Are You The Office Grouch?

On the lovable TV show Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch is a character that is portrayed as being cranky, rude and irritated every day of his life.  He loves to surround himself with trash and he prefers to stay in his garbage can instead of coming out and enjoying his peers.  Oscar has even admitted that he does not like anyone or anything that would be considered nice, hence his official title as “Grouch.”

In your office, somewhere in the building you have an Oscar The Grouch.  Their garbage can is their cubicle and although they will never openly admit it, they don’t like anyone or anything that is considered nice in your office.  They are rude to those who pass and they prefer the habitat of their office space to being in your office or location.  They rarely have visitors because nobody wants to visit with them and they almost always walk in alone to your happy hour or office event, should they choose to actually attend.

The ironic thing about the Grouch in your office is they usually always think the problem resides with all of their peers.  They will make statements like, “I don’t think I’m that bad” or “am I really that difficult to work with?”  The answer is yes you are a pain in the ass and no, your not that bad, you’re beyond terrible and nobody appreciates you at all.  The lack of self awareness in your Office Grouch is fairly shocking and begs the question to you, “are you the office grouch?”

Being nice in your office is not listed in your job requirements, but it is an unwritten rule of society that you should generally be nice.  Google’s motto is “don’t be evil” and while nobody really truly knows what that means I can assure you that being nice is somehow intertwined in those words.  Nice people tend to get more done.  They have friends in the office that help them when they are out and they are never short on people who want to be associated with them.  The Office Grouch will rarely have people who want to be their friends or help them and usually this person will leave the company due to their segregation and of course blame everyone on their way out as to why it didn’t work.

There is one exception to this rule that I think everyone should consider though.  If the Office Grouch is stellar at their job then I tend to give them a slight pass.  I want to be surrounded each day by people who are amazing at what they do and will ultimately help drive my company further into success.  If I have to be surrounded by a few Grouch’s along the way then I can handle it, as long as they are the absolute best employee we could ever find.  I’m in no way endorsing this behavior or attitude but everyone has to respect the job that someone can do with or without their behavior.  It’s the same reason that professional sports teams continue to sign and spend millions on players that are cancerous to the locker rooms.  They perform first; their behavior and attitude can be overlooked if they help everyone win.

Think twice the next time you go to snap at someone in your office.  You may already be the Office Grouch and if that’s the case then make sure you are damn good at your job, or else you’ll find yourself both segregated and unemployed with no friends to speak of.

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How Much Fun Do You Have In Your Office?

Since it’s Friday I figured it would be a good day to address this topic.

Often times the word fun is a forgotten idea in many offices.  CEO’s, Supervisors, Managers, etc. all forget how to have fun over the course of a forty plus hour work week that is filled with meetings, deadlines, and bigger than all, stress.  However, stress is the exact reason why an office needs to find an outlet to have fun.

I’m in no way implying that your office has to be turned into some Willy Wonka Factory or you need to line the halls with video games and bean bag chairs.  Fun is a term that can be implied when it is the proper time to have fun.  Pending your office culture, your level of fun may be a quarterly retreat in which everyone on your staff gets to have fun and laugh while doing a ropes course.  Fun in your office may also be deemed as a happy hour every other week in which the company picks up the tab.

An office that plays together tends to stay together and if your office is filled with millennial and managers that enjoy a good laugh along with playing hard as a team then you should never lose sight of having fun.  If your office looks like a funeral just took place at 3pm in the afternoon then odds are your culture isn’t one that will recruit exciting employees.

Consider a few of these ideas to increase the “Fun” factor in your office:

1. Sign up for a competitive sports league

No matter how athletic your office may be, everyone has enough athletic ability to kick a rubber ball on a baseball field and play kickball or even compete on a beer league softball team.  Check out the parks and recreation leagues that are available or even for-profit sports leagues that are geared for this type of activity.  You can compete in Dodgeball, Mini Golf, Kickball, Softball, Basketball and many other leagues that usually are sponsored by a local bar to gather the team before, and or after the competition.  If team sports aren’t the answer then take the office for a Go Kart adventure one Thursday afternoon.  You will be amazed at how much fun everyone will have and the laughs will continue for weeks after the event.

2. Happy Hours are under-rated

I am in no way implying that drinking every Friday is a way to have fun, but I am implying that when you get the office out to a local bar or restaurant then the guards come down and the good memories are built.  Consider a monthly happy hour and mix up the location each time.  You will have office participation that will build friendships outside of the walls of working on projects and hitting deadlines and this office camaraderie and fun will transition your office culture over time.

3. Plan any event that gets your staff away from their desk

Pizza in the conference room, brunch on a Friday at the local café, ping pong tournament in the basement of the office, or whatever the fun event that gets your employees away from their desks for a few minutes can be the difference between a fun office culture and one that is buried in stress and anxiety.  Ask an assistant in the office to be your “Coordinator of Fun” once a month and you’ll have employees submitting ideas before the first activity or event is over with.

Having fun in the office is simply about creating a culture of people who love coming to work.  There is no direct correlation between fun and productivity, but there is a correlation between fun and a culture that promotes a desire to want to perform.  If this theory wasn’t true then Google, Microsoft, and other organizations wouldn’t have created campuses that are filled with activities to keep their employees engaged and on site to continue working late into the evenings.

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How Well Do You Know Your Competitor?

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,” –Sun-Tzu

The world continues to become a smaller place and your industry or line of work is no exception to this.  Social networking tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow us to understand and get to know our competition from a distance but how well do you really know or understand the people you stand across enemy lines with?  If the answer is no then you are doing your company and yourself a disservice.

Chances are your customers work with multiple companies in the same line of business.  An auto dealer will buy advertising from many competing media companies and a home appliance store sells multiple vendors and lines of product.  How often have you lost out on a deal due to the fact that you didn’t understand your competition?  Have you ever decided to hold firm when you should have lowered your price?  Odds are you could have won the business if you would have understood your competition and their low ball sales tactics.  Have you ever won business because you knew your competition?  Knowing who you are competing with can be the difference between winning and losing the business.

Understanding your competition also keeps you in touch with your customers.  While you sit across from your customers and conduct business, your knowledge of the marketplace and the players involved can gain you credibility points.  Understanding how someone will sell or work against you will also gain you a level ahead when it comes time to finalize a deal.  If you customer calls you seeking a referral for a competing company then you also can help point them in the right, or wrong direction pending who you know.  You may understand the competition well enough to steer your customer away from working with the non detail oriented sales person or the scattered account manager.

If you haven’t reached out to your competition to introduce yourself I suggest you do so today.  You will be shocked at how quickly they will accept your offer to spend time together at lunch or meet for coffee as their curiosity of you may be just as strong.  It isn’t important to set an agenda for this meeting or to have any formal plans other than to shake hands, say hello and build some dialogue.

Understanding your competition is also important should you need to hire.  Recruiting at your competition can be the easiest and quickest way to land a new hire and one who understands the business.  If you know who the star players are at the competition then a few simple phone calls can save you months worth of recruitment time.

It also is important to know the culture at your competition.  I find that most industries tend to have the same sort of culture, give or take a few nuances.  However, if your competition has a Ping Pong Table, standing Happy Hours, and a basketball court in the basement then you may want to rethink your suit and tie approach five days per week.  Culture is the difference between hiring the best talent and if your competition has better culture then you need to re-work yours, or at least consider a new approach.

Build an org chart of your competition to both understand the players, the personalities, and the company as a whole.  You’ll save yourself time in the marketplace in conducting business and you’ll hire faster knowing who you need to have on your staff.  You also will be able to pick up the phone and learn the market conditions without having to wait until the end of the quarter or year when it may be too late.  Having a “friend” in the game is one of the best assets you can have.

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It’s Unfair To Stereotype In The Workplace

Recently a department head in my building stereotyped me as a frat boy after less than two weeks on the job. It made me laugh at first thinking that some of the most successful leaders of our time were “frat boys” who made their way in the business world. It led me to wonder why I was given this stereotype by an individual who had known me for less than a few weeks and whom I had interacted with for less than a few hours.

It’s possible that this label was thrown on me because the person labeling me is twenty plus years older, female, and recently moved to our city from a much less diverse area. My communication style mixed with my title, millennial age and approach apparently gave her this viewpoint. I laughed it off because I was not in a frat nor have I ever been accused of coming off as a “frat boy.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course!)

Over time though it actually started to make me rather angry. Not that I had been labeled but that she was allowed to actually label me in such a short period of time. If we are not supposed to stereotype and label in our personal lives then why would it be deemed appropriate in our professional lives? Stereotyping individuals in the workplace can be detrimental. If you categorize a person based on their looks, job, department or demeanor then you will fail to find the best in those you are surrounded by and can help your team to be the best.

Approaching everyone with a fresh slate will give you access to all of the diversity that may exist in your office. Just because someone may be young, old, work blue collar or white collar or simply walk and talk differently than you doesn’t mean they can’t contribute more or even better than those you have empowered. If you put people in a box then you will only be able to gain the minimal potential from them.

I laugh at the idea of this individual calling me a “frat boy” because I have been respected by my peers and bosses for the job that I have done for years. My only hope is that they will not categorize anyone they interview or eventually hire because the potential in their talent may be pushed aside due to a label.

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Why Your Boss Will Never Promote You

It’s Wednesday morning and you waltz into the office late for a 9am meeting.  Over the course of the day you tell your peers, your boss, the receptionist, and anyone else who will listen that you are so stressed you can hardly think and that your extremely busy with all the work they have you doing.  By the time 5:01pm rolls around you are packing up your office, turning off the lights and headed home.  Thursday comes, and you repeat the same behaviors.

These are just a few of the many reasons why your boss will never promote you.  Your boss thinks your a good role player only capable of handling the small tasks that you are assigned but that you don’t have the ability, talent or the drive to make it to the next level in your organization.  When the idea of a promotion comes about, your name gets pushed to the back of the pile because it is obvious to everyone in your company that you’ve reached your peak.

Even if you haven’t reached your peak, the perception is that you have, and once that shadow is cast upon you, you might as well retire in your cubicle or move on to another company.  Shedding this perception will be the toughest task that you accomplish and it will force you to work harder than you ever have before.  It will mean coming in to the office early and staying late, even if you don’t have the work to necessarily support these hours.  You have to change perception and make it reality that you deserve a promotion.

I’ve seen this many times where an employee thinks that they deserve a promotion, a raise or more responsibility.  The most honest conversation that you can have with this employee begins and ends with these words; “why would I give you more responsibility or money when it appears you are having trouble with the tasks you’ve been given?”

Employees always think they deserve more.  It is in our nature to want more money, title and responsibility, but all of that comes with a price tag that you have to pay up front by spending the hours and maintaining a perception that you are a superior employee.  Your perception will follow you all through your career and those who build a mantra that they deserve more work and money are those who get promoted faster.  Everyone in the office knows who works the hardest and who spends time telling everyone they work hard.  The proof ultimately is in the body of work but the one who is perceived as the best will win in the end.

If you want more work, more money, and a bigger title then perform first, and you will build a perception that you deserve all the accolades that come with performance.

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Curious How To Drive Revenue? Ask Your Staff

If you’ve ever been a part of an off-site manager planning meeting then you know that you’ve spent hours coming up with new ideas to drive revenue as you head into the next fiscal year.  While many ideas are being thrown around on different projects or ideas to move the needle, often times the people who will actually implement and drive the results are not brought into the mix on if they are truly viable ideas.  Just like a failed marketing campaign that is full of really great ideas but doesn’t keep the consumer in mind, an idea to drive revenue is only as good as the people executing it.

If we fail to survey these key people in our organization then we fail to understand how to truly drive revenue and plan for success.  The people on the ground floor are responsible for driving your revenue and if your ideas are developed and implemented at the five thousand foot level then you will be out of touch with reality.  Sitting together in a room and saying, “I think this will work,” will absolutely not work.

When major brands roll out advertising campaigns they spend years focusing on data that comes directly from the consumer.  No decision is made without consulting data, and more importantly, consulting the consumer face to face via focus groups and or panels of customers.  The “suits” in the company can come up with a million ideas but if they are not what the consumer is looking for then it will fail.  The same goes in an organization that is looking to drive revenue.  If the employees on the ground floor are not consulted or brought in to brainstorm ahead of time, the ideas will fail.

Consider these two ideas when consulting your staff on driving revenue:

1. Facilitate an Off-Site Brainstorm

Bring in a third party facilitator to get idea generation started and to create an environment in which your staff will feel comfortable to share ideas.  Get the day started off with discussing ideas that have worked and those that have failed.  Ask your staff what they would like to see in order to drive revenue and if you are consulting sales people, find out what it takes for them to sell those high margin products and services.  When the brainstorm is over, ask your staff to choose their three favorite ideas and shelve the others for the next year.

2. Create Small Breakout Groups Per Business Unit

Break up your staff into small groups and assign each group a different business question.  For example, beak up your operations group and challenge them with ways to make their division more profitable and or cut expenses (without cutting staff).  Ask your sales staff what they need to from a resource stand point in order to drive more sales.  By breaking up your groups into separate break out groups, you will challenge like minded people on different approaches to drive revenue.

If you fail to survey those people who are the most important to driving results, you will fail to achieve your goals. Failing to ask your staff first before rolling out an idea that will directly impact them is not only a bad idea, it’s ignorant to your business mission.

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Don’t Hide Behind E-Mail

Fifteen years ago I remember my Dad saying he refused to set up an email account for his business and staff because he said if he needed to reach someone then he would call them. His fear was his employees would lose touch with customers by not picking up the phone and that they would hide behind it when conflict arose. At the time, I thought he was crazy. Everyone was grabbing email accounts and starting to send electronic mail to each other.

Fast forward fifteen years and I finally understand it. You were right Dad.

I can’t begin to tell you how many of my customers, business partners, peers, etc. the list goes on as to how many of us hide behind email. It happened to me again today. Conflict happens, I place a phone call, leave a voice mail, and a follow up email comes in to explain to me that they will not be speaking on this matter and this email will serve as their communication piece.

It makes me wonder how much personal communication and relationship building we have lost due to email. On the other side I realize the importance of email and how quickly it allows us to communicate with one another, increasing efficiency and often building relationships faster.

Hiding behind email is the saddest and most disappointing tactic that one can take. If you want to avoid conflict, then don’t screw up, and since screwing up is rarely not an option you can forever avoid, face the problems head on and resolve the problems in person or via the phone. If you hide behind email you showcase a weakness that will be exposed time and time again, thus hurting your business relationships and yourself in the end.

Every time one of my staff members tells me about an issue they are dealing with my first response is, “get on the phone.” Nine times out of ten, the conflict has risen via email due to a tone or verbiage miscommunication. Usually when they pick up the phone and explain what’s happening the conflict is solved. Simple solution to a simple problem. Hiding behind the email only drives the problem further and solves nothing.

Have you ever dealt with conflict via email with someone that you could only describe as a mean and nasty person due to the words they choose to write, only to meet them over lunch months later and find that they are the sweetest individuals? This happens to me several times a year. It showcases a weakness, and it deletes any credibility I previously gave this person because their nasty emails they try to hide behind are seen as words, not threats or true actions.

Hiding behind email is for weak individuals. Don’t hide. Resolve conflict like a professional.

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The Art of Recruitment

If you’ve never watched ballroom dancing then you may not quite appreciate how elegant a person can navigate a space. They glide gracefully across the floor, careful with each step until they finalize their routine with a smile on their face. They remain composed until the very end and even if they make a mistake along the way you may never quite know.

I’ve had the privilege to watch a graceful recruiter in my career and every time I watch the process I continue to learn more and more and be impressed by the way it all takes place. Recruitment is an art form. You either approach the process with grace and elegance or you toss a stack of resumes on a desk and choose the best one, often resulting in picking the best of the mediocrity mix.

I’ve written before about how I believe in two forms of recruitment. You either lead the process by picking out your dream list or you let the resumes come to you often forcing you to pick a B+ in a stack of C- level talent. True recruiting for your business is proactive. It’s making all the right phone calls to track down a great candidate just like a superstar sales person would do. A good fisherman can sit on the dock and catch what comes close, a professional fisherman goes out in the boat and find the best catch.

Recruitment though is an art form. It requires a delicate and artistic approach to every level. From the start to the finish of the process you must understand exactly how to navigate the waters with your candidate and not make any known mistakes along the way.

Consider the following when actively recruiting your dream candidate.

1. The Approach

Whether you start the process via a phone call or email to introduce yourself you must know what points are going to resonate with the candidate. If your company has specific benefits that you believe will resonate with the candidate then be sure to highlight them early and subtly. Introduce yourself with charisma and charm, remember you are recruiting, just the same way you would recruit a date in a bar. The approach needs to be calculated. It needs to have all the flair and charm of a model but at the same time say, we are serious about you working for us.

Be careful not to over state your desire for a recruit but at the same time dangle the points of benefits out there such as income, flexibility in scheduling and or benefits. When you have the candidates attention, schedule that first meeting in an environment that will be conducive to the environment your company wants to showcase. If your company has fun culture and a young atmosphere then consider meeting at a bar or a new classy restaurant.

Whatever the approach, make sure it mirrors your values and the company’s. you want the candidate to walk away saying they truly enjoyed their time spent and that they were left wanting more. Again, think about the time you met someone who captivated your attention such as your spouse. You were left always wanting more. It’s the reason you started dating them in the first place. Approach this candidate with that same charm as if you will be setting up a second meeting before the first is over.

If recruiting someone who is out of your market then be proactive and fly to meet them. Sure buying them a plane ticket is great but if you go see them it provides a whole new level of excitement. Imagine this, the candidate now tells their friends that someone is coming to visit them. You have upped the ante.

2. The Meeting

When you meet this individual for the first time consider it less about you and more about them. Ask questions that show interest in them as a candidate but that also allow them to engage you to tell their story. Again, it’s like dating. If you went out with someone and all you did was talk about yourself, your not getting that second date. Your recruiting, you need them to feel its a comfortable and safe environment that they can speak in.

Focus on why they may want to make a move, what has gone well in their company and what would they change. Maybe income isn’t the biggest reason they would leave, perhaps it’s the environment. You can’t speak to your company until you know all the reasons they took a meeting with you.

Over the course of this meeting find points to connect on whether they are about things to do on the weekend or your families. Whatever the case, the candidate wants to know that if they will be working for you, you both will be able to connect for 40+ hours a week. The candidate wants to be able to tell their friends about their potential fun new job with their fun new manager in their awesome new environment. If you don’t connect, these points are never made.

3. The Follow Up

Your follow up is equally as important as the approach. If you say you are going to set them up with someone then you do it. You can’t let a day go by without doing the things you have committed to. While this may seem to be 101 to many of you, it is a step that often gets over looked.

The communication needs to be done properly to fit the candidate. If they are a texter, then text the candidate. There is nothing worse than being called when you just want a text or email and believe it or not you can annoy someone. The younger your candidate the more likely they will be to want to communicate in short messages and often. The older, they probably will want a phone call. If you have found points to connect on them stay in touch on those. For example, if you know they love a sports franchise then shoot them a note when they have the big game. It shows you are engaged and listening to them when they tell you they bleed a team color. If you found points to connect on during the initial meeting then you will have a flawless follow up.

4. The Close

Closing a deal with a recruit is like singing a huge new client. But the process doesn’t end just because you have a great offer on paper. The close is a delicate situation in which you are now dealing with financial issues and the idea of a life change for this candidate. For a brief period of time they are putting their career in your hands and are trusting that this move is best for them. It’s a vulnerable state of mind that requires delicate hands and frequent communication.

When you present the offer make sure it is in person. You can connect and discuss the changes that are coming while face to face and if you know there are sensitive points that need to be connected on then the last thing you want is them opening a PDF in their home after a rough day. Present in person so you can both discuss the bullet points together.

Once the offer is accepted don’t lose focus that you are still recruiting the candidate up until the day they start for your company. It isn’t until they are in your office with business cards on day one that they are actually yours. If they feel as though you have lost touch with them at any point in the process then you are in trouble. You need to be consistent from day one and that means continuing that presence.

In closing, proactive recruitment will bring you the best candidates, be sure to follow a warm and polished recruitment process to secure the best talent.

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E-Mail Etiquette

Do you remember the last email you read in which you just cringed at the words and the tone? It was either so poorly written or it was over the top harsh and rude that you couldn’t imagine what went through the senders mind as they finished the sentences.

Everyone has a story about email etiquette and it seems as the years go on and our short hand writing grows with technology, we find a way to appear ruder as a society and our care for the person reading those words means nothing. While I admit it is easy to fire off a nasty note in the heat of the moment when you are battling with someone internally, I offer up my best advice which is to put down the phone, take a deep breath and not hit send before you re-read what you just wrote. I promise you will be happy with this decision.

Email etiquette is something that every company should spend an hour training session on right after their mandatory sexual harassment training and when they finish annual reviews. It is just as important as any training HR can give you because it can make the difference between keeping and losing a customer and tying the bond that is internal employee relations.

Emails that are sent internal with a condescending tone are unacceptable. The email makes the sender look like a jerk and immediately puts the reader on the defensive. It becomes a broken cycle of responses that will lead to a lack of productivity. Trust me, I’ve been involved with these email battles and they always lead to internal bullshit that goes nowhere.

Consider setting up an email etiquette training with your staff and focus on these three key areas:

1. Read, Re-Read, and Have A Peer Read

Before you hit send on an email in which you know is going to cause some issues, as a peer to read it and double check the tone and the wording. Chances are if they think you are going to sound like a total jerk, then you are. There is nothing wrong with a double checker to your work and this will only save you either internally or externally from appearing like a prick. Clearly this requires some self awareness which many people don’t have, but if you have been reprimanded for your emails in the past then thing twice before hitting send and call over your cube mate to read it over.

2. Address The Person By Name

There is something powerful to starting an email with “Dear Tom” as opposed to “Why the hell have you not returned my phone call?”

Immediately you put someone on the defense without a nice greeting or opening. Try it the next time you get an email. By reading an intro that greets you, the tone is set back a few notches and appears more formal as opposed to attacking. Would you walk into a bar and immediately start speaking without a greeting to a friend? Odds are no, so start an email off as if you are greeting someone in person.

3. Don’t Copy Everyone

If you must send an email that will have a harsh tone or that you know will have an effect on your office or with a customer, don’t copy everyone and their mother. It’s like getting reprimanded in front of the entire school, everyone knows about it and you make someone feel two feet tall. If you need others to know about the pending issue then BCC or forward the email on to others. Nothing makes me crazier than when someone writes me a nasty note and copies my boss, my boss’s boss, and President Obama. I mean its completely unnecessary and it always causes a chain of events that need to be unraveled because everyone is now chiming in.

Follow these steps for a better start to email etiquette and consider setting a training for your staff this month.

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Understanding What Your Employees Need to Be Successful

Recently I was asked to facilitate a brainstorm with a department of employees in my building in which I never interact with.  This particular department works around the clock and can be called in to work at a moments notice depending on the needs of our building.  Without speaking for them, I could assure you they would classify themselves as overworked and underpaid in addition to under appreciated.

The brainstorm was meant to answer a few questions and ultimately improve productivity within their department and also for the company as a whole.  There were specific goals set forth at the start and my only intention was to gather relevant data to send back to the powers that be.  I approached this brainstorm strictly as a facilitator assuming I would learn absolutely zero relevant pieces of information that I could use in my daily routine.  I was wrong

After spending time listening to this group talk about their work/life balance concerns and how we could improve productivity from their point of view, it reminded me that every employee wants a few simple things in order to be appreciated and applauded in their daily routine.  It also led me to wonder how many employees around the country are starving for a few of these simple things.  Here they are:

Recognition & Reward

In speaking with the group they mentioned several times that it would be nice to feel appreciated.  At one point, someone even went as far as to say they wanted to be applauded for their efforts.  While I will be the first person to state this is a weak and immature approach to your career, it also reminds us as managers that we have to applaud success when we see it.

Let me explain, applauding effort can be a tedious task.  Showing up to work on time is your responsibility as is working hard.  This is simple effort that everyone is asked to put forth no matter what your pay grade or experience.  When someone is asking to be applauded for effort, they want a pat on the back for simply showing up each day.  This doesn’t work and over time we applaud mediocrity.

I don’t feel this group really wants fake applause.  I believe they are truly seeking reward for their hard work.  The light bulb that turned on for me was hearing them starve for some attention when they go the extra mile.  The comment made to me was that a previous regime (these folks have been with the company for 20+ years) used to call you in and hand you something as simple as a $25 gift card for working a double shift.  This seems small in the minds of many in the company but to this group, it means the world.  Improving the environment in an organization is as simple as making someone feel appreciated and respected and we forget sometimes that these simple little pieces of feedback can go a long ways.

The title of this post refers to understanding what your employees need for success.  While there are several different factors that lead to success for an employee, making them feel appreciated with small rewards is something that an employee needs to feel successful.  See the cycle that everyone goes through?


If you were to ask ten people on the street what empathy means to them, I’m confident you would receive ten different answers that all weave back to the same definition.  Empathy is defined as identifying or experiencing the thoughts of another’s feelings or attitude.  While many top down corporate folks have lost their empathy somewhere along the way, empathy is a key trait that all employees are usually seeking in some form or another.

Empathy was another common theme for this group I met with. I felt this starvation for empathy within each of them and it was as if they were just crying out for someone to understand their frustrations and their daily roles.  They continually discussed the need to have others in the building understand what it is exactly they do on a daily basis such as having a job shadow program or inviting their managers out with them to watch them do their job.

They weren’t asking for anyone to do their job for them.  They were simply asking that when things started to go wrong, someone else in the building understand why, or to empathize with them.  When I even threw the word empathy out to them, they showed this sense of pride as if to say empathy was too weak of a word.  But I kept coming back to this place of a lack of understanding for what they contribute and do for the company.

I attributed it to a mule that carries items for an individual.  The mule just continues to get more sacks lopped on his back without anyone ever understanding how hard of a job this really is.  The individual putting the sacks on clearly has never carried them up a hill in the heat nor do they understand the things that are going through the mule’s mind.  This group of employees just want someone to walk a mile in their shoes and understand the day to day.

I believe a prescribed amount of empathy is necessary in order to help your employees be successful.  I say prescribed because each employee will need a little less or stronger dose pending who they are as humans.  In order to feel successful you need feedback in good and bad times but you also need someone to be there to understand what you are going through.

These are two ideas that can help your employees feel successful.  While there are a thousand others that can be published, you need to understand what it is that helps your staff achieve success each day.  Maybe empathy isn’t something that will fly in your office, but whatever the need, learn it and understand how to implement it.


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