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ben-kuo-351000There have been lots of challenges out there in the real world recently. Hurricanes. Fires. North Korea.

The approach of many businesses is basically to ignore all that stuff, because … what can you do about it anyway? Well, maybe write a check to Red Cross, but that’s it.

The problem is that businesses that approach it this way have no heart. It looks like you have a heart because you wrote a big check, but that doesn’t go very deep.

And your employees know it.

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alex-blajan-99325There’s a lot of exciting progress happening. Property values are up. Unemployment is down. Communities are growing.

I’m honored to work with clients in an amazing diversity of industries, and I’m seeing that optimism is generally much higher than it was last year.

Of course, as business leaders, we’re charged with looking at the big picture and taking the long view. So we know that good news tends to blind us to problems, and an up-cycle will surely be followed by the down-cycle.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s how the world works.

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Work is the thing that you do when you’re not having a life.

Or at least that’s the mentality that most employees bring to their jobs.  Essentially, they’re renting their time and skills to the company while putting everything else on hold.

But you know the problem with this mindset:  You usually just get the minimum level of productivity and dedication to your customers.

This is a problem even in well-paying jobs, by the way.  Read the rest of this entry »

I was quite excited to see Gallup’s new update of the State of the American Workplace.  You can get it for free, and it has incredibly valuable insights for any company or organization that has employees.

I thought I’d dig into one area today that’s been an ongoing topic for discussion.  Let’s look at what employees are saying about what kinds of benefits and perks would cause them to change jobs.

perks_benefits

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work-harderYou have some top priorities for your business: To create a great company. To solve real problems for your customers. To do it sustainably.

And your employees are your most important, most impactful asset. The question is whether they really are pulling the same direction to achieve your company’s mission.

Before you protest that you’ve delivered great training and make sure managers are closely directing the work.

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makalouI ran across a really good article today about the three toughest conversations that a manager needs to have with an employee or leader:

  • Delayed terminations
  • Companies outgrowing their leaders
  • Rumors about compensation

So go check out Meg Makalou’s advice – well worth a few minutes of your time!

“You work for the customer. I don’t pay you. They do.”
—Jean-François Zobrist, CEO of FAVI

customersI came across this thought-provoking quote today, which referenced a 2012 article in Fast Company Magazine.

The article itself is how FAVI has created an extremely flat organization, and it’s well worth reading.  But what got me thinking was the concept of:  Management doesn’t pay you.  Customers do.

I find that to be a startlingly clear way of communicating why we’re in business.

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off the railsMeasuring progress in your business is one of the most important tools you have.

Sure, you actually have to deliver a great product and amazing customer service, and you have to be out there marketing so that the customers know about you.  But even when you do that well, it’s possible to run off the rails.

You need some feedback.

Imagine that you were trying to drive blind across the city.  Read the rest of this entry »

Source: James on Flickr

Source: James on Flickr

I hate to say this, but you might not be doing everything perfectly.  Sorry to break the news!

But this isn’t about making you feel guilty about all the stuff that you’re behind on.  You already have enough pressure there, and it’s probably stressing you out.

When we look at the big picture, the leader’s job is to define the direction and then to set the organization up for success.  Other people can do the details, but it’s the person in charge who is uniquely qualified to do these two things.

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Arrows“We’ll decide on a case-by-case basis.”

This phrase can sometimes be a real cop-out, so be cautious in using it.  Often it really means:

  • I don’t want to think about it now.
  • I hope that conditions at the time will make the decision easier.
  • I have no idea how we’ll make the decision.

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