Sunday, September 12, 2010

Success through people...Surviving beyond a down economy

Current worldwide economic woes are extremely worrying for a lot of business people...and with good cause. We have seen the demise of a number of major financial institutions and extreme downsizing at a myriad of North American Corporations. Small businesses are dropping like flies on a daily basis. Despite the old adage desperate times call for desperate measures, during this downward spike in our economy we must maintain one major principle: We must preserve a culture of pride, quality and performance amongst our employees. Our people will take us through this current recession and support us while we are down...IF, AND ONLY IF we give them strong reasons for loyalty to us.

Keep in mind that even if your business survives the recession and prosperity returns within a reasonable time frame, it will be followed almost immediately by a worldwide labour shortage. The shortage will be at its worst here in North America where overall birth rates are the lowest. If you plan to continue on in business for the next decade and beyond, you must cultivate the loyalties of your employees by creating a culture of success NOW. Economists indicate that immigration application rates to the USA and Canada are at an all time high, but remember that immigrants require a greater level of training and naturalization than the employees you have now. You might be able to fill the vacancies in your employee manifest with folks from other countries, but if you lose the knowledge base of your current employees, your production will suffer for an indeterminate length of time.

If you are an employee, be aware that the current recession like every other economic crisis, will pass. When that occurs, the best of you will be living in a world of opportunity. Hone your skills now, learn your trade, increase your knowledge and populate your resume’. This is valuable advice whether you expect to leave your current employer at some point in the future or not. The future world will need educated, qualified people with experience and some degree of wisdom. Remember too, that in the future there will also be a shortage of good leaders; people who understand people and possess the ability to get the most out of each and every one of them. If you ever thought that you would like to try leadership, now is the time to start working toward that goal. Take some courses; make your employer aware of your desire to advance; become indispensable!

Employers need to accept the fact that the world is changing. The old ways of doing business will simply not work in the twenty first century. Generation “Y” will not bend to the demands of a dominant boss or an inflexible corporate structure. Many immigrants will not understand your methodologies, your work ethic, or in many cases, your language. Both groups will need a different work environment than that which you developed over the past decades. Business owners and leaders need to begin working for the future NOW. If you really do not understand your younger, Generation “Y” workers, YOU are the problem...not the young workers. You need to stop trying to make them more like you and you need to adopt methodologies they can identify with. Let’s face it, Generation “Y” is the largest generation since the Boomers and they will soon take over the world. There are fewer Boomers in the work-world every day and their grip on the throttle of the world’s economy is beginning to slip. Only those employers who recognize this undeniable truth and are willing to act on it will survive beyond the recession, thereby remaining household names decades from now.

If you don’t understand how to motivate your employees, create loyalty or build a culture of engagement, you need to learn now. If your production is slipping; if your performance is suffering; and/or if your profits are down, you need to learn how to do more with less. I am talking about more production with fewer resources and even fewer employees. The key to more with less is with your current employees. Become an open, honest employer with a transparent management plan. Let your people in on what you are doing, where you are going, and where you stand right now. More than ever in the history of North American business, employees want inclusion and a say in how their workplace runs. Give it to them! Stop hanging on to the old ways of doing business and start giving your employees what they want, no matter how difficult letting go of your old principles might be.

Most business leaders who refuse to let their employees in on things are simply afraid. They are afraid that their employees will take advantage of them, use the things they have learned against them, or even steal from them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Employees are just like people in management...they want to keep score and they want to win. If they do not know where the company is going or what their contribution to it has been, they have no stake in the business and no reason to care about it. Ultimately employees who are not made aware of what their company is all about will either quit or mentally shut down. Either way, production and quality will suffer.

In times when there are more employees than jobs, employers have the luxury of high turnover rates. In the future when the economy stabilizes and there are more jobs than people, that luxury will be the death of many companies. Start working with your people now. They can either make you or break you. It’s your choice!

If you need help putting employee leadership, engagement, communication, or selection plans into place please get in touch with me. I am easy to find and I want to help.

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Big Ego is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

   Why can’t people just get along? Human beings seem to want to fight all the time, don’t they? Why is that? What makes people so quick to involve themselves in arguments and disputes? Why do so many people become angry or defensive when someone directs a joke at them or suggests that they might be wrong about something? Why are some people arrogant, loud and obnoxious while others are consistently nice or perennially silent? Will the entire human race ever change to the point that they can all get along unconditionally on a universal level? Probably not...but it is a great goal to shoot for!

   Human beings regularly fight, dispute, argue, confront, protest, challenge and defy other people because of EGO. All human beings have an ego of some degree or another. Ego can be defined as one’s relative level of self esteem...it is a person’s idea of his or her own importance or worth. Ego determines how a person will control, plan and conform to the present reality of his or her life. If a person has a big ego, they will often become quite angry if they believe their integrity has been questioned. They will have such a strong sense of themselves that they will believe others should listen to them and unconditionally respond to them in a positive way. Those with less powerful egos when questioned or treated negatively will sometimes feel guilty. They will think that they have said or done something inappropriate. Instead of fighting back, they will withdraw to lick their wounds or feel sorry for themselves. Individuals with very little ego often find it easier to get along with others because they simply draw no assumptions about another’s intentions toward them and they take nothing personally, so find no need to become angry or fight back.

   Leaders must be cautious of stifling ego. Ego is what made human beings the dominant species on earth and what caused them to put men on the moon. Unfortunately, it is also what starts arguments, causes bullying in schoolyards, and creates the conditions necessary for one country to declare war on another. The positive side of ego is what we must nurture and protect. People with strong egos usually have strong ambition and an overwhelming desire to succeed. They also sometimes seem brash, impatient, and in a hurry; caring very little for others. Those are the people that can make or break you. When working with someone who is extremely talented but “full of himself or herself” you must not suppress his or her enthusiasm or hold them back. When a person with a strong ego is stifled they will usually react with negative behavior. They may choose to fight you, making their feelings known, but as often as not, they will simply withdraw and do as little as possible to help you. Instead of being the superior performer they are capable of, their ego will tell them to withhold their talent in order to punish you and prevent you from realizing the success they know they are capable of creating.

   People with strong egos like a pat on the back. They need to be acknowledged for their good work. The feeling of satisfaction they derive from praise is like a drug to them...the more they get...the more they want. The more praise they receive, the more likely it is that they will perform at exponentially higher levels. However, if people with big egos are ignored or criticized for their work, they will no longer derive a sense of satisfaction from their work and performance will probably decrease in quality and quantity.

   If you find the ego of any of your workers offensive to others to the point that performance and production is suffering, you must deal with them. As many coaches and philosophers have indicated, “There is no 'I' in team” and “Stars are just people who play on great teams.” When working with big egos you have to be a coach. You must always explain to a star performer that their results are clearly superior but that they cannot go it alone. They must understand that it is their obligation to assist everyone else on the team to perform at as high a level as they can. You must appeal to their ego by asking for their help and then praising them when their teamwork efforts have realized positive results. They will understand your meaning because a powerful ego is not an obstruction to intelligence. It is merely a different sense of reality that puts one person ahead of another in his or her own mind. If they comply with your wishes and create better results for the entire team, their egos will soar on a blanket of pride and they will want to do even more of it.

   Great leaders do not allow a big ego to stand in the way of success. They take advantage of it by massaging and cultivating it into an indomitable force while allowing it to blend into the fabric of the team. Don’t waste a big ego...put it to work for you!

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl