Vol VII: Motivation Through Recognition


Recognizing employee performance is one of the cornerstones of keeping employees motivated and engaged. In my article, “Setting the Stage”, I referenced positive recognition as being one of the key factors in creating a positive employee environment.

Recognizing your employees helps all your employees, the ones who are recognized feel appreciated and noticed by your thanking them for their level of effort and accomplishment. For other employees the recognition reinforces your corporate values by creating examples of the types of behaviors and efforts that you’ve rewarded.

In the best of environments, recognition will happen organically because managers pay attention to what their teams are doing and will notice which team members are excelling. In many situations, recognition can drop off of the radar as managers at all levels focus on efficiency or profitability, something the business is measuring explicitly. The importance of thanking people for doing their job well or going above and beyond expectations goes to the sidelines.

Recognition can take many forms, and not all employees will respond the same way to the same incentives. If you feel like you do praise and reward your employees but your employees don’t feel the same way, then you might not be recognizing them in a way that resonates with them. Once you understand who your employees are as individuals, you will know what’s important to them and what will make them feel recognized and motivated.

Here are some forms of recognition that can be used to personalize the experience for your employees based on what they are most comfortable with:

  • Public recognition – being positively recognized in front of peers and/or to other leaders
  • Monetary – bonuses, gifts or gift cards, increase in wage
  • Private moments – time with the boss – this could be one-on-one walking around the operation, coffee at a local shop, or even dedicated office time.
  • Added responsibility/empowerment – for some, added responsibility shows you trust them, so pile it on! They are ready, willing and able to show you they can succeed!

Understanding your employees as individuals will help you determine which form of recognition is appropriate for each person. For example, one person may take public recognition as form of motivation and continue to exceed expectations, while someone else may shy away from taking chances in the future out of fear of embarrassment.

Recognition is in the eye of the recipient, get to know what motivates your team and try to personalize your recognition to motivate and highlight to others what it means to be a high performer.

Please join the conversation….

SE VI: Connections


This week’s shared experience is about connection.  I am no expert on the matter, I am just a normal person who navigates life’s waters like the rest of you.  But this week I reconnected with a family member which opened our relationship in a healthy supportive way – something I would have considered very unlikely not too long ago. I also reconnected with an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in over 15 years.  I just stumbled across her profile in Facebook and reached out.  Frankly, I don’t remember the reasons why we stopped talking it was so long ago, and I had no idea if she’d be happy to hear from me, but she was.

I feel like this past week reminded me that it’s never too late to reconnect with someone – but also the importance of not waiting too long.  The thing about our stories is that there are always three sides to them (yours, theirs, and the truth) and the older the stories, the more cloudy the facts become.  I don’t like to give advice on personal relationships, but if you want my two cents – don’t wait to mend fences, don’t get weighed down by the little details because likely they aren’t very important, and reconnect.  Try it, you might be surprised how good it makes you feel.

Please join the conversation….

Vol VI: Paying Attention to the Employee Environment


The influence the workplace environment has on every aspect of your business can be significant. In my article, Setting the Stage, I referenced the environment, asking if there were opportunities for improvement or innovation. It’s natural to become complacent with our surroundings, things you see every day fade into the background. How often are you evaluating the workplace environment? Do your employees engage with their environment and the tools they have available to them? Does your team’s work environment contribute to a more successful employee and customer experience?

There are three areas I look to when evaluating a company’s environment: Space, Tools, and Technology.


Look with fresh eyes – is your team’s workspace organized and inspiring? Does it represent your brand? Here are some things to look for:

  • Does clutter accumulate in corners or on countertops?
  • Do all the tools that employees need have a place in the workspace?
  • Are tools put back into place after use?
  • Do employees struggle to find what they need, or is everything readily at hand?
  • What’s the condition of the paint, flooring, countertops, and equipment?

Fixing the little stuff will make a big difference both to your employees and to your customers.


Examine the tools your employee use – most jobs need something more than the employee themselves.

  • Do your employees have the right tools for their job?
  • Are the tools in good working condition?
  • Are things “rigged together” – nothing inspires confidence like seeing a tool held together with duct tape or rubber bands.

Employees having appropriate tools will not only make them more efficient, but will reduce the stress of their jobs allowing them to focus on helping your customers and promoting your brand.


Changes in technology have affected every business, and the pace of change seems to keep accelerating. Choosing when and how to adopt new technologies presents a unique set of challenges. Investments in technology require looking at and beyond the financial implications.

  • Are you investing appropriately in technology?
  • What is the long term return on investment for the technologies you do invest in?
  • How much time will a new technology save your employees or your customers?
  • How much more can your employees do with the technology in terms of cross-selling, up-selling, or up-servicing? Something as straightforward as access to customer profiles and history can make a big difference.

When employees spend hours each day in the same environment inspiration may fade. If you have ever witnessed the opening of a new restaurant, the staff is charged up, proud, and engaged in the surroundings. That level of enthusiasm is hard to maintain, but keeping the workplace fresh and the tools relevant and working can make a significant difference to morale and can help solidify relationships between leaders and team members, as well as customers.

Please join the conversation….


SE V: How Do You Manage Your Boss?


I have a good friend who recently started working for a small but successful business where the owner is very involved in the detailed decisions.  My friend is struggling with adapting to the differences between the large company she left and the small ‘family run’ business she joined.  One of the things we talked about was how to “manage her boss”.   I know that sounds backwards, ‘managing your boss’ – but it’s essential, especially in a smaller business.

Here is some friendly advice I gave her on this topic:

  • The owner is your boss and has final say in whatever decisions they want to chime in on – regardless of what you think.  It is good to share your opinion, offer suggestions, and explain your reasoning, but at the end of the day, the final say is still theirs.
  • While you want to contribute and be valuable to your employer, you’ll want to do so in a cooperative manner.  If you contribute in a way that makes your boss feel left out or incapable, you’ll be doing more harm than good in the long run.  Ultimately, no one wants to keep someone around who makes them feel bad about themselves – regardless of your value.
  •  If there are disagreements, choose your battles wisely – pick the battles that you feel passionate about, protect the company, the employees, and the customers.  Fighting back about everything won’t ultimately build trust between you and your boss.

Going from large to small companies, or vice versa, is an adjustment on many levels, understanding your own reasons for making a change, and determining the scope of your role will help smooth the transition and help you learn to navigate the space you are in.

Please join the conversation…..

Vol V: Building & Keeping Trust


In last week’s article, Building Trust Means Being Trustworthy, I highlighted 6 attributes of trust. This week, I want to show some examples of how to put those attributes into action. Even with the best of intentions, if you don’t follow through on all the attributes in your decision making process, you can wind up hurting trust rather than improving it.

For our first example, suppose you are a team leader and one of your employees approaches you about their work assignment. They don’t like the area they’ve been assigned to. The easy decision would be to swap their area with a coworker. That might make that employee happy, but what happens when we look at our trustworthiness attributes, specifically, Fairness?

Making a swap for one employee may make that employee happy, but what about their co-workers? Are you showing favoritism for that employee? Even if you aren’t, will others perceive it as favoritism?

You could avoid any pitfalls by having a systematic way of assigning work and schedules that includes how employee requested transfers will be handled. This process would ensure that everyone knows the rules and they know the rules are being followed consistently – this builds trust.

Our second example highlights Transparency. In the airline business getting planes out on time is essential, there are a lot of factors that go into getting planes out on time, and not all of them are visible to customers. In one case, maintenance crews were finding that customers often flushed the paper towels used in the aircraft lavatories which created clogs and delayed flight departures in order to fix the problem. The problem was researched and the paper towels were replaced with a more biodegradable option, causing less clogs and less delays. Problem solved, right? Except… the biodegradable paper towels were thinner and lighter, and the flight attendants did not know why the change was made, they thought the change was a cost-savings initiative and saw it as the company being ‘cheap’. If the airline communicated transparently this change would have been viewed by all parties as a positive and not a negative.

In both of these examples, a few simple questions would have helped the outcome. Here’s my checklist of questions I use when making important decisions to ensure that I’m working toward building and keeping trust:

  1. How is this decision going to be perceived by employees?
  2. Am I looking at the big picture and how others will be affected?
  3. Am I communicating in a way that answers all potential questions proactively?
  4. Have I considered how this decision could appear to my customers?
  5. Is there a way my actions can ensure buy in and consensus without losing the intent of the decision?

The goal of these questions is to ensure that when making decisions, we look at the big picture. When taking other’s perception into account proactively, we can often build and maintain trust.

Please join the conversation….

SE IV: Passion = Joy


This weekend I went to a friend’s place for a workshop on how to find passion in your life.  To be honest, this is not my cup of tea, I really went because I think it’s important to show up for your friends.  I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as ‘hippy dippy’ as I thought. I met five new smart women and we had really good conversation about what we believe is important in our lives and what we want our futures to look like.

We were asked to define our passions and prioritize them in order to deliberately focus on obtaining them.  Examples from the group were about work, education, love, family, etc. – all things we think about regularly, but don’t often get deliberate about making them happen.

The greatest benefit for me was the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with friends – it was nice to talk about real things, we often fall into comfortable conversations about nonsense like tv shows or mundane topics – but having real conversations about things that we feel are important creates a reminder that we can impact our future if we are purposeful and don’t just sit back and wait for good things to come to us.  This applies equally to personal and work life – although it may not always seem so, we are often in control of our work destiny – know what you want, communicate it appropriately, and work toward that goal to find your passion!

If you are interested in the workshop I attended contact Lisa Padden at www.joycurriculum.com.

Vol IV: Building Trust Means Being Trustworthy


In my previous article, Setting the Stage, I highlighted trust as one of the keys to having a team work together successfully. I asked “Do your employees have trust in your leadership team?” – as an abstract question, it’s easy to answer “of course”, but delve a little bit deeper into what behaviors generate trust, and you may find areas of strength or areas to improve.

Here are 6 personal attributes that help others to see us as trustworthy:

  1. Reliability – you do what you say you’ll do and other people can depend on you to deliver when you make a commitment
  2. Sincerity – you are sincere and genuine – you mean what you say and you say what you mean
  3. Fairness – you don’t play favorites, you give everyone the same opportunities, and you are consistent in your actions and decision making
  4. Transparency – you are honest and open in your communications, you don’t lie or hold back important information, no hidden agendas. When you make decisions you are clear at communicating “why” as well as “what”
  5. Integrity – you understand what the right thing to do is and you do it, because its right
  6. Strength of Conviction – you do the right thing, even if it means you must take chances to do so.

If you consistently demonstrate these behaviors when working with your team and encourage others on the team to do so, you’ll find that your team will work confidently in the knowledge that they can trust your vision and each other in their ability to execute it.

Please join the conversation…


SE III: Customer Experience Doesn’t End At The Checkout


For the last two days I’ve been helping a customer with a lost bag after his flight. This customer, like most customers, understands that we don’t live in a perfect world so things happen, like lost bags. Trust me, he’s not happy but he’s reasonable. Where he became frustrated is in the challenge of resolving his issue through the ‘normal channels’.

Customer loyalty is based on the entire experience a customer has with your company. How often do you think about what happens to a customer after a purchase is made?

Any company should always be reviewing the entire customer experience, even post-purchase. Service Recovery becomes very important as we live in an imperfect world. Service recovery includes problem resolution channels, such as the processes we ask our customers to participate in to resolve issues, as well as the interaction with employees through effective communication and empowerment.

If you want repeat business and true customer loyalty, it is important to focus on the customer’s experience start to finish, even or especially in areas where customers wind up when things go wrong.