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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Winning by Giving

Succeeding Through Kindness

When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.

                                             – Wayne Dyer, author and speaker

When we're at work, we can spend a lot of energy trying to get help from those around us. However, how much time do we spend helping others in return?

Having a strong social support network at work raises engagement, productivity, and overall success. If we truly want to succeed, however, each of us can spend time "giving ourselves" to those in our network. Only then will we experience the true benefits that giving brings, and start to see the success we've dreamed of.

Benefits of Giving
Giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but research shows that it lowers your chance of depression, strengthens your heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life.

Professionally, giving also offers several benefits. One study found that fostering positive social support at work raises productivity. Another study found that those who give at work ("work altruists"), are far more engaged with what they do and are more often promoted, compared with colleagues who stay isolated while doing their job.

However, you probably don't need research to tell you that giving makes you feel good! Just think back to the last time you helped a colleague who was stuck with a problem, or took your assistant out to lunch. Giving boosts our energy in a way that nothing else can. We feel connected and engaged when we help others, because it reminds us of what it means to be human, at its best.

All this, in turn, comes back to us in ways we could never expect or predict. Giving creates a network of trust, goodwill, and good energy at work that can pay off many times over in the future.

Giving and kindness also have an important ripple effect, which is why one generous person can transform a team or an organization. The person you give to feels great about the help they received. This can create a desire in them to "pay back" that kindness to someone else. Much like ripples in a pond, one act of kindness can impact dozens, or even hundreds, of lives.

How to Give More
The good news about giving is that you don't need to invest huge chunks of your time to do it. Often, the smallest acts of kindness and consideration can have a big impact on those around us.

So, how can we give at work?

1. Just Listen
A great way of giving is simply to listen to others.
When you do this, listen without contributing your opinion, and without trying to "top their story." Use active listening skills, so that you can fully grasp what they're telling you, and respond with empathy and understanding.

2. Offer Specific Help
How many times have you heard a colleague say, "Let me know if you need any help!" but had the distinct feeling they didn't really mean it? Vague offers of help can come across as half-hearted or insincere. Offering help in a specific way shows that you mean it.

For instance, your colleagues may be complaining about their workload. So, offer specific help: volunteer to collect their lunch for them, so that they can continue working, or give them a hand with a task if your own workload allows. When you offer specific assistance, you let others know that you're truly willing to help.

3. Show Gratitude
If you're in a leadership position, how often do you give praise to your team? How often do you say "thank you" to your assistant for the good work he or she does every day?

Showing gratitude to those around us, whether above or below us in the hierarchy, is a simple but powerful way to give. So, find ways to say "thank you" to your team and colleagues. You might be surprised at the difference that this makes to your relationships!

4. Become a True Mentor
When you mentor others, you can share a lifetime's worth of knowledge and skill in order to help them succeed. This unselfish act not only benefits the professionals you work with; it can change your own life in many ways.

It probably goes without saying that your organization will benefit when strong mentoring relationships are formed within it. Start mentoring in the workplace now, and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others to succeed.

5. Share Resources
If your team or department has ample resources or supplies, why not offer to share them with another team or department, particularly if it is not as well funded as yours?
This could include sharing resources such as physical supplies, but also knowledge, technology, and team member expertise as well. (This won't be viable in some situations. Use your own best judgment here, and make sure that you're doing your own job properly as well!)

6. Offer a Hand to New Employees
Can you remember what it was like on your very first day at the organization? You didn't know anyone, and you probably felt overwhelmed by all of your tasks and responsibilities.
When a new employee joins your organization or team, spend time with her during her first few weeks and help her have a successful induction. Offer to help her get used to her new role, and take her around to meet everyone that she'll be working with. Share your knowledge about the organization's culture and values.

This can make a challenging transition smoother and less stressful.

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness"
Random acts of kindness can transform both you and the person you help. When you are kind to someone anonymously, you give for the simple, ego-less pleasure of giving, and that's it. So, practice random acts of kindness when you're at work.
What can you do? Leave a cup of gourmet coffee on your colleague's desk when he or she is having a bad day. Send an anonymous "thank you" letter to your organization's cleaning staff. Bring some healthy snacks or homemade cookies to work, and leave them anonymously in the break room, with a note letting others know that they're for everyone.

There are endless ways that you can make a positive impact on someone else's day. Just use your imagination!

8. Find Your Purpose
Every job has a purpose. It's easy, especially when we're busy and stressed, to forget how our role helps others. But, no matter what we do or where we do it, ultimately our work should benefit someone else.

Take time to find your purpose at work. Once you dig down to find the ultimate meaning of what you do, you may be surprised by how much your work helps others.

Although it's important to give your time and energy to others, it's equally important not to go too far! If you spend too much time helping your coworkers, you may find that you don't have time to accomplish your own objectives. It's important to find the right balance between helping others, and focusing on your own goals and tasks.

Key Points
Giving our time and energy to others not only feels good, but it's been proven to make us happier, more productive, and more engaged with our team and organization.

Giving also offers positive physical benefits as well: it helps alleviate stress, helps lower our risk of illnesses like depression, and even helps us live longer!

You can give back to others by doing any or all of the following:

1.               Just listen to others.
2.               Offer specific help.
3.               Show gratitude.
4.               Become a mentor.
5.               Share resources.
6.               Offer a hand to new employees.
7.               Practice random acts of kindness.
8.               Find your purpose.

Make an effort to give regularly – you'll love the results.

All the success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Trainer and Coach
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development  has an exceptional track record helping ports, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution, centers,  sales teams, food production facilities, nonprofits, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength 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.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rebuilding Team Morale

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. Listenactively 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!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

What are the two primary drivers of employee performance?


We often hear that the most baffling part of a manager’s job is the people part. The same leaders who can easily manage their inventory, manage their facilities, manage their books, and manage their profit margins, are often the same ones who find themselves at a loss when it comes to managing the behavior and performance of their employees. “Why can’t they just do what I tell them to do?” is the management cry heard around the business world.

Let’s remove the mystery about employee engagement once and for all. If your employees aren’t performing with excellence in every way, every day,  there are two primary reasons (and a host of secondary reasons) why:

1) They can’t.
2) They won’t.

There’s no mystery really, no psychological complexities, and no complicated management theories. There are just two simple root causes. Either your employees lack something essential which prevents them from performing with excellence, or they don’t achieve excellence because they simply don’t want to.

Managers need to think of these two root causes as separate disorders which require accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Just as band-aids won’t fix a broken bone, a how-to training class won’t fix a broken spirit. Successful leadership requires more doctoring and less managing in order to keep the people part of the operation healthy.

Employees Don't Because They Can't

No matter how much you request, demand, cajole or beg your employees for a certain level of performance, sometimes they don’t give it to you because they can’t. If you’ve been a manager for more than a week, you know there are some employees who put no creativity into their work except when it comes to excuse-making. These are the masters of “can’t.”

It is a huge mistake, though, to assume that every “can’t” you hear is nothing more than a justification for laziness. There are some (usually many) legitimate barriers in every operation that make it difficult or impossible for employees to complete their tasks, make their deadlines, and generally meet your expectations.

Identify Barriers to Excellence

You can separate legitimate barriers from unfounded whining by asking your employees one simple question: “What makes it difficult or impossible for you to do your job with excellence every day, in every way, with no exceptions?” The legitimate barriers that your employees identify will fall into four categories:

·         Physical Barriers
·         Time Barriers
·         Wherewithal Barriers
·         Know-how Barriers

Identifying these barriers is an extremely easy task. Your employees think about them, get frustrated with them, and talk about them behind your back quite frequently! If given the opportunity to communicate without fear of recrimination, your employees will help you compile an extensive barriers list with ease.

Eliminate Barriers to Excellence

Eliminating “can’t” excuses from your operation is then simply a matter of eliminating the legitimate barriers. This is usually a much easier undertaking than most managers would expect. Why? Because your employees have already formulated solutions in their heads which usually sound something like, “If I was running this place I would…” Ask your employees for their ideas, and empower them to implement the solutions. Give them a second chance if the solution fails, and praise them in public when they succeed.

Some Employees Just Don't Want To

The best thing about supporting excellence by eliminating barriers is that it leaves nothing for the slackers to hide behind. When you remove the "can's," all that's left in your operation are employees who excel and employees who obviously need to be replaced.

Replacing employees is not a pleasant task, but don't procrastinate. High-performing employees have no tolerance for just-get-by co-workers and neither should you. Cutting underperformers loose is a necessary part of managing excellence. It raises the bar of performance for everyone, and it's a surprisingly tangible way to reward those who have been picking up the slack for the slackers.

Supporting Success is Managing Excellence

The people part of a operation is not as puzzling as it sometimes seems. When you set your employees up for success by listening to their challenges and eliminating their barriers, the work you receive from them in return will take away most of the mystey of human resources management.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, 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.

How to Create a "Gritty" Sales Team

Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines Grit as the combination of passion and perseverance. She studies Grit for a living. Her research suggests that Grit can predict success across many different types of groups; from inner city students and military cadets to sales professionals.

My previous blog, The most Important Trait to Look for When Hiring a Salesperson referenced Duckworth’s TED talk, “The Key to Success, Grit.” Duckworth concluded her presentation with the admission that we know how to look for Grit – but we really didn’t know how to build Grit. She suggested that more research was needed. So if you haven’t been able to hire for Grit on our sales team, are you stuck?  Is there anything you can do?

Duckworth’s recently published book, “GRIT, the Power of Passion and Perseverance”, attempts to address the question of how to develop Grit. Through many great stories and extensive research, Duckworth describes organizations that are creating a culture of Grit - where grittiness becomes contagious. People will show more grit when they’re surrounding by people exhibiting Gritty behavior. If Grit is a key ingredient in sales success, then this topic is key to sales managers.

So, beyond hiring for it, how do you develop Grittiness in your sales team? I devoured Duckworth’s new book with this question in mind, and in an attempt to make it more relevant to sales.  As sales leaders and frontline managers, here are the five key factors that can help create a Gritty culture on your sales team:

#1 Model gritty behavior

Passion is contagious. As sales leaders and frontline managers, it is up to us to model the gritty behavior that they’re looking for. You’ve all had the manager or leader who demonstrates the work ethic and determination needed to get the deal. Reps will follow the examples they see – model the behavior you want Reps to emulate. People need to see what grit looks like in your organization. In Duckworth’s study of West Point’s efforts to build grittier cadets, one of the officers called it “Leading from the Front.”   Sometimes you have to jump in, model the behavior and bring others along with you.

#2 Have a vision and communicate it

If Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance, your job is to inspire passion by creating a vision of your team’s success, and connecting their work to this vision. Share your vision with enthusiasm and show the passion you’re looking for. People will dig deep and “do whatever it takes” if they believe in the vision and understand how their efforts directly contribute to the goal. Inspire your team to achieve something great, and then help them figure out how to get there.

#3 Set high expectations

Set a high bar. Duckworth emphasizes that high expectations create an environment where participants learn they can do more than they thought possible. She references West Point, high-performing schools, and the Seattle Seahawks as examples where expectations were set high, and exceptional performance has become the norm. Expectations must be communicated in a way that everyone understands what they need to do to support the team and the vision. Set the bar high, show a path to get there, and celebrate when expectations are met and exceeded.

#4 Create a competitive environment

Competition builds Grit. Duckworth shares several stories from Pete Carroll, the celebrated coach of the Seattle Seahawks, and his ability to create a “Gritty” (and winning) football team. One of Carroll’s mantras is “Always compete. You’re either competing or you’re not.” Mike Gervais, one of Carroll’s partners in culture-building, describes it this way: “Compete comes from Latin. Quite literally it means strive together. It doesn’t have anything in its origins about another person losing.” Developing a Gritty sales team requires creating a competitive, fun environment that encourages people to dig deep and excel. Sales contests, performance dashboards, and publicly shared individual and team accomplishments are all ways to inspire Grit through competition.

#5 Provide ongoing coaching to improve performance

Grit can be developed, and it should be encouraged and coached. High-performing organizations operate with a spirit of improvement. As a manager, how you manage and coach should create an open dialogue to discuss performance and identify opportunities for improvement – in a non-punitive way. It’s not enough to lay the groundwork and set high expectations; high-performing organizations encourage perseverance and the work ethic that everyone is striving to make themselves and the organization better than it was the day before. Use coaching skills that create a positive, supportive dialogue, and a shared accountability for improvement.

Creating a culture of Grit means inspiring your sales a team towards a common vision, striving for high expectations, and demonstrating passion and perseverance towards a common goal. When it comes to improving the Grit of your sales team, the payoff is appealing. Raising the bar to “compete” at a higher level improves both team performance and sales results. Show your own Grit as a  sales manager to inspire this essential quality in others.

If Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance, your job is to inspire passion by creating a vision of your team’s success, and connecting their work to this vision. Share your vision with enthusiasm and show the passion you’re looking for. People will dig deep and “do whatever it takes” if they believe in the vision and understand how their efforts directly contribute to the goal. Inspire your team to achieve something great, and then help them figure out how to get there.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, ports 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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Laughter is Good Business!

 Boost Workplace Productivity
--Make 'Em Laugh!

Any time you walk through the halls of an elementary school or frequent a playground all you hear are giggles and laughter, but when you walk the maze of cubicles at work, aisles in a store or warehouse or along the hallways in your office, you rarely hear those same sounds of glee. It's not that we have outgrown laughter as we have entered adulthood, but work is generally viewed as a place to be serious so that lots of work can get done. Now research tells us that a little humor and laughter at work can go a long way.

Often referred to as the "best medicine," laughter at work is gaining ground as an easy way to brighten the workday and boost the overall health of your workplace or organization. Because there is a growing amount of research that supports the benefits of laughter at work, humor is now getting the professional respect it deserves.

The benefits of laughter at work:

·        Laughter increases productivity
·        Those who laugh out loud are more creative at problem solving
·        Those who laugh have better memory retention
·        Those who laugh experience less stress
·        Laughter is a major coping mechanism
·        Those who laugh together may work more effectively together.

Victor Borge remarked, “Laughter is the closet distance between two people.”

A study conducted at Canadian financial institutions found that managers who most frequently used humor also had the highest level of employee performance. Dr. William Fry of StanfordUniversity found that laughing 200 times can burn as many calories as rowing intensely for 10 minutes, boosting your energy and giving you that alive feeling.

David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at BinghamUniversity, discusses laughter at work in his new book, 'Evolution For Everyone.' Wilson finds laughter to be a good thing for any workplace. "When it is appropriate, laughter puts everyone in a merry mood. Mechanistically, the brain releases a cocktail of chemicals similar to those that we take artificially to give ourselves a good time such as opium or morphine. So besides feeling good, we also act good."

Laughing at work
Leigh Anne Jasheway, M.P.H. and comedian, says that you don't want to encourage pranks or have everyone at work turn into the court jester, but recommends these methods for using laughter at work:

     + Include humorous quotes in communications
+ Encourage employees to share and laugh at their own misstep.
+ Use improv games as icebreakers and stress busters
+ Organize group activities outside of work that include community service and fun

It is possible to create the work/fun fusion and now there is scientific research that proves it works. A little laughter at work is just what people need in this time of change and challenge. If laughter is also proven to make us happier, more effective workers, then bring on the whoopee cushion!


…and always follow your dreams. Except for the one where you fly. That never ends well :>)

All the success!

Peter McLees,  Leadership Trainer and Coach
mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has a proven track record equipping leaders and organizations  to elevate employee and customer engagement. We have helped public agencies, nonprofits, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, ports, sales teams and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength 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.