Posts Tagged ‘security’

Have you ever known someone who always seemed to boost your energy or just made you feel better when he or she was around

Have you ever known someone who always seemed to boost your energy or just made you feel better when he or she was around? In contrast, have you ever known someone who seemed to drain your energy or someone whom you were always trying to avoid? This is an example of the positive and negative forces of attraction at work, respectively.

Quite often, the power of attraction can be and is used by people for their own self-interest. But the effective leader uses the power of attraction to counterbalance the forces of apathy by avoiding the secure comfort zone of self-centeredness. Effective leadership is not a manipulative facade by a charismatic personality. In fact, manipulation plays no part in the genuine power of attraction. I have discovered through experience that there are five absolutes that form the foundation for the power of attraction:

1. Focus on Others First

Effective leaders always deliver measurable results by developing the strengths of those around them, demanding the best from people by building on their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Effective leaders are always encouragers whose first consideration regarding a decision is, “How will this decision best benefit those involved?” Focusing on others first does not mean that you disregard your own best interest, however. Self-interest is always a vital part of the equation, but never first. Self-centeredness comes from the habit of always considering self first. The forces of apathy are at play here — self-centeredness represents the security of a psychological comfort zone. But the effective leader focuses on others first and, as a result, attracts buy-in, cooperation, and commitment!

2. Commitment and Resolve Are Consistently Attractive

A very important ingredient in the power of attraction is being goal-directed. People are not attracted to aimless drifters. An attitude of I’m-just-trying-this-out-for-awhile-to-see-if-it-will-work is not attractive, and others can read that apathetic non-commitment like a book. The power of attraction is built on clear direction, firm commitment, and resolve. You may be fearful, uncertain, and insecure, but if you have the resolve to do what it takes for as long as it takes, you will succeed. Others will see that resolve and be attracted to it.

3. A Positive Self-Image is Worth More Than Gold

A positive self-image counterbalances the natural forces of apathy by never allowing self-doubt to become a comfort zone of security. You can discover whether your self-image is positive or negative by simply listening to your self-talk, whether it is verbal or silent. Listen to what you say to yourself everyday and ask yourself these questions: Am I confirming my success or my failure? Am I confirming my positive self-image or my feelings of self-doubt? Everyone has fearful thoughts, but you can fight them by intentionally replacing them with a positive affirmation of faith. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself builds your positive self-image, and a positive self-image is attractive.

4. You Must Be Aware of and Attentive to How Other People See You

It is important to know how other people see you and to evaluate their impressions. If you are serious about developing the power of attraction, pay close attention to how you dress, act, and represent yourself. We live in a physical environment, and we attract or repel by the impressions we give. The most unfavorable and negative impression you can make is the impression of pessimism. Pessimism is the opposite of positive expectancy. Pessimism is the language of apathy — it speaks of no change. The comfort zone of apathy is comfortable because nothing is expected to change. Pessimism is unattractive; positive expectancy is attractive. You must adopt the language of positive expectancy if you desire the power of attraction.

5. Confidence Is the Most Attractive Impression You Can Make

Confidence always attracts positive outcomes. Now here is the catch when it comes to confidence: you build confidence from successful attempts. However, if you have tried something and have had zero successful attempts, your first human reaction is to stay in the secure comfort zone of quitting or blaming others. Yet no one has ever accomplished great things by quitting, and when you are in a leadership position, there is no one else to blame. What do you do then? Find a proven system and stick with it until you begin to experience successful attempts. If you do not have a proven system, find someone who does, and ask them to help you build one. You will build confidence and attract positive results!

He walked into the room to deliver the news that the company was going to be looking at the possibility of outsourcing parts of their it services

He walked into the room to deliver the news that the company was going to be looking at the possibility of outsourcing parts of their IT services. It was actually a part of their database management that IT hated and openly talked about hating. So he knew they would be glad to hear that the company would consider outsourcing it. He walked into the room, delivered his news, and was soon flooded with the resignations from his top talent.

What happened?

Another CEO wanted to get closer to all of the employees. He devised an internal message board where he could post all the news of what was going on. He knew that an informed employee is a happy employee and better able to do her job. He posted news about the company selling off some of their buildings and consolidating employees to their remaining buildings. Pandemonium broke out that day and production declined as the employees all wondered, “what is going to happen to us? Is the company losing money? Why would they sell their buildings?” Even though these buildings were like ghost towns with low occupancy.

In each of these scenarios the intent was good. Management was trying to deliver to employees what they thought they wanted. In both situations it backfired and in one case, with devastating effects as they lost their top talent.

There is a point to middle management and I am still baffled by companies that don’t get it. They believe that the new model of sharing information down to all levels is what will bring power to their company. They believe it will empower employees. The reality is that it most often baffles employees and creates a bigger rift between management and employees as well as causes wasted time answering unnecessary questions.

The new model of sharing often reduces senior management to crisis and reactive management and immobilizes the company. People forget that EACH role in the company plays a significant part and each role in the company needs the EXACT tools and information that they need to do their job—not any more and not any less.

To simplify this, let’s look at it in relation to a parent and child. Now please note that I am not saying that employees have the intelligence of a child or should be treated like a child. What I am saying is that they each have a specific role in the family and we should NOT confuse that. If every employee had the skills and tools to be a manager than they would be. But let’s face it, many don’t. And many don’t want to develop them either. They want the security of knowing the hours they need to work to get their paycheck period.

Let’s take the building example and look at it from the parent/child perspective. How do you think the child would react if the parents just came home and said, “We are selling our house and moving”? My guess is the child would be full of questions as the child tries to discover how this new information affects HIS WORLD. He may ask,” where are we moving to? Why are we moving? When will we be moving? Can I still see my same friends? Will I go to the same school? What will my room look like? Will I still have my own room? Where will my toys go? Can I bring my toys?” The parents will be inundated with 101 questions and they had better be prepared for them.

Now imagine what happens to the child if the parents say, “we don’t know. We just know we are selling our house.” The child is left to sort this all out on its own, draw their own conclusions, and pacify their fears. In this situation most people will go to the worse case scenario and panic.

The role the parents play is to PUT the information in to a CONTEXT that the child can understand. The error most management makes is to believe that their role is to DISPENSE information. That thinking will get you in trouble again and again.

It is the child’s role to think about everything they hear and filter it through their understanding of the information at that point and time. They probably can’t project out and understand Mom and Dad’s situation at that time. A job promotion, job transfer, or a layoff is difficult for them to grasp how it will change the family. For many kids, a layoff means Mom or Dad will be home more often. They have a hard time seeing how that could be a bad thing.

Now let me get back to middle management’s role in all of this. Senior management’s role is to visualize the future and push the company in new directions. Employees are the ones that actually do the work that makes the vision happen. Middle management plays the critical role of balancing the two and sharing senior management’s perspective with employees and vice versa. Middle management needs to be the one that employees can easily go to with questions, ideas and clarification. Without this important segment, employees either go to each other or bog senior management down with so many questions that senior management never gets to visualize and work on the future.

So what can you do about this?

Here are some quick tips on making sure that what you say is what is being heard:

  1. Think about what you are going to share from the other person’s perspective. How may they react to this information? What are their concerns and issues? How does this affect their world?
  2. Think about what medium you will use to share the information. Does it need to be face to face? Via video? Via video conferencing? Via the Message board? In order to determine this you need to know what you want the receiver to do with the information you are sharing.

Let’s go back to the first two examples I shared with you. With the IT department, the manager should have approached the group with the IDEA of outsourcing rather than just telling them that they were going to be doing it. That way, if employees complained that they didn’t think it should be outsourced, he could have directly challenged them on how they complain about managing the database and asked them how to effectively solve the issue.

With the building sale, simply adding on WHY they were selling the buildings and HOW it would positively affect the employees would have alleviated all problems.

There is a big difference between “we would like to announce that we have successfully negotiated the sale of two of our buildings on Dogmat campus. We will be consolidating all employees from those two buildings to our existing buildings”

And “In our efforts to always invest our money in our biggest asset-our employees- we have successfully negotiated the sale of our two low use buildings on Dogmat campus. Each of these buildings was less than 30% occupied and we were spending a lot of money maintaining unnecessary space. On top of that our other buildings are only at about 60% capacity. We will be moving all employees from these two buildings over to our existing buildings. There will be no job losses and this is not a move that signifies loss of growth. Instead it exemplifies our desire to keep our company on the cutting edge by keeping our capacity up and freeing our resources to continue our growth.”

The second way, although longer, answers key employee questions, calms nerves, and allows employees to focus on their work rather than on how this will affect their work.

Look at all of your communication from employee meetings to customer meetings to emails. Are you always thinking about the context of how you want your message received or are you merely trying to get your message out? Changing this one thing in your organization can have a dramatic impact on your company.

Are absent employees leaving you short staffed

Are absent employees leaving you short staffed? When your people start calling in with excuses like, “I forgot to check and drank something with milk and have an allergic reaction. Now I’m miserable and can’t work,” or, “I got a splinter in my foot and can’t walk,” or even, “I just need some personal days,” it’s a clue that your people are sick – sick of work.  You should be a little more than troubled about the employee who has a death or illness in the family on a regular basis. It is likely that he or she is avoiding work.

The disease at work is stress. As we let people go during economic downturns, we place increased stress on our people because they must do more with less. People become overwhelmed by the challenges and they feel justified in skipping work. They are saying, “I can’t stand it here,” in an overt sort of way. There is a building desire among workers to job-hop, and once the economy recovers some employers may see heavy turnover.

Why don’t those people leave now? They can’t afford to. During economic downturns, talent tends to stay put because of low workplace demands. With rising unemployment and layoffs, workers worry about job security. But you can bet that employers will see a rising exodus once the job market picks up. “According to Companies at Crossroads researched and written by the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly a third of business executives reported that employee engagement is low and, as talent demand grows, they expect to lose key people.” (“Businesses Sailing Into Perfect Storm for Talent as Global Economy Improves,” Industry News, March 8, 2010.)

People want to be committed to their work and feel as though they are contributing. But they begin to think about leaving when executives and leaders don’t clearly demonstrate that they are important to organizational success. Emotional Intelligence plays an important role here. When people don’t feel cared for, it’s hard for them to care. They feel unimportant when their work is not acknowledged and they live in fear of loosing their job.

The tone and culture of the organization is set by the leaders. Despite tough times such as the recent economic downturn, it’s possible to foster positive emotions in the workplace. A statement of sincere appreciation and a dose of empathy can go a long way to remedying an unhappy worker. This small effort may prevent next week’s phone call from your assistant stating that he couldn’t make it to work because the garage door is stuck halfway open.

Employee recognition does this sound familiar

Employee recognition

Does this sound familiar? It’s a Friday and another day at the office. Today is employee recognition day. As usual once a month the department manager gathers the whole group for a one hour meeting. Employees come to the faceless conference room and await the monthly employee recognition celebration. A committee of managers and a human resources representative meet monthly to decide which employees will be given the award. The group selects 5 people around some subjective criteria and the award winners are announced in this team meeting. Each winner gets a $50.00 coupon for dinner. As the names are announced everyone in the audience shifts uneasy in their seat hoping their name won’t be called. The winners feel a little embarrassed to be picked and wonder if this will affect their relationships with their peers who didn’t get selected. They also worry if they will have to work even harder next month. The meeting ends with a cake and all in all around 2 hours of productivity is lost which accounts for thousands of dollars. Still, management and human resources go away feeling good they motivated the staff!

It is not possible to motivate others

It is not possible to motivate others. Yet, we still try. Managers assume that implementing programs to motivate with the promise of reward or the threat of punishment is just what people need to stay alert at work. From my experience it’s quite opposite. More emphasis should be spent teaching people how to motivate themselves which in turn leads to greater productivity and overall benefits to the bottom line of the organization.

More emphasis on alignment

People feel good at work when they can align their abilities and interests. People feel even better without the threat of punishment or reward. Managers should hold off the temptation to reward or punish. They both work only short-term. As the British researcher Herzberg suggested, most people want the same basics at work (good boss, nice office, competitive salary, and interesting work). When this is in place people are more interested in their own personal growth and at some level making coherence out of the work they do.

I can remember early in my work career a sales contest. The manager brought all of us into a room and told us how poorly one product was doing. He announced that the person who would sell the most in the following month would win a trip to Hawaii. I can remember thinking to myself, how silly this was. I figured even then that this contest would actually drive down sales. The overemphasis on the prize would cause loosing the focus on the customer. I was right. Sales dropped 30 % the following month during the contest. It would have been better to explain to the sales team the problem with the underperforming product. Also, it would have been better to work on improvement of the product so that the sales staff would be proud to sell it to the customers.

The famous Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu said ‘It is better not to make merit a matter of reward less people conspire and contend.’

Quick and efficient

Modern management likes quick results. Placing emphasis on reward and punishment is easy to measure. It can scare people enough to get short term results. Long term it robs the soul out of people and their work. There are many dangers with rewards. When reward is the goal the focus gets very narrow. I can remember my senior management days when our bonus targets were set in January. We reviewed our goals monthly to make sure our large bonus numbers could be met. This can be a huge incentive when the bonus can be up to 10 times your base salary. The problem can be as the business requirements change management still remains focused on the bonus goals from earlier in the year. Instead would be much more important as the business changes to focus on the work which needs to be done.

Rewards lead to bad habit

When rewards are at stake, the easiest route is taken. When this occurs, courage, creativity and risk taking goes down.

Studies by Deci and Kohn and others have even suggested that at best by rewarding a person who does not like his work, he gets satisfied only until the next bonus. Worst, when rewarding a person who likes his work, his performance goes down with the new threat of monitoring for an activity which once a person found enjoyment out of.

The aim is collaboration

Ask any manager and you will hear: ‘We want our people to work together’.
Yet if you study the management system you will find processes, programs and reward activities which force competition between people.

Stop the overemphasis on rewards and punishment

Pay people competitive salaries and provide work worth doing. Help people to do right work which gives challenge and matches their abilities and interests.

Where possible give employment security, eliminate all forms of competition between people, and encourage open communication and a trusting environment at work.

Throw out old ideas

The time is now for new approaches to enabling success at work. Think if you had to enable people development at work and you couldn’t reward or punish what would you do? This is the most important question for the best manager to ask.

Craig Nathanson

Craig Nathanson is the founder of THE BEST MANAGER™, workshops and products aimed at bringing out the best in those who manage and lead others

Craig is a 25 year management veteran, Executive coach, college professor, author and workshop leader. Craig Nathanson is also The Vocational Coach helping people and organizations thrive in their work and life.

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