Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaders Need Followers To Be Successful!

Have you ever noticed that some employees will stay in jobs that they do not really enjoy, or are not really suited to for long periods of time? Have you met people who stay in a lower paying job even though they have been offered more money somewhere else? A business needs long-term employees in order to be successful and competitive over the long run. So why aren’t all employees loyal to one employer for their entire careers?

It is a common assumption in business that people seldom actually leave a job for money. My experience as a manager taught me that there is a lot of truth in that statement. Money is often used as an excuse but truly engaged employees will never know how much they are worth at another shop because they do not search for other opportunities and they do not even entertain offers from other employers. So what might be different about a workplace where employees stay on board through thick and thin, year in and year out? Two words explain it: Great Leadership!

When I was a regional manager for a large multi-national firm, I could almost always correlate large staff turnover rates with poor branch performance. That part was easy to understand because when a lot of staff are coming and going, the experienced workers are stretched by doing more than their share of the work, while at same time having to train the new employees. The new employees, through no fault of their own generally know very little about their new jobs and have a huge learning curve to overcome before they can become good performers. In poorly lead companies, many of them do not make it past the training stage and every time a trainee leaves the firm, another experienced person is pushed that much closer to the door. While all of that is going on, the business cannot possibly focus on strong performance and production tends to wane.

In almost every case where I found large turnover rates, I found a manager who was not a leader. In most of those cases, when I spoke to them about it, they could not understand why their people did not choose to stay and they protested ferociously if I suggested that employees might be leaving because of their management style. Usually they argued that the people were the problem and it had nothing to do with them. In most cases they felt that they did everything any great leader would do under the circumstances and that they simply had a shortage of good applicants. They could not accept the idea that people did not enjoy working for them and they had no idea what to do about it. They did not understand that they had employees, but what they really needed were followers. In a few cases, I was forced to relieve those managers of their management positions in order to maintain the profitability of the branches. Some people can learn to be better leaders through training and personal development, while others cannot.

Here are ten things that great leaders do to engage their employees and keep them on staff:

They lead with humility and selflessness, putting the needs of employees ahead of their own.

• They work tirelessly, setting a great example for their team.

• They support their workers when they have problems or get into trouble.

• They listen constantly and consistently to their workers.

• They respond immediately, openly and honestly when asked a question.

• They do not play favourites and treat everyone fairly and equitably.

• They never show impatience or anger toward employees.

• They never speak negatively about employees behind their backs.

• They make good decisions for the business and for their workers.

• They understand that every person is different and that no two people perform the same way.

Of course this is not the complete list. There are many attributes that make up a great leadership style but most importantly great leaders must know how to lead themselves first and they must accept that they too, have room to grow. Only through self-awareness can any person lead another. A manager who has large staff turnover rates and poor performance has probably not come to grips with his or her inability to lead. Until he or she looks in the mirror and tells the person looking back that they need to change, they will never become a great leader.

A leader without long-term, engaged and devoted followers is just a lonely person with a title.

All the Best!
Wayne Kehl

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's A Dog's Life

As I travel through my life, I  often notice that dogs have some interesting effects on people. In the presence of a dog, even the gruffest, most hardened human beings can become soft and caring. I also notice that in the past few decades, more and more people are adopting dogs than ever before. In fact, I believe it safe to say that human beings harbour much more generalized affection for the entire canine species than they do for the human race. As a lifelong dog lover, my observations caused me to ask myself some very important questions about our puppy friends...

  •  Why do so many people own a dog or wish they could own a dog?
  •  Why do so many people stroke the hair of almost every dog they meet?
  •  Why do people hold their hands out for olfactory inspection by even the scariest mutts?
  • Why do people enjoy watching dogs playing with their owners in a park or in their homes?
  • Why is human behaviour more patient and kind with dogs than with people? 
  • What is it that dogs do to affect the emotions of people so deeply? 
  • Why do seventy percent of dog owners call themselves Mommy or Daddy to their dogs? 
  • What is it about dogs that make people so darned happy?
Of course some of the answers are obvious...dogs are cute, funny and fun to play with. Because they are not human, they are incapable of lying, cheating or bragging. In a wonderful way, they always display a childish naiveté and sense of wonder. I was curious though, if there might be some deeper reasons why people love dogs. My curiosity led me to the following conclusions:

The positive influence of dogs can be traced right back to human infancy. Exposure to well-behaved dogs can improve intellectual and cognitive development in babies and small children while stimulating their immune systems to help them avoid allergies and skin irritations. With increased exposure to pets, even at a very early age, babies will learn compassion and responsibility for animals that will spill over to their relationships with human beings.

As children age, their relationships with dogs can help them improve their self-esteem, increase their empathy toward others, and nurture better communication skills. Dogs tend to give insecure adolescents a sense of purpose and a feeling of value to the world that they would not otherwise have. That confidence can improve their natural ability to socialize with other people.

A dog can provide much-needed companionship to adults and provide them with a purpose for living while encouraging a more active life. “Walking the dog,” is, after all one of the most common forms of physical exercise in North America. Studies have indicated that a dog in the workplace can bring employee stress levels down and improve morale. It is also believed that dog ownership can directly or indirectly provide some of the following health benefits to adults:

Lowered blood pressure

• Lower cholesterol levels

• Increase immunity to illness

• Reduced stress levels

• Reduced anxiety and depression levels

• Diminished incidence of heart disease

I am not an animal psychologist or a “dog whisperer” but I think it is safe to say that the main reason people enjoy being around dogs is because they provide unconditional love to the human beings closest to them. No matter how aloof a dog-owner is or how mean or uncaring he or she might be, a dog’s naturally generous nature will cause the pup to come back for more. Dogs always forgive their owners their greatest transgressions as they optimistically strive for a greater share of the affection all human beings are capable of. All they want from their owners is love and the opportunity to love them back.

Dogs that are taught bad behavior by a human being might be considered bad dogs but even those dogs love their owners. A dog that has been trained to be aggressive or even vicious by human beings will seldom, if ever turn on his or her owner or trainers. Most dogs are inherently good natured. Even a vicious dog will strive for the love and affection of the people closest to him or her. They are only vicious because they believe that is what their owners want. Their aggressiveness is a desperate display of loyalty. Only a human being can create a bad dog.

If human beings could learn to be more like the dogs they cherish, the world would be a much better place, indeed. There might still be an occasional dogfight, but the abundance of unconditional love, generosity, and forgiveness would far outweigh any negatives.

Keep an eye on the dogs in your life. They might just help you learn how to get along with people just a little bit better!

All the Best
Wayne Kehl

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lighten Up Or Heavy Up...The Choice Is Yours

Have you ever noticed that a lot of people tend to take themselves too seriously? You know who I mean:

Those folks who huff and puff with righteous indignation whenever they are challenged.

• Those people who glare and stare whenever someone says something they believe is inappropriate.

• Those individuals who seem to believe that it is okay for them to say things to others that should never be directed at them.

Do you have people like that in your life? Do you from time to time find them becoming annoyed by words, situations, or people that they would accept in the past but which have suddenly become intolerable to their egocentric psyches? Are you one of those people? When you see this happening in yourself or others, what do you think might be happening?

Human beings are driven by ego. Every person with a beating heart possesses some level of egoism. Egoism must not be confused with Egotism. The subtle difference between the two is that egoism is the natural pride and self esteem that we all have for ourselves while egotism is an outward display of self esteem which usually comes across as arrogance or conceit. Egotism is generally undesirable in human society but egoism is necessary for a normal, happy life. People who lose their egoism are usually depressed, miserable, or feeling a sense of despair. They have given up. Egoism is what made human beings the superior beings on our planet. It is that special ingredient that causes us to build huge buildings, fly to the moon and constantly research cures for diseases. It creates in us, a need to win!

Occasionally, egoism can turn to egotism. I call this heavying up. Sometimes a person who is normally even tempered and easy to get along with will change their approach to specific relationships. When that happens, we find folks saying things like this:

“You can’t talk to me like that!” or

• “That’s not funny!” or

• “Whatever!” or

• “How would you know?”

Often this is because the person saying those things has allowed his or her ego to take flight in order to elevate them to a higher position than the person they are talking to. They have decided that the words or actions of the other person are repugnant to them in some way and have decided to react in an egotistical, humourless fashion, thereby belittling the other individual. It is intended to put them down or control them. Sometimes they will simply become uncommunicative in an effort to freeze the other person out. Sound familiar?

There can be many reasons for heavying up but usually the person that has allowed his or her ego to take over is feeling demeaned, insulted, hurt or simply afraid. Their ego is telling them to strike out in order to take control. Rather than thinking the situation through and treating the other person as an equal they believe that they can win by being superior, difficult, sarcastic or uncaring. For a moment in time they are acting like someone else. Their behaviour is neither characteristic nor acceptable even to them. They have been taken over by their internal self-defence mechanisms and they don’t really understand the ramifications of their actions.

When you come across people who are heavying up on you, do not react in kind. Do not retaliate with sarcasm or nastiness. That will only make the situation worse. Instead, take the high road and calmly explain to them that you mean no harm and that you would like help in resolving the issue at hand. Ask if you have offended them somehow and let them know that their opinions matter to you. The idea is to soften their egotistical veneer so that you can get back on track. Usually when it is made clear to someone in the throes of heavying up that they are being unfair or unpleasant, their ego will force them back into a more reasonable frame of mind. You see, no one really wants to be viewed as unfair, rude or egotistical and once they realize that they have been caught, they will revert to a more acceptable mode of communication.

By the way, if you ever find yourself snapping at someone for no apparent good reason, remember this:

Stop taking yourself so seriously and LIGHTEN UP!

 If you can do that every time, your stress level will reduce and you will have a much happier life.

All the Best

Wayne Kehl

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Getting Along With People Is Easy!" (Selfishness)

This is excerpt from my book, "Getting Along With People Is Easy":



If you want to get along with people think about someone other than yourself. If you are not getting along with people it is probably largely to do with your own actions and the fact that you are thinking more about yourself than the person you are not getting along with.
I once applied for a job as a sales manager with a large, international insurance firm. Part of the application process was a multiple-choice exam to determine the mindsets of the various candidates. I can only recall one question on the exam: “What is the most important characteristic of a great sales manager?” There were ten possible answers and I had to rank them from one to ten in order of importance. I got it wrong. I vaguely recall that the answer I chose as number one had to do with market knowledge and the ability to stay in touch with client needs. The actual best answer was, “The desire to see others do well.” Frankly, I had never observed that selfless trait in any of the sales managers I had known during my career so I did not expect it to be the number one answer.
By the way, I did not get the sales manager job, but I have never forgotten that one question and its wonderful answer. If you forget the context of the question and just think about a world where everyone has a constant, daily desire to see others do well, you will understand why I cannot get it out of my mind. I have learned that if I put others before myself, I will quite unavoidably bring positive energy to everything I do.
Throughout this book, we have explored relationships and why people have trouble getting along with each other. If everyone spent more time thinking about the hopes, needs, and feelings of others, everyone would get along all the time. Gone would be argument, strife, and dissention. Gone would be divorce, bullying, and envy. Life would truly be good if people would just stop being selfish.

People with no friends have very little desire to see anyone else doing well. They think only about their own existence. People who lose friends usually lose them because they have stopped caring about their needs, choosing to think only of themselves.

Wives and husbands who divorce have stopped caring about each other, instead thinking only about their own needs and wants. Oh and by the way, sales managers who put themselves before their sales people tend not to have their support and ultimately fail to produce good results. If it is obvious that their primary desire is to make themselves successful, their sales people will rebel by doing everything they can to prevent it. The same thing will happen in almost any relationship. Selfish thinking never produces positive results.

If you think less about yourself and more about others, your life will be much more rewarding, your stress levels will reduce and you will feel far more satisfied with your place in the world.

You can order my book in paper or Kindle versions here: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Along-People-EASY-Wayne/dp/1438937237/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299526409&sr=1-1

 All the Best

Wayne Kehl

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"You Never Miss The Water Until The Well Runs Dry"

This old proverb shines a very bright light on the theory that you never know what you have until it is gone. If everything in your life is going well right now, think about the dynamics around you that help to make it great. If your life is challenging at this moment because you have recently lost someone important from it, ask yourself these questions: 
  •  Do I take the people around me for granted?  
  •  Do I ever acknowledge the great things the people in my life do every day? 
  •  Do I ever thank those around me for helping me get through my days? 
  •  Do I choose to notice faults and failures but overlook qualities and successes? 
  •  How will my life change if I lose certain people from it? 
  •  What can I do to reduce the possibility of the people in my life leaving me behind? 
Whether you are a leader, an employee, a spouse, a parent or a friend, you have a lot of people in your life who create and perpetuate your environment as time moves forward. Your experiences with some of those people are positive, some are negative and some go almost unnoticed. No matter what impression or impact they make, all of them contribute to life’s joys and woes in one way or another. Give serious thought to this question: 
  •  Would your life be better or worse if the people you associate with now were suddenly gone? 
I would like to offer this simple advice: Hold the positive influences in your life very close and remove all of the negative ones from your environment. 

If you agree with that try to practice the following relationship techniques for the positive people you cherish:

Let the positive people in your life know that they matter.  
  •  Compliment them and tell them how much they mean to you.  
  •  Tell them how much you care for them on a personal level.  
  •  Always speak positively. There is no room for negativity in good relationships. 
  •  Practice open, honest communication at all times. 
  •  Help and encourage them unselfishly every chance you get. 
Here are some things you might want to practice with the negative people in your life: 
  •  Tell them directly and clearly that you do not appreciate negativity. 
  •  Let them know that you do not wish to associate with them socially. 
  •  Do not involve yourself in their negative conversations. Walk away! 
  • Never condone or agree with their negative appraisals of other people. 
  •  Do not retaliate against them. Negativity is not the answer to negativity! 
  •  Do not allow yourself to be involved in their negative scheming against others. 
You might turn negative people around with what is commonly known as tough love but if you find that your open, honest communication with them only inflames their negativity even more, or that there is clearly no hope, your best option is to end the relationship and save yourself further stress and aggravation. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into a mire of negativity.

Some of the people you might miss when they are gone include your employees, your supervisors, your managers, your friends, your spouses, other family members and even the people who sell you the things you need and want. Those people need special treatment. They need you to express to them how much value and joy they bring into your life.  

Nothing will end a relationship more decisively or permanently than enduring apathy, indifference or a complete lack of acknowledgement by either party. 

Do not allow your well to run dry. Prime the pump daily with acknowledgement, encouragement and kindness for everyone that matters to you! If you do that, you will always have a great wealth of fabulous people in your life and your environment will forever be positive, progressive, and infinitely pleasurable.

All the Best! 
Wayne Kehl

Do you need a speaker for your event, conference or staff meeting? I can do keynotes, seminars and presentations on a variety of positive, motivational subjects. Get in touch with me at "wkehl@dlionline.ca" so that I can bring my passion to your event.