Thursday, April 25, 2013

When Employees Leave, Don't Take It Personally

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“I think sometimes it is more important to be gracious than to win.” -Dorothy Kilgallen

These days it’s rare for an employee to spend their entire career with one employer.  Employees leave for a variety reasons and not all of them have to do with you, so when they give notice, leave your ego in your desk drawer.  Another business may offer them a higher salary, more responsibility, a job more in line with their passions, etc.  As long as you are doing your best to keep morale high, there is no point in obsessing over employees who choose to leave.

When an employee gives you notice of their intent to leave your company, don’t take it personally.  Don’t get upset.

Congratulate them.  Let them know that you’re happy for their new opportunity and wish them well.  And be sincere about it.

Their decision may put you in a bind.  It means you’ll have to train someone new to do their job, if you haven’t already.  It might mean that you need to pick up the extra slack for awhile.  But, getting upset or complaining about it won’t do you, or your other employees any good.

What will be the reaction of your other employees if you start bad-mouthing the person who’s leaving, just because they chose another opportunity?  They’ll wonder what you really think of them.  They’ll question whether or not you sincerely care about them and may wonder what you’d say about them if they found a new job.  Odds are, the employee who just gave notice will have friends among your employees and they will hear about what you say about them.  Ultimately, it may damage your ability to recruit new talent.⁠1

The employee who just left may someday return, armed with new knowledge and skills and be in a position to help your business even more.  If you’ve talked poorly about them, they may never return.  Or, your employee may ascend the corporate ladder quickly at a new company and you may one day be looking to them to hire you.

Be gracious and sincere and offer them whatever help you’re able to give them.  The employee who’s leaving will remember that and those who are staying will respect you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Use the Magic Words

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” 
-Gladys B. Stern

The simple act of saying “please” and “thank you” is drilled into children by parents and teachers asking, “What is the magic word?”  Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we forget the power of these magic words.

“It is respectful to make requests rather than demands, to show gratitude and appreciation…”⁠1  Demanding something from an employee (“Go do that”), as opposed to asking nicely (“Would you do that, please”) is the difference between encountering immediate resistance and finding a willingness to do something.  Every request for action, information or assistance should be accompanied by the word “please.”  

The word please conveys both respect and consideration of the other person’s time and effort for which you are asking.  It’s a simple word that builds relationships.
Thanking an employee acknowledges that you appreciate them and value and what they do, rather than taking them for granted.  Expressing thanks is a profitable business strategy as appreciation increases employee productivity and raises your margins.⁠2

When you say thank you to an employee, be specific about your thanks.  When you attach a specific reason for saying thank you (“Thank you for coming in early to finish that quarterly report”), your employee is more likely to remember being thanked and retain that feeling of gratitude.

Occasionally, take the time to handwrite a thank you note.  Putting a thank you in writing stands out in today’s world of electronic communication.  The permanence of a handwritten thank you note will be remembered long after a verbalized or emailed thank you is forgotten.  Tom Peters said, “People don’t forget kindness.”

Be prompt and spontaneous with your thanks.  Don’t save it for later.  Your employee will have already assumed that you didn’t care what they did and will simply see a thanks coming days or weeks later as you sucking up, trying to get them to do something else for you.

Be sincere in saying the magic words.  Using either please or thank you sarcastically or without meaning it doesn’t you any good.  Your employees are smarter than that and can tell when your not being honest with with your gratitude.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Slap a Smile On Your Face

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” 
-Mother Teresa

Photo by eperales (Flickr)
        A smile is contagious.  Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden have figured out that it is difficult to keep a straight face when others around you are smiling.  A smile from one person actually suppresses the control another person has over their own facial muscles, causing them to smile as well.⁠1
More importantly, according to Darwin’s Facial Response Feedback Theory, which is supported by recent studies, smiling actually causes us to feel good, as opposed to smiling because we feel good.  This means that when we smile we feel good, causing others around us to smile, making them feel good as well.⁠2

It's difficult for a person to be angry if met with a smile that is reflecting a pleasant and empathetic attitude.  Imagine if you were to greet your employees each day with a smile, or smiled around the office, the store, or the worksite, more throughout the day.  It would make the workplace a genuinely nice place to be.
You can't fake a genuine smile.  If you're in a bad mood, a smile will come across as disingenuous.  As Guy Kawasaki said, “The key to a great... smile is to think pleasant thoughts.”⁠3

I’ve worked at places where smiles from my managers, supervisors and co-workers were scarce.  Those are the work environments where people are most on edge because they feel as if they aren’t doing anything right.  Combined with a lack of openness from managers, this can lead to a constant fear that someone is about to get into trouble or worse yet, terminated.

While you can’t smile all day long and you’ll certainly have days when you don’t feel like smiling, just remember that smiling is contagious and can infect your whole staff, improving feelings and increasing morale.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Morale Sucks! What Are You Doing About It?

Leaders understand good morale leads to better productivity and higher profits.

There's an epidemic running rampant in business today.

It's known as low morale.

"More than a third of companies are so dysfunctional, the best people don’t really care about what they’re doing and the worst people don’t know that they are doing a lousy job."1

Deloitte's Shift Index indicates that 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. 2

What's the problem?

There are too many managers and bosses and too few leaders.

Bosses see employees as replaceable, interchangeable cogs in a machine.  Leaders see employees as their most valuable assets.  Bosses see employees as an expense.  Leaders see employees as an investment.  Bosses push employees to a goal.  Leaders get out in front and employees enthusiastically follow.  Bosses motivate with fear (which is really a contradiction in terms).  Leaders motivate through respect.

Leaders understand that creating a culture with high morale leads to happier employees, lower turnover, satisfied customers, and better profits.

Why do bosses have a difficult time creating high morale?

They don't understand morale isn't about getting higher higher salaries and larger bonuses.  It's not about just being grateful that you have a job.

It's about the little things.  Things that often don't cost money, are inexpensive, or should be seen as an investment in the employees.

In coming blog posts, I'll be explaining how bosses and manager can become morale leaders by changing their attitudes towards their employees, how to make the little changes that increase morale, and how higher morale can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and increase net profits.

Join me in the conversation.  What do you think improves morale?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Find the Purpose of Your Business

So, what's the purpose of your business?  In answering this question, remember you're not crafting a mission statement.  This isn't about what you intend to do, or the direction you want to go.  It's not about customer service or the value of your product.

You need a purpose statement rather than a mission statement.  As I explained in the previous two posts, the purpose of your business is the reason that it exists and when your employees understand that purpose and how their jobs relate directly to fulfilling it, job satisfaction and morale increase.

Here are a few questions to help you get to the point:

What's the purpose of your business?
  1. Why was your business started?
    • Is it the same reason you are in business today, or has the core reason changed?
  2. What need did your business fulfill?
    • Does it still fulfill the same need, or has the business been modified to adapt to new needs?
  3. Who was your business intended to serve?
    • Are your customers still the same, or do you have a new clientele.
  4. Would it matter to anyone if your business had never been started?  Why?
  5. Would your customers miss your business if it suddenly closed?  Why?
When you have dug into these questions and answered them fully and honestly, then you'll have a good understanding of the purpose of your business.  You'll be ready to craft a purpose statement, and more importantly, help each of your employees understand how their job is important to the purpose of your business.

Related Posts:  You Don't Need a Mission Statement, You Need a Purpose Statement
                        Purpose and Morale