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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why a Caring Company Retains Millennials

Today’s workforce is ripe with a younger generation known as “millennials” (those born within 1982–2000). By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce.

According to a 2016 Gallup survey, 21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year and 60 percent of millennials said they’d be open to a new job opportunity. One major reason for this shift in employee retainment is due to lack of engagement in the workplace.

One major reason for this shift in employee retainment is due to lack of engagement in the workplace.

Managers need a paradigm shift within their current engagement models in order for this younger generation to commit to a longer–lasting employment term.

Work/Life balance is key for millennials; they are planning near–term exits from their employers in order to put their personal interests and values before their jobs. To overcome this “exit challenge,” there are several key–findings that when integrated into the workplace, millennials become more engaged and loyal.

Areas to strongly consider integrating into your new engagement model:
1.Flexibility with the option of working remotely
2.Creating team–working areas in the office
3.Offer mentorship (millennials want to feel that they are being set up for leadership roles)
4.Transparency (honest, straight–forward, down–to–earth communication)
5.Wellness practices incorporated into the company culture

It is now necessary for employee engagement to take a more holistic approach; first and foremost millennials want to know their company is one that truly cares.

You may be thinking, “what makes a company a caring company?”

When Companies Care

Millennials want proof that the company is not only interested in profit but also in purpose. They are looking for a company that encourages community involvement and supports their participation in non–profit and charitable efforts. This may mean allowing your employees to volunteer during regular office hours and offering training for leadership opportunities within non-profit boards.

Salesforce employees are eligible for seven days of paid Volunteer Time Off per year while Deloitte offers their employees an unlimited amount of paid VTO.

Millennials want proof that the company is not only interested in profit but also in purpose.

Furthermore, on a personal level, the millennial will want to receive honest feedback, have the opportunity for developmental progress, be recognized for their strengths, and have a sense of purpose within the company.

Sodexo, a leading food services and facility management company, offers multiple mentorship programs including a “Peer–to–Peer” initiative which is an informal style of mentorship that employees can opt to take part in during any point of their career. CarMax supports their employees ‘untapped potential’ by offering multiple levels of mentorship including online courses, one–on–one mentorship, and individual development plans.

Importance of Values

The option to exercise … resulted in a 28 percent decrease in employee stress levels.

These seemingly hard–to–please millennials want to work for companies that are aligned with their core values and those that care about their overall wellbeing. With the rise of Eastern practices (i.e. yoga, meditation) permeating the Western culture, millennials want to bring their daily practices of mindfulness and wellness into the office. When job–hunting, millennials are choosing companies that have an ethos that is supportive of their lifestyle outside of the work place.

Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, had a life–changing experience that lead him to discover the power of meditation and yoga. Bertolini brought what he discovered to his 50,000 employees via a full wellness center and offered employees the option to exercise at any point throughout the work day; this resulted in a 28 percent decrease in employee stress levels and 20 percent of employees said they benefited from better sleep.

While leading companies like Google are encouraging mindfulness practices into their company culture, others are offering in–office yoga, healthy snacks, and even nap rooms.  A 2016 report by the Global Wellness Institute revealed that employees that believe that their company genuinely cares about them has a significant impact on their engagement and loyalty to the company. However, the report also reveals that these wellness programs are only game–changing to engagement when the employee believes that they are working for a “caring” company as opposed to a “non–caring” company.

When job hunting, millennials are choosing companies with an ethos supportive of their lifestyle outside of work.

The backbone of any company are the employees and if the employees are unhappy, it’s likely the company itself will not thrive. Millennials want to know that the company they are working for has a genuine approach to caring about each individual within the company in addition to community outreach initiatives. Taking steps to improve the employer/employee relationship in a millennial-laden workforce will ultimately increase performance and retainment. It’s just a matter of integrating new ways of connection and allowing for authentic flexibility.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping route sales branches, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, sales skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Leadership Lessons from "It's a Wonderful Life"

Most of us have seen the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A lot of us have seen the film many times because it tells such a timeless and compelling story about how any one life can positively impact so many others. While the movie holds many life lessons, we feel it has a few leadership lessons as well.

For those who have not seen it,  “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey—a man who serves and sacrifices for others. The Bailey Building and Loan lends money to poor people many of them would not own a home were it not for the BBL.  Mr. Potter, the arch villain in the film, is a greedy old man who thrives on exploiting people in Bedford Falls. He continually threatens the Bailey Building and Loan’s survival.

George Bailey is in conflict between his obligations and his dreams—He wants to get out of the small town of Bedford Falls (George remarked, “ I want to shake the dust off my feet of this shabby little town and see the world. I've got big ideas and big plans and I want to build big things.”) And as he said to his father at dinner one night—“I want to do something big and important.” His father replies: “In a small way we are doing something important—man has a fundamental urge to own a roof over his head.”

George’s ambitions are thwarted by old man Potter’s schemes. After his Father died George is on his way out of town. In a character defining moment George agrees to stay dashing his dreams of far-flung adventure—creating insteada more intimate adventure that has a far greater impact on his personal world.

The film shows that real influence comes not from title or rank (as George had no formal title in the town such as Mayor) but from attempting to connect and help the people around us.

The movie also shows us that as we make ourselves available to others with courage and caring our lives develop meaning and a legacy is created, not necessarily along the paths we intended but in small acts that make a difference. George Bailey shows that if we respond with generosity and compassion our lives would have meant something. But he didn't realize this fact until the end of the movie.

Scene: George, faced with financial and personal crisis and feeling that he never made it. He attempts suicide and Clarence his guardian angel (Read: life coach) gives him a privileged look at the impact of his life on the people in Bedford Falls

George Bailey only understands the dramatic difference he made when he sees what Bedford Falls became had he never lived.

Scene: George, in desperation and shock is walking along the snow-covered streets of what is now called Potterville—a town overrun by greed and selfishness. 

Clarence  says “Strange isn't it, each man’s life touches so many other lives and when his isn't around he leaves an awful hole.”

In one of the most famous (and emotional) scenes in movie history: When the townspeople all came to George's house to contribute to the BBL deficit, George finally understands how his life of service has created deep commitment to him from the town’s people (when he was in need) even though he didn't know it.

George has a wealth far beyond material goods or power. Frank Capra reminds us that there is no substitute for relationships of integrity, trust and caring. Relationships that are forged through consistent acts of service.

Whatever our position, if we influence the lives of those around us, we are engaged in the act of leadership. And if we are leaders in any sense, we are also creating a legacy as we live our daily lives. Our leadership legacy is the sum total of the difference we make in people's lives, directly and indirectly, formally and informally.

George Bailey had created an enduring legacy because of his acts of caring, compassion, and courage.

Cheers to a new year and another chance to make a difference.

Peter Mclees

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Surprising (and # 1 reason) Your Communication Fails

Pay attention to what people need, not what you need to say.

There are so many reasons why communication fails, but here's one you might have overlooked: When you aren't considerate of the recipient's needs, your message is likely to be missed.
I was reminded of this as I read Alexander McCall Smith's novel, The Sunday Philosophy Club. The novel is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and features as its main character a woman named Isabel Dalhousie, who edits a philosophy journal.
Isabel, a philosopher, thinks deeply about many issues. Here are her musings about manners inspired by the actions of a character named Toby.
 Toby "had bad manners; not on the surface, where he thought, quite wrongly, that it counted, but underneath, in this attitude to others. Good manners depended on paying moral attention to others; it required one to treat them with complete moral seriousness, to understand their feelings and their needs. Some people, the selfish, had no inclination to do this, and it always showed. They were impatient with those whom they thought did not count: the old, the inarticulate, the disadvantaged. The person with good manners, however, would always listen to such people and treat them with respect."
In short, manners matter, especially when it comes to communication. This lack of respect (or dearth of matters) can take many forms, including:
  • Not getting to the point. You're tempted to share the whole history of your project, but most people want you to cut to the chase (of how your topic affects them).
  • Using terms and words that are difficult to understand.
  • Assuming people have been paying close attention all along; not providing context.
  • Choosing a communication channel because it's convenient for you (email, I'm looking at you), even if it doesn't work for the audience.
  • Responding to questions as if the questions are "dumb" or annoying.
I could go on, but you get the idea: If we don't respect the people we're communicating with, why should they bother to pay attention?
All the success,
Peter Mclees, Principal
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksliving: Practicing an Attitude of Perpetual Gratitude

It's been said that life is a good news, bad news proposition. The good news is that life's challenges help us grow. The bad news is that there is more good news coming!

In his book Discovering the Laws of Life, the famed money manager and philanthropist John Tempelton coined the word “Thanksliving.” He recommended practicing an attitude of perpetual gratitude.

That's not hard when times are good. But in these challenging times an attitude of continual thankfulness can be a tall order. Yet Tempelton offers a radical solution. Don't just give thanks for your blessings. Be grateful for your problems, too.

This seems wildly counterintuitive at first blush. But facing our challenges makes us stronger, smarter, tougher, and more valuable as leaders, employees, parents, mates, ...and human beings.

"Solving problems is what were made for" it's what makes life worth living," remarked Templeton.

He goes on, "Adversity, when overcome strengthens us. So we are giving thanks not for the problem itself but for the strength and knowledge that comes from it. Giving thanks for the growth ahead of time will help you grow through--not just go through--your challenges."

What ever problems we're grappling with--personal, social, health, or financial--the best course is to face them with all the courage, patience, and equanimity you can muster.

And if possible be grateful.

On occasion, of course, our problems are simply bigger than we are. In an address in 1859, Abraham Lincoln recounted the following tale:

It is said that an Eastern Monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and in all situations. They presented him with the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

That's something worth keeping in mind.

Whatever your problems, few of them can withstand the onslaught of optimism, persistence, and a genuine spirit of gratitude.

As the poet Robert Frost reminds us, "The best way out is always through."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter Mclees

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coaching the Employee Who Isn't A Team Player [Case 1]

Dear Leader’s Digest,

When I recently became the new head of a department in my company, I "inherited" a veteran employee who is pretty productive with tasks but has a history of poor employee relations such as being negative, discourteous, sarcastic, "stirring things up," and not working with coworkers as a team player. 

How do I influence this person to change their way when the company has played into his behavior for some time?

Dear Inherited,

Leading employees with a history of poor behavior is a concern for any leader. We strongly recommend your first conversation with this employee not be a "shake-down" or a "you'd better be careful cuz I'm watching you!" speech. Rather, you ought to extend a sincere handshake followed by a friendly get-to-know-them chat.

The next step is orienting all your employees to your leadership style and expectations. Even before exploring specific duties or concerns, explain the operating values of your team and your expectations of employees. It's best if this is a two-way conversation involving the entire team, but at a minimum, everyone needs to be clear about the department’s values.Explain that employees are not only responsible to produce results but are also responsible to produce results in a way that strengthens the team in the process. Give specific examples of what is acceptable behavior and what is out of bounds. This kind of orientation with your team sets clear expectations and gives everyone a chance for a fresh start—independent from past patterns and personality conflicts.

Your next leader-role with the employee is mentor and coach. This requires gathering data through contact and observation, especially with the employee you have concerns about. Over the next few days, catch the employee, in the moment, doing things right. Acknowledge when his or her behavior approximates an important company value and thank him or her. 

For example, you might say: "Hey, Brent, I noticed in the team meeting this morning when Alice asked for ideas about her project, you gave several helpful suggestions. That is a great example of our department values of cooperation and mutual respect. Your input helped Alice and helped to build a stronger team. Thank you."

Similarly, when you see behavior that violates your team values, confront it as soon as is reasonably possible. Do this by first describing the gap by factually detailing what happened compared with what is expected. Next, ask why it happened this way. 

You could say:"Brent, I noticed that when Alice presented her ideas for her project, you sarcastically said her plan wasn’t thought through and asked her if she ever heard of ‘project management’ before. One our most important team values is the golden rule--to treat others as we would want to be treated. That is to say, to be treated with respect. Your comment was clearly disrespectful. I'm curious, why did you say that (And why did you say it in that sarcastic way)?"

If he responds that he didn't realize his comment was disrespectful, take the opportunity to define more precisely what is meant by teamwork. If he replies that it's no big deal, then you have the opportunity to teach consequences and make the invisible visible. It could be that one reason for his past friction with employees is that no one helped him understand the negative, natural consequences his behavior had on others. If he replies that he knows he shouldn't do that, but can't help himself, it becomes an opportunity to teach him the skills of proper communication.

After each conversation, move to action. Get a clear and specific commitment from him about who will do what by when, and then follow-up on that commitment.Clear expectations, as well as frequent coaching, follow up, praise, and constructive feedback, are your best chance to help someone work well with others.

Of course, this approach requires patience and persistence, and you must always give people the opportunity and the help they may need to improve. However, if over time, he does not comply and his poor behavior continues, make sure he understands that following the department’s principles and values is not a suggestion, it's a requirement of his job.

At this point, it's time to move from helping him understand the natural consequences of poor behavior to the consequences you will impose on him if he doesn't comply. Clarify that the consequences of not working within the team standards are the steps of discipline identified by the company, even including termination. Make sure he understands that failure to comply with your requirements around teamwork will result in you applying the steps of progressive discipline. Moving this far is very serious and will most likely damage your working relationship with him, but at some point, his failure to abide by the your standards is a detriment both to the results you're after as a leader and your other employees quality of the workplace. 

Choosing what's best for the team is more important than trying to preserve a troubled relationship.

Our experience has been that this approach helps most —even those with a history of poor behavior—to improve their behavior and relationships with others. It also improves the team's results. Please keep in mind this approach does not guarantee the changes in others you desire; it's not a way of controlling others; it's not a trick for manipulating others. This is a way to respectfully help individuals choose to be successful. Ultimately, it's the individual's choice whether or not to be a part of the team you lead, and that's as it should be.

To your greater success and fulfillment,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant

Take the Next Step... 

Interested in learning how soft skills training and coaching can benefit your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with Peter Mclees please contact: 
Email:  or  Mobile:323-854-1713
Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ignite Millennial Engagement!

Want to attract, engage and retain more millennial talent?

Offering only financial stability won’t work.

Wait a sec—the millennial workforce has the highest rate of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S. What does this mean? We’re missing out on a huge resource of talent. The real shocker? Of the millennials that are employed, only 29% are emotionally engaged at work and love their jobs. Whoa!

Why is this so crucial? Because the sheer number of millennials recently surpassed any other generational group. Both the economy and the workforce are highly dependent on this group. If millennials continue to be emotionally disengaged in their jobs the companies they work for will suffer.

How to Attract Millennials

According to a recent report from Gallup, “Millennials want what previous generations wanted: a life well-lived, good jobs with 30-plus hours of work a week, regular paychecks from employers BUT they also want to be engaged (emotionally and behaviorally), they want high levels of well-being, a purposeful life, active community and social ties. They want to spend money not just on what they need, but also on what they want. Only 29% of employed millennials are engaged at work and half of them say they don’t feel good about the amount of money they have to spend and less than 40% are what Gallup defines as ‘thriving’ in any one aspect of well-being.”

Let’s take a closer look at these engagement numbers.
•16% of millennials are actively disengaged. These individuals don’t like their jobs and are actively ensuring others don’t either. Even if it’s not their intention, this will damage their company.
•55% of millennials are not engaged. They are punching in and punching out but they are not fully present while they are at work. Energy and passion are out the window, the company suffers, their customers suffer, and ultimately the economy suffers. Indifference is a company-killer.

Gallup 1

How To Retain Millennials

How do we create a culture that engages and compels millennials?

According to Gallup: performance management requires a constant focus on feedback. 44% of those polled are more likely to be engaged when their manager holds regular meetings with them. This means meeting on a regular basis, and offering consistent feedback. Weekly meetings are key, even if short. Clear and actionable feedback is too. They want to matter, and they must experience safety, belonging, mattering and be connected to a purpose. The purpose is what will compel them to perform well and consistently. It’ll also keep them with your company.

Gallup says there are six functional changes (The Big Six) that need to happen in the organizational culture to attract and keep millennial talent.

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup made the following statements. I am adding a few tools that will help you achieve the Big Six in your organization.

Gallup 2

1.Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck ― they want a purpose. For millennials, work must have meaning. They want to work for organizations with a mission and purpose. Back in the old days, baby boomers didn’t necessarily need meaning in our jobs. Many wanted a paycheck ― and their mission and purpose were their families and communities. For millennials, compensation is important and must be fair, but it’s no longer the driver. The emphasis for this generation has switched from paycheck to purpose ― and so must your culture. 

2.Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction ― they are pursuing development. Most millennials don’t care about the bells and whistles found in many workplaces today ― the ping pong tables, fancy latte machines and free food that companies offer to try to create job satisfaction. Giving out toys and entitlements is a leadership mistake, and worse, it’s condescending. Purpose and development drive this generation. 

3.Millennials don’t want bosses ― they want coaches. The role of an old-style boss is command and control. Millennials care about having managers who can coach them, who value them as both people and employees, and who help them understand and build their strengths. 

4.Millennials don’t want annual reviews ― they want ongoing conversations. The way millennials communicate ― texting, tweeting, Skype, etc. ― is now real-time and continuous. This dramatically affects the workplace because millennials are accustomed to constant communication and feedback. Annual reviews no longer work. 

5.Millennials don’t want to fix their weaknesses ― they want to develop their strengths. Gallup has discovered that weaknesses never develop into strengths, while strengths develop infinitely. This is arguably the biggest discovery Gallup or any organization has ever made on the subject of human development in the workplace. Organizations shouldn’t ignore weaknesses. Rather, they should minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. We are recommending our client partners transition to strengths-based cultures, or they won’t attract and keep their stars.

6.It’s not just my job ― it’s my life. One of Gallup’s most important discoveries is that everyone in the world wants a good job. This is especially true for millennials. More so than ever in the history of corporate culture, employees are asking, “Does this organization value my strengths and my contribution? Does this organization give me the chance to do what I do best every day?” Because for millennials, a job is no longer just a job ― it’s their life as well.

Take the time to implement the strategies listed above and let’s make work a whole lot more meaningful for this untapped talent pool.

10 Common Leadership and Management Mistakes

Avoiding Universal Pitfalls

Avoid common leadership and management mistakes.
Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes. – Oscar Wilde

It's often said that mistakes provide great learning opportunities. However, it's much better not to make mistakes in the first place!

In this post, we're looking at 10 of the most common leadership and management errors, and highlighting what you can do to avoid them. If you can learn about these here, rather than through experience, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble!

1.   Lack of Feedback
Sarah is a talented sales representative, but she has a habit of answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. Her boss is aware of this, but he's waiting for her performance review to tell her where she's going wrong. Unfortunately, until she's been alerted to the problem, she'll continue putting off potential customers.

According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don't provide prompt feedback to your people, you're depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.
To avoid this mistake, learn how to provide regular feedback to your team.

2.    Not  Making Time for Your Team
When you're a manager or leader, it's easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you don't make yourself available to your team.
Yes, you have projects that you need to deliver. But your people must come first – without you being available when they need you, your people won't know what to do, and they won't have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.
Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when "your door is always open", so that your people know when they can get your help. You can also use Management By Walking Around, which is an effective way to stay in touch with your team.
Once you're in a leadership or management role, your team should always come first - this is, at heart, what good leadership is all about!

3.     Being Too "Hands-Off"
One of your team has just completed an important project. The problem is that he misunderstood the project's specification, and you didn't stay in touch with him as he was working on it. Now, he's completed the project in the wrong way, and you're faced with explaining this to an angry client.

Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement. But going to the opposite extreme (with a hand-offs management style) isn't a good idea either – you need to get the balance right.

4.     Being Too Friendly
Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get on with. However, you'll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you're too friendly with them.
This doesn't mean that you can't socialize with your people. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss. 
Learn how to do avoid this mistake with our article, Now You're the Boss. Also, make sure that you set clear boundaries, so that team members aren't tempted to take advantage of you. 

5.     Failing to Define Goals
When your people don't have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can't be productive if they have no idea what they're working for, or what their work means. They also can't prioritize their workload effectively, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.
Avoid this mistake by learning how to set SMART goals for your team. Use a Team Charter to specify where your team is going, and detail the resources it can draw upon. Also, use principles from Management by Objectives to align your team's goals to the mission of the organization.

6.     Misunderstanding Motivation
Do you know what truly motivates your team? Here's a hint: chances are, it's not just money!
Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their team is only working for monetary reward. However, it's unlikely that this will be the only thing that motivates them. 
For example, people seeking a greater work/life balance might be motivated by telecommuting days or flexible working. Others will be motivated by factors such as achievement, extra responsibility, praise, or a sense of camaraderie.

7.     Hurrying Recruitment
When your team has a large workload, it's important to have a full team. But filling a vacant role too quickly can be a disastrous mistake. 
Hurrying recruitment can lead to recruiting the wrong people for your team: people who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. They might also require additional training, and slow down others on your team. With the wrong person, you'll have wasted valuable time and resources if things don't work out and they leave. What's worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to "carry" the under-performer.
You can avoid this mistake by learning how to recruit effectively, and by being particularly picky about the people you bring into your team. 

8.     Not "Walking the Walk"
If you make personal telephone calls during work time, or speak negatively about your CEO, can you expect people on your team not to do this too? Probably not!
As a leader, you need to be a role model for your team. This means that if they need to stay late, you should also stay late to help them. Or, if your organization has a rule that no one eats at their desk, then set the example and head to the break room every day for lunch. The same goes for your attitude – if you're negative some of the time, you can't expect your people not to be negative.

So remember, your team is watching you all the time. If you want to shape their behavior, start with your own. They'll follow suit.

9.     Not Delegating
Some managers don't delegate, because they feel that no-one apart from themselves can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around them, and as they become stressed and burned out.

Delegation does take a lot of effort up-front, and it can be hard to trust your team to do the work correctly. But unless you delegate tasks, you're never going to have time to focus on the "broader-view" that most leaders and managers are responsible for. What's more, you'll fail to develop your people so that they can take the pressure off you.

10.   Misunderstanding Your Role
Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities are very different from those you had before.

However, it's easy to forget that your job has changed, and that you now have to use a different set of skills to be effective. This leads to you not doing what you've been hired to do – leading and managing.

Key Points
We all make mistakes, and there are some mistakes that leaders and managers make in particular. These include, not giving good feedback, being too "hands-off," not delegating effectively, and misunderstanding your role.
It's true that making a mistake can be a learning opportunity. But, taking the time to learn how to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become productive and successful, and highly respected by your team.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping route saless brances, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, sales skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Focus on communication fuels Southwest Airlines

Focus on communication fuels Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly describes how his company’s communication strategy keeps employees smiling.
When Gary Kelly took over as CEO of Southwest Airlines in 2004, he had a very clear vision of what he wanted his senior leadership to do: communicate more effectively and work better as a team. To do this, the company had to create an overarching program that would inform all of its communication efforts.
It took more than 30 years for Southwest Airlines to articulate its values to employees, but the company’s mission statement and objectives are now firmly in place. Employees have a good idea of where the company is headed, and how they fit into those goals as individuals.
But how does a Fortune 500 company ensure that every employee—from the corner office to the runway—is living the “Southwest Way” as they call it? At recent a leadership summit, Kelly told a room of more than 300 corporate communicators that it starts with caring.
Southwest’s mission starts with customer service, and its approach is simple: They genuinely care about their employees, who, in turn, will hopefully be inspired to treat customers accordingly. “And what is it that makes for a strong relationship with people?” says Kelly. “It’s communication.” Of course, “communication” is just a word—the content of the message must be compelling, and it must come from the right source.
“I think (communication) is most effective if it includes top management,” he says. “If you have middle management that’s trying to carry a message, it’s going to be inconsistent from one group to the next.” Kelly says Southwest’s top-down communication is carried out through a collaborative effort between him and the company’s communications team.
During the past decade the entire airline industry has been faced with unprecedented challenges that stem mainly from 9/11 and rising oil prices. Therefore, says Kelly, “The challenges today, from a communications perspective, are as dramatic as they have ever been.”

Listening to the ideas and concerns of employees becomes paramount to effective communication. But listening is only half of the equation. Following the lead of the emerging forms of social media, communication is a participatory game. “It’s a constant conversation,” says Kelly, “and hopefully a very intimate relationship. That’s where our employees get engaged. If they know what’s going on, and they know why we’re doing things, typically they’ll get on board.”
And as long as Kelly can point to corporate mission statement and objectives as the reason why they take on certain initiatives, it’s easy to see why so many Southwest employees are on board.

Gary Kelly explains the Southwest Airlines’ mission:
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service.
“That is the highest aspiration that we have. First and foremost, we want to be a great customer service company.”
Delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, personal pride and company spirit.
“A lot of customers don’t need the personal interaction, and that’s why is one of the most popular travel sites in the world. But we have to be there for our customers in person when they need us there in person. This is a very straightforward, long-lasting set of words in our mission statement.”
To provide our employees with a stable work environment with an equal opportunity for learning and personal growth, encouraging creativity and innovation, and providing them the same concern, respect and caring attitude that they’re expected to share externally with every customer.
“It’s very clear: We put customers first, but then we really talk about our employees. There’s some tangible evidence as to how we’ve treated our employees over the years. We’ve never had a furlough at Southwest Airlines. We’ve never had a layoff. We’ve never had a pay cut—even after 9/11. We are highly regarded as a company in many different ways: great service, strong financials and 34 years of   profitability. But the thing we’re most proud of is that we’ve been able to take care of each other. Those are things I hope will be everlasting at this company because they go hand in hand.”

 To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal
P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping route saless brances, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, sales skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.