Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Problem with Thanks!

There seems to be a split in the mind frame of what motivates employees in this day-and-age... some think they want more dough, others believe it is more important to bond over cookie dough. Workers of various ages may find a plateau in their competitive drive, a drive they'll soon rediscover. It's a raging debate in the Total Rewards arena:

What's more important Compensation or Benefits?

I know, we've got to cover our health care costs and pay for our kid's college... that's a given... a baseline. Beyond that....

Should Employee Engagement be performance based or an all-inclusive, socialized participation trigger?

Before answering what you prefer, you might want to consider the difference between a benefit and the elements compensation. You are gonna get paid... that's how the world works. But, you don't come to work only for the pay check. You don't sit through a team meeting counting the minutes under the auspice of how much you got paid to endure such stupidity. You find parts of work that you enjoy and allow that to fuel your ascension.

If you measure the minutes in each day... you probably hate your job!

When your boss reads from a list of your achievements in front of a group of people, do you feel appreciated?

When you receive an apology masked as recognition, do you feel appreciated?

Wouldn't you rather know where you stand and have the respect to voice your opinion regarding your professional development?

Do You Feel Appreciated?

... and what's so big about feeling appreciated anyway?

If you get a mercy pat on the back because you tried and failed, the compassion of your leaders may actually serve to retain your loyalty in your organization. But, do you want the level of your engagement to be based in the way people react to your failures? Work is hard and we learn from our mistakes. Professionals become Artists when they create solutions to unanswered questions.

Engagement happens when you realize that you have done something no one else can do. The less-than-inventive fulfillment houses that pretend to be engagement agencies would want you to pretend that challenging yourself is less important than that which you are entitled to.

You are entitled to nothing. Your company could go tits up tomorrow and if your CEO invested a quarter of her deferred compensation into organizational development, she is going to walk away with a large check.

First place trophies are held high. Plaques for showing up are a consolation of all the time you wasted pretending to enjoy your job.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

While We're Young

It was early on a Friday morning and a fresh faced young lady sat next to me in the coffee shop pounding away on her Mac. She seemed to have a delighted spirit. Was she on Facebook? Had she been up all night popping Molly? Of course not! She was working, she was in the flow and she was loving it. Awesome!

Gradually another 5 young people trickled in to join her. They shared concepts, talked about their customers and gave each other pointers on how to navigate the organization. My heart swelled with pride. How wonderful to be in the presence of people who loved their work and were optimistic about their future.

Then one fair haired gentleman uttered: "Oh Shit"!

Across the yard stomped their boss. She bolted in and immediately instructed each of them what they "needed to do" for the day. What were smiles and salutations turned into slouched shoulders and uncertain expressions. They were sequestered to a table to take additional beatings. Instructions that came with finger pointing and accusations. Their motivation was destroyed......

What struck me was that despite the seemingly intolerable bravado of their "leader" these people still seemed to love their job....? Did they have no other options or was the company a pretty great place overall? Here we are with the leaders of tomorrow engaged as they could be, their only deterrent to success is the one person who should care about them more than any other.

What has become of our workforce journey? Is the power shift from one generation to another so obvious that Baby Boomers will do anything to keep their kids from succeeding? I see no validation in the stereotypes that Generation Y has had to carry since they were in high school. More so, I see middle managers of elder generations destroying motivation for the sake of their own preservation.

If you do not understand that it is better to give than receive you probably haven't achieved much. Those with hands out and ears shut will never achieve success. Success should be characterized by the influence you spawn... your personal accolades are secondary.

Maybe the grown ups need to grow up, maybe we all need to adjust to the times or maybe when we were born is meaningless in the grand motivational scheme of things. What IS important is that young people possess an optimism that is the groundwork for a brighter future... and yet we discourage it. We tell young people to lose their optimism and get real, we poo poo engagement for the sake of accountability and we tell those who are capable of achieving what we have not that life is unfair.

Your legacy, if not shared, is simply an untold story gathering dust!

Don't cover your ass! Protect the dream!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lessons From a Coffee Table

I got a frantic call from a young entrepreneur I know.... he wanted to give up. I offered to meet him for coffee very early the following morning. He looked warn out, confused, and uninspired. For over two years he had been building a company based on his super human product development skill. He built an amazing product, got financing and opened a small operation. Along with his success came one BIG problem.... people.

This guy had a knack for programming with whiplash efficiency for extended periods of time. When he took off the headphones he was (by his own admission) "socially retarded". So, a few years back he came to me to ask for help in engaging humans.

Just when it seemed things were well on their way the ever-dynamic challenges of interacting with his employees had flattened his spirit. People wanted to be recognized for their effort, to know where they stood in the organizational hierarchy, their share of profits and the ability to take on new responsibilities. They did it all with "their hands out". He gave and gave and it never seemed to be enough.

Studies on employee engagement usually involve deep dives into large, complex, Global organizations. Turns out, a company with 5 employees faces similar challenges.... because complexity and human beings are evil running mates!

My advice to my friend with the ever-furrowed brow?

Inspire Trust
Most immature leaders still believe their titles entitle them to dictatorship. I've said it time and time again but employees just don't stand for order taking with an accountability clause any more. Contrary to fear mongering skewed studies, people have far too many options to take shit from someone who is not invested in their future.

People want someone to follow. People want to be lead and to be part of something they believe in. As leaders, we have to ask ourselves:
- What inspired people to join our organization in the first place?
- What unique power do we possess that cannot be found anywhere else?

No one ever motivated an employee by talking down or shouting orders. If you lead by example... they will follow.

Don't pretend to be a motivational speaker or hide your passion in politically correct executive speak. Wear your passion on your sleeve! If you are frustrated, share it and get help figuring it out! If you are inspired, share it and help others understand the way to elevate the cause!      

Find New Gears
The one thing I know is that every day presents frustration. No company is perfect, people will let you down, products will fail and you will feel as though you are helpless. Perseverance is so vitally important.

- If the night finds you tossing and turning, get up and get a head start on the day.
- When you've exhausted your mind and soul, take a break to decompress.
- Always look for people with new ideas to inspire you.

Stay Out of The Black Hole
One need not look far for that person who will validate your complaints. The world is full of people who have tried and failed and they love sharing their sob stories. Fuck em!

The worst thing you can do is give in to negativity. Each day you will have to remind yourself of the perils of success. With every achievement the world gets more complex, not easier, and this is why people give up.

You cannot pretend problems do not exist, you have to fix them. People will not allow interpersonal grievances to sit idle. It feels a lot better when you put your differences to rest.

This  is certain: there will always be discomfort in dealing with people and you cannot succeed without them. So you might as well accept the inevitable pain of human interaction and get good at getting through to people.

Our future Zuckerberg left unsettled in my advice but he had a clearer picture of what had to be done. I could have told him everything was going to be OK and to fire those who disrupted his vision, but that would have dispelled one problem to create another.

Progress cannot be made by ignoring the problems created before us.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 3, 2015


"...Lost in Fog and Love and Faithless Fear... I've Had Kisses That Make Judas Seem Sincere..."
- Craig Finn

The world of Big Data has made cynics of us all. We want validation for our every action. We search for proof before we act. How one spends his/her time makes all the difference in success. But, some times you have to throw logic to the wind and take action toward that which you believe in. The sure thing may provide validation, but is simply being validated actually winning?

There cannot be progress without innovation and no one ever created something inspiring by doing the safe thing.

Be A Person of Interest
The best conversationalists I know ask great questions and invest their interest in the responses. It is very easy to discern passion from bullshit by the degree in which a person collaborates.

Do you fear delegation because someone can do it better than you?
Are you so afraid to fail that you trust no one to assist you?
Would admitting a need for help make you appear weak?

Every day is an opportunity to learn: read, strike up a conversation, take a break and take a walk.

Beat Up The Bullies
When I say the word Faith what do you think of.....?

Religion? I believe Faith and Religion are separate concepts. You can dismiss God and still have faith. There are many religious types who have no faith at all.

If you believe in something with all of your heart and soul, you will achieve your goals. No One who has totally committed themselves to something ever fails. Lack of validation has simply become a very easy way to dismiss our ambition.

What Keeps You Up At Night?
Why do we toss and turn at night over life's uncertainties? Why does our worry control our mind frame? Why can't we spend our restless hours thinking about all of the magnificent things we can achieve in our lives.

If you are motivated by fear you allow your critics to succeed.

Stop doing the safe thing. Remember what you truly believe in and let that lead. At the very least... remember that only you control your place in this world. Stop trying to impress others! Stop playing by their rules and create your own!

Don't Forget to Remember!