Celebrate Your People

Take a day to celebrate those who connect with your customers and ultimately create success for your organization: your salespeople. Now would be a great time to create an awards program for all of your top performers…anyone who helps sell your product to the customer.

In an excerpt from his Power of One book, Companies Don’t Succeed, People Do!, Mac Anderson, the founder of Successories, shows us easy ways to recognize your top performers.

“Recognition is the art of making people feel important. Ongoing award programs that are consistently maintained, such as “Employee of the Month” awards for the company or department, can be extremely effective. Focus on the areas that fit your needs and you’ll create a recognition culture that will make your company a great place to work.

•Establish an “Extra Mile” award for extraordinary effort, a “Team Player” award recognizing an unselfish spirit, or “Customer Service” awards, which can be awarded for individual acts of service or for an employee’s outstanding attitude.

•Create sales awards for the day, the week, or the month.

•Start a “Rookie of the Year” award, presented to a new employee who has the best attitude or who has made a great contribution to sales or profits.

•Initiate productivity awards to celebrate contributions in manufacturing, warehouse and shipping environments.

•Don’t forget service awards to recognize key employee anniversaries such as 1, 5 and 10 years, as well as safety awards tied to employee accident records, and awards for outstanding suggestions.

The greatest teams are comprised of motivated and unselfish individuals. Your job as a manager is to build a great team and you know your success is tied to how well you can motivate each person to reach their full potential. You believe in the power of recognition and want to do more, but there is no formal support at the top. What do you do?

Act now. Go with your gut. Put your ideas into action! View it as an opportunity to blaze the recognition trail for your company. Your team will benefit, your company will benefit, and your career will benefit.”

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Gaining Value From Values

Filled with great ideas, this is one business handbook you can't afford to miss. Now with a specially reduced price!

Successories is proud to introduce our latest book from the Power of One series, Gaining Values From Values by Robert J. Klein. In this book, the author shows you how to encourage your employees to embody the cultural vision of your company, embrace business challenges, and drive value from corporate ideals. This excerpt discusses the importance of identifying and embracing values that make sense for your organization.

Choose Values That Matter

The first step in empowering employees to drive value from corporate values is to choose values that matter. This statement may sound deceptively simple, but in company after company it is the opposite that is more often the case.

In some companies, leaders fail by opting for values they never really believe in. Instead, they choose values with “face”. They sound good; they please the public. But they have no heart.

In others, the selection process is finished without ever connecting how core values will drive business. The values selected are seen as “nice to haves” instead of “have to haves.” They are window dressing that leadership plans to act on some day, when business is better.

There are a multitude of reasons, all with the same end result: it is the failure to choose values that matter that keeps companies and their employees from driving those values to profitability and gain.

Values that matter seldom come easy, and never come cheap. They are specific in nature and leave little room for companies to hide from when events in the marketplace come to test their mettle. In the mid-eighties, when the Tylenol tampering case first came to light, Johnson and Johnson’s commitment to first and foremost care for the health and safety of mothers and their babies became abundantly clear when the company immediately pulled all Tylenol products off the shelves. Aligning with that core value cost the company millions, but returned it tenfold when the marketplace responded to the convictions of their actions.

In the same year, another company faced a similar product threat to health and safety. Its corporate values touted fiscal responsibility and commitment to profit and growth, and its actions were woefully lacking with regard to public safety and concern. In the shadow of that response, the brand has yet to recover.

When choosing the values that will define your company, ask the hard questions. Are there any values more important than the one being considered in defining who we are and what we stand for? If the answer is yes, even in reference to another company core value, then the value being considered does not belong on the short list.

Is our promise to commit to this value a promise we can keep? Is it one we want to hold ourselves accountable for? Is it one that our customers care deeply about and will pay for?

The big, immutable values—don’t lie; don’t cheat; don’t steal—are the easy ones to subscribe to and the ones hard pressed to ignite passion in a workforce or its customers. If you want to drive value from corporate values, make it personal, make it practical, and make it count!

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Job Stress

The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. New technology, new insecurities about layoffs and downsizings, and new job demands all lead to stress in the workplace. And job stress poses a serious threat to the health of workers and, ultimately, the health of an organization. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides insight on job related stress and how we can alleviate the problem within an organization.

Job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched. Recent studies report the following:

• One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

• Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.

• Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.

• An estimated 1 million workers are absent every day due to stress.

• This unanticipated absenteeism is estimated to cost American companies $602.00 per worker per year.

There are several kinds of job-related stressors that are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs—all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line.

The Design of Tasks. Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.

Management Style. Lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication in the organization, lack of family-friendly policies.

Interpersonal Relationships. Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.

Work Roles. Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many “hats to wear.”

Career Concerns. Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.

Environmental Conditions. Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.

So, What Can You Do?

Recent studies of “healthy” organizations suggest that policies benefiting worker health also directly benefit the bottom line. NIOSH research has identified organizational characteristics associated with both healthy, low-stress work and high levels of productivity. These characteristics include:

• Recognition of employees for good work performance

• Opportunities for career development

• An organizational culture that values the individual worker

• Management actions that are consistent with organizational values

Start De-stressing Your Team Today!

Although it is not possible to give a universal prescription for preventing stress at work, it is possible to offer small steps you can take to alleviate stress in your organization.

Make Work Fun

Remember, employees spend an average of 40-50 hours a week at work—almost 1/2 of their waking hours! Give them a well-deserved break—you can even designate a short weekly “recess” where they are encouraged to relax, socialize and play! Hand out stress toys, provide snacks and they’ll get back to their desks energized and relaxed!

Recognize Your Team

Make one day a week “Acknowledgement Day”! Hand out cards to your people and have them write a short note to someone they think has done something well that week. Write your own cards identifying something positive about everyone. After they are given out, present a special award to the outstanding performer of the week. Make this a regular event and make sure everyone is made to feel important in your organization.

Get Everyone Involved

There are a lot of decisions that are made every day in an organization—getting your team involved in some of these decisions allows them to feel part of the process. It might be as simple as having a weekly status meeting with your team where everyone has the opportunity to talk about their workload, share concerns and issues, and all be involved in the problem-solving process.

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Reinforce Your Corporate Values

The values of your organization help drive your company to success. That is why it is imperative that you define what’s important to your organization, and then communicate those values at every opportunity.

Jack Miller, the founder of Quill Corporation and the current owner of Successories, has written a book about organizational values called Build a Winning Corporate Culture. In it, he talks about Quill and how their company values lead them to success.

“We never missed an opportunity to reinforce our values. At company events, during training sessions, at meetings, in one-on-one conversations as well as in our bonus programs and our yearly profit-sharing meetings…everywhere possible, we acted on and/or talked about one or more of our values.

Verbalizing your mission and values alone may work when you are a small firm, where you see and talk to everyone in the company every day. But even then, it isn’t the best way to create a culture. Being forced to carefully think through your mission and values by having to write them out and share them with others is a far better way to ‘institutionalize’ those ideas so that as the company grows, every new employee knows them, and every current employee is reminded of them.

But just writing them out and giving a copy to every employee isn’t enough either. All too often, the booklet ends up in a desk drawer, never to be looked at again. You must constantly communicate and reinforce the mission and values. Your actions and those of other employees are by far the strongest communicator and reinforcer.

In addition, your entire company should overflow with reminders…signs on the walls, messages on products employees use every day, the goals set for bonuses, the way your reward system works, and, very importantly, the way in which you publicly acknowledge those who have done an outstanding job.

A great culture, solidly reinforced day in and day out, until it becomes an integral part of everyone’s minds and how everyone thinks, can work wonders. It can mold the organization into an almost invincible powerhouse that can drive you on to great success, not to mention the great pride and satisfaction it generates in everyone involved.”

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When You Think About Recognition, What Comes to Mind?

When you think about recognition, what comes to mind? A pat on the back and a handshake? Maybe recognition is a gift card or a commemorative watch. It could be all of these things, but when most people think recognition, they think awards.

Awards are a wonderful symbol of an employee’s accomplishments. And it helps employees stay motivated and energized about their job. A recent survey conducted by a Connecticut-based recruitment firm shows that employees who feel recognized and valued at their job are more satisfied and more productive.

The end of the year is a wonderful opportunity to think about starting the new year off right with a recognition program for your organization. But how do you begin? Here are a couple of key questions to ask when planning your program:

1. What is your goal? Whether you need to update your old recognition program or begin a brand new one, establishing goals can help focus your efforts.

Common goals include:

  • increasing sales
  • building morale
  • improving customer service
  • encouraging safety
  • fostering teamwork

2. What is your budget? While a recognition program doesn’t have to break the bank, it’s important to budget enough money to recognize your people throughout the entire year. Make sure you calculate in all elements of your program: awards, cards, gifts, certificates, etc. It’s important to include several levels of accomplishments to easily recognize as many employees as possible.

3. Who is your audience? You may want to consider developing multiple programs for the different departments in your company or based on your goals. There are many ways to recognize your people including outstanding service, length of service, top sales, excellence, spirit and safety, just to name a few.

4. How will you communicate it? You can’t just build a program and expect your employees to understand it, you must advertise who is eligible, the criteria for winning, the rewards they’ll receive, and when the awards will be presented. Build excitement around your program and make it something employees feel they can achieve.

5. What is the reward? Here’s a chance to make your recognition special. Make sure you give them an award that clearly states their achievement. Give them a hand-written card that thanks them for their efforts. And decide now if you would like to give them a reward such as a gift card or small gift.

And don’t forget to continually monitor your program and get feedback from the people who matter most—your employees. A successful recognition program that sincerely reflects your appreciation can prove to be an invaluable tool in motivating your employees.

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Give Your Entire Office a Motivational Makeover!

Just as a fresh coat of paint can literally transform a room, a fresh infusion of inspiration throughout a workplace can transform attitudes and bring renewed energy to your organization. Don’t worry, you don’t have to knock down walls…or break the budget. There are plenty of small things you can do to give your workplace a motivational makeover that can have a real effect on productivity, positivity and bottom line results.

1. Let your walls do the talking. Most organizations have a mission statement. Very few organizations communicate it effectively. Use your walls as a way to educate your staff, clients, customers and vendors about the principles that are most important to your organization. State your core values clearly and beautifully with a variety of motivational framed prints or customize a framed print with your mission statement for maximum impact.

2. Color your world. White walls are not a bad thing, but think about how we react to colors. Shades of blues, greens, yellows and taupes have been proven to calm employees and help to create a serene environment.

3. Plant some peace. Add greenery to your office space and you can breath easy…literally. Plants naturally clean the air by converting the carbon dioxide we expel into fresh oxygen. Also, plants keep humidity regulated at an even level which reduces people’s susceptibility to illness. Get growing! Plants are an inexpensive way to bring the benefits of the outdoors in.

4. Coordinate your efforts. Once you’ve put important ideas on your walls, carry these key concepts through to your desks. Desktop prints, greeting cards and office supplies can help reinforce important principles while helping to coordinate and organize your office space.

5. Make bragging space. Don’t let certificates and awards gather dust inside someone’s desk. Give everyone space to show off their accomplishments. If your recipients have minimal display space available, consider providing a display frame with each certificate you present to help them make the most of their achievements. This is also a great time of year to start a new monthly recognition program – get everyone involved.

6. Organize the troops. Start fresh with an organized desk. Make it easy by setting aside several hours for everyone in the organization to go through those piles of papers, pack away old files and take time to throw out unnecessary clutter. Make sure you have boxes, markers, new file folders, binders and trash cans close at hand.

7. Just say “Thanks!” It seems so simple, but a handwritten card from you will make every member of your team feel great. Thank them for their hard work and share the sincere praise you may have been too busy to pass along. Absolutely free to you, these words of encouragement can be priceless to the recipient and are the real key to any successful workplace makeover.

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Communication is a Two-Way Street

Business leaders consistently list being able to communicate effectively as a major key to success. Industrial psychologists have documented that effective communication is the lifeblood of good relationships with business associates, customers, vendors and investors. Yet, the American Management Association reports that 90% of all problems in an organization is a direct result of poor communication. Marriage and family counselors also point to poor communication as a common reason for interpersonal conflicts.

Why is there such a failure to communicate?

One reason is that people fail to keep in mind that effective communication does not occur merely because a message has been presented. More important than what is said is how others perceive and respond to what is said. The greatest obstacle to good communication is the assumption that communication has taken place when it hasn’t.

The dictionary defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviors. This means that communication is a two-way street, involving a sender and a receiver. The sender’s responsibility is to present a clear message. The receiver’s responsibility is to (1) hear (2) interpret (3) evaluate and (4) respond to the message.

Good communication can occur when the sender and the receiver show mutual respect. The sender shows respect through the words used and the receiver shows respect through actively listening to what the sender has to say. It is a give and take situation with both parties doing some giving and taking during the process.

Steps to Effective Communication

Clarify your ideas before attempting to communicate them.

What specifically do you want the person or group to receive? Do you have a firm grasp of your primary idea, concept or message? People often spend more time beating around the bush than getting to the core of what needs to be communicated.

With empathy, acknowledge the rights and feelings of others.

Everyone has needs, wants, objectives and resources. When you relate to people in an acceptable way, you build credibility and trust. This helps create open, positive dialogue. Be yourself, but speak from the perspective and competency level of the receiver.

Be honest.

While using tact and good manners, make sure you are also honest. If you are not honest, integrity is lost. Communication is destroyed. Be compassionate in your truthfulness. Often, the manner in which you say something is more important than what you say.

Pay attention to your body language.

From 75 to 95% of communication is nonverbal. People respect and respond to good eye contact, smiles, cordial voice tones, good posture, enthusiasm and well-placed humor. And even though you are told, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” people do judge you by your appearance.

Listen when someone else is talking.

The greatest communicators are not necessarily the greatest speakers. More often than not, they are the greatest listeners. Good listening is an absolute necessity for good communication. If there is no receiver, then the sender is wasting his or her time.

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