Category Archives: Articles (HR)

The Power of Positive Employee Recognition

By , Guide


Prioritize employee recognition and you can ensure a positive, productive, innovative organizational climate. Provide employee recognition to say thank you and to encourage more of the actions and thinking that you believe will make your organization successful.

People who feel appreciated are more positive about themselves and their ability to contribute. People with positive self-esteem are potentially your best employees. These beliefs about employee recognition are common among employers even if not commonly carried out. Why then is employee recognition so closely guarded in many organizations?

Why Is Employee Recognition Scarce?

Time is an often-stated reason and admittedly, employee recognition does take time. Employers also start out with all of the best intentions when they seek to recognize employee performance. But, they often find their recognition efforts turn into employee complaining, jealousy, and dissatisfaction. With these experiences, many employers are hesitant to provide employee recognition.

In my experience, employee recognition is scarce because of a combination of several factors. People don’t know how to provide employee recognition effectively, so they have bad experiences when they do. They assume that one size fits all when they provide employee recognition. Finally, employers think too narrowly about what people will find rewarding and recognizing. These guidelines and ideas will help you effectively walk the slippery path of employee recognition and avoid potential problems when you recognize people in your work place.

Guidelines for Effective Employee Recognition

Decide what you want to achieve through your employee recognition efforts. Many organizations use a scatter approach to employee recognition. They put a lot of employee recognition out there and hope that some efforts will stick and create the results they want. Or, they recognize so infrequently that employee recognition becomes a downer for the many when the infrequent few are recognized.

Instead, create goals and action plans for employee recognition. You want to recognize the actions, behaviors, approaches, and accomplishments that you want to foster and reinforce in your organization. Establish employee recognition opportunities that emphasize and reinforce these sought-after qualities and behaviors. If you need to increase attendance in your organization, hand out a three-part form, during your Monday morning staff meeting. The written note thanks employees who have perfect attendance that week. The employee keeps one part; save the second in the personnel file; place the third in a monthly drawing for gift certificates.

Fairness, clarity, and consistency are important in employee recognition. People need to see that each person who makes the same or a similar contribution has an equal likelihood of receiving recognition for her efforts. For regularly provided employee recognition, organizations need to establish criteria for what makes a person eligible for the employee recognition. Anyone who meets the criteria is then recognized.

For example, if people are recognized for exceeding a production or sales expectation, anyone who goes over the goal gets the glory. Recognizing only the highest performer will defeat or dissatisfy all of your other contributors, especially if the criteria for employee recognition are unclear or based on the supervisor’s opinion.

For day-to-day employee recognition, you’ll want to set guidelines so leaders acknowledge equivalent and similar contributions. Each employee who stays after work to contribute ideas in a departmental improvement brainstorming session gets to have lunch with the department head, for example. Each employee who contributes to a customer sale deserves employee recognition, even the employee who just answered the phone; his actions set the sale in motion.

This guideline is why an employee of the month-type program is most often unsuccessful for effective employee recognition. The criteria for results and the fairness of the criteria are not clear to people. So, people complain about “brown-nosing points” and the boss’s “pet employees.” These employee recognition programs cause discontent and dissention when the organization’s intentions were positive. It’s one of my common management mistakes in managing people.

As an additional example, it is important to recognize all people who contributed to a success equally. A CEO I know perpetually announced employee recognition for major projects at the company holiday celebration. Without fail, he missed the names of several people who contributed to the success of the project. With the opportunity for public employee recognition past, employees  invariably felt slighted by the post-banquet thanks – no matter how sincere.

Employee recognition approaches and content must also be inconsistent. Contradictory? No, not really. You want to offer employee recognition that is consistently fair, but you also want to make sure your employee recognition efforts do not become expectations or entitlements. As expectations, your employee recognition efforts become entitlements. Bad news.

For example, a company owner provided lunch for all staff every Friday to encourage team building and positive work relationships. All interested employees voluntarily attended the lunches. He was shocked when a group of employees asked him for reimbursement to cover the cost of the lunch on days they did not attend. I wasn’t shocked; the lunches had become an expected portion of their compensation and benefits package. Sincere recognition had turned into entitlement.

Inconsistency is encouraged in the type of employee recognition offered also. If employees are invited to lunch with the boss every time they work over-time, the lunch is an expectation. It is no longer a reward. Additionally, if a person does not receive the expected reward, it becomes a dissatisfier and negatively impacts the person’s attitude about work.

Be as specific as you can in telling the individual exactly why he is receiving the recognition. The work purpose of feedback is to reinforce what you’d like to see the employee do more of; the purpose of employee recognition is the same. In fact, employee recognition is one of the most powerful forms of feedback that you can provide. While “you did a nice job today” is a positive comment, it lacks the power of, “the report had a significant impact on the committee’s decision. You did an excellent job of highlighting the key points and information we needed to weigh before deciding. Because of your work, we’ll be able to cut 6% of the budget with no layoffs.”

Offer employee recognition as close to the event you are recognizing as possible.  When a person performs positively, provide recognition and a thank you immediately. Since it’s likely the employee is already feeling good about her performance; your timely recognition of the employee will enhance the positive feelings. This, in turn, positively affects the employee’s confidence in her ability to do well in your organization.

Specific Ideas for Employee Recognition

Remember that employee recognition is situational. Each individual has a preference for what he finds rewarding and how that recognition is most effective for him. One person may enjoy public recognition at a staff meeting; another prefers a private note in her personnel file. The best way to determine what an employee finds rewarding is to ask.

Use the myriad opportunities for employee recognition that are available to you. In organizations, people place too much emphasis on money as the only form of employee recognition. While salary, bonuses, and benefits are critical within your employee recognition and reward system – after all, most of us do work for money – think more broadly about your opportunities to provide employee recognition.

4 Lin-sane Leadership Lessons

In business terms, Jeremy Lin is the underdog that took on the 800 pound gorilla and won. Here’s what entrepreneurs can learn from him.

Lin-sanity, they call it. On Sunday, February 20, the Knicks played the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks. Jeremy Lin was again on fire, scoring 28 points with 14 assists and five steals, and leading the Knicks to a 104 to 97 win. In business terms, we could think of Lin as the start-up that has the determination, drive, and ingenuity to take on the 800 pound gorillas in its market — and win.

After all, as recently as January 4, Lin had posted this to his Facebook page: “Everytime i try to get into Madison Square Garden, the security guards ask me if I’m a trainer LOL”

Every once in a while somebody like Lin comes along and defies all the stereotypes. They deliver in such a spectacular and graceful way that you can’t help but admire them. How has this young man inspired so many in such a short time? And as business leaders, what can we learn from him?

Passion and drive trump genetics and environment. What’s the NBA-sized goal for your business — and do you have the drive to get there? Nobody ever expected Jeremy Lin to become a world-famous basketball player. Yet he was determined,and patient, against remarkable odds. His parents are of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, both 5 feet 6 inches tall. Lin managed to graduate from high school without being offered any athletic scholarships, and didn’t make the All-Ivy League First Team until his senior year at Harvard. Against all odds, he worked hard and never gave up on his dream of playing in the NBA.

Maintain focus.  Despite all the Lin-sanity, Jeremy has not been distracted by the hype and attention, at least so far. He remains humble and spiritual. After a loss to the Hornets, Jeremy posted, “gotta learn from my mistakes and move on to the next one.” He’s always focused on improving his game, working with special coaches to hone the style of shooting that lets him drop a three-pointer over Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki—who towers over Lin by nine inches.

At Harvard and even now, Lin has heard bigoted jeers about his Asian heritage. Believe it or not, ESPN used the headline “Chink in the Armor” on its mobile site after Lin had nine turnovers in New York’s loss to the Hornets. “I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but they have apologized and so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said in a TV interview. For entrepreneurs, the lesson is clear: Never let ignorant non-believers get in your way.

Share the glory. Jeremy is not only humble, he’s very smart. Despite all his talent he’s the first to recognize the importance of a team. As an entrepreneur, you may be fortunate enough to be singled out for your success. It’s critical to recognize the people who enable your success and keep it on track every day.

Lin’s a generous player who makes his teammates better, sharing the ball and the glory. “This team is so unselfish and has so much heart,” he posted on Facebook. “Love playing with them!” Does your team know how much you love playing and working with them, too?

Avoid personal fouls.  In business it’s tempting to charge ahead recklessly. Many professional athletes disrespect their opponents, bad-mouthing them and throwing their weight around. But Jeremy plays with focused determination, a team approach, and a humble and passionate nature — the same characteristics that inspire customers and employees. Now I’m no basketball player — and a few inches shy of 6 foot 3 — but I do know smart business owners can achieve amazing feats of success when they play heads-up ball.


René Shimada Siegel is Founder and President of High Tech Connect, a specialized consultant placement firm for marketing and communications experts. You can follow her on twitter at @renesiegel.

Leadership Inspires Motivation

Daily Leadership Behaviors That Inspire Motivation

By , Guide


Want to spend your time in leadership activities that inspire motivation, trust, and certainty while dispelling employee fear, negativity, and skepticism? During times of change, no actions are more powerful than when leaders make the time to communicate and build relationships.

When leadership shares vision, optimism, and purpose driven goals, motivation and commitment from employees is ensured. Jon Gordon, author of Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture (compare prices), who participated in an earlier interview about managers and motivation, recommends these six leadership actions to inspire motivation.

Communicate Daily With Employees

Communication is a powerful tool that leadership can use to create an environment that brings forth employee motivation. Communication provides information, makes employees feel important and recognized, and provides the glue that binds a workforce with their leadership and their organization.

“Communicate with transparency, authenticity, and clarity. Whether you have a scheduled morning meeting  each day, make office rounds in the afternoon, or take  your team to lunch,  make it a priority to make time to talk to each  and every member of  your  team on a regular basis. You may be busy, but, the truth of the matter is that you really can’t afford not  to,” Gordon recommends.

Transfer Leadership’s Optimism

“As a leader, your  most important weapon against pessimism (prevalent in recent years) is to transfer your optimism  and vision to others. This inspires others to think and act in ways  that drive results.

”Leadership is a transfer of belief — and  great leaders inspire their teams to believe they can succeed. As a leader and manager, you are not just leading  and managing people, but you are also leading and managing their  beliefs. You must utilize every opportunity available to transfer your  optimism,” Gordon says.

”From town hall meetings to daily emails to individual  conversations to weekly teleconferences, it’s imperative that  you  share your optimism with your team. Optimism is a competitive advantage, and you need to convey it in all you say and do. As one of the greatest American innovators, Henry Ford, said, ‘Think you can, or  think you can’t — either way you are correct.’”

Leadership Shares the Vision

Gordon recommends that to inspire employee motivation, leadership must, “Share  the vision. It’s not enough to just be optimistic. You must give your  team and organization something to be optimistic about. Talk about where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. Share your plan for a brighter and better future, talk about the actions you must take, and constantly reiterate the reasons why you will be  successful. Create a vision statement that inspires and rallies your team and organization.”

Leadership Builds Relationships

“Relationships build real motivation.  It’s much easier to motivate someone if you know them and they know  you.  After all, if you don’t take the time to get to know the people who are working for you, then how can you ever truly know the  best way to lead, coach, and motivate them effectively? And, for that  matter, how can you expect them to trust and follow you if  they don’t  know you as well?”

“Relationships are the foundation upon which  winning teams and organizations are built,” says Gordon. “I advise  managers to make their relationship with their employees their number  one priority. In fact, I’ve worked with numerous NFL coaches and have  seen firsthand how the most successful coaches and best motivators are  those who develop meaningful relationships with their players. The  same strategy that works on the playing field works in the office as  well.”

Leadership Creates Purpose-Driven Goals

Gordon recommends: “Create purpose-driven goals. When it comes down to it,  the real force behind motivation has nothing to do with money or  number-driven goals. Real motivation is driven by purpose and a desire  to make a difference. In fact, people are most energized when they are  using their strengths for  a purpose beyond themselves. When employees  feel as though the work they do is playing an integral role in the  overall success of the company and the world, they are motivated to  work harder.”

”Similarly, when they feel as though they are working for  something more than just the bottom line, they feel good about the  work they are doing. So as a leader, you will want to  motivate your team by focusing less on  number goals and more on  purpose-driven goals,” Gordon explains. “It’s not the numbers that  drive your people but your people and purpose that drive the numbers. Sit down with each individual on your team and talk through their personal goals and how you see those goals fit in to the bigger  picture. Give them a sense of purpose that will fuel their fire towards taking action.”

Leadership Nourishes the Team

These may seem like  strange words to apply to the workplace. But Gordon insists they are  spot-on. He says, “The main question that every employee in every  organization wants to know is, ‘Do you care about  me; can I trust  you?’ If your answer is yes, they will be more likely to stay on the  bus and work with you. Employees who feel cared for, honored, and  nourished are more engaged in what they’re doing and will work at their highest potential.”

Think about it: Gallup’s research shows that employees who think their managers care  about them are more loyal and productive than those who do not think  so. If you nourish your team and take the time to invest in them, they  will pay you back in productivity, creativity, and loyalty. If your employees know that you care about them, they will want to do good  work for you. It’s the greatest motivator of  all.”

“Remember this simple formula,” Gordon concludes. “Belief plus action   equals results. If you don’t believe that something can happen, then you  won’t take the actions necessary to create it. If you believe that  your  team can do big things, they will believe it, too. And that  belief will  fuel the fires of action and provide you with the results  you’re looking for.”

How to Be Liked at Work (or Anywhere)

These 6 simple rules virtually guarantee that the people you work with will want you around.

By Geoffrey James | @Sales_Source |
Feb 14, 2012

Want coworkers and customers to enjoy being in your company? Just follow these absurdly simple rules.

1. Be curious about people. Likeable people are typically genuinely interested in others, enthusiastic, and eager to help.  If you’re curious about people, it’s much easier to build rapport.

2. Make a good first impression. The opening minute of any new interaction creates an impression that is difficult to change.  Dress appropriately, smile, look people in the eye, and have an appropriately firm handshake.

3. Listen more than you talk. If you find yourself talking about your weekend, your golf game, your family or your job, then you’re probably talking too much and not listening nearly enough.

4. Get people’s names right.  When meeting someone for the first time, spend the mental energy to remember his or her name. Be fanatic about pronunciation, especially with unusual names. You should care–and it should show.

5. Remember personal details.  Keep track of anything personal that co-workers or customers reveal, like birthdays and the names of family members.  Find ways to show that you remembered what they decided to reveal.

6. Only speak positively about others.  Whatever the temptation, avoid criticizing anyone. This includes competitors, politicians, celebrities … and especially other co-workers. People shy away from trash talkers.

Just Lin, Baby! 10 Lessons Jeremy Lin Can Teach Us Before We Go To Work Monday Morning

Lin-sanity has swept up the NBA over the last week.  Now it seems like the phenomenon has gone worldwide.

Friday’s 38 point performance by Harvard grad Jeremy Lin for the New York Knicks against the LA Lakers was his greatest performance yet as a starter, since he burst on to the scene and propelled the team to 4 straight wins.

Lin now has over 200,000 followers on Twitter.  He’s got over 800,000 on Weibo – including 200,000 new ones in the 24 hour period after beating the Lakers.

But there’s more to this story than basketball.  This isn’t just a modern-day, real-life version of the Hoosiers movie.  The Jeremy Lin story is incredibly popular because we can all see a little bit of ourselves in this man’s struggles and now successes.

What can all of us learn from this young man — and how can we apply these same lessons to our own lives when we go back to work on Monday morning?

1. Believe in yourself when no one else does. Lin’s only the 3rd graduate from Harvard to make it to the NBA.  He’s also one of only a handful of Asian-Americans to make it. He was sent by the Knicks to play for their D-League team 3 weeks ago in Erie, PA.  He’d already been cut by two other NBA teams before joining the Knicks this year.  You’ve got to believe in yourself, even when no one else does.

2. Seize the opportunity when it comes up. Lin got to start for the Knicks because they had to start him.  They had too many injuries. Baron Davis was gone.  The other point guards were out.  Carmelo Anthony was injured.  Amare Stoudemire had to leave the team because of a family death.  Lin could have squandered the opportunity and we would have never have noticed.  But he made the most of it.  You never know when opportunities are going to arise in life.  Often, they’re when you least expect them.  Make the most of them. Don’t fritter them away.

3. Your family will always be there for you, so be there for them. It wasn’t until a few days ago that Lin got his contract guaranteed by the Knicks for the rest of the season.  Before that, he could have been cut at any time.  He had to sleep on his brother’s couch on the Lower East Side to get by.  His family always believed in him and picked him up when he could have gotten down on himself.  That made him continue to believe.  If you want your family to believe in you like that, you’ve got to be there for them too when they need it.

4. Find the system that works for your style. Lin isn’t Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.  He’s not a pure scorer.  He’s a passer and distributor – who can also score very well.  It didn’t work for him in Golden State or Houston – where he was before landing at the Knicks.  But Mike D’Antoni’s system at the Knicks has been perfect for him to show off his strengths.  You’ve got to do your best to understand what your strengths are and then ensure that you’re in a system (a job or organization or industry) that is a good fit for those strengths. Otherwise, people overlook the talents you bring to the table.

5. Don’t overlook talent that might exist around you today on your team. You probably manage people at your own company today.  Are you sure you don’t have a Jeremy Lin living among you now?  How do you know that “Mike” couldn’t do amazing things if you gave him a new project to run with? How do you know “Sarah” isn’t the right person to take the open job in London that you’ve been talking over with your colleagues?  We put people around us in boxes.  He’s from Harvard.  He’s Asian-American.  Not sure he can play.  How many assumptions have you made about talent around you?  Don’t be like the General Managers in Golden State and Houston, and let talent slip through your fingers.  With all their money, scouts, and testing, they didn’t have a clue what they had in their hands.  Do you know what your people (or even yourself) is really capable of?  Take off the blinders of assumptions you wear when you look at the world.

6. People will love you for being an original, not trying to be someone else. You’ve got to be you.  You can’t be some 2nd rate copy of Michael Jordan.  There will never be another Michael Jordan.  Just be Jeremy Lin — yourself.  Whatever that is.  That doesn’t mean you don’t work hard — it just means you find what you’re good at and do it.  Fans will love you for being you, just like they love Jeremy Lin.  Judy Garland said it best:

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

7. Stay humble. If you one day are lucky enough to have newspapers want to put you on the cover in order to sell more, don’t let it get to your head.  It’s been remarkable watching how humble Lin remains through all this media frenzy.  It makes his teammates and fans love him that much more.

8. When you make others around you look good, they will love you forever. I didn’t know how good Tyson Chandler was, until I saw him playing with Jeremy Lin.  Lin has set Chandler up many times over the last week for easy dunks because he drew the defense and then passed the ball.  That’s partly why the Knicks are playing so well.  They are all working harder to share the ball with others.  And it’s beautiful to watch.  And when the media swarms Lin, he tells them how good his teammates are.  Do the same with your peers and reports.

9. Never forget about the importance of luck or fate in life. Some people believe in God, some in destiny, some in luck. Whatever you believe in, be grateful for it.

10. Work your butt off. Lin couldn’t have seized his opportunity if he hadn’t worked like crazy for years perfecting his skills. There are no short cuts to hard work.  Success is a by product of that.  If you’ve got a Tiger Mom who’s always pushed you to work hard, great.  If not, let your conscience be your own Tiger Mom!  Get up early, stay up late.  Nobody gave Lin any free passes. Why should you get any?  You can only control what you control and that means you’ve got to work harder than anyone else you know.

I hope the Lin-sanity continues.  And I hope we all can apply these lessons to our own work and family life.


Eric Jackson


Eric Jackson is Founder and Managing Member of Ironfire Capital LLC. He completed his Ph.D. in the Management Department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York, with a specialization in Strategic Management. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at @ericjackson or on Sina Weibo at Email:

10 Characters You’ll Meet at a Business Meeting

In the Star Wars movie’s famous bar scene you knew, by their appearance, what zany character was sitting beside you. Each character had a distinctive look. Yet in business meetings you may have no idea about the group of characters with whom you’re meeting.

That’s because their normal outward appearances belie often troublesome behavior. Want to learn more about the crazy cast of characters you’re likely to encounter in your business meetings? Whether or not you’re armed with a light saber, you’ll nevertheless be better equipped to do battle with these often-destructive forces who subvert business meetings with their bothersome behavior. Learn more about ten dysfunctional characters you’ll meet in business meetings.


The Monopolizer thinks he or she is the only one with wisdom on various subjects at the business meeting. The Monopolizer believes everyone else is there to hear him or her speak – and so they do – incessantly. They don’t appreciate business that meetings offer an opportunity to hear from many.

They prattle on and on, arrogantly acting as though their ideas or beliefs are inherently more important than those of other employees. Sadly other people shy away from contributing, intimidated by the Monopolizer’s strangle hold on the meeting.

When facilitators allow an employee to monopolize a business meeting, it sends the message that their rudeness is sanctioned. The facilitator, or even other meeting participants, should indicate an interest in hearing from others in the meeting, to remind the Monopolizer that others can speak as well as listen.

Tangent Talker

The Tangent Talker hijacks the topic of the group by taking discussions off on tangents – topics unrelated to the issue at hand. One minute you’re on topic and the next minute you’re in “left field” as your agenda topic has been taken on a tangent.

Your meeting leader’s ability to recognize the tangent and refocus is essential to a productive meeting. “Let’s remember to confine ourselves to the topic at hand” is a good way to get back on track. Alternately saying, “Let’s try to avoid tangents” also labels such behavior as contrary to the group’s aims. As well, you can “park” extraneous items in a “parking lot” list where they’re noted, if only to be addressed later.

Devil’s Advocate

Let’s face it, there’s a Devil’s Advocate in every crowd and in most business meetings, too. This person seems to relish taking the opposite tack. Whatever the argument being put forth, this person delights in taking an opposing view.

It’s sport for them, an exercise in opposition. The more unpopular the stance the more exciting they find the challenge. Often this employee begins by saying “just for the sake of argument – I believe the opposite is true.” While there is value in looking at issues from multiple points of view and to avoid group think, the Devil’s Advocate applies their technique to every issue, every argument and every conversation.

Hold on to your agenda and get comfortable. This could take a while. A good business meeting leader can praise this person’s ability to raise alternative issues. At the same time, the business meeting leader must indicate its inappropriateness, given time parameters or previously agreed upon issues.


The ultimate naysayer, the Cynic has a Masters degree in negativity. Adroit at using the phrase, “it won’t work,” they are skilled at deflating and defeating whatever motion is in motion. “Can’t be done.” “They’ll never buy it.” “We tried it once and it was a failure.” Their motto: just say no.

Challenge cynical employees to think like the Devil’s Advocate; suppose for a minute that the idea or project could work. Use a common conflict resolution tool and ask the Cynic to embrace the other side’s point of view as if it were their own, and argue that side’s position.

Fence Sitter

Known for their paralysis by analysis, Fence Sitters are unable to make decisions. Despite being in a deliberative body, they are conflicted by multiple arguments, and can’t “pull the trigger” when it’s time to make a decision in a business meeting.

They provide fodder for the Devil’s Advocate, the Cynic, and other characters with their ambivalence. Whether they are afraid of being wrong, or of disagreeing with someone else, or just going on record, they are a meeting monster for their inability to move the action forward.

Try to cajole the Fence Sitter into action. Remind them that they have a vote and were invited to use it. Ask them their opinions on matters to draw them out and get them on record.

Pandora’s Box Opener

These meeting monsters just have to tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or are “hot buttons” for others in the business meeting. In every business meeting there are topics that are sure to strike a nerve, to provoke an emotional reaction or enter the group into a quagmire.

The Pandora’s Box Openers lead the entire meeting into areas that provoke frustration, animosities, and often resentment too. Once this box is opened, it’s hard to get the issues back into the box. Discussions of salaries, promotions or personal styles often stir up issues that hijack meetings. Even worse, some culprits reopen issues from earlier in the business meeting that have already been resolved.

The best cure: a firm “let’s not go there” from the meeting’s facilitator. Other phrases like “let’s cross that bridge when we get there” or “that’s a hornets nest we don’t need to disturb” labels certain subjects out of bounds for the business meeting

Brown Noser

There’s likely a sycophant in many business meetings. This employee is obsequious, bending over backwards to ingratiate himself or herself to the boss, the meeting leader or another power broker. They’re so busy currying favor with others, they subvert whatever true feelings they have about issues.

This employee is seen by other employees to be in the pocket of the person to whom they’re cow-towing. Ultimately they are seen for who they are and become predictable and not trusted.

Try to elicit their ideas and preferences before asking others as a way of drawing them out.


As children these people were bullies. Some still haven’t grown up. The Attacker deftly mixes negativity with personal attacks, challenging others’ ideas with vigor. Without regard to hurting others’ feelings, the Attacker uses a confrontational style to object to others’ ideas and go against the flow. Sadly, sometimes they don’t even realize they’re attacking.

A good facilitator can refocus the Attacker to be positive, to remove the sting from their words and avoid an adversarial approach. All meeting participants are entitled to stop the meeting when attacked personally. Ad hominem attacks are attacks against one’s person. People can criticize your actions or beliefs, but you don’t have to tolerate attacks against who you are as a person.


Don’t let the Joker’s good nature fool you, Jokers can be meeting monsters. Their constant joking has the effect of diminishing others’ serious ideas or suggestions. Their infusion of humor can belittle others’ motions and makes it difficult for some to be taken seriously.

There is a time and place for joking. While we all like a good laugh, constant joking disrupts a meeting and distracts attention from where it should be.

A business meeting leader can designate several minutes at the start or middle of a business meeting specifically for humor. When it crops up elsewhere and is deemed disruptive, the leader can remind people that the time for humor is passed or forthcoming, so as to control it.


Yep, these meeting monsters are actually cell phones, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop computers. Each distracts their owner and others, too, as they intrude upon participants’ attention spans during business meetings.

A good meeting leader will create ground rules or normsfor business meetings, including turning off these gadgets at their outset. It’s hard to compete with human distractions, let alone electronic ones as well.

As you can see, business meetings are full of characters. Study participant  behavior in meetings, including your own behavior, to better understand your style of interaction. The character of your business meetings will surely be affected by the characters in your meeting. May the force be with you.





How to Be Happy at Work

If you’re unhappy at work–or anywhere else, for that matter–it’s because you’ve made yourself unhappy.  There’s an easy way to change that.

By Geoffrey James | @Sales_Source |
Jan 30, 2012

Let me start off with a little story.

I once knew a saleswoman–young, divorced–who got a diagnosis of breast cancer.  She had to work and raise two kids while fighting the cancer. Even so, she managed to be happy at work, noticeably happier than her co-workers.  In fact, she not only won her battle with cancer but subsequently became one of the top salespeople at Bristol Myers.

She was not, as it happens, naturally cheerful.  Quite the contrary.  When she started full-time work, she was frequently depressed.  But she turned it around, using the techniques I’m going to provide you in this column.

That saleswoman once told me: When you’re unhappy, it’s because you’ve decided to be unhappy.

Maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision; maybe it crept up on you while you weren’t looking–but it was a decision nonetheless.  And that’s good news, because you can decide instead to be happy. You just need to understand how and why you make the decisions.

What Are Your Rules?

Happiness and unhappiness (in work and in life) result entirely from the rules in your head that you use to evaluate events.  Those rules determine what’s worth focusing on, and how you react to what you focus on.

Many people have rules that make it very difficult for them to happy and very easy for them to be miserable.

I once worked with a sales guy who was always angry at the people he worked with. The moment anything didn’t go the way he thought it should go, he’d be screaming in somebody’s face.  He was making everyone around him miserable–but just as importantly, he was making himself miserable, because just about anything set him off.

For this guy, the everyday nonsense that goes on in every workplace was not just important, but crazy-making important.

I once asked him what made him happy.  His answer: “The only thing that makes this !$%$#! job worthwhile is when I win a $1 million account.”  I asked him how often that happened.  His response: “About once a year.”

In other words, this guy had internal rules that guaranteed he’d be miserable on a day-to-day basis, but only happy once a year.

One of the other sales guys at that firm had the exact opposite set of rules.  His philosophy was “every day above ground is a good day.”  When he encountered setbacks, he shrugged them off–because, according to his internal rules, they just weren’t that important.  When I asked him what made him miserable, his answer was: “Not much.”  When I pressed him for a real answer, he said: “When somebody I love dies.”

In other words, the second sales guy had rules that made it easy for him to be happy but difficult to be miserable.

I’d like to be able to write that Mr. Positivity regularly outsold Mr. Negativity, but in fact their sales results were similar.  Even so, I think Mr. Negativity was a loser, because he lived each day in a state of misery.  His colleague was always happy.  He was winning at life.  He was happy at work.

Make Yourself Happier: 3 Steps

The saleswoman who had breast cancer was happy, too, and this is the method she used to make herself happy:

1. Document Your Current Rules

Set aside a half-hour of alone time and, being as honest as you can, write down the answers to these two questions:

  • What has to happen for me to be happy?
  • What has to happen for me to be unhappy?

Now examine those rules.  Have you made it easier to miserable than to be happy?  If so, your plan is probably working.

2. Create a Better Set of Rules

Using your imagination, create and record a new set of rules that would make it easy for you to be happy and difficult to be miserable.  Examples:

  • “I enjoy seeing the people I work with each day.”
  • “I really hate it when natural disasters destroy my home.”

Don’t worry whether or not these new rules seem “realistic”–that’s not the point.  All internal rules are arbitrary, anyway.  Just write rules that would make you happier if you really believed them.

3. Post the New Rules Where You’ll See Them

When you’ve completed your set of “new” rules, print out them out and post copies in three places: your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, and the side of your computer screen.  Leave them up, even after you’ve memorized them.

Having those new rules visible when you’re doing other things gradually re-programs your mind to believe the new rules.  You will be happy at work.  It’s really that simple.

Oh, and by the way … That saleswoman? She was my mother.

Top Spelling Blunders Part III

A Little Practice Will Take Your Efforts a Long Way

Your ability to communicate with your audience will give your credibility an incredible boost, strengthen your efforts online and offline, as well as afford you the freedom to concentrate your energy elsewhere.

A critical piece of communication is using correct spelling and good grammar. This will ensure you maintain your reader’s attention on you and your topic.

You may consider investing in a spellchecker, finding a proofreader, or enrolling in an English Grammar course. Whatever you choose to do, you can rely on getting spelling and grammar tips right here.

So let’s get to it: Here are your next 5 spelling blunders to include in your proofreading checklist to strengthen your article writing skills. Seperate vs. Separate

If you are desperate to distance yourself from the “seperate” blunder, break down the word separate to find its meaning.

Se-para-te: apart from – to one side of – te (Correct) Se-per-ate: apart from – through/during/each – ate (Incorrect)

Example: I separate my pens from my pencils.

Key: Separate your parakeets.

Indispensible vs. Indispensable

To ible or able, that is the question. They have incredible similarities, but which is usable? If you want to make yourself indispensable to your readers, our biggest recommendation to solving this one quandary: Grab a dictionary. Through use and practice, eventually ible and able will become second nature.

Example: Your insight is indispensable.

Key: Gables are indispensable.

Occuring vs. Occurring

This little suffix can trip everyone up: ing. The confusion here is rooted in words ending in ing that require an additional letter or an omission of a letter to complete the word. For example: write and writing, run and running, occur and occurring, etc.

Example: Prevent errors from occurring.

Key: Double the R in occurring.

Recieve vs. Receive

The dreaded ie vs. ei! You may have heard this phrase: “I” before “E” except after “C”. This is a fairly good guideline to stick by, but there are always exceptions. Consult your dictionary if you are not sure.

Example: You will receive a gift!

Key: “I” before “E” except after “C” = Re-C-EI-ve.

Ghandi vs. Gandhi

This prominent figure is the first name to make it to our lists: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi.

Why is Gandhi’s name spelled incorrectly? This may be due to the similar sounds ga and gha (e.g. Ghana, gander, and Gandhi).

Example: Gandhi pioneered the use of non-violent resistance.

Key: Take a gander at Gandhi and you will see freedom.

Be like Gandhi: Become indispensable! Separate yourself from the crowd and prevent spelling blunders from occurring to receive tons of credibility!

Gandhi said “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

We will always provide you with tons of spelling and grammar tips, but it is up to you to put them into practice! Not only will you strengthen your ability to communicate with your audience by practicing, you will gain the freedom you need to concentrate your efforts elsewhere.


Posted by on January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am


You Can Make Their Day: Ten Tips for the Leader About Employee Motivation

You can make their day or break their day. Your choice. No kidding. Other than the decisions individuals make on their own about liking their work, you are the most powerful factor in employee motivation and morale.

As a manager or supervisor, your impact on employee motivation is immeasurable. By your words, your body language, and the expression on your face, as a manager, supervisor, or leader, you telegraph your opinion of their value to the people you employ.

Feeling valued by their supervisor in the workplace is key to high employee motivation and morale. Feeling valued ranks right up there for most people with liking the work, competitive pay, opportunities for training and advancement, and feeling “in” on the latest news.

Building high employee motivation and morale is both challenging and yet supremely simple. Building high employee motivation and morale requires that you pay attention every day to profoundly meaningful aspects of your impact on life at work.

Your Arrival at Work Sets the Employee Motivation Tone for the Day

Picture Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy. He arrives at work with a frown on his face. His body language telegraphs “over-worked” and unhappy. He moves slowly and treats the first person who approaches him abruptly. It takes only a few minutes for the entire workplace to get the word. Stay away from Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy if you know what’s good for you this morning.

Your arrival and the first moments you spend with staff each day have an immeasurable impact on positive employee motivation and morale. Start the day right. Smile. Walk tall and confidently. Walk around your workplace and greet people. Share the goals and expectations for the day. Let the staff know that today is going to be a great day. It starts with you. You can make their day.

Use Simple, Powerful Words for Employee Motivation

Sometimes in my work, I get gifts. I recently interviewed an experienced supervisor for a position open at a client company. She indicated that she was popular with the people at her former company as evidenced by employees wanting to work on her shift.

Responding to my question, she said that part of her success was that she liked and appreciated people. She sent the right message. She also uses simple, powerful, motivational words to demonstrate she values people. She says “please” and “thank you” and “you’re doing a good job.” How often do you take the time to use these simple, powerful words, and others like them, in your interaction with staff? You can make their day.

For Employee Motivation, Make Sure People Know What You Expect

In the best book I’ve read on the subject, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do about ItCompare Prices, by Ferdinand Fournies, setting clear expectations is often a supervisor’s first failure. Supervisors think they have clearly stated work objectives, numbers needed, report deadlines and requirements, but the employee received a different message.

Or, the requirements change in the middle of the day, job, or project. While the new expectations are communicated – usually poorly – the reason for the change or the context for the change is rarely discussed. This causes staff members to think that the company leaders don’t know what they are doing. This is hardly a confidence, morale-building feeling.

This is bad news for employee motivation and morale. Make sure you get feedback from the employee so you know he understands what you need. Share the goals and reasons for doing the task or project. In a manufacturing environment, don’t emphasize just numbers if you want a quality product finished quickly. If you must make a change midway through a task or a project, tell the staff why the change is needed; tell them everything you know. You can make their day.

Provide Regular Feedback for Employee Motivation

When I poll supervisors, the motivation and morale builder they identify first is knowing how they are doing at work. Your staff members need the same information. They want to know when they have done a project well and when you are disappointed in their results. They need this information as soon as possible following the event.

They need to work with you to make sure they produce a positive outcome the next time. Set up a daily or weekly schedule and make sure feedback happens. You’ll be surprised how effective this tool can be in building employee motivation and morale. You can make their day.

People Need Positive and Not So Positive Consequences

Hand-in-hand with regular feedback, employees need rewards and recognition for positive contributions. One of my clients has started a “thank you” process in which supervisors are recognizing employees with personally written thank you cards and a small gift for work that is above and beyond expectations.

Employees need a fair, consistently administered progressive disciplinary system for when they fail to perform effectively. The motivation and morale of your best-contributing employees is at stake. Nothing hurts positive motivation and morale more quickly than unaddressed problems, or problems addressed inconsistently.

What about supervisory discretion, you are probably thinking. I’m all for supervisory discretion, but only when it is consistent. People need to know what they can expect from you. In employee relations, an apt statement is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” (attribution unknown) You can make their day.

It Ain’t Magic. It’s Discipline.

Supervisors frequently ask, “How do I motivate employees?” It’s one of the most common questions I am asked. Wrong question. Ask instead, “How do I create a work environment in which individual employees choose to be motivated about work goals and activities?”

That question I can answer. The right answer is that, generally, you know what you should do; you know what motivates you. You just do not consistently, in a disciplined manner, adhere to what you know about employee motivation.

The ten tips, outlined in this article, are the keys to supervisory success in creating positive employee motivation and morale. The challenge is to incorporate them into your skill set and do them consistently – every day. Author, Jim Collins identified disciplined people doing disciplined things every day as one of the hallmarks of companies that went from Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’tCompare Prices. You can make their day.

Continue Learning and Trying Out New Ideas for Employee Motivation

Use whatever access you have to education and training. You may have an internal trainer or you can seek classes from an outside consultant, a training company, or a college or university. If your company offers an educational assistance plan, use all of it.

If not, start talking with your Human Resources professionals about creating one. The ability to continuously learn is what will keep you moving in your career and through all the changes I expect we’ll see in the next decade.

Minimally, you will want to learn the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and managers and how to:

  • provide feedback,
  • provide praise and recognition,
  • provide proper progressive discipline,
  • give instructions,
  • interview and hire superior employees,
  • delegate tasks and projects,
  • listen actively and deeply,
  • write records, letters, file notations, and performance evaluations,
  • make presentations,
  • manage time,
  • plan and execute projects,
  • problem solve and follow up for continuous improvement,
  • make decisions,
  • manage meetings, and
  • build empowered teams and individuals in a teamwork environment.

What does all this have to do with employee motivation, you may ask? Everything. The more comfortable and confident you are about these work competencies, the more time, energy, and ability you have to devote to spending time with staff and creating a motivating work environment. You can make their day.

Make Time for People for Employee Motivation

Spend time daily with each person you supervise. Managers might aim for an hour a week with each of their direct reports. Many studies indicate that a key employee work motivation factor is spending positive interaction time with the supervisor. Schedule quarterly performance development meetings on a public calendar so people can see when they can expect some quality time and attention from you. You can make their year.

Focus on the Development of People for Employee Motivation

Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. No matter their reason: a promotion, different work, a new position or a leadership role, employees appreciate your help. Talk about changes they want to make to their jobs to better serve their customers.

Encourage experimentation and taking reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them. Ask what career objectives they have and are aiming to achieve. Make a performance development plan with each person and make sure you help them carry out the plan. The quarterly performance development meeting is your opportunity to formalize plans for people. You can make their career.

Share the Goals and the Context: Communicate for Employee Motivation

People expect you to know the goals and share the direction in which your work group is heading. The more you can tell them about why an event is happening, the better.

Prepare staff in advance if visitors or customers will come to your workplace. Hold regular meetings to share information, gain ideas for improvement, and train new policies. Hold focus groups to gather input before implementing policies that affect employees. Promote problem solving and process improvement teams.

Above all else, to effectively lead a work group, department, or unit, you must take responsibility for your actions, the actions of the people you lead, and the accomplishment of the goals that are yours.

If you are unhappy with the caliber of the people you are hiring, whose responsibility is that? If you are unhappy about the training people in your work group are receiving, whose responsibility is that? If you are tired of sales and accounting changing your goals, schedule, and direction, whose responsibility is that?

If you step up to the wire, people will respect you and follow you. You are creating a work environment in which people will choose motivation. It does start with you. You can make their whole experience with your company.


By , Guide

Top 10 Ways to Destroy Motivation at Work

By , Guide


Want to know how organizations destroy motivation at work? Managers ask about how to motivate employees, but employees naturally experience motivation. Ask any employee. Something in this world rings their chimes.

So, the challenge for employers is not to destroy that intrinsic motivation that every employee has about something. And, the challenge for a manager is to help the employee find ways to experience that motivation at work.

The best place to start? Make sure that your organization, your jobs, and your managers are not squashing motivation. Start with these 10 ways to destroy motivation at work. Are you guilty of any of them? If so…

How to Destroy Motivation at Work

  • Treat employees like children. Employees are adults with lives. They largely manage families, investments, day-to-day living, and everything that a life entails. Doesn’t it seem silly to fail to recognize this at work? Why do so many organizations act as if they need to tell adult employees what to do and micromanage their every action?
  • Make rules for the many because of the behavior of a few. Organizations need policies and rules to create a legal, ethical, effective workplace. They do not need a policy to solve every problem. Yet, so many organizations make policies to prohibit or address the behavior of a few employees. Why burden all employees with a policy or a procedure when you can individually address the behavior of the few deadbeat employees?
  • Focus on mistakes and errors no matter how trivial they are in comparison with successes. This is especially a problem at weekly meetings and during periodic performance evaluations. Managers must provide balanced feedback, but let’s get real. If an employee is making mistakes most of the time, why not fire the employee? The job must be a terrible fit for the employee’s skills and capabilities. To dwell only on problem areas destroys the employee’s confidence and self-esteem, makes the employee more error-prone, and makes your organization wonder why they promoted you to management.
  • Apply policies unfairly and inequitably. There is a reason why your Human Resources manager asks you if you have applied the same rules, expectations, and disciplinary actions to each person on your team. Inequities are visible to employees who quickly complain, feel picked on, accuse you of playing favorites, and ultimately – sue your employer. When inconsistent, unreliable actions are taken and perceived capricious decisions are made by a manager, employees lose faith and confidence. Their motivation at work disappears – and eventually, so do they.
  • Stomp on employee initiative and ideas. No, every employee idea is not worthless. Not every employee idea is going to light your flame of enthusiasm either. But, all employee ideas have merit. If nothing else the initiative and motivation that inspired the employee to seek to solve a problem or please a customer, is worth noting. For employee motivation at work, every idea deserves consideration and feedback. And, while you’re at it, is this idea something that the employee needed management permission or support to do? Changes to an employee’s job, when the changes have minimal effect on others, should not even need the manager’s permission.
  • Tell employees that they’re empowered but then review and retain veto power over the smallest decisions. Employees learn quickly what you mean by empowerment. In your organization, managers may pay lip service to empowerment , but employees know that the organizational hierarchy or chain of command is the all-powerful ruler. In fact, the managers may be just as unable to make decisions. So, don’t try to fool them; let employees know what they actually control. Clear expectations trump constant friction. You’ll destroy less motivation at work by telling the truth and dealing with what is so in your organization.
  • Hold meetings, coaching sessions, and performance reviews in which the manager does the majority of the talking. Only a rare employee will find a work environment in which he or she is talked at motivating. But, it happens frequently. Even in organizations that encourage employee involvement, managers are not always skilled at discussing performance with employees. The manager may be afraid that if he stops talking, the employee will make demands he can’t fulfill.  The manager may be uncomfortable with silence while the employee gathers his thoughts. Whatever the reason, if the manager talks 50+ minutes of a one hour meeting, a problem will exist with employee motivation at work.
  • Violate employee confidentiality by sharing information inappropriately. The foundation for an employee’s relationship with her manager and her motivation at work is trust. Once violated, trust is difficult, even impossible, to rebuild. Before a manager shares an employee’s confidence with another employee, she needs to have permission from the employee – and a good business reason must exist. To randomly mention an employee’s personal business, thoughts, or confidences to another employee is a severe violation of a manager’s ethical responsibility. Secondary damage occurs, too. The employee with whom the manager shared the confidential information will never trust the manager either – and she will tell the employee whose confidence the manager violated.
  • Measure aspects of work for employee review that the employee can’t control. You can destroy employee motivation at work by focusing on performance areas that the employee does not control. If parts don’t come in for a manufacturing job, for example, it is difficult to execute promised production on time. Sure, the employee can work to ensure that the supplier, or another, delivers parts on time in the future, but the immediate performance is affected. Managers manage the work of employees, but a family emergency guarantees that the needed employee is not at work to produce. Worst of all? The employee looks as if she is making excuses when, in fact, her results were submarined by circumstances she didn’t control.
  • Set unattainable goals and penalize employees for not meeting them. Corporations, especially, have the practice of determining goals for a division or department from the top of the chain of command. This works when the goal setters are in constant communication with the doers. Their feedback should help frame the goals. But, too often, the goals are set with little communication and feedback, and the people in the field are distressed from the get-go with goals that they believe are unattainable. Employees need to participate in setting goals and thus accept responsibility for achieving them. This is what makes organizations work.

These are some of the top ten reasons why employees are not motivated to contribute their best efforts at work. Sure, a lot of the responsibility lies with the choices that each employee makes, but even more is traceable to the environment that employers create for employees. Eliminate these ten ways to destroy motivation at work.