Volume 3, No. 3

 Third Quarter 2005


Workplace Safety:  Recognizing and Eliminating Hazards... Safety.com
Money Sense:  Retirement Redefined....Michael Falcon, Merrill Lynch
Retention Stats Just Don't Count Anymore; Speed Does... Louise Anderson
Dealing with a Workforce Bully at the Office... Dina Beach Lynn
Another Use for Meetings... Steve Kaye, Ph.D.
Younger Managers; Older Workers. 7 Tips for Better Interactions... Ray Pelletier
7 Steps to Communication Success... Tess Marshall
The S.E.C.R.E.T. to Successful Team Dynamics... James Dawson
Trends Affecting the Need for Greater Employee Recognition... Bob Nelson, Ph.D

Workplace Safety:  Recognizing and Eliminating Hazards
from safety.com

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Hazards can be found everywhere in the workplace. Some are quite apparent. Others are so small or seemingly ordinary that they're easily overlooked, and every worker is placed at risk in some way.

A workplace hazard denotes any kind of object or situation that could result in injury, disease or death. Some indicators are things we wouldn't immediately consider -- age, for instance. Young workers new on the job (age 15-24) have more of a chance of getting hurt than older, experienced workers. Another invisible hazard would involve experienced workers who use that same tool all day, every day. They're susceptible to repetitive strain injury.

So employers and floor supervisors need to develop the proper mindset to recognize hazards.

The Major Hazards
Many facilities have workplace health and safety issues that are specific to their own industry. But some issues are common to almost every business. Workplace safety starts with knowing the major hazards. These include:

  • Physical hazards that involve equipment, machinery or tools

  • Bio-hazards that involve bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold or plant materials

  • Chemical hazards that involve dust, fumes, vapors, gases or chemical mists

  • Electrical hazards

Watch your Step
The single biggest cause of injuries at any workplace is conditions that lead to slips, trips, and falls. These are the most frequent causes of non-fatal major injuries in both manufacturing and service industries. They comprise more than half of all reported injuries. Employers can help to reduce slip and trip hazards looking around the workplace to spot uneven floors, electrical cables, and areas where spillages may occur.

Ways to reduce such risks include:

  • Cleaning up spills immediately after they occur

  • Positioning equipment to avoid cables crossing pedestrian routes

  • Keeping walkways clear of rubbish and other debris

  • Securing all rugs and mats so that they won't move and their edges won't curl

  • Providing handrails, floor markings and signage in areas where the flooring slopes

  • Making sure workers have the proper footwear for the workplace

Other specific workplace hazards include:

  • Moving vehicles such as forklifts

  • Collapsing platforms or equipment

  • Confined-space work areas

  • Falling objects

  • Workplace violence

Raise the Safety Bar High
Every employer has an ethical and legal duty to set a high standard of workplace safety. As part of this, they should look around the work place and ask themselves questions about the environment. Who comes into the workplace and how would they be at risk? Are the precautions already in place?

An effective safety program involves:

  • Promoting safe work practices as part of the company's work policies

  • Keeping all tools and machinery in a safe condition

  • Ensuring that all internal facilities, including bathrooms and eating areas, are clean and germ-free

  • Providing information, training and supervision for all workers

  • Involving workers and supervisors in all decisions relating to health and safety

  • Designating a safety supervisor for all facility areas

  • Conducting regular safety meetings


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Money Sense:  Retirement Redefined

Michael Falcon
Chief Operating Officer of the Retirement Group, Merrill Lynch
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For years, retirement planning was a matter of simple arithmetic.  With the house paid off and the children moved out, expenses were easy to project.  Social Security combined with a company pension to create a predictable income, and any shortfall between projected income and expenses told you how much you needed to save to cover the gap.

All that is changing.  Baby boomers, the generation that has greatly influenced U.S. culture over the years, are now rewriting those old retirement formulas.  This generation views its retirement not as a stopping point but as a new beginning, thus the new calculation for retirement has taken on new complexity.  These issues were made very clear in Merrill Lynch’s New Retirement Survey, a survey of 3,448 U.S. adults aged 40 to 58 by Merrill Lynch, Harris Interactive and Ken Dychwald, Ph.D., a noted gerontologist and author of several books on the baby-boomer generation and aging, including Age Wave.

According to the survey, 76% of the respondents plan to work in some capacity in retirement, with many planning to alternate between work and leisure as they want and need to.  Further, more than half (56%) of those who want to continue working after reaching retirement age want to do it in an entirely different line of work, and 13% want to start their own business.  It’s not primarily about the money.  When asked about the top reasons to work, respondents were twice as likely to cite staying mentally active as they were to cite needing the income.

Surveying the New Landscape
Increases in life spans, baby-boomer preferences, workforce demographics and financial realities are converging to completely redefine retirement.  Since Social Security established the “normal” retirement age at 65, the life expectancy for a 65-year-old has increased by approximately seven years, meaning most retirees need to plan to live another 20 to 30 years or more.  But rather than being “old” and retired longer, respondents to the survey plan to use this longevity bonus to live “younger” longer.  This, in effect, will create a whole new life stage that for most will balance work, education and leisure.

Increased longevity means assets will not only have to last longer, they will also have to be structured differently based on how individuals choose to spend their “bonus.”  For instance, retirees who want to start their own business will need upfront capital to get it off the ground, as well as an outside source of income until the venture turns profitable.  Many will turn to their personal investments as the income source.  But once the business is up and running, individuals may not need to touch their investments again for years, allowing assets to grow.

Another issue that can complicate retirement planning is caring for oneself and one’s family.  In fact, health care is one of the top concerns cited by the survey’s respondents.  Along with the desire to stay mentally active, being able to afford health benefits is a main reason boomers plan to keep working.

The New Retirement
There is no definitive age when this new life stage begins.  Rather, it is dependent on the individual’s assessment on when they have accumulated the resources needed for “financial freedom.”  For years, baby boomers have been told that they are not financially prepared to retire.  But those benchmarks of financial preparedness were based on their parents’ version of retirement.

Boomers will have increased earning, saving and compounding years.  And they will not have to tap retirement savings as their primary source of income until much later.  According to our survey results, the retirement most boomers envision is achievable – as long as they plan appropriately.

There is a direct and powerful link between financial preparedness, financial planning and baby boomers’ mental outlook regarding their retirement years.  Boomers who feel financially prepared for retirement are happier, almost twice as optimistic, almost half as fearful and expect to live longer than those who do not feel financially prepared for this next phase.  The Merrill Lynch study found that 80% of those who said they were well-prepared also said they had a comprehensive financial plan.

To make the retirement you envision a reality, you need to consider every piece of your financial life: your assets and liabilities, your taxable investments and your tax-deferred ones, your long-term investments and your short-term cash, your business finances and your personal ones.  Planning for retirement may be more complex than when your parents retired, but it is well worth the effort if you want to fulfill your dreams.

© 2005, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated


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Retention Stats Just Don't Count Anymore; Speed Does!
(at least not for sales jobs)

Louise Anderson
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One need only pick up a newspaper or business magazine to see signs of economic growth.  From a mindset of “doing more with less” in 2003, U.S. companies are now ramping up to gain market share by significantly increasing headcount and pay levels for their sales teams. 

While recent surveys by the Society for Human Resource Management focus on retention issues for rank and file employees, those who monitor the front lines of sales worry far less about retention than they do about getting their teams to move faster, and more profitably, than ever before. After all, today’s top performers are already well compensated and recognized, so they aren’t going anywhere.

As more leading Fortune 500 companies add bodies and performance pressure to their sales organizations in an effort to compete globally and boost their bottom line, the big issue is not about retaining sales reps, but getting them to be more productive…faster. 

In fact, a recent survey by The Alexander Group, Inc. noted that the most popular changes to last year’s sales compensation plans included performance measures and ramps/accelerators.

Our fieldwork bears this out.  Last year, we saw tremendous growth in sales acceleration programs.  In fact, 50 percent of our new clients had not previously used a behavior-based sales acceleration program, yet all who implemented it exceeded their return on investment by 300 percent within the first 4-6 months.  (ROI was measured on incremental margins delivered).

Performance accelerators focus on advancing your customer facing strategies and solutions and can be used with sales teams, call center reps, indirect channel partners, and any other employee group that impacts your bottom line.  Moreover, they can make a positive impact on established sales teams, as well as newly acquired reps or partners.

In today’s environment of mergers and acquisitions, performance accelerators play a role that is critically important when combining sales teams and product offerings.  Training is critical for these folks if they are expected to hit early indicators, especially since some may not have the intellectual bandwidth or desire to do so, and acceleration programs have the added benefit of quickly identifying under performers who need help. 

For example, one of our major telecommunications clients contacted us because they depended upon their third-party partners for regular, timely sales of new products.  However, selling was slow, and volume was low.  A jump-start was desperately needed to boost the new partners’ (and poor performing existing partners) product knowledge, rate of sales and sales revenue.

We developed a four-month, multifaceted program that incorporated online rewards and a recognition platform.  Participants that demonstrated desired behaviors earned ePoints, redeemable online for a wide variety of merchandise and travel rewards.

The program focused on four learning categories: Knowledge, Proposals, Sales Skill Observation, and Fast Finish:

·        Knowledge: You can’t sell what you don’t know. Quizzes that featured product benefits and company value propositions were taken and passed by Partner Sales Reps (Channel managers and reps both earned when reps passed);

·        Proposals: You can’t sell what you don’t offer. Proposals with featured products/solutions were submitted by partner sales reps, and approved by channel managers (channel managers, reps and engineers all earned for proposals);

·        Sales Skill Observation: Sharing skills helps others. Partner sales reps and sales engineers earned for attending sales calls together (“ride-alongs”), during which the sales engineer observed the rep and shared technical expertise. 

The program focused on those who were improving the fastest and sharing the knowledge and activities with the rest of the team, and the results were astounding. New partners achieved 293 percent of their revenue objective, while poor performing existing partners increased revenue by 47 percent over pre-program performance. On top of that, 75 percent of channel managers had 100 percent of their partner organizations participate in the proposal incentive.

In times of increased competition, many companies are under the mistaken impression that “cleaning house” and restaffing with fresh teams will enable them to keep up in a competitive marketplace.  However, we have seen that re-invigorating existing teams with acceleration and performance enhancement programs that take advantage of employee’s existing knowledge and loyalty can realize organic growth.  After all, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side!


Louise Anderson is president and CEO of Anderson Performance Improvement Company (www.andersonperformance.com), a company that is accelerating the art of selling through the science of performance. She is also the author of “Cream of the Corp.,” a book of practical suggestions and ingenious ways companies can get people doing things that accelerate profits, available on Amazon.com and www.andersonperformance.com.

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Dealing with a Workforce Bully at the Office

Dina Beach Lynn
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According to the National Institute of Safety and Health, one out of every four employees (twenty-five percent) suffer from peer to peer bullying in the workplace.
Dina Beach Lynch, a Boston Massachusetts specialist in workplace conflict management says, “Workplace bullies can destroy a company from within. Employers need to quickly and skillfully manage bullying before it escalates into complaints and harassment charges.”
Workplace bullies lack the interpersonal and communication skills to genuinely connect with other people. They don’t know how to be persuasive. 

Workplace bullies are typically fearful of loss and believe that the person they terrorize is the cause of that loss.

Instead of dealing directly with these fears, the bully resorts to using power plays- intimidation, isolation, or gossip to control the person they see at fault and defend against the perceived loss.
Are you dealing with a workplace bully where you work? Here are some of the more common examples of bully behavior:

  • A bully working on a team may control others with threats of reporting up to ensure that she doesn’t lose face with her boss for not completing a project on time.

  • A bully who thought he or she should have been team leader may aggressively challenge every decision and idea by the leader as a way of regaining self-esteem and demonstrating how much more effective his leadership would have been.

  • A bully who is a fellow worker may malign or belittle coworkers, spreads rumors, or takes credit for colleagues' ideas.

  • A bully may deliberately ignore a member of their unit, may whisper or giggle at the approach of a colleague, or collect highly personal information and then launch a smear campaign.

Lynch says that unless management takes note of such behavior and intervenes quickly, then the only resort other employees see is to file for harassment charges and allege that the conduct has created a hostile work environment.
“Such dire legal actions can be avoided,” she says, “if management establishes and maintains clear and concise policies, keeps the doors of communications open, and takes appropriate conflict management action whenever the need arises”.
“The first critical step is the most difficult action for most top managers,” Lynch points out. “They’ve got to admit it that it is happening.”
The second crucial step is to not blame the victim. Bullying is unacceptable and you need to confront the bully. However, confronting the bully can be extremely difficult, especially when the person doing it is a boss or a supervisor.
The next key action is to confront the bully. Confronting the bully may be difficult, but it is often the best way to deal with the situation. They may not know how their behavior is affecting people.
A neutral meeting with them is the best way to discuss the issue. Tell them what they are doing that is making working with them difficult. Tell them they’ve got to stop or else face a series of escalating consequences.
If no change in their behavior takes place following this, then the situation should be elevated to higher management.
Let them know what's happened. By all means, document the incidents.
People need to be aware that there is no guarantee that these situations can turn out happily. Lynch notes that not all companies are capable of dealing with workplace bullies successfully.
Termination of the guilty and the innocent is quite common. Terminating the innocent without just cause paves the way for a wrongful termination suit. The better response is to be sensitive and offer other remedies like mediation, conflict coaching or training to build that employees skill and confidence.
However, if people present themselves honestly and honorably, then higher managers can be sympathetic and take up the issues. If you're lucky, cooler heads may prevail and things may work out.
However, if things don’t work out, one or more people may be forced to leave. This can be difficult, but depending on the situation, the best solution may be just to leave.
A bullying personality is extremely difficult to deal with and change. Work takes up a big part of your active life and you have to ask yourself if your job is worth the misery if you are the target of workplace bullying. Take a moment to reevaluate whether your goals, values and interests are aligned with this job, or whether you could get your interests met in a more conducive work environment.
At least you've tried.


Dina Beach Lynch has a background in law, and has served as a both corporate mediator and Ombudsman over the past 12 years. She is a member of the Ombudsman Association, the American Bar Association- Dispute Resolution Section, and the Northeast Human Resources Association,
Currently, she runs an Ombudsman service for mid-sized service professionals. She works with architects, CPAs, business, construction and engineering, human resources, health care, and real estate companies and consultants that want to skillfully manage internal tensions and client issues. Beach Lynch lives in Boston with her husband and children.
Her website is http://www.workwelltogether.com.

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Another Use for Meetings

Steve Kaye, Ph.D.
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Every meeting is a laboratory where you can observe the leadership skills exhibited by people who attend. For example:

Is it planned?
Effective leaders always begin with clearly defined goals and then prepare plans for achieving them. They have the courage to set a direction and then make changes as new information becomes available.

They communicate with candor knowing that people perform at their best when they know what is expected. Thus, did the person who called this meeting prepare an agenda? Was the agenda distributed before the meeting? Did the agenda tell you everything that you needed to know to work effectively in the meeting? If so, this serves as a positive indication of effective leadership planning.

Is it efficient?
A meeting is the culminating step in a larger process. After preparing an agenda the chairperson should have contacted key participants to inform them of their role in the meeting, told everyone how to prepare for the meeting, and alerted people who may be asked to accept responsibility for action items. All of this work before the meeting assures that the meeting will progress smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. So, how is the meeting going? Is there evidence of this attention to detail?

Is it logical?
Pay attention to what people say during a meeting. Do their ideas contribute toward achieving the goals? if so, this shows that they're working as part of a team to help find solutions. Do their ideas build upon what others just said? If so, this shows that they're paying attention to the dialogue. Do their ideas demonstrate originality, creativity, and knowledge? If so, this shows they’re working hard to add value.

Is it helpful?
Evaluate the comments and behavior during a meeting. Are the participants working to support each other? Are people contributing to the safe environment that is essential for open creative thinking? Are people adding high-value contributions (instead of stories or jokes that distract everyone)? Note that chronic unproductive behavior betrays either fear, a lack of effective work skills, or misunderstood expectations. People who perform poorly in meetings may need constructive coaching.

Is it controlled?
Observe the dynamics of the meeting process. Is the chairperson leading everybody through methodical steps that take them to a result? Is the meeting being conducted in such a way that the participants feel that it is a fair process? Is the chairperson helping others perform at their best so that the group can produce an outstanding result? Note that leadership involves more than watching people talk. 

And of course, how about you? Surveys show that executives consider a person’s conduct in meetings when making decisions on who to promote. 


Steve Kaye, Ph.D.
Author, speaker, and IAF Certified Professional Facilitator Steve Kaye shows people how to hold effective meetings. He has written three books and a booklet on Effective Meetings, published over 185 articles on leadership topics, and appeared on radio and TV. His clients include IBM, Chevron, Avery Dennison, Mazda, and Toshiba. Contact him at 714-528-1300 or visit his web site at

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Younger Managers; Older Workers
7 Tips for Better Interactions

Ray Pelletier
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Does your workplace suffer from a generational rift? If you're like the majority of companies, the answer is yes. However, today's pressing concern is no longer "how to manage the Generation X crowd." With the Gen X'ers now entering managerial roles, today's biggest concern is how these new young managers can effectively lead people their parents' age.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of workers ages 20-34 in the managerial category increased from 4.8 million in 1994 to 5.2 million last year. And the rank of young supervisors is expected to continue to swell as the 52.4 million people who compose Generation X assume managerial roles.

At no time in American history have so many different generations with such diversity in worldviews and work philosophies been asked to team up and work together. One of the keys to understanding the generational differences that exist is to know what the four different generations are and some of the basic values each group holds.

Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak, authors of Generations at Work, define the four generations working together as:

  • Veterans - This group was born between 1922 and 1943 and includes about 52 million people. As one of the older generations, these people prefer face-to-face interactions with supervisors over e-mail or voice mail, and they place a strong emphasis on teamwork.
  • Baby Boomers - This group was born between 1943 and 1960 and includes about 73.2 million people. They were born during or after World War II and raised in an era of extreme optimism, opportunity, and progress. Most Baby Boomers grew up in two-parent households with safe schools, job security, and post-war prosperity. Like the Veterans, they prefer face-to-face communication and value teamwork over individual achievement.
  • Generation X'ers - This group was born between 1960 and 1980 and includes about 52.4 million people. They were born after the Baby Boomers into a rapidly changing social climate and economic recession, including Asian competition. They grew up with both parents working, rising divorce rates, downsizing, and the dawn of the high-tech and information ages. At work, they can be fiercely independent, like to be in control, and want fast feedback.
  • Generation Nexters - This group was born between 1980 and 2000 and includes about 69.7 million people. They were born of Baby Boomer and early Generation X parents into our current high-tech, neo-optimistic times. They are the youngest workers, but they represent the most technologically adept.  They are fast learners and tend to be impatient.

Knowing and understanding the differences between the generations of people you work with is essential because the interdependent nature of work today cannot succeed with the underlying tension of intergenerational conflict.

With the continual rise of younger workers managing older workers, the young workers need to learn how to effectively manage their older employees. Young managers can use the following tips to avoid a disconnect and miscommunication with their older employees and gain their respect:

1.   Be Sensitive to Emotional Issues.

     As a young manager, you need to be aware of what issues will upset your older employees. For example, if you have a Gen X'er and a Veteran vying for the same promotion, and the younger employee gets it, the older employee will be upset. He or she will feel that the company wasn't loyal to him or her. While the older workers realize that the younger workers may have excellent degrees, they question whether the younger staff knows what they're doing.

     When this happens, ask your older employees how they are feeling.

     Don't say, "I understand how you feel," because they believe you cannot possibly understand how they're feeling. Also understand that older workers may be resentful of you because you're making more money today than they did their first twenty years of working. However, by encouraging them to express their feelings, you'll forge a greater understanding and respect between the generations.


2.  Realize that Change is Harder for Older Workers.

     Older workers may be very set in their ways and resistant to change.

     For example, they may have trouble if you implement new systems or ask them to use new technology they're not familiar with. To help them get over this, explain the "why" of doing things. By explaining "why" you need them to do something a certain way, you open up the lines of communication. Use this open communication as a way to reap the benefits of the insight your older employees can offer.


3.   Understand and Use The Older Worker's Preferred Communication Style.

     As a young manager who grew up with the technology of computers, you probably prefer to communicate via e-mail. However, your older employees prefer face-to-face communication. Older workers tend to view e-mail as cold and not very relationship-oriented. So regularly schedule face-to-face meetings with your older employees. Also, when you need to give them feedback, get up from your desk and walk over to them to give it. Or, pick up the phone and call them. The more human contact you give them, the more respect they'll have for you.


4.   Be Coachable.

     As a manager, you should be coachable and able to take information from your older employees without feeling threatened by them. Think of your older employees as internal consultants. Realize that they are valuable assets to your company because of their many years of experience.


5.   Know the Difference Between Recognition and Appreciation.

     As a member of one of the younger generations, you probably prefer to be appreciated rather than recognized. You are satisfied with a "Thank you" or acknowledgement for something you did. However, your older employees will want recognition. They want an outward sign of your appreciation, such as a plaque or an "Employee of the Month" award rather than a simple "Thank you" or "Job well done." When you give your older employees the recognition they deserve, they will be very grateful.


6.   Know Your Stuff.

     Knowledge doesn't only come from book smarts. It also comes from experience. You have to work harder to appear knowledgeable to your older employees because they don't think you have enough experience. Knowledge is also one of the keys to creating trust. People respect people they like, but more important, they respect people they trust. Regardless of age, you always want to know that your boss is trustworthy. So work on building that trust between yourself and all of your employees.


7.   Ask Great Questions.

     Don't be afraid to say you don't know something. Always be open to asking your older employees questions. When you ask questions, they will be less likely to think of you as an "arrogant know-it-all kid." Also, when you ask questions, ask open-ended ones rather than yes or no questions. Use the magic of 3s. For example, you could ask, "What are the three biggest challenges you are facing with this task?" Not only do you open the lines of communication, but you also show that you care about how they are doing on the job.

Managing for Success
As a young manager, you need to know and understand the differences in the values and beliefs of the older generations. Knowing how to manage older employees will help you reduce the intergenerational conflict within your company, thus improving working conditions and productivity. As a result, you will gain a greater respect for your older employees, and they will gain a greater respect for you as their manager.


Ray Pelletier, CSP, founder and president of The Pelletier Group, is an internationally known author, business speaker, motivator and team builder and also the author of the up-coming book, "It's All About Service."  He may be reached at 1-800-662-4625 or email info@raypelletier.com.

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7 Steps to Communication Success

Tess Marshall
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If you've ever been in a committee meeting, you know that communication skills vary from person to person. Some people talk and never listen. Others don't speak up at all. Some get angry and defensive. Others calmly state their opinions. One thing is for certain: Most workers could benefit from some further instruction on communicating effectively. When everyone in your company achieves better communication skills, your employees will gain a happier work environment, better relationships with their co-workers, and greater productivity.

Good communication skills are critical to the success of any business.

Effective communication breeds creativity, innovation, cooperation, and high performance among employees. Ineffective communication breeds resentment, stalled growth, and unhappy employees. To become effective communicators we need to learn the appropriate skills. We need to feel comfortable expressing our needs, wants, likes, and dislikes. We need to learn self-control to remain silent when we would really rather speak. And we need to learn to speak our minds while not alienating our co-workers.

With good communication skills, employees and managers can advance their organization's strategic plan and attain their goals in a positive and supportive work environment. Everyone will benefit-from the employees, to the customers, to the shareholders. To teach your employees the right way to communicate, start by putting these 7 tips to use. When you do, your company will become a place where honesty is valued, employees feel appreciated, and goals are achieved much more quickly than before.

1.   Listen to learn.

     Listening shows you care about what someone thinks. When you are tempted to give advice, ask, "Would you like advice or shall I only listen?" Often the speaker only needs to speak his or her thoughts aloud and then draw his or her own conclusion. When you are listening, give the speaker your undivided attention; push all other thoughts out of your mind. Close your office door.

     Switch your cell phone to vibrate mode and concentrate on the present moment. And don't forget to maintain good eye contact. All these little things add up to showing respect to your listener.


2.   Think before you speak.

     Learn to delay your reaction to what you hear. If you feel an urge to react, stop; take a deep breath and count to 10. That pause will allow you to clarify your ideas and present them in an appropriate way. Always paraphrase what you think you heard and ask if that's what the speaker meant. If the answer is yes, and you still need more information, ask the person to tell you more. Rarely do you walk away from a conversation asking yourself, "Why did I listen so much?" Any regret you feel is usually the result of talking too much and not listening enough, so realize that some silence in a conversation is desirable.



3.   Don't be judgmental.

     Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Listen to understand-you don't have to agree. Be open to others' differences. People want to feel heard more than they want you to agree with them. Respect the fact that people have a right to different opinions than you. When you can accept others, your communication skills will improve. The conversation will flow and criticism will disappear. Let others know that you care about them, thank them for sharing with you, and inquire how you can best offer your support.

     Now you will have gained your speaker's trust and you can move forward towards a solution.


4.   Build trust with honesty.

     Building trust involves communicating openly and honestly. Honesty and credibility lay the foundation for engagement and high performance of your employees. Set a good example by always telling the truth. Give employees opportunities to share their ideas. Establish time for roundtable discussions. When you share information, involve others in dialogue, allow time for questions, and give clear answers. When you say you are going to do something, do it. When you forget to do something you promised, take responsibility and ask what you can do to make it up to them. Be a person of your word and be proud when your employees model your behavior.


5.   Give honest feedback.

     Don't pretend things are going well when they are not. People appreciate sincere feedback. Without it, employees fail to grow and develop. When you do give feedback, be honest-people will sense when you are not. If a person becomes upset at the feedback, try to minimize the discomfort. Realize that upset always involves fear. Address that fear and work on a solution.


6.   Admit what you don't know.

     No one has all the answers all the time. Know when to say, "I don't know. I will get back to you on this." Then don't forget to follow up by providing the answers. Give sincere apologies and admit mistakes. Reveal your human side and other employees will feel comfortable enough to do the same.


7.   Voice your appreciation.

     Employees who are valued and accepted feel appreciated. Appreciated employees are loyal, happy, and productive. The person expressing the appreciation will feel good too. Let your co-workers know that they matter as a person and the work they are doing is important. Don't just show appreciation to your favorite employees-difficult employees typically need the most appreciation, yet they get the least. Look for opportunities to show appreciation and use words of kindness, encouragement, and gratitude.

Write personal thank you notes to your employees to acknowledge good work and success. Develop the desire to excel in your company by praising employees in public but offering constructive criticism in private.

Start Fostering Better Communication Today Set a good example by becoming an effective communicator. Ask for feedback on your own communication skills and be willing to implement positive suggestions for improvement. Be approachable. Be honest. Give your employees reason to trust you and encourage them to trust each other. Then they will learn to cooperate and work together better as a team. When you place a priority on good communication skills, you will be rewarded with a healthy, motivated, and profitable organization, and happier employees.


Tess Marshall is a speaker, psychologist and author of the book, "Flying by the Seat of My Soul".  Learn the keys to effective communication and increased productivity by reaching her at www.tessmarshall.com, or by email her at tessmarshall@tessmarshall.com.

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The S.E.C.R.E.T. to Successful Team Dynamics

James Dawson
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You have just joined a team of specialists who have worked together for six months on a potentially lucrative contract.  At your first Monday morning meeting, you sit at the conference table listening to your teammates sort through project details.  You ask questions and are politely answered.  Even though you have knowledge and experience to offer, no one asks for your input.  Some team members are questioning the politics behind certain decisions.  Others are complaining about the lack of resources.  Your boss enters the room and everyone grows quiet as he explains that the company could lose the contract if this team misses another deadline.

Sound familiar?  It doesn't have to.  There are specific reasons why some teams succeed and other teams fail.  Is it the quality of leadership, the commitment of team members, or something else entirely?  Is there a S.E.C.R.E.T. to successful team dynamics?

From storefront restaurants to corporate conglomerates, an organization's success depends on the effectiveness and productivity of its various teams.

And team success depends on the cooperation and collective efforts of human beings who may or may not even like each other.  Since any weakness within an organization can quickly become a competitive disadvantage, the people within an organization must function effectively as individuals and as team members.

When it comes to teamwork, a person's ability to build relationships, work with others, and communicate effectively can be more important than his or her technical expertise.  According to Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence, the brightest people are often not the most effective in a business organization.  Rather it is the people with superior intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence that are the most productive.  They can create the synergy needed to get things done, things that cannot be accomplished by an individual working alone.

In addition to having members with intrapersonal and interpersonal savvy, what are some of the characteristics of a successful team?  What do they have in common?

On a fundamental level, a successful team must have:

  • A clear mission: members know what they are supposed to do and have agreed to meet specific objectives.
  • The right competencies and skills: members know how to do what they are supposed to do.
  • Direct and clear support from leadership: members know their efforts, are appreciated, and their contributions are essential to the organization's success.

As described in William G. Dyer's book Team Building, successful team leaders take time for team calibration and maintenance activities.

Team calibration can be as simple as talking about what's going well and what the team might do differently.  As difficulties arise, talking about past challenges and successes can help team members regain their sense of connection to one another and to their common goals--preventing a downward spiral that can pull people apart.

Team maintenance activities bring the team together in a safe, accepting environment.  Developing a team "coat of arms," or holding a "show and tell"

session where members share their hobbies and interests can help team members discover things they have in common.  Team maintenance also means encouraging the input of new members, even if they challenge the way things are being done.  Conflicting opinions can be stimulating and thought provoking for any team, especially if they are looking for a new approach to solving an old or chronic problem.

On a day-to-day basis, members of a successful team:

  • Know what success looks like and they take the time to celebrate it.
  • They set up benchmarks or checkpoints so they can recognize their accomplishments along the way.  It's the leader's job to help the team establish them and to validate the people and the process as progress is made toward the larger goals.
  • Are willing to develop the best solution regardless of who comes up with it.  They speak candidly and are willing to fight for good ideas, while at the same time maintaining respect for their fellow team members.  They do not tolerate defensive posturing and finger pointing.

These are some of the characteristics shared by successful teams.  But what steps can your team take to ensure that you are on the road to success and not the road to failure?  What is the S.E.C.R.E.T. behind successful team dynamics?

S - Seek and promote acceptance for all team members.  You are courting failure if you have any team members who feel unappreciated or left out.

All team members must know they are valued by, and are valuable to, the team.

E - Establish interdependent goals.  All members must clearly understand and support team goals, and have individual goals that lead to the completion of the overall task.  Team members must be willing to support one another and understand that there is no such thing as saying, "Hey, there's a hole in your side of the boat."

C - Create history.  How you perform together and the challenges you overcome will write the history of your team.  It will be the "remember when's" after the project is complete.  History can also be a barrier to success so be willing to start fresh and forgive the past.  No one is perfect, including you.

R - Realize goals - accomplish something.  One of the greatest moments in the life of the team is when they achieve something together.  Even the smallest first step creates a bond between you and your team members.  It's your first taste of "Yes!  We can do it!" and it is sweet.  Set goals in stages or in smaller objectives so that the team is constantly achieving something.

E - Encourage external threats.  Anytime a team is faced with a threat from outside it will instinctively pull together.  You may bicker occasionally among yourselves but an external threat brings the realization that survival lies with your team and you had better pull together.

T - Trust - develop relationships and shared norms.  Trust is essential in successful teamwork.  You build trust by being trustworthy, by doing what you say you will and taking the risk to trust others to do the same, and by developing relationships with other team members and getting to know them.

Agreeing on how you will treat one another is another critical part of developing trust and creating a safe environment in which all team members can work successfully.

A team can have great POWER--however, there is no "I" in POWER--there is only "WE."  Yet, ultimately, it is up to each individual to be a team member, even if that means keeping his or her personal agenda or "ego" in check.

With the S.E.C.R.E.T. of team dynamics, the support of your leadership, a clear mission, common goals, recognition of achievements, and the conscious, consistent effort of your team members, you will have an unstoppable force that can accomplish almost anything.


James Dawson is a managing partner of ADI Performance, a full service training enterprise that specializes in developing and delivering programs that result in improved business practices and organizational cost efficiencies.  You can reach him at 770-640-0840 or email jrdawson@adiperformance.com.

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Trends Affecting the Need for Greater Employee Recognition

Bob Nelson, Ph.D.
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Motivating employees is a moving target and many changes in the workplace make the task all the harder to do well today.  Meanwhile, stress and employee dissatisfaction is at an all-time high at work for most employees who are being asked to constantly do more with less – and to do it faster.  Here's seven trends affecting human resources today and what you can do about them in your own job as a manager.

1.   The Changing Role of Today's Managers.

     Managers have fewer ways to influence employees and shape their behavior (being coercive or authoritarian is no longer an option). To be effective, today’s managers must increasingly be like a coach, colleague, counselor and cheerleader. Managers must create a supportive work environment that uses indirect means of influence to obtain desired behaviors and outcomes.  For example, in my research I've found the top motivator for today's employees to be Support & Involvement:  Providing employees information they need, asking them for ideas or their opinion, involving employee in decision (especially ones that affect them), and supporting them when they make a mistake are critical to keeping people excited about the job they are doing for you and the organization. 

2.   The Increasing Speed of Business.

     The pace of business is ever increasing, making it more difficult for managers to take time to focus on people. The increase in speed at work minimizes contact between employees and managers. Most managers are so busy focusing on their own work and what’s urgent that they have no time left over to focus on their people and instead tend to "manage by exception," only dealing with problems, mistakes, and complaints about their employees to the point where their employees don't want to see their manager since he or she always tends to have negative or bad news to report. Managers may say people are their most important asset, but unless they show that belief through daily interactions, employees won’t feel important. The less time employees have with their manager, the more positive and meaningful that time needs to be.  So whether it's a simple thank you in the hallway or at the beginning of a meeting, a note or letter of thanks, an email or voicemail – it is critical today to highlight the things people are doing right in a positive, proactive way.

3.   The Ongoing Influx of Change.


     Constant change is becoming the norm for most organizations and the degree of change is accelerating at a faster rate. Coupled with the need to build trust after cutbacks, layoffs, and downsizing in almost every workplace, employees need to feel grounded more than ever before—and they need it, feel it most from their managers.  Employees have always had a high need for security, but today – since no body has a guaranteed job – that need is fulfilled by knowing one is doing a good job and is in a good organization that is doing well.  Sharing the mission and purpose of the organization with all employees and how the company makes and loses money gives people a larger context they can connect their job and efforts to. Allowing them Autonomy & Authority to pursue their ideas and take on challenges that can help the organization be more successful and competitive needs to be done with every employee.

4.   The Impact of Technology in the Workplace.

     Technology in the workplace has caused worker alienation as more time is spent processing work through technology and less time interacting with ones manager. The more “connected” employees are through technology, the less connection they tend to have with others.  You can counteract this tendency, however, by using technology to improve and strengthen the human element in your relationships.  Don't just use technology to dump more work on employees, use it also to thank and acknowledge individual and team performance when it occurs.  In my research 67 percent of employees, for example, say they like getting positive emails forwarded to them.  And if you send someone a thank you email, copy their manager as a way of leveraging the good news to better build trust, respect and commitment among staff.

5.   The Need for Greater Employee Initiative.

     Employees are increasingly being asked to be self-directing, autonomous and responsible for their own work, all the while acting in the organization’s best interests.  It's those employees that are doing a job that are in the best position to do it better, to improve processes, cut costs or enhance service to the customer, for example.  Discuss the results you are looking for, but give employees a say in how to best achieve those results in their jobs and you will increase their buy-in to do their jobs better.  If someone has an idea for improving things, allow them to pursue that idea, after all, who is likely to have more energy for an idea than the person who initially came up with it?  We all need employees to be looking to contribute more, to help us adapt to changing times and increased competition.  If you ask for this and – more importantly – systematically reinforce it when it occurs, you are bound to create a work environment in which people are excited about digging in and making a difference on a daily basis.

6.   The Increasing Employee Need to Have Meaning in Their Jobs.

     Workers today increasingly expect to have more meaning in their jobs from Day One – not after 10 or 20 years.  They expect more balance in their jobs and family life – work for them is part of broader goals, not an end in and of itself.   Demographics indicate that the next generations of employees (Generation X & Y) will increasingly demand work environments that they find personally more meaningful.  This meaning can be provided by one's manager, who serves as the linking pin between the employee and the overall organization.  Explaining how things are done and why, how an employee's job links to broader goals of the department and organization, taking time to be available and answer questions employees have are all important elements for defining meaning in one's work.  Most companies have an "open door" policy, but if a manager doesn't have an open mind when approached by employees, the result will be detrimental.  Since, fewer workers will be available in the post-baby boom wake, and those that do exist will likely have fewer skills than previous generations, managers have to take more time and care with those that do report to them to best achieve their goals and those of the organization.  This happens best by starting with one's employees and their needs, hopes and ambitions and then getting the work done through that filter.

7.   The Need for Low-Cost Options for Motivating Employees Today.

     Traditional incentives from salary and benefits to bonuses and promotions are less available in almost all organizations today, so we need a wider range of potential ways to reward and recognize employees when they perform well.  One size no longer fits all and you can't have a couple formal recognition programs such as years of service or employee of the month and expect that to do it for everyone.  Motivational needs are too varied along the career path of any employee or among all employees, for that matter.  Motivation needs vary from individuals vs. teams, age, gender, culture, and personality type.  All managers need to expand their tool kit in how to motivate employees and to use a variety of approaches in timely, sincere and specific ways that align with desired behavior and performance. Fortunately, there are lots of proven things that can be done, starting with the simplest forms of recognition, thanks and praise that 99.7 percent of today's employees report they expect in their jobs today when the do good work.

     Rewards, recognition and praise really do work to motivate individuals and produce desired results; in fact, most studies on the topic indicate that employees often prefer recognition and praise even over money.  As times have changed, employee expectations for recognition have increased and at the same time become more intangible, personal and real-time.  More than anything, motivation occurs within the relationships of those we work with, starting with our manager.  Employees today expect their managers to care and to show that they care daily.


Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is president of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego (www.nelson-motivation.com) and a leading authority on motivating, managing and inspiring employees to new heights.  He is author of several best-selling books including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees which has sold 1.5 million copies and is now available in a revised, updated edition, 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, and The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook:  The Complete Guide.

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Editor:    Douglas Shaw, CM