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Saturday, March 16, 2013

8 Ways to Elevate Morale and Ultimately, Profits

About Morale

According to sociologist Alexander Leighton, "morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose."

For your organization or team to thrive, it's essential to take the time to develop good morale and engagement.

Almost by definition, organizations or teams with high morale experience higher productivity and staff engagement, they show lower employee turnover and absenteeism, and they have a happier workforce. What's more, they find it easier to attract and retain the best talent.

While "raising morale" can seem to be a nebulous goal, many of these other effects are measurable, and directly affect the bottom line.

Last but not least, it feels great to work in an organization where morale is high!

Why Morale and Happiness Suffers

There are many things that can cause team morale to dip. For example:

·        Poor leadership.
·        Poor communication.
·        Lack of empowerment or autonomy.
·        Inflexible working conditions.
·        Damage to the organization's reputation or public image.
·        Losing a big contract or client.
·        Difficult co-workers.
·        Heavy workloads or stress, with no reward or gratitude.
·        No sense of social value to the work being done, or a negative impact on the wider   society.
·        Layoffs and restructuring.
·        Cancellation of team benefits.

Signs  of  Low  Morale
Too often, managers don't realize that morale is poor. Whether or not your team or organization is facing any of the scenarios above, watch out for the following clues that morale may be slipping:

·        Obvious unhappiness.
·        Indifference towards customers.
·        Increased complaints about work, or other team members.
·        Increased absenteeism.
·        An increase in conflict between team members.
·        Insubordination or unruliness.
·        Disorganized work environments.
·        Increased employee turnover.
·        Decreased productivity.
·        Lack of enthusiasm.

Leader  Engagement

Keep in mind that, if you're a leader or manager, your team's morale starts with you. It's up to you to be a good role model for your team. If your own morale is suffering, then it's vital that you work on rebuilding your own outlook and attitude first.

Start by identifying why your own morale is low, and then come up with ways to adjust your mental attitude.

Often, this starts with action. For instance, perhaps your morale is down because your boss is pressuring you to do a good job, and is threatening to fire you if you don't perform. You can make yourself feel more positive and in control of the situation by getting organized, and by achieving measurable goals that will put your boss at ease.

Work on rebuilding your self-confidence. Remember, your team is always watching you: if you're feeling positive and confident, they will too. Quick wins will also help build confidence - for you, and your team.


Team Morale and Engagement

If your team's morale needs rebuilding, there are several strategies that you can use. However, just as you did with your own morale, you need to start by understanding the problem. This helps you choose strategies that best fit your situation, which may include:

1. Reconnecting With Your Team
Morale is higher in situations where team members feel close to their managers. You can create this type of environment by developing good relationships with your team, and by reconnecting whenever possible.

Practice Management by Walking Around so you can "touch base" with team members often. With regular contact and communication, you can reestablish trust and rapport with your team.

It also helps to develop your emotional intelligence: the better you can sense the emotions and needs of those around you, the better you will be as a leader.

Keep in mind that lack of appreciation is often cited as one of the root causes of low morale. So, do whatever you can to show your people that you appreciate them. Reward your team by saying "thank you" for a job well done, or by offering benefits such as extra days off, or flexible scheduling when key goals are met.

You'll also want to give everyone regular feedback on their work. (See our blog on feedback - once a year just isn't enough!)

2. Developing Your Team
Another way of improving morale, especially after a round of layoffs, is by helping people develop their skills.

So make sure that you're offering your people opportunities for learning and development, as a way of helping them feel more secure and committed to the organization.

You can do this by understanding their developmental needs, and by using Training Needs Assessments to make sure that everyone is properly trained.

Cross-Training is another great way of building morale, and improving productivity, just as long as you explain why you're doing it. (Some may see it as a sign that layoffs are on the way!)

3. Improving the Workplace

Sometimes, morale can suffer because of the physical environment that your team has to work in.

Take a look at the offices, conference rooms, and break rooms that your team uses. Are these rooms safe and clean? Is the air quality good? Are the rooms bright and energizing? Do team members have the tools and resources they need to work effectively? Do what you can to improve the offices and other rooms your team uses every day.

You can also use Herzberg’s Motivational and Hygiene Factors to address the factors that cause dissatisfaction in your team.

4. Improving Communication

Poor communication can be another common root cause of low morale.
Rumors can spread quickly in the workplace, and these can destroy morale. This is why it's important to give people accurate, timely information, especially if sales are down, or if the company is restructuring or downsizing. (Just make sure that your communications are coordinated with those of other managers.)

Identify ways that you can keep your team in the loop. Perhaps you could send a weekly email with important updates, or devote a few minutes in your regular meetings to keeping people up to speed with what's going on. Communicate fully with your team, and explain how any changes or decisions will affect them.

Remember, the flow of information should go both ways. Encourage your team to come to you any time they have questions or concerns. Listen actively to what they have to say, and respond in a timely manner to problems or suggestions. If rumors do begin to fly around the office, address them immediately.

5. Setting Measurable Goals

Morale can fall when your people are unclear about what they should be doing, or what your expectations are. This lack of direction is disheartening, and disorienting.

Make sure that your people are aware of your organization's mission and vision, and of how their work contributes towards these. Understanding these gives members of your team a clear and (hopefully) inspiring view of what the organization expects, and helps them think about how they can use their own talents and skills to fulfill the organization's mission.

Next, look at the tasks and responsibilities of each team member. Set SMART goals for everyone on your team using Management By Objectives - having clear, achievable goals will help to motivate people, and will help them know what they should be doing.

6. Rebuilding Confidence

Perhaps your team just lost an important contract or project. If this is the case, people's confidence may be shaken.

Learn how to build confidence in other people. One great way to do this is to give them more autonomy to make decisions. Delegate tasks and responsibilities, and push them to work towards challenging but achievable goals. And when someone on your team has a success, celebrate it!

7. Focusing on Talent Management

If times are tough for your organization, you might have a problem keeping your best people, or enticing good new people to join your team. This is another reason why rebuilding morale is so important: if morale is reduced, your most talented team members are likely to be the first to walk. (After all, they'll find it easiest to get new jobs.)

Use talent management strategies to ensure that your people stay interested in your organization. For instance, use job crafting to make sure that their roles use their talents and skills fully.

8. Keeping People Motivated

Once you've rebuilt morale and engagement, it's important to keep people motivated so that your team can reach its objectives. Also remember that morale can be affected even when times are good. Regularly look for signs of low-morale, and revisit the strategies above when necessary.

Key Points

Team morale and engagement can suffer for many reasons, including downsizing, poor leadership, poor communication, or difficulty with co-workers. If you suspect that your team's morale is not what it should be, there are several strategies that you can use to rebuild it.

First, focus on your own morale and engagement. Then identify why team morale is low, and choose appropriate strategies for rebuilding it.

These can include:
1. Reconnecting with your team.
2. Developing your team.
3. Improving the workplace.
4. Improving communication.
5. Setting measurable goals.
6. Rebuilding confidence.
7. Focusing on talent management.
8. Motivating your people effectively.

Check out the post, "Making More Money By Making Your Employees Happy."

Click here:

All the success!

Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy

It safe to assume all businesses want happy employees. More important to most businesses, unfortunately, is they would rather have larger profits. What if happy employees quantifiably translated into larger profits? Well, in a book by Dr. Noelle Nelson, “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy,” explains how they do.

“When employees feel that the company takes their interest to heart, then the employees will take company interests to heart,” says Dr. Nelson, a clinical psychologist, best selling author and business trial consultant.

In her book, Dr. Nelson cites a study from the Jackson Organization, a survey research consultancy, since acquired by Healthstream, Inc., which shows, “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t. When looking at Fortune’s ’100 Best Companies to Work For’ stock prices rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005, compared to 6% for the overall market.”

Of  course, many business owners might think that employees need more money to be happy. With 66% of employees expecting raises in 2012, according to a survey by 24 Seven, a recruitment and talent management agency, that would make sense—although perhaps not necessary. What business owners need to do, says Dr. Nelson, is keep their promises and show compassion for their employees. So if you promised your employees a pay raise, give it to them. If you promised resources to help them be more efficient at their job, give it to them. Find what’s important to your employees and give it to them.

In “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy,” Dr. Nelson shares the example of when Paul O’Neil took the reigns of Alcoa in 1987, the world’s leading producer of aluminum; O’Neil announced that his sole priority was to increase worker safety. A shock to his board room. O’Neil understood, however, that safety was a major concern for his workers. Over the next 13 years employee productivity soared as accident rates decreased from roughly one per week per plant to some plants going years without an accident. When O’Neil stepped away just over a decade later, Alcoa’s annual income had grown 500%!

In another example, in 2011 after wrapping up a record-setting year, new Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook rewarded employees by giving them paid vacation through the week of Thanksgiving. In a memo to employees Cook wrote, “In recognition of the hard work you’ve put in this year, we’re going to take some extra time off for Thanksgiving. We will shut down with pay on November 21, 22 and 23 so our teams can spend the entire week with their families and friends.”

In her book, Dr. Nelson uses a similar example of Procter & Gamble also paying back company success to employees through extra paid days off. “It ate a little bit of their bottom line, a little bit from the stockholders, but oh my God what it bought them in employee loyalty and productivity,” says Dr. Nelson.

“If you’re doing well, share. And for God sake, don’t let your executives walk out with a bonus if the company is not doing well. People don’t mind that execs make money, they mind if it’s exorbitant if the company is not doing well.”

If your company is not doing well (and even if it is), Dr. Nelson stresses the importance of sharing information. This will prevent in-the-dark expectations from bubbling into resentment. The last thing you want is employees feeling like they’re being taken advantage of. Which leads to showing your employees compassion.

“By compassion it’s really appreciation,” says Dr. Nelson, “because people confuse compassion with being all milquetoast. It has nothing to do with milquetoast. Some of the people who drive this are really hard-nosed business people.”

A study released last month by Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored child care, education, and work/life solutions, found that 89% of employees with high levels of well-being reported high job satisfaction and nearly two thirds of those employees reported consistently putting in extra effort at work. Again, happy employees are more productive employees, which positively effects the bottom line.
“People haven’t yet connected the dots,” says Dr. Nelson. “Frankly, that’s why I wrote the book.”

It’s not too late, but business owners need to heed the warning, especially when 90% of employees are willing to consider changing jobs and unsatisfied employees are 11 times more likely to move to a new organization in the next year, according to 24 Seven.

It doesn’t take much to make employees happy. In her book, Dr. Nelson shares the story of how Starbucks executives visited their coffee shops and noticed that good employees were losing it when faced with agitated customers. Instead of coming down on the individual employees, they developed new training material that eliminated the stress of these situations. The executives at Starbucks found what was making their employees unhappy and empowered them with the tools they needed to put a smile back on their faces.

“If you behave like Starbucks,” says Dr. Nelson, “you put the compassion first and the profits will follow.”

9 Leadership Lessons from Food Network Chefs

If you watch enough Food Network shows like Iron Chef or Worst Cooks in America, a picture of what leadership is about begins to emerge.

What separates iconic chefs like Bobby Flay, Masimaru, and Cat Cora from millions of competitors around the world is their leadership ability. It’s evident their behavior, their character, everything they do. Never mind they they’re on TV. They may as well be cooking in one of their restaurants or mentoring an up-and-coming sous chef.

Restaurants deliver product and service like another business. But make no mistake. The cooking business is a fiercely competitive battleground that breeds great chefs who are also great leaders.

9 Lessons from Top Chefs

1.    Compete to win but respect your competitors. Business is about creating raving fan customers. It’s about market share. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t respect your competitors.

2.    Success is about managing and mentoring people. The way chefs move up is by hiring talented cooks and training them to be sous chefs so they can someday run one of their many restaurants.

3.    Results matter. It’s what the customer thinks of the product or service that counts. That’s what creates repeat business and loyal customers. You may think you’ve come up with a brilliant dish, but if the folks don’t like it, you’ve failed.

4.    You’ve got to know the business. Steve Jobs isn’t just a brilliant marketer. Warren Buffet isn’t just a smart investor. Bill Gates isn’t just a great software coder. Just like these iconic leaders, every great chef has a head for the business.

5.    Experience is overrated. Even young chefs like Bobby Flay—when he was first starting out—exuded such instincts and passion for what they do that you know in a heartbeat they’re going to be successful. That’s why people follow them.

6.    Learn from failure and move on. Failure is how we learn and grow. Failure teaches us how to do things differently. How to do things better. Great chefs don’t dwell on their mistakes. They reach down deep and do better next time. After all, there’s always another meal.

7.    Focus on core strengths. Great chefs grow this business around their core. For Flay it’s southwestern. Paul Prudhomme is a cajun master. You can probably guess Mario Batali’s speciality. There are lots of ways to diversify without going to far afield.

8.    Innovation matters. Nobody has ever been successful in the restaurant or cooking business by just doing the same stuff as everyone else. Sure, execution is critical, but innovation and creativity are also requirements for success.

9.    Work hard, play hard. Even while competing at tan extraordinarily high level, these chefs never lose their sense of humor and, when it’s over, they celebrate and congratulate each other on a job well done. That how it should be.

All the success!

Peter Mclees

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our First Taste of the Veggie Grill

We had our first taste of  the Veggie Grill in downtown Portland yesterday.

We gave the dining experience two thumbs up (Even though only one thumb shows in the photo).

My wife is a vegetarian and I'm an omnivore. My wife said the food was yummy. I found it surprisingly good. Being a Star Trek fan, I had to try the "Bean Me Up Chili." It was out of this world.

The host, Alesia, was very knowledgeable about VG's unique menu.

On the way out  I asked the assistant manager, "What's the main thing you want guests to remember about the Veggie Grill? Guess what she said?

Peter Mclees, MS LMFT