Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five reasons for developing your employees

I am sure you have heard the one about the CFO who was lamenting to the CEO about the cost of investing in employee development. He said, "I'm having a hard time spending this money. What if we invest in employee training and then they leave?" The CEO responds, "What if we don't and they stay?"
Hopefully you are more like the CEO in the story above. However, I have heard enough similar comments over the years to realize that not all managers are committed to employee development, so let me offer five reasons why I believe employee development is worth the investment.
1) Increased skill equals increased productivity. There is no doubt that people who have mastered specific skills are faster than their novice counterparts. Exercising your employees skills, both hard edge and soft edge skills, are going to pay dividends in productivity. We all know how much more time it takes for us to do things that are not our strengths. We should help our employees to focus on continuing to improve their skills in their areas of strength. The result will be increased satisfaction with their work, higher quality, and increased productivity.
2) Personally investing in people generates loyalty. Perhaps this is easier to believe in its negative form: You will not create loyal team members if you fail to personally invest in them. Nearly all of your team members are motivated by opportunities to grow. Fortunately, not all of your staff aspire to the corner office, but they all want to know they are delivering value. Viewpoints that see the future as unpredictable and unstable, previously held primarily by Millennials now permeating throughout the workforce. However, investing in these younger workers will have a positive impact on their opinions of your organization. In fact, training is likely to be the one thing that can help your younger team members stick with your organization. Since they feel their future is entirely of their own making, strengthening and improving their skills is a key driver for many workers.
3) Your organization needs people ready to step into new roles. Whether or not you have invested heavily in building a distinct culture in your organization, I guarantee there is one. It might not be all you wish it to be, but it is there none-the-less, and people who have learned to navigate your culture to get things done are team members you want to keep. There is nothing more critical than helping your staff increase their ability to get things done and those who can consistently deliver on objectives deserve to be given more responsibility and opportunities for growth. If you fail to invest in your staff, then it is unlikely you will have team members ready to step in when openings invariably occur. Let me also point out that bringing new key leaders into the organization from the outside becomes increasingly costly and risky the higher their level of responsibility.
4) Investing in employees cost less than hiring from the outside. If you are not a manager, you probably won't like hearing this, but the reality is that organizations often must pay more to hire a person with advanced skills and experience than it cost to develop these people internally. In fact, if you regularly utilize search firms to find candidates, a good idea for most organizations, the basic cost of these services are more often than not higher than what you would spend to help your employees gain the skills and knowledge needed to perform in these senior roles.
5) EQ can be developed! While most evidence indicated that Intelligent Quotient (IQ) is fixed by sometime in the teenage years, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not. Sure, the adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks might be something we like to say, the reality is this doesn't apply to humans. When I hear a manager express dissatisfaction about a member of their team, I am always amazed to learn that they haven't addressed these concerns directly. You must really dislike someone to know how they can improve their performance and refuse to tell them. That's the same as refusing to throw a life preserver to someone drowning. Your staff can be better, and they will be better, if you are willing to invest in their development.
Don't let your organization be like the one envisioned by the CEO above. Invest in your people and just as a rising tide lifts all boats, your team will do the same for your business.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Motivating Employees - Part 3 - The Influential Employee

Every organization needs a few i-style employees.  These fun-loving and energetic folks can generate a lot of positive energy and forward motion for a team or group.  While often seen as encouraging, open, optimistic and fun-loving, they can also be seen as implusive, talkative, and even naive.  In fact, they also can be a real sense of frustration for our more conscientious team members who can feel their i-style colleagues are running too far ahead of the rest of the organization.

Your i-style employees and teammates prioritize enthusiasm, collaboration, and action.  They often get excited about opportunities or new possibilities and can be very expressive. Others often appreciate their enthusiasm and optimism but can rarly match their high energy levels.  Because they get excited about ideas, and they also value action, they are eager to get going.  They can become impatient and frustrated at the slow and methodical pace of their teammates who value a more thoughtful approach to decision making and implementation.

In addition, i-style employees often make great team members because they greatly value collaboration and teamwork.  To help a group take action, they are apt to want to be in a leadership role. I want to caution that I am providing some broad generalities, but you will likely be able to easily identify your influential teammates through characteristics such as Active, Bold, Assertive, Dynamic, and Accepting, People-focused, Empathizing, and Agreeable.

If you really want to de-motivate these employees - keep them out of key decision making activities, ask them to work on their own, discourage collaborative discussions, dampen their enthusiasm by asking lots of difficult questions, and take a plodding, methodical, and calculated approach to new ideas.  If they don't explode, they'll leave.

On the other hand, if you want to develop and grow your i-style employees, offer to listen to their suggestions, create outlets for them to run with their ideas, and invite opportunities for collaboration and group working environments by assigning them to a team.  I am sure you have heard the saying, if you want something done, give it to a busy person...we could adjust that and say, give it to an i-style employee.

These employees and teammates greatly appreciate public recognition of their accomplishments and will be appreciative of your openness to their new ideas and ways of doing things. Be sure to make time to go over assignments and details with them.  They will appreciate your efforts to build a personal relationship with them and will likely reciprocate. Be sure to help them stay on task and prioritize their activity, and redirect them if their socializing gets them of track.

Your entire team can be energized by your i-style employees and if they are teamed up with some unusually collaborative employees who can help them pay attention to the details and ensure they are covering the bases, you can have a highly motivated and productive team members.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Motivating employees - Part 2 - The Steady Employee

I was reading recently about team building exercises and events designed to motivate employees. While I have nothing against martial arts board breaking, rock climbing, and other programs designed to strengthen teams and build rapport, these events can really fall flat if employees are in an environment where there is no consideration for their priorities.

While in Part 1 we talked about the Conscientious employee, here we want to talk about the Steady employee. Building an organizational culture and an environment where teamwork and collaboration contribute to their overall success can be a challenge for many leaders.

Our S-style colleagues place a great deal of emphasis on cooperation.  They are often most motivated by opportunities to assist or help others, and words of affirmation along with other exhibits of sincere appreciation are highly valued.

Want to totally freak out your S-style colleagues?  Create a fluid and unpredictable environment, push the pace regularly, offer little opportunity for collaboration, and fail to show reasonable consideration and appreciation.

The top three priorities for people in the Steady or S-quadrant are giving support, collaboration and maintaining stability.  As a result, these people may fear change, instability within the organization and offending co-workers or customers.  And while some may see these people as too indecisive or risk adverse, they can have a tremendous benefit to your work environment.  Their calm and patient demeanor brings a level of stability that most organizations need.

You will want to make every effort to be friendly and connect on a personal level with your S-style co-workers and employees.  They will respond positively if you are polite and do not get frustrated with their need for additional information.  Acceptance is a high priority for them and they will welcome your interest in their personal goals and accomplishments.

Every organization needs S-style people. You won't hear them say, 'It's not my job,' they will help rally support for organization objectives.  The S-style employees are typically very loyal and will see to support the organization's goals and objectives.  If you are clear about expectations and give them time to absorb directions and complete tasks they will be highly productive.

So, what about the Steady people in your organization?  Are you motivating them or frustrating them?  Perhaps you feel you need more information in order to better understand how to build a better team.  Why not consider attending an upcoming workshop on Building Great Teams @Work? Contact me via email at with questions or for a 20% discount promo code.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Motivating employees - Part 1 - The Conscientious Employee

A lot has been written about self-motivation and even more about to motivate employees. Since we have named October Motivation Month at Industrial Solutions, I will be sharing throughout the month on what motivates people according to the DiSC profile workplace priorities.

The theories behind DiSC have been around since 1928 when first published in the book, Emotions of Normal People by William Moulton Marston.  He defined four primary emotions which today are categorized as Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. For those of you looking for more, there is a terrific whitepaper on the reliability and validity of the DiSC Profile Assessment which you can download and read.

While certainly we can grow in our ability to operate outside of our primary emotions and preferences, most of us tend toward one or two regions of the DiSC Map

Today I want to talk about the priorities which tend to drive decisions and actions of those with the C or Conscientiousness personality type.  When we are able to appeal to the priority areas of those who fall into the C quandrant on the map, we are going to be able to help motivate these employees.  As you can see on the image, people in the C quandrant tend to priotize Challenge, Accuracy and Stability, particularly when they are in the workplace.

These people are going to often be demotivated when the organization or team they are working on emphasizes Action or Enthusiasm over Accuracy and Stability.  They are going to become quite demotivated when they feel that the organization is moving ahead or pursuing plans before a thorough assessment has been completed.  They are likely to push back hard against this activity, but if they don't get any detailed response, they can tend to shut down.  In addition, while they may recognize the value of collaboration and support, they can become frustrated working in teams where the emphasis is more often on relationship or individual care and not on completing tasks.

To help your C co-workers, teammates or employees, first be sure that you acknowledge their need for detail and accuracy. Take their concerns about the speed of change to heart and try to give them the needed time to get comfortable with the ideas being considered.  If you can spend time early-on with them discussing changes, and allow them the opportunity to ask questions, challenge ideas and get the information they need, they will be much more prepared to discuss the ideas in a follow-up or group meeting.

Organizations need C people.  They make sure the organization or team doesn't 'run too far ahead' or 'go off the rails'.  These employees will love being asked to help identify the risks, generate a list of required action steps, and dialogue in an environment where their questions are answered logically and with detail.

The best thing you can do for your C employees and co-workers is the invite their questions and engage them on issues of concern.  They will make your organization better and help you take well-informed and thoroughly reviewed decisions.

If you want to learn more about how more about Building Great Teams @Work, then you will want to attend one of our Fall Workshops on this topic. Contact me via email at with questions or for a 20% discount promo code.

Was this helpful?  Leave a comment to let me know.  Also, let me know what you do to motivate your employees, particularly those highly Conscientious ones.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

To be Believable, Go All-In

One of my favorite "reality shows" has gotten a lot of attention this week. Yes, it is #sharktankweek and I have enjoyed watching a few episodes I missed and even a couple I had already seen. If I have learned one thing from watching this show, it is that presentation has at least as much to do with the likelihood of getting funding as does the actual idea. In fact, in a few cases, it was clear the 'sharks' liked the business owner more than their product, and I even watched Kevin O'Leary honestly make an offer so he could burn the product and save the owner years of misery. "Mr. Wonderful" certainly implied that he thought the owner was better than their product offering.
The idea that the quality of the presentation is a critical success factor is certainly no surprise. Corporate America spends millions specifically on presentation training. Deloitte recently reported that corporate training grew 15% in 2013 to over $70 Billion in the US, and fortune 500 companies are spending an average of $5,000 on training per salesperson.
What I have learned from my own presentation experiences and from various training events is that if you want to be believable; you cannot hold back. How many of us have watched people who seem to have the right idea about a motion, hand-gesture, or exaggeration, but then seem to pull back at the last minute. The audience sees this as disingenuous. Perhaps we don't even know we do it, but subconsciously, we immediately assume the presenter doesn't really believe what they are saying.
I've had the same personal experience. When I was not actually convinced of the information I was presenting, I hesitated, I hedged, I stuttered. When I am confident and have fully embraced the information I am presenting, something amazing happens to me...I lose myself. I forget about being self-conscious and about the presentation and focus on my audience's response to the information I am providing. The beauty of this is that my listeners actual begin to engage, and the result is often more dialogue and less monologue.
Of course, there are plenty of do's and don't for presentations, and you can find them all over the web and in many publications. Forbes has an entire series of articles about presentations on their website. Here's a great one from Communispond, a company whose training I have actual attended: The Only Way To Prepare To Give A Presentation via @forbes
But with all the quality training and tips available, at the end of the day you must be believable to be accepted. For that to happen, you must first believe the information yourself. Then you must go all-in. Don't hold back. Make your gestures large, and be bold. Speak loudly, smile, show confidence, and you will win.