Friday, July 4, 2008

What 8 Things Do Employees Want? (Hint: Money's Not on the List)

Tangible rewards play a role in job satisfaction, says today's expert, but for many workers, the "happiness factor" depends heavily on intangibles, such as respect, trust, and fairness. 


Is money the key to retention and productivity? It helps, says the Christian Science Monitor's Marilyn Gardner, but it's not enough. Beyond pay and benefits lie eight key factors that influence "happiness" at work-factors that motivate workers and keep them at your organization. Here's our distillation of Gardner's eight factors, as found on the website,


1. Appreciation

Praise heads the list for many workers, and it doesn't cost the employer anything to provide it, says Gardner. A sincere thank you or a short note can mean a great deal.



2. Respect

Again there is no cost and a big payback. Respect plays out in letting people know that their work is appreciated, in treating them like adults, and in being fair in your dealings with them.



3. Trust

Trust is the action side of respect. People need guidance, but they need to know that their boss trusts them to be able to get a job done on their own.



4. Individual Growth

Today's workers-especially the Gen Y group-want training, want to take on new challenges, and want to advance based on their new abilities. Giving a raise without increasing responsibilities could actually backfire, notes Gardner. As one expert says, if you give more money to an unhappy employee, you end up with a wealthier unhappy employee.


5. Good Boss

It's the old saw: People don't leave companies, they leave bosses. In a recent Robert Half survey, Gardner notes that 1,000 Gen Y workers ranked "working with a manager I can respect and learn from" as the most important aspect of their work environment.


6. Compatible Co-workers

Working with people you enjoy is also very important, says Gardner. Spending the day-every day-with people you don't like does not make for a productive workplace.


7. Compatible Culture

Employees want a work environment that fits their needs. That could mean hard-driving, high paying, or it could mean high flexibility and significant attention to work/life balance.


8. A Sense of Purpose

People want to know that they are contributing to something worthwhile. They need to know what the organization's core purpose is and what it is trying to achieve. And then they need to know how their particular job fits into the whole.


One of the interesting things that Gardner discovered about employee "happiness" is that there is a disconnect between what managers think and what employees think about happiness at work.


Managers tend to think that salary and benefits are the main motivators, while workers consistently respond that factors such as those mentioned above are what's important. Successful organizations will find a good balance to retain their best people.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don't Take the Bait

Do you work, live, or interact with someone who seems determined to engage you in some kind of conflict? Do you find yourself getting hooked into their drama, and before you know it, you are in a no-win situation? How does this happen and why?

The reasons are many, but they usually have to do with someone wanting you to "fight" with them. You swear that you will never let yourself to get into that position again, and before you know it, there you are!

How can you respond to the hostile baiting that some people engage in? First, be aware that on some level, these people are attempting to get some need met. And secondly, remember you have a choice in how you respond. Consider the following suggestions:


Tips To Avoid Being Hooked By Someone Fishing For a Fight

  1. Recognize when you are being baited.
  2. Listen carefully to the words being used for bait.
  3. Don't bite.
  4. You can't get hooked if you keep your mouth closed.
  5. Recognize that biting the bait is a conscious choice.
  6. Bait is bait is bait, no matter how tiny or innocent it may seem.
  7. The fisherman may not even know that she/he is casting for a fight.
  8. The main differences between fishing from a dock or from a boat are whether or not she/he is on more "solid ground" and whether or not there is an "audience" watching the fishing expedition.
  9. If the fish aren't biting, the fisherman will quit fishing.
  10. If it looks like bait and smells like bait, it must be bait. Don't take the bait!

If you find yourself hooked - forgive yourself and the person who was fishing for the fight. If you find yourself baiting others, STOP, take them off the hook and let them go.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Temperature of Instant Success

This week, I had a conversation about the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. Those early railroads and steamships created the world we know. Before the Industrial Revolution, we lived on farms and traveled on horseback. Afterwards, we lived in cities and railroads and massive steamships made commerce, education, travel and prosperity possible.

So, what powered the Industrial Revolution? Water. More specifically and more explosively, steam!

My friend pointed out that humans have depended on water for thousands of years. Water wheels have been around for a long time, and primitive sailing ships made exploration and early commerce possible, but they had little impact on the average person. Even hot water is of little use. In fact most of us avoid being in "hot water" and use it only for brewing tea or washing dishes. Even at 211 degrees Fahrenheit, water is not very exciting.

But add just one more degree and something amazing happens! At 212 degrees, you get steam and steam moves mountains! I'm convinced this metaphor applies to achieving our dreams.

As a golfer, I know that the difference in performance between a world-class PGA professional and a local club champion is measured in the tiniest of increments. To earn fame and fortune on "The Tour" the professional has to be an excellent putter, but none of them make every putt, every time. In fact, a millionaire professional only makes two or three more putts in a round of golf than some of the golfers at your local club. In putting, small differences are worth several million dollars per year!

When I started as a licensed Psychologist, there were three other people who shared the same specialty in our community. When I arrived, they had a monopoly and there was "no market" for me to make a living. My three competitors had years of experience. They had superb reputations, and our referral sources all knew and liked them. I was a nobody, young and untested. But I found an edge.

My competitors took up to a month to complete evaluations and get reports back to the people who needed them. I determined to dictate my reports, have them typed and delivered over-night. Were my reports any better? Of course not. Given my lack of experience, they probably weren't thorough or as good but when I personally delivered my results the next day, I got lots of attention and soon had all the business I could handle.

The difference between "good" and "excellent" is very, very small. In my case, the difference actually had little to do with the scientific accuracy of my results. I just delivered my results faster, and that made "enough" difference to build my business.

For many people, the difference between being slim and fit, verses gradually becoming heavy and unhealthy may only be a hundred calories per day. Eat even a few more calories than you burn each day and you gain weight. Burn a few extra calories each day, and you lose weight. Sure, optimum health may be more complicated, but it starts with a very small number of calories, maybe only one cookie per day!

This applies to any goal you want to achieve. Remember the old saying, "inch by inch, anything's a cinch?" The opposite is also true. "Yard by yard, everything is hard."

High achievers know that small differences make all the difference. The Industrial Revolution changed everything and it began with only one degree of additional heat applied to common, every day water. Boil the water, channel the steam, and you've got a locomotive to change the world.

What small differences will you make this week? Perhaps you'll make one more sales call, or prepare a bit more thoroughly for your next presentation. Whether in golf or sales or in the more "mundane" things like parenting, the top performers are rarely dramatically better. Typically, they are "ordinary people doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well." This week, do a few ordinary things just slightly better. I think you'll see an extraordinary change in your results.