Posts filed under ‘Be nice’

Good Culture starts with “Good morning”

According to a recent study, thirty-seven per cent of all workers feel lonely at work! Add to that, recent Gallup polling found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are 7x more likely to engage fully in their work. Clearly, friendships at work matter, and produce better results.

Yet, in today’s hustle-bustle, stressed out, uptight world, it’s not at all uncommon for a person to show up to work, do their job, and go home without any notice, acknowledgment, or recognition by others…even by their boss. People want and need to be seen, recognized, and valued; they want to matter. And one of the easiest ways to meet that need is with a simple greeting, a sincere “good morning” and a smile! It’s easy, It costs nothing, and it can be the difference between an employee staying or going!

In just two years, our company, will celebrate 100 years in business – an amazing achievement by any standard. Even more remarkable when one considers that Ewing has remained a family-owned business all those years. Ewing’s success is often attributed to its unique family-like culture, a “culture of caring”, where employees care about each other, their customers, and the company’s success, and where the company cares about developing its employees and creating opportunities for them to grow and prosper. A natural outcome of this level of caring is a greater sense of belonging and connection, not common in many large organizations today.

One of the risks for any large rapidly growing organization is that it can easily become impersonal through shear numbers or with excessive focus on everything but the one thing that makes or breaks the collective culture…the people. Wise leaders who are aware of and genuinely care about their people, set the example by or facilitating belonging and connection every day, every interaction, with every employee.

Organizations like ours have a unique opportunity to continue to be that special company with a remarkable culture of caring and “family”. It begins with leaders, and then teams and individuals creating connection, eyeball to eyeball, smile to smile…beginning with a simple “good morning”…tomorrow morning, and EVERY morning!”

Lead on!

September 27, 2019 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

ENCOURAGEMENT – The Difference Between Night and Day

As a leader, a coach, a manager, or a parent, the most valuable tool you have for lifting and motivating others is also the lowest cost and easiest to use. Encouragement costs you nothing, but its value is priceless! It could be the only thing standing between the success and failure of someone under your charge. Like flipping a switch it can, for the recipient, be the difference between day and night…between engagement and disengagement…between loving and hating their job or challenge.

Encouragement is “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.”   Show me an underperforming worker, student, or athlete, and I’ll show you one lacking encouragement (substantive support, expressions of confidence in their abilities and potential, vision driven hope) from a respected source.

Everyone responds in a positive way to sincere encouragement. And while none of us would intentionally discourage another from doing their best, we actually do it all the time, simply by not offering encouragement! You see, the lack of encouragement IS discouraging! It is, at least by default, withdrawing support, expressing a lack of confidence in, or worse, insulting another thus dashing any hope they might have of succeeding.

So, how do you do it? How can you offer meaningful and sincere encouragement more often and to more people? Here are twelve suggestions:

  1. Just do it…every day…and to everyone! Remember, it costs NOTHING and has a tremendous impact!
  2. Give praise and compliments. We’re talking simple stuff here. While it must be genuine, it doesn’t need to be about winning an Oscar or gold medal. A simple compliment about the smallest thing goes a long way!
  3. Be specific! Being a “good guy” is a nice compliment, but carries far less weight than the real reasons behind a general compliment.
  4. Express your belief and confidence in the potential of others! If they’re not quite there yet don’t feel that it’s your job to point that out. Instead remind them of what can be…what they can do and what they can become!
  5. Challenge them (to reach higher) in a supportive and affirmative way, offering your personal support along the way.
  6. Express gratitude whenever and wherever you can as you observe progress and as you are personally aided by their efforts.
  7. When introducing them to another person your words of praise and positive reinforcement can work miracles in boosting confidence and encouragement.
  8. Pleasantries and greetings. Yes, even a pleasant “good morning”, “how was your weekend”, or “see you in the morning” can be encouraging – not necessarily for its substance – but certainly, the lack thereof can be very discouraging to those who look to their boss or coworker for validation and acceptance.
  9. Take the cue! When you KNOW someone is hurting or discouraged, that’s your cue. As a fellow human being it’s the human thing to do. Even if there’s nothing you can do, your expression of concern and support is…encouraging.
  10. Write a note! If you struggle eyeball to eyeball…put it on paper!
  11. Get personal. Tell them how they’ve helped or inspired you to higher heights, and how you are better for their example or efforts.
  12. Be there! To continue to cheer, praise, support, and celebrate!

Lead on…

Cliff

June 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Carpe Diem

Life’s greatest lessons come not from text books or the halls of academia. They come to the unsuspecting, from the unexpected experiences of life. They come to us individually as we solo our personal climbs through life, and they come to families and teams as they together face the challenges and opportunities that are simply…part of life.

Many of my work friends and I suffered the sudden and very sad loss of a co-worker and friend this week.  We all experience similar losses.  So what can we learn from heart-breaking events such as these?  So many things… but three in particular rise quickly to the surface:

First, the incalculable value of time. Unlike other precious resources, time is finite. There is only so much – sixty minutes in an hour, twenty-four hours in a day, three hundred sixty-five days in a year. We can’t save time, make time, or even find time. It just ticks by, and so, due to its finite nature it is more precious than any other thing. What’s more, none of us know how much of it we will have, so every minute counts! As the French essayist Montaine wrote, “The value in life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them.”

We learn to “seize the day” and to treat every day as if it’s our last.

Second, the importance and value of heartfelt expressions. How many of us, after the loss of or separation from a dear one, yearn for one more chance to hug, smile, thank, encourage, lift, or love. How many have thought “if only I’d have known…”? What would we have said or done to let them know how we feel, how much we appreciate them, or how great we think they are? It’s often the things not said that leave the greatest pain. So, don’t hold back.

We learn to say what’s in our hearts whenever it might lift, encourage, or cheer another.

Third, some things ARE more important than others. And as it turns out, people are most important. In the busy-ness of life we often lose this perspective; too often we allow an event, a task, or some other undertaking to overshadow what really matters. When asked what are the most important things in life, everyone freely admits: family, friends, or loved ones. However, when viewed through the lens of the choices we make and the way we spend our time, our resources, and our energy, do we walk the talk? Too often we allow the urgencies of life to crowd out our real priorities, or the emotions of the moment to endanger a relationship. People really do matter.

We learn that people and relationships are what makes life worth living.

Thank you Kristie, for the lessons learned this week.

April 27, 2015 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

Eat Your Peas!

“Eat your peas!” 

“But I don’t like peas!” 

“Yes you do……at least you should!”

“Why?”

“Well…because they’re good for you……and they taste good!”

“They don’t taste good to me!”

“We’ll…..they should!  Eat your peas!”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve been a parent…or a child (who hasn’t) it probably does.  Removed from the situation, it also probably sounds a little ridiculous.  Sometimes we sound just as ridiculous to our employees, our coworkers, and unfortunately our customers when we tell them what they should do, try, or like.  Remember the old Alka Seltzer commercial… “Try it, you’ll like it!”?  Pretty presumptuous isn’t it?

Habit 5 of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is… “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Before you can even hope to sell, convince, or recruit others to your proposal you have to understand their perspective – their way of seeing things.  My mom used to say “Never judge an Indian until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”.  To presume what others should think, do, or like is in reality, projecting our views on others as if they were mindless drones waiting for someone to connect the remote control.

So how can you know…what others want or how they see things?  Simple – ASK!  Then…LISTEN…really listen…empathically…to understand.   Then, and only if it still makes sense, you can sell, convince, or recruit…to their needs…and not to YOUR presumptions!

Try it, you’ll like the results!  🙂

Lead on!

Cliff

November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Always Begin With the “WHY”!

It’s 3:00 Friday afternoon, and your best customer calls.  He’s in a real jam and needs a simple and inexpensive part to complete a job and quickly fills you in on all the details.  Oddly enough, you are completely out of the item, but fortunately any of your surrounding stores has plenty on hand.  You ask Bill, the only one in your branch not doing anything terribly important at the time, to run and pick up the part and deliver it to the job site as quickly as he can.  Then you return to your work.

In the mean time, Bill who’d had to skip lunch earlier during a rush of customers, stops on his way to grab a sandwich and soda.  He’s not really dragging, but he’s also in no big hurry.  He chats it up a bit with the guys at your sister store, and then heads to the job site.  He arrives just in time to see your biggest customer getting locked out of the property for the weekend, due to a conflict with a major event being held there.  He looks completely depressed…because he is!

You see, just as he’d told you on the phone, this job needed to be completed by close of business TODAY, or he’d be facing $25,000 in late penalties!  The 6 month project was all but done, except for the  $6 part.  When you took the call you didn’t think twice about not getting your customer what he needed, as it seemed like a slam dunk…IF…everyone involved knew what was at stake!  Remember, you only told Bill that your customer needed a simple part.  To Bill there was NO urgency…and being relatively new he really didn’t even know how important the customer was to your branch…and the company!

Communication is the lifeblood of an organization, a project, a relationship!  Without it any of these will suffer at least, and possibly die.  In communication, the “what”, the “when”, the “where”, the “how”, and the “who” are all important elements, but the “WHY” is king!  The “what” informs, but the “WHY” inspires!  The “how” instructs, but the “WHY” transforms!

When you communicate with others…especially with employees, and most certainly when giving instructions, go back, way back, to the very beginning and explain the “WHY” behind everything!  Don’t sell your employees, your children, or anyone else short.  Not only CAN they handle the details – the big picture…they NEED them if they are to become engaged!  And we all know the difference between the engaged and disengaged performer!

To get the very most out of people you have to reach their hearts because the heart is where the “WHY” lives!  Always begin with the “WHY”!

Lead on…

Cliff

October 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Loyalty

I once read an article about [retired] General Colin Powell. In it, he described his definition of “loyalty”. He said…”When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own”.

Great leaders listen.  When it’s tme for action, they know how to lead the charge, but they also know that if they are to lead effectively they need the loyalty of those they lead.  Loyalty comes from inviting and respecting the perspective of others whether it’s applied or not.  I am reminded of an old story I heard as a child, which left an indelible impression on me and on my attitude toward others.  It goes something like this:  A mighty king of untold wealth had two great loves; one was hunting, the other was his prized falcon – his hunting mate and constant companion. One day hiking and hunting with his falcon in the hills near his kingdom, the king became quite thirsty, and approached a near-by stream. There he took his sterling cup and dipped it in the clear cool water and drew it to his lips. But before he could drink, the falcon dove from its soaring and knocked the cup away. Irritated and a bit surprised, the king retrieved his cup, filled it, and attempted to drink a second time.  But again, the falcon swooped down and knocked his cup away. Angry now and quite thirsty, the king cursed at the bird, and warned him never to repeat this uncanny behavior. But alas, a third time the king tried to drink, and again was thwarted by his now inscrutable companion. Furious, the king drew an arrow from his quiver, set it on his bow and let it fly toward the falcon who was slowly circling just upstream; The arrow hit its mark! The king hiked up to where the slain falcon now lay- next to the stream. Suddenly he spotted a horrible sight! There, laying near the bird, half in the stream, was the carcass of a deadly poisonous snake. Instantly, the king realized, with great anguish, that all the while he was fighting against his faithful companion, the loyal bird was simply doing everything he could, even to the point of giving his life, to help save his master.

This story gives pause to those of us with leadership responsibility.  Do we encourage honest disagreement?  Do we show appreciation for diverse opinions? Do we carry an open and willing attitude of learning? Then, when its time to make the [hard] decision, have we created an environment where even those with divergent views, fall in step with us because they want to, or because they have to?  To build loyalty, we must first recognize it in all its forms. Great leaders learn how to recognize it.  Great leaders learn how to build it.  Great leaders learn how to reward it.  Be great…and lead on……….. Cliff

September 12, 2011 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you meet are also the first to say “thank you”, and that the most frustrated, selfish, and cynical rarely acknowledge or express gratitude?  Why is that?  Is it because happy people have more to be thankful for?  I don’t think so.   I believe theirs is an attitude of gratitude that is born out of a unique perspective of wonder and contentment.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of all Americans don’t expect to receive a thank-you card or note after giving a gift.  Unfortunately the age-old custom of sending thank-you notes and cards has nearly been forgotten.  The survey, commissioned by the Society of American Florists found that most people don’t even expect an in-person [verbal] “thank you”, a phone call or even an email “thanks”.  How sad! 

Now, don’t misunderstand…I’m not suggesting that we as doers and givers should be seeking recognition and gratitude from others; that’s not the point.  The point is that we as a people are gradually drifting into a state of thanklessnessIt is a problem, especially in a country where prosperity and plenty have given Americans more material blessings than any people, at any time, in history.  People who don’t show gratitude are less likely to treat others with respect.  They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and show a lack of regard for everyone but themselves.  They are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal…and to complain that they are “entitled” to what others have.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day – the one day of the year when many pause to consider all that they have been given.  Some even call this time of year “the season for giving thanks”.  But gratitudereal thanksgiving – knows no season.  It is not an event that we “do” and then set aside for the rest of the year.  Real gratitude is a character trait of people with real characterGratitude indicates an attitude of humility (the opposite of Pride–the first “deadly sin”) and acknowledges one’s dependence upon others.  I cringe when I hear people say “he’s a self-made-man”, and worse when I hear of people who they themselves think that of themselves.  None of us are self-made.  None of us are successful by our own merits…no matter how challenging our lives may be.  There is always a friend, a parent, an advisor, an author, an employee, a customer, a teacher, an inspiration, or an artist that leads us to achievement.  I work for a guy who understands this.  He’s the CEO of one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country.  Yet every day as people leave work and he hears the “goodbyes”, he calls from his corner office “thanks for the help”.

The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of gratitude at all times and under all conditions.  To look for and recognize the blessings and gifts that just come to us.  To always thank others for help, for things, for ideas, for anything we can find an excuse to express gratitude for.

At a time when people are “thanking” less, what an opportunity to set ourselves apart.  Commit to sending one thank-you card a day to a customer, or looking for one thing to thank an employee for each day. As we do, wonderful things will happen to us as individuals, to those we thank…just watch…

Lead on………..    Cliff

November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

What’s Your Motivation?

Why do you do the things you do?  Why do you perform at the level you do?  What about your employees; What’s their motivation for what they do and how they perform?  

In a speech by author and lecturer Hyrum Smith, he said that there are three basic emotions behind everything we do.  These emotions cause us to act upon, or react to, the various events and opportunities that make up our lives. These emotions are…Fear, Responsibility, and Love.   

Everything we do, every choice we make…is the result of one of these emotions – fear, responsibility, or love.  When you jump out of bed in the morning, it’s because you’re afraid if you don’t you’ll lose your job, or because you’re driven by a strong sense of responsibility to those who count on you, or…because you love what you do and you love those you serve…and you can’t wait to get to it!  One way or another, everything you (and your employees) do links back to one (or more) of these emotions. 

Why does it matter?  Consider the following: 

  1. The emotion of fear relates to “I have to thinking…  “I have to go to work or I’ll starve”.  I have to help that person or I may lose my job.”  “I have to stretch the truth or I’ll lose the sale.” 
  2. The emotion of responsibility relates to I ought to thinking…  “I ought to be on time because that’s right thing to do.”  “I ought to sweep the floors because the place should look presentable.”  “I ought to call the customer back because that’s she’d expect.”
  3. The emotion of love relates to I want to thinking…  “I want to get up and get to work because I love what I do.”  I want to serve my customers well because I genuinely like and care about them.”  “I want to do exactly what the boss asked – even when he’s not looking – because he’s a good guy and I like working for him.”  I want to spend the extra time training this employee because I love his enthusiasm and potential.”

Clearly, there’s a difference…a BIG difference between the depth of motivation…from fear…to responsibility…to love!  Which would you rather have working for you?  I’ll take ”I want to” every time!  It stems from the love of a job, love of an organization, a customer, an idea, a vision…  Imagine the difference over the life of a career between an employee that is motivated by love (“I want to”) versus one motivated by fear (“I have to”). 

The example you set and work environment you create can make all the difference in how your employees are motivated.  Model the actions, emotions, and care that you desire from your employees and you’re far more likely to see them respond in a similar fashion.  If they know you “want to” carry out the mission, and love doing what you do, your influence will spread and your team’s results will skyrocket!   

Lead on…

Cliff

October 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

“What Did You Do for Someone Today?”

Jack grew up in very humble circumstances in the hills of southwest Virginia.  He was one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mom.  Every day as the family sat at dinner, Jack’s father would ask each child in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”  This caused each child in the family to consciously go about each day looking for some way to help others…so they could give a good report each night.  From this experience, as the children grew and matured an interesting thing took place.  Their motivation changed from needing to report well, to each of them developing a sincere desire to help and serve others.  We all know from personal experience the reward and good feelings we enjoy as the result of personal sacrifice and service; imagine the effect on Jack and his siblings after years of this practice!

So, what ever came of Jack?  Well, he became a doctor.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  But that’s not all!  Inspired by his father’s vision for his children, Dr. Jack McConnell went on to accomplish much more!  He directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI!  He also created the organization “Volunteers in Medicine”, which allows retired doctors to provide free medical services to the uninsured.

Dr. McConnell has left a significant and lasting mark on humanity all because of a sincere desire to help others, instilled by the inspired vision of a father.  I am sure that Jack’s father wanted his children to be good citizens and to serve their communities, but I am even more certain that his ultimate objective was to help his children come to understand the joy and peace and warmth that come to those who learn to selflessly serve others.

As we each look for ways to grow and improve, we might well give thought to adding a degree of “service” to our personal goals and objectives.  There are opportunities all around, formal and informal, and in every community.  Find an organization, a church, a cause, or just someone in need, and get to work helping.  At a minimum, go about each day looking for some way to help someone!  If we would all do this one simple thing, and teach it to our children to do the same, imagine the collective good, and the lasting difference it would make…in the world and in our lives!

Have a GREAT day…..serving!!!

Lead on…

Cliff

September 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

“…I recommend pleasant.”

I received an anonymous email from an employee in one of our stores.  It was short and simple.  It read:

“I am an employee at the ——- location.  I have a few concerns.  There is absolutely no teamwork within the facility.  I’m concerned, because without teamwork, the store cannot function properly.  It would make the whole operation run smoother if we all helped each other out.  This is a great company and I just want the experience [of] working here [to be] a pleasant one. Thank you”

As a boy growing up from the 50’s to the 70’s one of my favorite movies was “Harvey” (1950), starring Jimmy Stewart in the role of Elwood P. Dowd.  If “Harvey” was ever on TV, the Woodbury house was tuned in!  I remember most clearly a scene toward the end of the movie, when Elwood is conversing with a doctor and nurse at a sanitarium…  Say’s Elwood:

“…In this world you have to be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.  For years I was smart.……..I recommend pleasant!”

Elwood, a wealthy eccentric, was by no means espousing ignorance-induced pleasance.  Instead, I think Elwood would advise: “work smart and be pleasant”…pleasant in your relationships and in your interaction with others.   It is important to be careful, focused, and thoughtful about one’s work, but when it comes to people, few things are more energizing, enjoyable, and unifying than an environment where people go out of their way to be kind, thoughtful, and tolerant…i.e., pleasant with each other.

If, on the other hand, we attempt to be “smart” rather than pleasant in our interaction with others, we automatically pit ourselves against them.  There is an implied position of superiority and one of inferiority, or of dominance and subservience…which leads quickly to distrust, distance, and ultimately…disdain.  Not exactly the environment of “teamwork” and productivity we are after…

So stop and take a look around you…what kind of an environment are you as a branch manager, sales, manager, or department manager fostering?  If you’re surrounded by positive energy, and pumped-up people,  don’t change a thing.  But if things could improve, begin right at “home” by…being pleasant…and then…….

Lead on……Cliff

March 4, 2010 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

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