How to motivate and inspire employees in difficult times and through change.

Today’s business world moves quickly and new technology is being launched at an amazing pace. And which change is inevitable and sometimes exhausting, our basic human needs are still the same. You and I want to be valued and respected and, we respond well when we are.

As leaders in this fast paced world we sometimes forget to pay attention to ourselves… and the people we depend on (and who depend on us). We forget to be kind, honest, respectful and to honour the uniqueness of our team members.

So, here is a friendly reminder about how to motivate and inspire employees in difficult times and through change.

  1. Be honest. Share everything including exactly what you need and how long it’s expected to take.
  2. Tap into their values and their goals. Also remind them of the values and goals of the company.
  3. Tell your employees why change is important. Note: this is very different to ‘what you need’ in point #1. Be sure you share why it’s important to you / the company AND why it is important to them… how will it impact and / or improve them?
  4. Help them feel proud. If they have a special skill or talent let them know you appreciate it. People lean in when they feel respected and when their uniqueness is celebrated.
  5. If the work will be difficult say it will be difficult. Also, share how proud you are about what you can accomplish together. Show emotions but do not be emotional.
  6. Be a visible part of the team. Let them see you doing your part. Let them see you using your special skill or talent. Let them see you working hard / sacrificing / learning just like them.
  7. If you can, give them a challenge. Most people love to be challenged. Especially in their growth years Millennials and Gen Z love to know they are learning something and gaining new experiences. People are not very motivated to do the same thing over and over… especially if anyone could do it.

Conclusion

As their leader, always encourage your team members to continue building their experience as well as their personal and professional brands. Provide employees with the individual opportunities, recognition and visibility to gain or fine-tune new experiences.

When we help people grow and be proud they will be inspired – in good times and in difficult times. And, they will be more loyal to you and to the company.

In good times and in difficult times always be sure you create and sustain strong lines of communication with the people who you count on most… every one of your employees. Keep reminding them they are an essential part of the success of the company, and ultimately… their own futures.

Happy communicating.

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Use Your Company’s Core Values to Feel Similarity, Gratitude, Compassion and Pride

I love it when research and academic study supports business best practices; in this case Professor David DeSteno’s** work around Gratitude, Compassion and Pride.

Leadership and core values are two important places where I see the business world can benefit from Professor DeSteno’s research. You may be rolling your eyes and thinking… here we go, someone else preaching the importance of leadership adn corporate values. I hope you will let me explain because I think Professor DeSteno gives us some of the best evidence of why company core values drive long-term and short-term success. Here is why.

Professor DeSteno identifies one of the foundational elements required to experience gratitude, compassion and pride is Similarity. The idea is that similarity (when two or more people having something in common), builds an automatic connection – and with connection those people will also feel more compassion toward each other. Not only that, Professor DeSteno suggests similarity is likely to make:

  • Their goals seem more joined
  • Increase the compassion they feel for each other an each others needs / goals
  • Increase how trustworthy they perceive each other
  • How trustworthy your employees will be to each other

There are many examples of how similarity has drawn people together with both good and not-so-good outcomes. For example, here are a few familiar to me:

  • Religion – whether we practice a religion or not, we all can recall examples when religion has united many people (some blindly), to do great things and terrible things.
  • Race and culture – another familiar bond that is also responsible for many great and terrible behaviours / outcomes.
  • Social – there are countless, often surprising situations… like the bond between many Jeep drivers (there are local area Jeep Owners Clubs around the world).
  • How we dress – from lovers of cowboy hats and boots, to a love for Levi jeans to an eara’s love for a leather jacket and haircut similar to TV-icon Fonzie from the late 70s early 80s.

What I want to reinforce is that from a leadership perspective we should be eagerly embracing this benefit as an opportunity to increase:

  • Teamwork & Trust
  • Employee satisfaction & Loyalty
  • Productivity & Earnings

Similarity build bonds. Similarity makes us more likely to behave the same, to recognize and express the same social cues… and, similarity makes us more likely to trust each other.

As leaders, we need to recognize that similarity is a gift we should be taking advantage of to increase loyalty, engagement, creativity, trust etc. while also strengthening your employees bond with:

  • The company
  • Your department (their coworkers)
  • Your product / service
  • Your clients / customers

I argue that if you are not using your core values to drive similarity and trust, you are likely ignoring one of the greatest (largely free), motivators at your disposal. Forget money – forget bonus – forget big offices and elite conferences in Hawaii (unless you want to create a bond among only those people… and risk isolating everyone else).Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.47.55 PM

Use core values to build feelings of similarity; to give everyone a shared focus, shared language and shared pride. Use core values as a verbal map to help guide their decisions. Your values should also create a bond with your customers, giving them confidence in what they can count on and where they should place their loyalty.

Not only does it build team character and cohesiveness, defining your values allows you to best use your resources in the best possible way to sustain engagement and achieve team-based excellence.

Studies by Professor David DeSteno identify that when employees are around people who are proud of their work, that pride is contagious… that they will be more likely to feel pride. In this example, similarity reinforces connection and that connection engages feelings of compassion and empathy. In short, feelings, compassion and empathy are contagious… or, Intra-Team Support as I call it in my example to the right.

And, it is suggested that this benefit doesn’t have to be direct. For example, even if I observe someone helping another person… my observation alone reinforces my social relationships and makes me more likely to help other people…  even people not connected with the observed demonstration of compassion. Double WOW!!

So, how can you build similarity? Define your company’s core values, and… use those core values throughout your organization. Help your people express your values in every action and decision they make.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

** David DeSteno is a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Group. He is also an author and sought after speaker.

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How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part II

To Read Part I please Click Here.

In Part I of this article I began laying out 8 tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way. Here are the final few tips to help you with this complicated topic.

I am a strong believer that most plans have multiple options for success… but we don’t have time to debate every one of them. When you decide to bring an idea forward make sure it is about making noticeable business impact.

The best teams thrive on productive disagreement. If you can promote that with your team you will be part of a dynamic, strategic powerhouse that will achieve great things. You will be showing others what success looks like.

Prepare Your Message / How To Disagree With Your Boss!

You have to communicate your counter argument in a non-threatening way or risk the consequences. You don’t want to argue with your boss and earn the reputation as an arrogant / difficult employee. You do want a reputation as someone who is respectful and gets things done.

The fate of your reputation and your idea lies in your purpose and how you express your disagreement.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.54.58 PM

An easy way to respect your boss when you have an idea is to ask if you can share. For example, “I’d like to share an idea I have for the project that I think will have a positive impact but I’m concerned it may sound like I doubt the project. I want to assure you that I don’t. May I share my ideas?” This approach helps set people’s expectations and make what you are about to say sound less threatening. The less you can surprise people the less risk you will have of triggering a defensive response.

You can be attentive… but in the end, you cannot control how someone feels. So, stay aware of how others respond and perhaps most importantly… how they are feeling. People often shut-down when they feel disrespected… whether you mean it or not.

Plan your message in advance. Research your idea (as suggested above), but in most cases you don’t want to spend days and days preparing to introduce your idea for a few reasons. First, it may look like you are aggressively pushing your agenda. Second, you don’t want your boss to think you have wasted valuable time preparing an elaborate presentation for an ‘idea / suggestion’ you have. Only you can make that decision based on the project, your work environment, attitudes and workloads.

As you prepare your plan, choose the word you will use carefully – be non-aggressive. For example:

  • Don’t use the words “I disagree”, instead try offering “recommendations” or “suggestions”.
  • Be careful of the word “should”, perhaps use the words, “consider” or “could”.
  • Ask, “Can I offer a suggestion.” Do not say “I have a better idea.
  • Ask for “background”, not the “rationale” when inquiring about other existing approaches.
  • Try using “I” statements to describe what you are feeling. For example, “I feel there may be another approach that may help.
  • Under no circumstances should you make people feel stupid, embarrassed and absolutely no name-calling.

I recommend practicing your first sentence beforehand – at least your first sentence. Keep your message simple and to the point.

When you speak:

  1. State the topic on which you disagree and explain your position. Talk about what you are feeling – but don’t be emotional. Don’t use inflammatory or accusatory language. Don’t complain or disagree but do have a solution. Offer suggestions including S.M.A.R.T. reasons why you think your idea is helpful.
  2. Reintroduce the plan goals and values remembering to promote the parts of the existing plan that you do agree with. Don’t make it appear the decision is a Win-Lose event; every decision should be a Win-Win. You want to be a team player who is focused on supporting the team, the company and the project goals.
  3. Present your idea with pride, confidence and enthusiasm but do not appear like a know-it-all who’s challenging their authority. Be polite and professional.
  4. Be careful about including your co-workers unless you have their absolute permission… and in this case, I hope they are sitting with you when you present the idea. You want to speak for yourself and let others speak for themselves.
  5. Let your boss know you are looking forward to their input / thoughts / questions about your idea. Two-way feedback allows you both to work through details and perhaps clarify project important goals that may impact your idea / the project.

You want to support your career goals – not hurt them. Don’t present a list of problems to your boss without any thought of a solution.

Eventually, when you have done this a few times (and have a great boss who trusts you), you’ll be able to speak your mind without damaging your career.

Be Careful With Emotion

As I always say in my Managing Difficult Conversation workshops, share emotion but don’t be emotional. Sharing emotion lets people know you care… that you are human. Believe it or not, that approach increases the chances of your idea being heard… and accepted (if it is a good idea). Bosses get nervous when employees appear emotionally attached. For Example: Calmly saying, ‘I feel very connected to this project and I want it to succeed’ shows you care. But, pounding on the boardroom table and screaming those same words suggests you have lost perspective and are not thinking rationally.

Always remain calm and confident. Never lose your temper.

Let It Go / Know When To Back Down / Respect the Final Decision

Your boss doesn’t agree with your suggestion / idea? Thank your boss for the opportunity and then let it go! As a leader, your boss may have 100 reasons for their decision. For example, the company strategy could be shifting in response to competitors’ moves (but not yet been shared company-wide). Stay calm, carry on.

Be sure your boss understands you will fully support whatever decision is agreed upon. The more you make them feel it isn’t a competition for you the more they won’t feel it’s a competition next time you have a suggestion. Protect your reputation and your influence for your career.

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others wont agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects. Trust me – that collection of experience and being part of many collaborative teams where you will meet and work with great people is far more important.

Conclusion

My corporate training and coaching career has proven to me that every workplace has a variety of personalities, work styles, cultures, education and experience; so, challenges are inevitable. So, making them work for us – not against us is important.

Great Leaders primary responsibility it to build long-term company success. How they do this is by listening to dedicated, talented, hard-working employees and earning employee trust. When great leaders have employees who feel listened to and trusted, these employees will often also be the leaders most loyal and motivated employees; a great leaders most important asset – a leaders best opportunity to achieve their responsibilities.

Disagreement is helpful as long as it’s strategic, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely.

SUMMARY:

  • Don’t have a conversation when either of your attention is elsewhere – like on a tight deadline or running to pick up the kids after work.
  • Tell your boss you have a suggestion for an alternative approach… then ask them if they would like to schedule a one-on-one meeting. Challenging your boss in front of others is risky – for you and your idea.
  • Prepare for any conversation, but especially when you are challenging your boss. Your first sentence is important – it will set the mood for the whole meeting. Take every precaution to not sound confrontational.
  • Be sensitive to their mood… especially if they often get stressed easily.
  • Never embarrass anyone – especially someone you report to.
  • Never seem aggressive, condescending, or accusatory.
  • Never make demands.
  • Always respect them and respect their final decision.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part I please Click Here.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part I

To Read Part II please Click Here.

If you are a talented employee, what do you do if you want to disagree with your boss without damaging your career? Do you sit back and wait until you have a great boss, or do you learn how to disagree with the boss you have without damaging your career? I believe the answer is clear; to be in control of your professional success you have to learn how to disagree with your boss in a respectful, productive way.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.45.34 PM

When it comes to disagreeing with your boss the challenge is to never appear like you undermining their authority. Respect is key! Your ideas also cannot appear to be a threat to your boss’ goals or the project goals. Your ideas should be inspirational and clearly demonstrate your commitment to company success. For example, you might say, “I have an idea that will help us improve client retention” versus negative, “This project is doomed and only my idea will save it.” When you introduce your idea in a positive way you can prove yourself as an important team member and a forward-thinking employee who adds value.

I offer you these tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way… and apologize now for the length of this article… but it is not an easy challenge to solve.

Here are 8 key steps:

  1. Have a good point / Pick your battles wisely
  2. Stop being a ‘Yes’ person
  3. Know your boss (and your team)
  4. Find time when you both have time
  5. Do research / Know your stuff
  6. Build trust
  7. Prepare your message / How to deliver your message well
  8. Let it go if they don’t agree / Respect the final decision

1.  Have A Good Point / Pick Your Battles Wisely

Make sure your suggestion is worth the trouble; it should add measurable, strategic value to the final project. A ‘tweak’ isn’t worth the risk to your reputation.

Before you speak ask yourself, “Am I adding value and is the idea S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely)?” You also want to ask yourself , “Is this my responsibility and how might the other person ‘feel’?” You want to be focused on important work not busy work. You also want to make sure it’s your responsibility… or at least will impact one of your responsibilities. If you proceed, make sure your approach and tone of voice is positive, respectful and collaborative.

Do not be the negative person who points out the things the team can’t realistically change or will make no difference.

2. Stop Being A ‘Yes’ Person

If you go along with every decision your boss makes you are known as a ‘yes’ person and not likely using your talents to the best of your abilities.

You may be hurting your ability to be promoted if you always follow the pack. If done well, challenging your boss will help you stand out for a future promotion / recognition because it demonstrates leadership, courage and your ability to negotiate and collaborate. It also demonstrates creativity and strategic thinking.

The best companies thrive because they embrace employees who respectfully disagree with their boss. Great leaders want (and all leaders need) their employees to contribute to original ideas… to speak up about important right things at the right time.

3. Know Your Boss

Arguing with your boss is a losing proposition.

Is your boss going to react badly to any idea that’s not their own? I once had a boss like that. If the answer is yes it may be better to warm up your resume… you need to find a work environment where you can show your leadership qualities and learn to manage all of the difficult conversations / difficult situations leaders have to manage every day.

Poor leaders don’t want to be challenged by their employees but great leaders encouraged and promoted people to challenge one another. Great bosses want their employees to add their experience and expertise into the mix. Innovation, diversification and long-term company success demands this.

When you know your boss you can motivate them by using the language they use. Plan your proposal from their perspective. If they think in numbers be sure to show solid numbers. If they think about marketing and brand, frame your idea in that language.

Find Time When You Both Have Time

Know your boss’ personality and triggers. Find a time when you both are thinking clearly and your emotions are not triggered. Don’t approach your boss if either of you are stressed or in a bad mood or running to pick up your kids from the sitter.

If you are in a meeting, be very sensitive to both who is in the room and what your idea entails. If your boss’ boss is around be very careful not to embarrass anyone – including yourself. You want whatever you do to build the trust and respect of your boss and coworkers.

When and where you choose to share your idea can make a world of difference in how your boss reacts vs. responds to your opinion.

Do Research / Know Your Stuff

When you decide to speak you have to be accurate and to-the-point… especially if you have senior people in the room. So, before you lay your reputation and perhaps your job on the line, be sure you:

  • Know why any current decisions have been made
  • Research your idea – including important criteria like budget, employee impact, customer impact and timing

Once you feel confident (and this may take only seconds if you are experienced with the project), sketch out a high-level plan. Anticipate any possible counter-arguments your boss and/or team may have. Perhaps use the S.M.A.R.T. model to test the existing plan and then the value of your idea. Preparing a well thought out S.M.A.R.T. plan means your boss is more likely to be open to listening to what you want to say / share.

You may also want to check out a supplier/stakeholder or two – but don’t do so much it looks like you are hijacking the project or putting supplier/stakeholder relationships at risk.

No matter how well you prepare there’s always a chance your input will not be acted upon. You have to be OK with that outcome.

Build Trust

Trust is at the center of all good employee-employer relations. Without it there’s virtually no hope you can persuade your boss your idea has value.

Trust is a two-way street, and you have to do your part to earn it. Your first day on the job might not be the best day to disagree with your boss (unless you’ve been promoted from within). If your boss specifically asks for your opinion then carefully offer a suggestion for ‘discussion / evaluation purposes based on the project goals’.

How can you build trust over time?

  • Be positive – glass half-full not half-empty
  • Take humble credit for your successes and take quick credit for your errors (be solutions oriented)
  • Demonstrate empathy and compassion for your work and coworkers
  • Learn the company goals and values… and all project goals and values
  • Meet your project deadlines – practice good time management
  • Make sure your performance is consistently high-quality and in line with project goals and values
  • Be a team player – manage everyone’s expectations… including your own
  • Be flexible and communicate clearly

Demonstrate you are a reliable team player and you understand the work. Do it right and your boss may come looking for you next time they want a fresh opinion. Do it wrong and you might find it career limiting.

Conclusion

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others will not agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part II please Click Here.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Why I Believe Millennials Are Marginally Motivated

In the last 3 months my ‘Hiring, Motivating and Retaining Millennials’ workshop has been my most popular program. I’ve trained at a few companies and spoken at a golf conference, a long-term care conference and even a heavy machinery conference. No matter who my audience is, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How do I get the best out of Millennials and keep them more than 18 months“. It’s a great question. There are many concerned leaders who believe Millennials are only ‘marginally motivated’ when it comes to their work.

That’s what I would like to address over the next few minutes. My goal is to share three key reasons why I believe Millennials are marginally motivated at work.

Reason 1: We Don’t Hire The Right People

Some Millennials take jobs that are not in their chosen profession. You may wonder, ‘Why would someone take work they don’t really want?’ The simple truth is many Millennials may need the money, or they may be tired of looking for work, or perhaps they want to make sure there isn’t a gap in their resume. There are many reasons why a Millennial might compromise, and whatever the reason, it is not good for you or for them.

If your new Millennial employee feels they are compromising (and my Millennial At Work Survey research says that many Millennials feel they have to compromise), it’s not surprising that during that time with you they will be ‘Marginally Motivated’ and you’ll only get 50%, 60% or perhaps 70% of their effort. In addition, it should not surprising that they keep looking for work they really do want.

This is why it is critical to hire the right people. When you hire people whose career goals and personal values reflect the work and your corporate values, you will have engaged employees. When you use a hiring process that is measurable, accountable and reliable, you will have lower-than-average turnover and lower-than-average training expenses. In addition, all of your other success indicators will move in the right direction. If you are not using a formal hiring process it’s like gambling in Las Vegas… it’s risky, based on chance and will likely be expensive when you lose.

Reason 2: We All Excel When Respected

Millennials want to be respected and valued. They also want to feel they are making a contribution and want professional development opportunities. Lets face it, we all excel when we are respected, valued and feel we are making a contribution. You know that when you love something you spend lots of time doing it… you many even volunteer to do more of it.

The difference between Millennials and everyone else is that if a Millennial doesn’t feel they are growing / acquiring new skills or making a difference, they quickly feel frustrated and lose interest… which is why people think they are ‘Marginally Motivated’. And, because many parents of Millennials have not done a great job of teaching their kids patience, even if Millennials are working in their chosen profession, when they feel frustrated you will begin to have a retention problem.

NOTE: Millennials are life-long learners – these are values their Boomer and Gen X parents instilled in them.

Reason 3: Millennials Want Meaningful Work

Millennials see work as part of their whole life, something they want to enjoy and is / will be something that fulfills them. Millennials want their work to be meaningful and even (for many), a place where they make friends with their co-workers / leaders. Millennials also perform better when they are given frequent, positive reinforcement / encouragement.

Giving frequent reward and motivation to each employee isn’t ‘natural’ for Boomers. For 30 plus years Baby Boomers were the primary employment market. In addition (and this is critically important), for the most part each of them shared very similar goals. Generally speaking, Boomers never thought of work as a place to fulfill their passions. Boomers wanted stability; they didn’t want to take risks (and since change equals risk… it was bad). What Boomers wanted was mutual loyalty, to pay their mortgage and to collect wealth (which would give them even more stability). Very few Millennials share these values – for now at least.

Conclusion

Does this sound like too much effort? I hope not. Employers can only insulate themselves from Millennials (and the upcoming Gen Z), for so long. Soon, most of the Boomers will have retired and the largest workforce will be Millennials.

In case you don’t sense it, I do believe Millennials are hard-working, creative and loyal as long as we hire the right Millennial and support them / motivate them in the way that meets their individual, personal and professional goals. And, while they do want to be loyal, they do not expect to work for one company their whole career.

The benefits of hiring Millennials and motivating them as unique individuals is tremendously profitable. And this holds true for people of all generations. When a company is able to keep highly motivated employees (not marginally motivated employees), for five or more years instead of the two years so many employers are experiencing… and even expecting… it translates into a great pay-off (and saving), for the company AND a great learning experience for each employee.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating, coaching… and training.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Mayhew Consulting. We facilitate training courses and speak on a number of topics including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences and more.

What Leaders Should Know About Intrinsic Motivation & Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation are important engagement opportunities that have very different results.

Extrinsic motivation is what many of us are familiar with; it’s the primary way Boomers and Gen Xers have been rewarded throughout their working career. It’s how we most often motivate children as well. Extrinsic motivation is based on earning a reward (like money $$ or praise), or avoiding something undesirable. It’s motivation by carrot or stick. Extrinsic motivation is also often the most expensive and the least effective way to motivate employees over long periods of time. As a good friend and Chief Financial Offices (CFO) says, “Money is an external reward and a lousy motivator, it’s good for a week or two and then forgotten.” screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-10-16-16-am

Intrinsic motivation is when we find doing something personally satisfying. It’s the engagement that often leads us to choose our career in the first place. Intrinsic reward supports long-term motivation and professional development that is rooted in taking pride in our work – not making your boss happy so he/she will give you a raise. It’s why many of us volunteer, or paint, play a musical instrument or garden. It’s why we enjoyed curling up with a good book when we were a kid… and still do now.

The easiest way to ruin a persons satisfaction and pride in their work (intrinsic motivation) is to monetize it (give them money $$ for doing something they enjoy). Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation will decrease when external rewards (extrinsic rewards), are given.

Example 1: I know a lady who loved to bake cookies and cakes – she took great pride in them and they were delicious and beautiful. So she started a bakery business and soon had an employee and lots of clients. She felt stress in keeping clients happy, and managing the employee, and there were deliveries and… and… and. Worst of all she no longer baked to relax and enjoy herself. She closed her business.

Example 2: In an experiment to test motivation, psychologist and professor Edward L. Deci studied two groups of students who enjoyed playing puzzle games. The 1st group was paid whenever they solved a puzzle; the other group played for no monetary reward. Deci noticed that the 1st group stopped working on the puzzles when they stopped being paid. The 2nd group continued to solve puzzles because they continued to enjoy the game. By offering extrinsic motivation, the 1st group were trained to see puzzles as work.

All too often our parents, leaders, coworkers… and even ourselves focus only on…or mostly on extrinsic rewards. This begins to cause problems as we disconnect with what feeds our heart… our spirit… our humanity. Instead, we are trained to ignore our natural spirit and instead focus only on (mostly on), physical – short-term recognition / respect. So, what is the real benefit and what can we do?

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Pride

The impact of intrinsic rewards on an employee’s self-management is great. An intrinsically motivate employee will likely stay late to finish an important project – not because they have to… or want to please their boss/customer. Because of this pride, they will routinely go the extra mile because it makes them happy and… this pride makes them want to be loyal… a win/win.

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Employee Loyalty

Employees who are self-motivated, proud of their work and feel they are making a difference often also demonstrate greater employee loyalty. BMC have seen this in our Millennial At Work study.

If employees are intrinsically motivated they will not quit to go to a company that pays a bit more – they stay with a company that respects them and gives them greater autonomy. Their loyalty will be largely derived from work life balance and how much they enjoy their work – and the company. Pride makes a difference; they stay with the company that feeds their spirit.

Intrinsic rewards mean people feel good about feeling good about what they are doing / thinking.

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Professional Development

Extrinsic motivation isn’t all-bad – it actually plays an important part in the learning / teaching process – especially helping learners overcome the frustration of acquiring new skills. Positive reinforcement and praise (extrinsic motivation), helps people keep trying – keep learning. Unfortunately, we all-too-often only reward professional development on extrinsic motivation. We don’t include motivation that helps people feel a sense of personal pride and accomplishment in their newly acquired skill. Ultimately this means that the learners will not fully invest in adopting new skills. Instead they feel pride in getting praise for their work… and will need it again and again. This is a problem I hear all the time from Baby Boomers when I give Generational Differences training.

What Can We Do? How Can We Use Intrinsic Rewards?

Intrinsic rewards help individuals find satisfaction in ‘doing’ of their work or task as much as the end result. The journey is as important as the destination. I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are 4 very effective ways to develop intrinsic motivation in others. From your children to your employees, help them see and ‘feel’:

  1. C – Competence / Mastery… learning new things – gaining  and/or using an expertise.
  2. A – Autonomy / Choice… what to work on, when and how
  3. R – Relevance / Purpose… why the work is meaningful – important
  4. P – Progress… what they are doing is adding to the greater good or perhaps they are gaining experience.

Conclusion

The last 50 or so years we got used to extrinsically rewards but we forget to help people feel good about feeling good about their work or what they are learning. As leaders we’ve underestimated the importance of intrinsic rewards and its low-cost… and instead have got used to thinking of financial rewards as the primary way to motivate.

Intrinsic rewards are a strong win/win for organizations that want to stay innovative and retain great, inspired, happy and proud employees. Research has shown that when people are proud, feel like they are making a difference and feel some ownership of how they structure their time at work they stick around… and they do great work.

Happy communicating… and mentoring… and training.

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Good Business Managers Are Also Good HR Managers

In todays fast paced life it’s easy to dismiss anything that is older that a few months or years… especially from 1988. But, I’ve enjoyed reading and thinking about a summary of a 4-year long study that was published in 1988 called “A Descriptive Model of Managerial Effectiveness” by Fred Luthans, Dianne H. B. Welsh, and Lewis A. Taylor III.

I’m not surprised that in 1988, studies showed that HR activities and soft-skills were given low importance. However, I’m happy to say that Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III decided to measure how much ‘time’ the managers spent on these low-priority human resource activities. By doing this Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III identify soft-skill tasks such as socializing/politicking, training and development, staffing (hiring), managing conflict, and motivating/reinforcing employees surprisingly represented over 30% of a managers’ efforts back in the 80’s.

Leadership QualitiesStepping forward to present time, we now know that soft-skills are critical to performance and employee engagement. Current, unrelated studies identify the top 5 leadership qualities can easily be considered soft-skills (assuming technical skill pre-exists). In fact, this slide from one of my leadership training programs demonstrates that of the top 10 qualities, almost all of the most important qualities of great leaders are soft-skills.

I bet that back in the late 80’s the finding of 30% of a managers’ efforts were HR related surprised many people. Unfortunately, I bet that is still a surprised to many leaders / managers… even though I believe that today this number is actually higher than 30%.

My theory is supported by the many leadership scholars including the late Peter Drucker (who continues to be one of the most influential leaders in management philosophy and effectiveness), who clearly identified soft-skills as critical characteristics of top leaders. Also, I think it’s higher because today all of the 4 generations in our workforce expect a more from our professional and personal lives.

Conclusion

Back in the mid-80’s the study authors Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III were pioneers. As with all great ideas the challenge lies in the adoption… or lack of. In the case of embracing soft-skills, adoption has been slow.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s while the Baby Boomers were the largest population in the workforce, soft-skills were not seen to be important – largely because it was easy to anticipate how each other would react and/or wanted. Why? Because in part, even though consumerism was growing rapidly, options were limited. Today that has changed. Organizations have to consider a global economy and a global workforce who are both highly educated and have skills are easily transferable by industry AND geography.

So, great leaders of today use their learned technical skill as well as their learned soft-skills to engage, motivate and retain talent from all four generations in the workspace. Not only do they need to be good technical experts, they also need to be good HR managers.

Happy communicating.

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John Nash’s Game Theory Applied To HR & Leadership

Nash’s Game Theory has intrigued me of late. I like how although it is often used in economics, Nash’s Game Theory can be applied to everyday situations including how people can make engaged and thoughtful businesses decisions.

That said, this theory wasn’t all 100% Nash’s. Using a technology term, Nash “upgraded” an existing theory proposed by von Neumann and Morgenstern.

von Neumann and Morgenstern Zero Sum Game

Von Neumann and Morgenstern proposed that the best decisions is when individuals approached decision-making as a zero-sum theory, or (in my interpretation), if I win you have to lose. The concept is that if we as individuals all work at winning, in the long run we will all do better.

Thankfully, most real-life situations are not usually zero-sum so this theory often falls short.

Nash’s Game Theory

John Nash Game Theory

Bruce Mayhew interpretation: Nash’s Game Theory vs. von Neumann and Morgenstern Zero Sum Game

Nash saw a better way to make decisions by pushing the zero-sum theory closer to altruism (again in my interpretation), altruism being an ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people within the society is accepted as the greatest good (source business dictionary). Nash believed that the best solution is when we consider what is best for the individual (zero-sum), AND the group.

I agree that zero-sum is a poor way to run a company or a department. Considering that when one person wins and the majority lose is disheartening. From the point of view of a business leader, my belief (and there are many general studies that support this), is that if work is a zero-sum game, it destroys collaborative team dynamics, individual motivation, costs go up, production & quality goes down and soon employment turnover goes up.

But Nash’s theory provides a simple mathematical equation for modeling any number of competitive situations. Nash’s equilibrium as it is sometimes called, offers the idea that a best response equilibrium exists. Again, from the point of view of a business leader, consider it a theory that guides us to use empathy and our listening skills to prioritize our actions so that we can make decisions that serve our purpose and do the best to support others impacted. Those impacted can represent our co-workers, clients, investors or even the environment.

Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene Theory

If you let me take a leap of faith, in the HR world we can better support the collaborative idea of individual and team benefit by using elements of psychologist Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene theory as guides to what benefits the company (ROI because it is important and what almost all decisions include), AND the greater good.

Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene theory studies Factors for Satisfaction and Factors for Dissatisfaction (which are not opposite and which I promise to write on soon). For example, Herzberg’s research identified true Factors for Satisfaction motivators were:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Work (as in respectful work)
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement

How many times do you make decisions also considering the impact those decisions make on Herzberg’s 5 Factors for Satisfaction? If you don’t, you may be making decisions that have short-term gain but long-term negative impact on productivity, employee engagement, quality, customer satisfaction and employment turnover… all things that are very expensive costs for the organization.

Staying with the idea of HR, motivation and job satisfaction, one of Nash’s truisms is that even when working toward the greater good, there is often more than one best response. This was an early criticism of Nash’s theory, but one that I think we should celebrate. Why? Because choice and change are exciting. Because our personal and professional needs, goals, likes and dislikes are different which means that within a collaborative team where each person giving their unique best, there will be many ways for the team to meet their goal. If one person was taken away from or added to the team – the team would still find a great solution… but it would likely be a bit different.

Conclusion

The long and the short of it (that sounds like my dad speaking), is that if the purpose of economic theories is to predict which one (single), outcome will occur, Nash’s methodology doesn’t help. But, what it does do is give us space to explore options where we try to find a solution where we all win.

Happy communicating.

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Who Should You Promote Next? A Case Study

You have a recent job opening for a team leader and two interested internal candidates; who should you promote?

  • Mary is your top financial expert – her associates go to her when they are stuck for a solution and you wish you had 5 more just like her.
  • John knows finances as well as anybody – he’s a great team player and his associates trust and respect him and his work.

All other things are equal between Mary and John. Who should you promote as the new team leader?

In a traditional environment, Mary is usually the person that gets the promotion. Most traditional organizations still recruit based on technical knowledge and past performance, and put low value on soft skills / emotional intelligence… but this is changing. We’ve all heard about someone being promoted to their level of incompetence… and this may be one of those times.

In my opinion, the right candidate depends heavily on what Mary or John want out of their personal and professional lives… and what the company wants to invest in them.

If Mary Gets The Promotion

If Mary is motivated because:

  • She is looking to grow in the area of leadership and managing people… AND if the company is ready to invest in ongoing (ongoing is critical), Leadership training and coaching, then Mary may be right for the job… in time.

If this is the case I would suggest Mary’s training and coaching should have started long ago as part of a professional development plan. If Mary gets the job now she is going to be studying and growing for the next 6 months (at least). Her team will not have the hit-the-ground-running leader that it should from an internal hire, and the company will not benefit from her significant financial expertise as they used to (she’ll be doing more ‘leading‘ and less ‘doing‘). The opportunity losses to the organization will be significant.

If Mary is motivated because:

  • She sees all her friends and peers climbing the corporate ladder and thinks success means moving up, then I’d say there are many ways to satisfy Mary’s needs while also keeping her from making a mistake by becoming a leader. The great risk is that if she is promoted without previous leadership skill or training, everyone including Mary may discover she’s not built for management. So, rather than be demoted Mary will quit to save face and go to one of your competitors. And you don’t want that to happen.

The added risk is that if John really did want the job and he has to work for Mary (someone who doesn’t know how to motivate and lead the team), this natural born leader may quit and go to one of your competitors out of frustration.

If John Gets The Promotion

John seems to have some of the natural emotional intelligence that translate well into being a great leader – skills like technical skill, trustworthiness, ability to communicate, respect and creativity. If John gets the promotion, he will still need leadership training and coaching. It’s likely that John is going to be able to motivate his team and that with some training, John could make the transition into an official and successful leadership position.

If Mary’s real need of peer-status is taken care of creativity, Mary will likely be very happy to also save her reputation as the brightest financial expert on the team.

Everyone Should Have A Professional Development Plan

As I was suggesting earlier, companies should want to get this figured out long before there is a vacancy, not only with Mary and John but with the whole team. The organization should be thinking about a professional development plan for each employee as well as what is best for the company, each individual and team.

By having open dialogue with employees about their needs, dreams and professional aspirations, the organization leaders can prepare a professional development plan that increases employee engagement, lowers turnover and increases profitability. The added beauty is that some of the best employee engagement motivators (like a need for recognition), are no or low cost.

Conclusion

Success for people and organizations is all about the leadership – promoting growth and development for themselves (the leaders), and all employees throughout their career. To drive employee commitment, engagement and therefore profitability and organizational success, it’s critical for leaders to always consider the potential of the people and the potential of the group.

Happy business development.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Leadership: A Leaders Responsibilities Have Changed: Part 1

Being a leader isn’t glamorous or easy. Changing your leadership style is even more difficult… but the rewards of both are immense.

If you are an individual or a company, your leadership qualities and leadership style are essential if you are going to survive and thrive. Stats show that half the companies in the S&P500 are different from 1999 (Source Sam Ro). Said another way, the world is changing around us and longevity demands our leaders promote responsible change and keep their teams adapting.

Leader TrainingLets think back a few years when Blackberry (Research In Motion), was leading the smartphone market. Many Leadership Coaches agree that Blackberry’s leaders had become comfortable that their main core competency (their security protocols), would continue to lead market demand. Then Apple innovated the market and gave mobile users new features like cameras, an ipod, touch screen, useful apps and high-definition for movie watchers and gamers. Almost overnight Blackberry became one of the smallest players in the mobile market.

Apple, a company known for a non-traditional approach to almost everything focused on customer delight, not how to keep doing the same thing and maximize existing revenue. Apple won because their leaders and by extension their employees looked at tomorrow and built a solution for tomorrows customer. Apple leaders gave their employees the freedom to look at what individuals were doing within their lives and explore solutions. By doing this Apple leaders and employees did far more than maximize existing revenue – they created a whole new revenue stream. HOOYAH!

This is a good segue into one of the key things leaders need to do.

Put Your Customer And Employee Needs First

Before you think about maximize existing revenue or cost cutting to increase ROI, are you preparing for what customers will want tomorrow? How can you make life better for them? When you make life better people see value, and when they see value they will buy your stuff.

The world is going to be different tomorrow!

Not only are customer needs changing, employees’ wants and needs are changing… really quickly. So, your leadership qualities and leadership style also has to change if you want to survive.

Great companies run on great employees. Products don’t think or make themselves – and they don’t innovate themselves.

Innovation happens in months not years, and to keep up leaders need their employees to grow, contribute, innovate and collaborate. Todays leaders need to create a vision and instead of telling their team what to do and how to get it done, todays leaders / mangers are successful when they empower their team and remove roadblocks.

Great leaders have learned how to hire and motivate great employees… and stay out of their way.

Conclusion

Customers want great products. Employees want to be proud, contribute and get better/learn.

Doing the same thing and/or just putting in more hours isn’t going to… work; it’s not 1958. So, how do companies attract, motivate and retain promising employees who build great customer solutions? How do companies prepare employees to be tomorrows leaders? The simple answer is to invest in leadership training and leadership development for todays leaders – and tomorrows leaders.

Happy leadership and communication.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

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