And the award for employee excellence goes to . . .

March 03, 2014 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Oscarby Dan Oswald

If you, like me, were one of the tens of millions of people who watched the Academy Awards Sunday night, you saw a celebration of excellence in a profession. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927. And, according to its website, “one of the first Academy committees was Awards of Merit. The first Academy Awards were officially presented at a black-tie dinner at the Roosevelt on May 16, 1929, honoring achievements between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928.”

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How do you make people feel?

April 08, 2013 - by: Dan Oswald 3 COMMENTS

by Dan Oswald

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
—Maya Angelou

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Which came first—the people or the culture?

February 18, 2013 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

There is a lot written about the advantages of chemistry and great company culture, but what really are those things? A company is a social organization with rules that govern the relationships between people and among groups. There is a division of activity, and there is agreement regarding certain obligations of the various parties. This is true of all companies. So what causes one to have a culture that is superior to that of another?

In the end, it all comes down to the people. I have often said that the quality of the experience is equal to the quality of the people involved. Associate with high-quality individuals, and you are much more likely to have a positive experience. That’s true in business as much as in any endeavor you undertake.

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What message are you sending about what is important?

October 22, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Working late at the officeTwo of my colleagues forwarded me a recent New York Times article about the temptation of managers to reward employees who work long hours instead of those who produce results. Maybe they were trying to send me a not-so-subtle message!

The article cited a study published in 2010 in which researchers found that employees who were seen at the office during business hours were considered “dependable” and “reliable” by managers. And employees who were in the office late into the evenings or on weekends were viewed as “dedicated” and “committed.” At least to the managers interviewed for this study, it’s not really the results that count.

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Turn back the clock

September 03, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Last week, I had occasion to return to Chicago, which was my stomping grounds for nearly a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s. While I was there, I spent time with a former colleague, reminiscing about the good old days. We were both still in our 20s when we began working together nearly 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how quickly the two of us were able to catch up talking about our respective families and careers. Here’s a guy I’ve only seen a handful of times in the past decade, yet it was like I had seen him just yesterday. With the formalities of families and jobs behind us, our discussion turned to storytelling about our time together at a company that shall go unnamed.

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The importance of showing up

August 13, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 1 COMMENTS

empty officeI was watching a movie recently in which the lead character was up for a prestigious award. While she was visiting an elderly shut-in, the subject of the award came up. The shut-in confidently stated that the woman deserved to win the award. But the nominee wasn’t certain she was worthy of such recognition, so she questioned the elderly woman. “Why do you think so?” the nominee asked. “Because you just show up and that is to be commended” came the certain response.

You see, to the elderly shut-in, nothing was more important than having someone show up each and every day. The fact that the woman delivered her meals each day was probably less important than the company she provided.

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The ends don’t justify the means

July 23, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 3 COMMENTS

If you’ve read any of my writing, you know I hold legendary football coach Vince Lombardi in high regard. I’m a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan and have great admiration for the man who coached the team during the 1960s, so I often quote him when I write.

One quote often attributed to Lombardi is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” And while Lombardi wasn’t the first to utter those words (they’re actually attributed first to UCLA Bruins football coach Red Sanders dating back to 1949), he did, on occasion, use those exact words.

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What Makes a Team, “a Team”?

July 02, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 3 COMMENTS

Team in SyncRecently, the Miami Heat won the NBA championship. It was the team’s first title since the “Big Three” — LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh — joined forces, with great fanfare, predicting a multitude of championships for the Heat a few years back.

This year’s championship silenced a lot of critics who, after a couple of years passed without a title, started to openly question whether the famous trio and those around them were a team or just a compilation of talented individuals.

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Homerun on customer service

June 18, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Homerun on customer serviceIt can be hard to describe good customer service, but you sure know it when you see it. Last week, I was at — of all things — a baseball tournament in the greater Atlanta-metro area. The tournament wasn’t a small volunteer undertaking. The organization that sponsored the tournament is national in scope and has a great deal of experience holding these events. In this case, more than 100 teams were playing at fields all over Atlanta.

When it came to customer service these guys had it figured out. The staff, made up mostly of high school and college kids, was friendly and poised. In each interaction I had with one of the tournament employees, I walked away impressed.

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Hit the Road to a Better Understanding of Your Colleagues

May 25, 2012 - by: Dan Oswald 2 COMMENTS

Traveling with coworkersHave you ever noticed how traveling with someone helps you really get to know them? In 1976, my mother, two siblings, and I embarked on a trip across the country with my grandparents. My father, what a wise man he was, somehow avoided this particular trip. The six of us spent two weeks together “on vacation” with a full half of it spent riding in the car — three across the front seat and three across the back.

Now, as you would expect, I knew my mother and siblings quite well, but in those two weeks I really got to see another side of my grandparents. I learned their habits, their triggers, and their personalities. My grandfather, for instance, was a big breakfast man. For two weeks, I got to see him consume two eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, orange juice, and, much to the chagrin of a 10-year-old, two prunes. That was breakfast for Grandpa. Like I said, I got to know him well.

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