Six Lessons on Employee Communications from Gov. Christie

March 04, 2011 0 COMMENTS

The other day, I read about a confrontation New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had with the state’s firefighters. It occurred on September 17 of last year. Gov. Christie was scheduled to address the firefighters at their annual convention. As the governor entered the convention center and made his way up to the stage, he was greeted with a chorus of boos from the audience of 7,500. You see, days before his speech to the firefighters, Gov. Christie had proposed major pension reforms for many public employees. He had proposed raising their retirement age, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment, increasing employee pension contributions, and rolling back a 9 percent pay increase approved years before.

So what did the governor do faced with a hostile crowd of employees? I’m going to tell you, because there’s a great lesson in it for all managers.

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What It Takes to Be a Team

February 28, 2011 2 COMMENTS

I’ve been reminded lately about the value of teamwork and how amazingly powerful it can be at work. I’ve watched as some very impressive teams have formed and begun to work together. This experience has led me to consider what the elements of a successful team are. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

T-rust. The “T” in teamwork stands for trust. Without trust, a team cannot function effectively. Of course, it takes time for trust to be built. No team starts off with a high degree of trust. It’s something that must be carefully nurtured. But once trust is developed, it’s a critical contributor to the team’s success. No team will succeed without it. If there isn’t trust, there is no team.

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Experience: What You Get When You Don’t Get What You Want

October 29, 2010 1 COMMENTS

I saw a sign the other day that read, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” It sounded pretty true to me. Sure, you get experience when you succeed, but if you think about it, the truly valuable lessons are learned when we don’t get what we want.

This short line on the sign may have resonated with me more right now because of something that occurred last week. You see, my 13-year-old son didn’t make the eighth-grade basketball team. It’s not a life-altering event — unless you’re a 13-year-old boy. Then it’s absolutely huge.

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Self Interest or Team Effort?

October 08, 2010 2 COMMENTS

I was in a meeting yesterday and our discussion centered around how we could really engage certain people within an organization. We weren’t long into the discussion when someone said, “I always think that people are motivated by self-interest.”

My first thought was that his comment was a bit cynical. But as I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that maybe he had only stated the obvious. Of course, people are motivated by what benefits them personally.

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Words of Wisdom

September 24, 2010 4 COMMENTS

Each week, I sit down at my computer to write. Sometimes I’ve been tossing an idea around in my head for the better part of the week and the words just flow. Other times, I’m racking my brain for something I feel is worthy of writing about. In one of those moments when the latter was more true than the former, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea . . .

Instead of coming up with something intelligent or, God forbid, witty to say, why not just rely on what others, who are much more intelligent AND witty than I, have already said?

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Why Companies Aren’t Hiring

August 27, 2010 2 COMMENTS

Not Hiring SignThe headlines have been full of stories about unemployment, the so-called “jobless recovery,” and lately we’ve been hearing about a potential double-dip recession. So when a colleague suggested I tackle the subject of why businesses aren’t hiring, I figured I could throw in my two cents.

First let’s talk about unemployment. As of July 2010, the most recent month for which statistics are available as I write this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.5%. That’s 14.6 million people who are unemployed. And many argue that the true unemployed number is much higher and that the 14.6 million counted by the BLS are only those who continue to actively look for work.

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What’s in a Job Title?

August 13, 2010 2 COMMENTS

People often get hung up on titles. I must admit that they’ve never meant much to me. I really don’t care what name you want to attach to what you do, so I’ve been pretty liberal over the years about giving people the titles that they want.

PressureBut in many companies, titles bring with them status, and status often brings certain perks. Maybe it’s a reserved parking spot or, my personal favorite, a key to the executive washroom. Executive washroom? It’s a bathroom, folks. It has a toilet, a sink, some soap, and something to dry your hands with. Why would anyone care if they happen to urinate next to the CEO? It makes no sense to me, but I digress.

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Maybe I’m Just Getting Old

April 09, 2010 0 COMMENTS

I don’t consider myself old, but I think I might be getting a little crotchety as I age. Recently, I’ve found myself frequently annoyed with people. The cause of my crankiness? An apparent lack of concern about being on time.

People today don’t seem to concern themselves with being on time for appointments, meetings, or any other commitment. And I hate to say it because it makes me sound like I’m getting old, but I think the problem is getting worse with the younger generation. They don’t seem to be as concerned with the clock as my generation was and certainly the one before mine was.

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The Number One Lesson in Business

March 26, 2010 6 COMMENTS

Recently, I spoke to a group of Vanderbilt University students. The university has a class for aspiring entrepreneurs that regularly brings in business owners to share their professional experiences. When I inquired what it was they would like me to speak about, my instructions were to “just tell your story and share the lessons you’ve learned over the years.”

So I gave some thought to what I’ve learned about business in my nearly 25-year professional career and came up with a few things I felt might be worthy of sharing with the class. I’m not sure that I’d ever really reflected on it before, but in going through this exercise to prepare for my talk with the students it became very clear to me that of all the lessons I’ve learned in my career — and this applies to my personal life as well — one stands out above all the others.

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What Makes an “Employee of the Year”?

March 19, 2010 1 COMMENTS

Last week I wrote about the importance of employee recognition and described our company’s version of the “employee of the year” award. I got to thinking about our most recent award recipient and what set her apart from her peers. What was it about this award winner that caused her coworkers to nominate her and made her worthy of such a distinction? She must demonstrate attributes that every employee could learn from. If not, she wouldn’t have been recognized as being the “best of the best” by her colleagues and management. So what makes a great employee?

Kim MesecherOur employee of the year for 2009, Kim Mesecher, was an incredibly deserving candidate. In fact, her contributions during the past year made her a clear winner of the award. But Kim isn’t new to the company or someone who was recently promoted into management. Kim has been with the company for more than 16 years.

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