4 Proven Steps to Keep Technical Expertise In-house

Is your company faced with workforce restructuring, downsizing, right-sizing, and you need to do more to capture the intellectual capital of your technical expertise? If you have people who’ve been in their job more than five years, you may be at risk for losing their expertise when they retire or change jobs. This loss can be prevented by planning ahead. In doing this, you will save money, time and energy – capitalize on the subject matter experts (technicians) who have the content knowledge to keep your company running smoothly. There are some “right ways” to do this.

I am sharing four tips to help prevent loss of intellectual capital – your company’s technical expertise.
1. Use a knowledge base to improve productivity, customer response time and accuracy.
2. Gain buy-in from the subject matter experts and technicians who have the highest level of job performance.
3. Develop a mentoring and coaching process to lead and guide others.
4. Leverage the unique knowledge within each job category in your company.

If you know the percentage of turnover in your organization, you can see how this process will benefit you. Examine the details – Are people retiring or leaving for other jobs? Insure your knowledge capital by using proven techniques regarding the subject matter experts in your company. These SMEs are your “thought leaders” — I call them SME Champions ™ and they are a valued asset.

Increase your bottom line – using top performers!

How Engaged Employees Make a Difference

Recently, a new client asked me, “How do remarkable businesses build and maintain their reputation?”

The answer to this question involves management and employees’ attitudes. Management must screen and hire people that like and want to work in service to others. Hotels, banks, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc. rely on their employees to favorably impact the work environment and set the tone for customer satisfaction. How doe your staff view guests and customers? Characteristics of the right people for your business are those who are highly engaged in their work. Those employees are:
• Respond quickly;
• Look for opportunities to serve the customer;
• Perform their job as part of the “team;”
• Demonstrate authenticity – being themselves makes them more effective;
• Know all the services your business offers;
• Recommend your business and services to others.

Examine some of the areas where you should have concern with the feedback you receive from customers who had:
• Unresponsive staff;
• Delayed service;
• Uninformed staff regarding available services available or area attractions;
• Insufficient staff on duty.

The companies I work with have overcome challenges similar to these and have increased revenue with repeat and referral business. When staff respond to the guests’ needs in a timely, courteous manner it communicates that they care. When the person serving you exhibits a positive attitude, it adds to your experience. And, with the right tools, your employees can deliver optimal service so your guests return again and again.

Deliver Exceptional Service Everyday and Kick up Your Bottom Line!

5 Tips to Turn Around Negative Employees

The economy is creating a lot of stress among employees. If your own company’s one of the many that have had cut-backs in the work force, the remaining employees have to take on additional responsibilities and are working longer hours. Even if you’ve managed to weather the economic storm, your workers will have fears about losing their jobs.

Don’t be tempted to ignore negativity and hope things turn around, because letting bad behaviors slide can be costly. Instead build enthusiasm by engaging your employees in energizing activities each day. Enthusiasm and energy spreads quickly and builds an engaged workforce, which will in turn, affect the bottom line.

Address the negativity problem with the following techniques:
— Listen to concerns of employees;
— Discuss how to resolve their concerns;
— Motivate workers with small rewards and recognition for jobs done well;
— Ask for the employees’ input and ideas;
— Follow-up and do what you promise.

Be an exceptional manager and supervisor, or employee!

Get Employees Excited About Their Jobs

I see employees who are disengaged in their jobs and their managers wonder why job performance is lacking, enthusiasm is at an all-time low and they feel “stuck in the rut” of their jobs. You can be an engaged manager in your work by rewarding your employees for outstanding performance, sharing decision-making and communicating your goals through-out the company. Celebrate your achievements when you:
 Help the employees feel confident that they can provide support
 Make them aware of the programs where their input would be valuable
 Recognize them for supporting others in their job.

Read More »

How Assessment Tools Help with Workplace Behaviors

If you have a normal work environment, you have multiple types of people and behaviors interacting with each other. The key is to understand these behaviors and how your behavior affects others. In my last blog posting, I listed a few types of assessment tools. I’d like to describe the tools and give you an overview of how they may help you understand and manage your employees.

1. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a well-known temperament or personality inventory that indicates how one prefers to respond in various situations. It puts people into four different dichotomies – Each one helps you understand your preference i.e. Extroverts get energy from other people, Introverts need some solitude or privacy to recharge their batteries. Also, knowing that people differ helps you understand the other side. This is a useful tool that helps people see themselves as one of 16 different possible types.

— Although it’s an insightful tool the day it is administered, it takes interest and effort to remember one’s type: ENFJ? ISTP? Which are you? How do you remember the four dimensions, and the mix of 16 possibilities each set might create?

The instrument provides insight into preferred thinking, decision making, etc., but I believe it is often forgotten within a short time and in my experience not a lasting tool for positive change for individuals or even less so for creating change within the cultural environment.

2. DISC – A tool that helps you understand your behavioral tendencies, and how your behavior affects others. DISC has 4 categories:
D = Dominance
I = Influence
S = Steadiness
C = Conscientiousness

DISC helps you see how your behavior affects others and it is “situational-based. Depending on what you are doing and other people who are involved, as well as your thoughts and beliefs in that moment.

3. The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) is based on relationship awareness. This tool accurately assesses behavior and helps you understand how your behavior impacts others. It shows how you use your strengths in relating to others. This assessment tool:
— Explains how you relate to others and helps you become more aware
— Improves team effectiveness and reduces the cost of conflict.

You may be saying “So what?” What does this mean to you and your work or personal life?
To find the answers to these questions, and others, contact Bonnie@UnforgettableOutcomes.com and register to have an assessment done for your team. Each assessment tool is designed for to meet specific needs and we can identify which one will be the best fit for your purposes.

You can reduce employee turnover and increase engagement!

How to Predict Behaviors and Improve Interactions with Others

Learning to interact with others and understanding your needs and values can impact your job success. Let’s talk about some tools that you can use to assess workplace behavior. These tools help you predict and interpret behaviors. This is an overview of a few tools I’ve used and how they link between behavior, engagement and communication, especially under conflict. These factors impact performance! In business relationships, behavior and conflict affect morale and productivity – and success!

I’d like to ask: What do you do when the copier at your office isn’t working properly and the papers stack up? It usually doesn’t take long before it is repaired. Shouldn’t the same be true for your organization’s most valuable assets, your people?

These tools help you understand how and why people interact with one another as they do. You gain a personal awareness, as individuals, as workplace teams, and as an organization. You react based on the way you are motivated to respond in order to meet your needs or get the job done! When you use tools to identify characteristics, both personality and behavior types, they help you understand how your behavior affects others.

Some of the most common behavior profile tools are:
1. Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – has 4 categories for extraverts and introverts
2. DISC – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness = behavioral tendencies
3. SDI – Strength Deployment Inventory, based on relationship awareness and your strengths in relating to others.
4. Gallup Strengths Finder – based on themes and your personalized strengths

These are just a few of many tools that are available. In future postings, I will describe how these tools can benefit you in the workplace.
Let me know what experiences you’ve had; share your comments here.

Tips to Stem Negative Employee Behaviors

We have a problem — Dave, the example of a negative employee, constantly complains about the company. He compares his company to “XYZ Company.” According to Dave, XYZ Company is an ideal place to work. Let’s look at possible solutions.

Identify what’s causing Dave’s negative attitude by looking at some of the following:
1. What kind of communication takes place between Dave and his manager?
2. How is Dave’s overall productivity – has it declined only recently or is there a trend?
3. Compare the products and service of XYZ Company and see how they differ.
4. Ask Dave to compare the products and processes and ask him how your company can improve.
5. When Dave submits a report on the product and process recommendations, follow up with him to discuss them.

If these ideas don’t turn Dave’s attitude to positive, bring in an unbiased, outside person to review the situation. Try to understand Dave’s concerns and give equal time to him during the discussion. The management/leader is best to avoid arguing with the negative employee. Instead, it’s best to:
— Understand concerns
— Go with the positive – present them with choices
— Work through the consequences of the choices so they are making an informed decision – empower people – puts them in charge of their own life and their own career
— People in charge of their destiny take ownership; hold themselves accountable.

Negativity can spread. Negative employee behavior leads to low morale and decreased productivity. If Dave is a valuable employee, except he has an “attitude,” how can we overcome the negative behavior? What kind of solutions do you recommend for dealing with an employee like Dave?

Please share your ideas here.

What Happens When Behavior Effects Productivity?

Have you ever worked with someone who has all the answers? How does that make you feel? How do you respond? I had a recent experience with someone who had all the answers and used that experience to show how it affected the company’s productivity.

While presenting a workshop on workplace behaviors, I used examples from a variety of behavior profile tools and described how to recognize the critical impact on employee productivity. One example I described was in the office of one of my clients. They had a group of dysfunctional managers who needed to improve their decision making and cooperation with others in their organization. One of the managers was a control-freak and had all the answers when the group was working together. This manager was a strong assertive-directing individual who overdid her strengths. The others all fell in line and followed her directions! She exhibited these characteristics in three different behavior profiles. In this case, the individual was a strong leader….but over-did her strengths.

While using this example, we had a discussion of how weaknesses can develop when strengths are overdone. I asked the group to take some of the strengths that I listed for them on a flip chart and describe how they would appear if they were overdone. Some examples of strengths that are often “over-done”
— A person who is “too self-confident” may appear as arrogant
— A person who quickly takes personal leadership – may appear as bossy
— A person who is flexible can easily let people down when working in a team environment
— A self-reliant person – appears opportunistic

It becomes clear that “going overboard” in any direction leads to internal conflict, as happened in my example with the strong, assertive individual.

In understanding behaviors, and conflict that arises as a result of negative behaviors, we need to look at what’s driving the behaviors. The more aware we are of “what makes us tick”, the more aware we will be of what “makes others tick.” We are empowered to control outcomes of our relationships with others. When we take ownership and responsibility for our actions is an important piece of the behavior puzzle. When we use tools to better understand our behavior, we can take better responsibility.

Many tools are available for improving managers’ effectiveness and reducing the costs of conflict. An organization that is continually faced with conflict experiences reduced efficiency, lack of employee engagement, increased employee absence and sometimes a loss of good people – all result in reduced productivity!

Contact me (Bonnie@UnforgettableOutcomes.com) if you want to gain an understanding of workplace behaviors and how to use them to benefit your organization for a more productive work environment.

The Builder – as recited by David Sandy

A poem recited by David Sandy was sent to me recently as a concern for how associations maintain their stability. (I could not find the name of actual author) I was moved by the poem:

The Builder

I saw them tearing a building down:
a gang of men in my hometown.
With a heave and a ho and a “yes, yes, yell,”
they swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
And I asked the Foremen, “Are these men skilled?
Like the ones you’d use if you had to build?”
“Oh no, no indeed; commonest labor is all I need.
For I can destroy, in a day or two, what it takes a
builder ten years to do!”
And I asked myself as I went my way,
which of these roles do I want to play?
Am I one who is tearing down as I carelessly
make my way around?’
Or am I one who is building with care, so that
my organization, my community, my country
is a better place just because I was there.

Asking, Recognizing and Encouraging = Engagement!

I read an article by David Zinger (Employee Engagement Network) that “setting the stage for employee engagement and growth means building, recognizing and encouraging your employees.” I’d like to revise his definition slightly: “employee engagement and growth means asking, recognizing and encouraging…..”

How often do you ask your employees for their opinions? How do they respond? Do these questions affect how you relate to your employees? Overall communication improves when you ask questions, everyone learns and grows. David Zinger defines employee engagement as “good work, done well, with others, on a daily basis.” Interacting, listening and asking are activities that involve other employees. Make it part of your culture and communication within your organization. The added benefits of asking questions include:
• Inspires thinking
• Creates specificity
• Motivates response or action

As a manager, you get your team on the same page when they share ideas and perspectives of their jobs. Stimulate your critical thinking with open-ended questions and encourage responses that include creative ideas. They gain an understanding of the overall decisions and outcomes within the organization. Everyone involved grows as they are more engaged and inspired.

Ask the employee what can be done to help them be more engaged in their work. Conduct a survey to find out how employees feel about their work. In order to ascertain the senior employee’s feelings, survey all employees.

• What do they need from management to support them in their job?
• Conduct a focus group meeting with employees from different generations and ask them to give three recommendations on how employees can become more engaged at work. Listen closely to what they suggest.
• Follow-up on the recommendations and implement that which is relevant.

Share the questions that you prefer to ask and the responses you get from your employees. I’ll post the results here. Great communication is the opening to new ideas and inspired productivity!

Kick up Your Employee Engagement!