess the ability to assert themselves in the writing of their own life story. Yet, we try to win them over. Over and over again.....

84 Problems
In a Buddhist parable it is written that a man going through a tough spell went to see the Buddha. He laid out all the challenges he was facing. The Buddha told him that everyone faces 83 problems at any given time. He continued to say that the man was now facing 84 problems...the additional problem being that he was under the impression that his 83 problems were the fault of another.

Reward Your Critics
Let's say those who judge us do so because they see our greatness but are disappointed in our inability to see it in ourselves. It is difficult to stand up and try, it is harder to fail, but the worst we can do is to judge those who have tried and failed.

We can only win people over through our actions. If we surprise someone through our genuine intent we earn the ability to diffuse the stupid things we say.

Don't Forget to Remember!