Taking A Few Days Off

Every now and then it is good to completely unplug and spend a little time with your toes in the sand.  That’s what I am going to do.  I will not be posting anything for a few days, but I can assure you that I will miss you all and I will most certainly be back on Thursday July 5th.

Have a great week!

MBN

South coast of Barbados, West Indies.

I will try to come back with a better picture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are You Sure That You Are Not A Spammer?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Twitter has introduced a whole new kind of Spam.

I have confessed several times on this site that I understand very little about marketing.  I am no expert on how to get your message out there to drive more people to your site or to get them to buy your product.  Perhaps my marketing ignorance is the reason that I do not understand sending Spam messages.

Spam email messages are  unsolicited bulk emails that are sent to large numbers of people in the hopes of getting them to click on a link that will take them to site that will introduce malware onto their computer or some messages are just designed to entice the reader to send money.  Have we not matured as a society to where these scams do not work anymore?  Are people still sending money in order to claim their inheritance from their Nigerian uncles?

In 2010, the computer security company Commtouch estimated that 183 billion Spam messages were being sent daily.  Imagine how much space that is taking up on email servers and how badly it impacts their efficiency.  How much money is being spent to combat this problem?

Some of you reading this message now are shaking your head in agreement, but you may be guilty of sending out Spam.  If you have ever sent an unsolicited email to distribution list offering your products or services, then you may be part of the problem.  Even if you have a legitimate product or service, Spam is not legitimate marketing practice and could greatly hurt your company’s reputation.

The explosion of social media has just made this problem worse.  Now we can get spam on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  I know many people use an auto-response when I follow them on Twitter.  They will send you a direct message shortly after you start following them.  Most of the messages are well intended.  They thank me for following them and then ask me to check out their Facebook page or go to their website.  Personally, I find these messages annoying.   Not sure how everyone else feels on this, but I would be curious to know if I am the only one that finds this practice annoying.  Instead of sending out 10 automated responses each day, I think you would be better off not sending anything or sending a personal response to one or two of them.  I have followed a couple of hundred people at this point, and maybe ten of them sent me a personal response.  In every one of those cases, we then engaged in an actual conversation and made a real connection.  I am pretty sure that is how it is supposed to work.

I will make you a promise, right here and right now.  No matter how successful or unsuccessful this site ever becomes, I will never send you an unsolicited email or Tweet for that matter.

Should We Have Faith In Humanity?

There are very few things that can stir an emotional reaction from me, but I came across a tweet this morning that shared this link.  The title certainly intrigued me, so I decided to give it a click.  I am glad I did.  If you are have a rough day, a rough week, or even a rough life, clicking on this may help you regain perspective.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/pictures-that-will-restore-your-faith-in-humanity

Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age, but I thought it was worth a look.

Who Has The Most Influence Over Your Career?

I was in a meeting yesterday and an interesting thing happened.  The CEO of our company walked in and everyone instantly perked up.  Those that were multi-tasking and not really paying attention suddenly stopped and gave their full attention.  Everyone was charming and smiling and actively engaged in a pleasant exchange of ideas.  Then the CEO walked back out and the mood changed instantly.That started me thinking, why do we treat the CEO so much better than we treat our peers or our employees?  Being the inquisitive person I am, I asked a few people.  Most of the answers I got started with “I don’t treat the CEO any differently but I think other people do because….”  Apparently this is a behavior we are incapable of recognizing in ourselves.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I treat the CEO any differently, but maybe I am fooling myself.  At any rate, they went on to theorize that people treat the CEO better than their peers because they believe that he holds more influence over the future of their careers.  That he can influence whether they keep their jobs, get promoted, or get a raise.

There may be some truth to that, but not a whole lot in my opinion.  I would like to believe that I have a great deal of influence over the future of my career.  I know my job well.  I have spent a great deal of time educating myself on my industry and as a result I sincerely think that I am one of the world’s foremost experts on what I do.  Whether that belief is true or not is almost irrelevant as I do not think that is what keeps me employed or keeps my future bright.  I think the main thing that keeps me employed is that I have a long track record of success.  I have a long track record of success because I treat my employees better than I would treat the CEO.

No matter how smart, ambitious, or creative I am, my future depends on my employees.  They can make or break me.  They are the most valuable people to my long-term success.  I honestly believe that and I treat them accordingly.  If they need to talk, then I make time to talk to them.  If there are issues that keep them from being as productive as they can be, then I deal with the issues swiftly.  I try to praise them often and ensure that they know just how much I do appreciate them.  They know that they are important to me because I remind them every chance I get.

My advice is to treat each of your employees as if they were the CEO of your company.  Scratch that, my advice is to treat each of your employees better than you treat the CEO.  It is the best way to ensure your long-term success as a manager.

Fathers Need To Be Leaders Too

I was raised by a single mother who worked as many jobs as she had to in order to put food on the table.  I met my father a few times when I was a child, but I certainly never knew him nor did he know a whole heck of lot about me.  At some point when I was in High School my mother carefully let me know that he had died of cancer.  I vividly remember thinking I should probably feel some emotion about that, but I did not.  Father’s Day was never a real big holiday in my house.

I can’t sit here and tell you that I swore I would be a better father than my father was.  I never gave it much thought.  Ever since my son was born in 2000, I have never had more of a desire to spend time with anyone than I do to spend time with him.  I don’t spend time with him out of a sense of obligation or commitment; I spend time with him because I genuinely enjoy his company.  I am pretty sure that is how it is supposed to work.

There are a great many similarities to how I lead my employees and how I raise my son.  Since this is Father’s Day, I decided to ponder a few of them:

  1. Lead by example:  I was certainly familiar with this concept before my son was born, but having kids will drive this concept home for you.  I can see every good and bad trait that I have in my son.  It has made me very aware of my actions and the impacts that they have on others.  He is a tangible reminder to me every day that other people watch my actions and take their cues from me.   It is the ultimate sign of respect and it should not be taken lightly.  Fathers need to set an example that they want their children to follow.
  2. Communication is everything:  When employees are frustrated and ultimately quit a job, I would say more times than not it comes down to communication.  Their boss did not communicate enough with them, or did not communicate the correct things.  Open communication is the key to leading people, marriage, and raising children.  I do not think there is a demographic that is harder to communicate with than teenage boys.  It just takes patience.  You have to keep providing them opportunities to talk.  Most weekends I will spend every waking moment with my son.  Some days we hardly talk and other days he just jabbers on about whatever is on his mind.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  I just have to keep trying and providing him opportunities to talk and not take it personally if he does not feel like talking.
  3. Let them make mistakes:  I try not to make lot of decisions for my son at this point in his life.  I give him guidance and I help him use logic to weigh decisions, but wherever possible I let him make his own decisions.  Sometimes I know he is making the wrong decision, but if it is not going to cause great bodily harm to him or anyone else then I let him make the decision anyway.  I can honestly say that he is one of the most logical people I know and I would like to believe that I am at least partially responsible for that.  The most important decisions he makes in his life, he will likely do on his own.  It is extremely important that we give our kids the tools to make decisions, but then let them make their own mistakes.  This technique works pretty well with employees too.

I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest manager or father for that matter.  I have certainly made a few mistakes own along the way, but when I look back over my career I can take a lot of pride in all of the managers I have helped to develop along the way.  Nothing I have accomplished professionally will ever compare to the pride I feel as a parent.  There is no question in my mind that being a dad is the greatest job I will ever have.

To all of the other Fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

What a great graphic. Thanks to the good folks at McNeill Nakamoto for finding and posting it.

WOW. FUN. PEOPLE.

Companies are well aware of the cost of replacing an employee. Developing a strong, clear and engaging employer brand and corporate culture will attract the best talent and can make all the difference in an organization’s long term goals and growth.

A company that takes a strategic approach to talent management will see higher results in employee retention and overall superior team performance. This infographic from SAGE shows some interesting statistics about the ROI and cost of employee replacement.

click on the image for a larger view
source: SAGE

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Thank You Ken And All The Great Managers

Today, I am honored to bring you another guest post from Greg Blencoe:

Society is powered by an economic engine that produces products and services that enhance the human experience.  The mind, labor, and components of the Earth comprise the intellectual, physical, and natural resources that serve as the ingredients for these creations.

 

A great paradox of business is that one person can do very little and one person can do so much.

 

One finger on one hand can only lift so much weight and can do very little.  But the ten fingers on two hands working together can lift vastly more weight and have far greater usefulness.

 

In a business context, one person can’t build and sell lots of cars.  One person can’t operate an airline.  And one person can’t run a typical fast-food restaurant.

 

Business is about teamwork.  Business is about teams.  And those teams are led by managers.

 

In most circumstances, one person working alone can only do very little.  But one person who is a manager can do so much.  The power of the team is unleashed by the power of the manager.

 

Great products and services come from great teams which come from great managers.

 

In early 1990 just a few weeks after my 16th birthday, I started working at the Little Caesars Pizza fast-food restaurant located at the intersection of Main Street and the Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  One of the employees that I got to work with a lot was an assistant manager named Ken.  Within a few weeks, I started to develop a strong bond with Ken.  I loved working for him.

 

In life, major differences in outcomes are often the result of a consistent implementation of simple actions over a long period of time.  Momentum in the direction of a specific outcome builds very slowly but very surely with each simple action that is taken.  The little things are the big things.

 

I could spend a very long time explaining why Ken was such a great manager.  But instead I will just focus on six words.

 

A simple and common task that Ken would often ask me to complete was to get him a container of sauce when he was making pizzas.  The conversation would usually go something like this:

 

“Hey Greg, could you get me a container of pizza sauce?”

 

And then after I would get the container of pizza sauce for him, he would say:

 

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

 

This brief interaction would have had a much different meaning if the words could, you, thanks, I, appreciate, and it were omitted.  These six words were the difference between respect and disrespect, high and low morale, and pride and resentment.

 

Those six words that Ken said were the little things that were the big things.

 

The financial and human resources under the guidance of great managers appreciate in value.  This can lead to the creation of more wealth, more jobs, and more happiness and fulfillment.

 

On the other hand, unpleasant situations at work can infect the sanctity of our homes with negative energy.  A virus that starts at work can spread to our families and beyond.  Most of us know what this feels like.

 

Managers influence our lives tremendously in a variety of ways.  I’m so deeply grateful that Ken has had such a positive influence on mine.  And like all of the other great managers out there, his presence uplifts the world.

 

Thank you, Ken.

 

Thanks for those six words.  Thanks for uncovering and igniting my passion for management techniques that maximize employee morale, motivation, and productivity.  Thanks for continuing to uplift the world today as an electrical engineer who is the head of your department.

 

Thank you, Ken.  And thanks to all of the other great managers out there.

 

Do you have a story about a great manager in your life?

 

Greg Blencoe is the author of “The Supermanager: A Short Story About the Secrets of an Extremely Successful Manager” which is available on Amazon.com.