Thursday, January 26, 2012

People first – Gallup backs it up

We continually harp on the value of paying attention to the people who work for you or with you. In fact, that concept and how to achieve it, is the total basis for the two books, The Wrong Bottom Line and How To Change It, and The Wrong Bottom Line Still – Components for Success (to be  released within the next couple of months.)

 But we aren’t alone.

The Gallup organization has studied this phenomenon for many years under the name of employee engagement, and involving more than 17 million employees. They estimate that not engaging employees cost US businesses some $300 billion in lost productivity alone.

According to Gallup in its recent analysis from data of more than 152 organizations, there is a dramatic difference between top and bottom–quartile work groups on key business outcomes directly tied to employee engagement. It shows up in productivity, profitability, safety incidents, and absenteeism. Our own investigation shows it also affects employee attitude, loyalty, and the length of time individuals remain with the organization.

So how do you ensure maximum employee engagement? There are many ways, and we will share them with you in future articles. However, the underlying concepts – ways of thinking – are critical:

1. GNSP = HLOS (Greater Number of Successful People = Higher Level of Organization Success). We suggest you view the video: Don’t Overlook the Trees for the Forest.

2. “I am the boss, they work for me.” So often we hear this statement stated the wrong way. Don’t emphasize the first part; concentrate on the last. That is, your success as a leader is completely dependent upon the work of others. Without them, you completely fail. They really do work for you.

Do the people in your organization view themselves as mere cogs in a machine or do they feel appreciated, and as important contributors? Do they believe that their opinions count – that they count? According to the research and to maximize your success, you need to make sure they have positive answers to those questions.

Their feelings and attitudes make a big difference in the success and profitability of your organization

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Foundation for more effective dispute resolution

After last week’s article, Dealing With Angry People, a reader commented that he totally agreed. The problem, however, was how to actually put that into real life. I agree. It is always easier to talk than to implement. This is especially true where emotions are involved.

The key is to determine direction before emotional involvements, and to become proficient in dealing with them. Here are some suggestions.

First, there must be a belief in the philosophy. If you believe arguing is the way to solve problems, there is no need to go further. Enjoy your sessions and increased blood pressure. If, however, you think there is validity in the idea of an alternative path, you can make some changes.

Second, a procedure or practice must be developed that will actually facilitate bringing the philosophy to fruition. Back to targeting and focus. Remember that you hit only what you aim at. And, if you think you are not aiming, you still are. Sounds confusing? This is a discussion for another time. Just realize that you are going in a direction – one you consciously chose or one determined by the environment. 

Third, the philosophy, procedures,  practices, and training must be an integral part of the system. Particularly, it must include the front-line people; those individuals who meet customers, associates, students, parents, etc.  It must not be just another policy or procedure prescribed by the head office and trained at the head office. That brings us to an important issue.

We are seeing extreme salary differences between leadership and line workers. Some CEOs are paid more per day than their workers receive in a year. That is obscene and negatively affects people. That king-servant attitude also often infiltrates the training and individual development practices. The top of the ladder – kings – get the training while the bottom get only what is necessary for them to function. Of course, that is foolish.

The key people in organization image, customer relations, repeat business, and word-of-mouth advertising are usually the lowest paid and poorest trained individuals – telephone operators, return desk clerks, and cashiers. These are the people we all deal with every day. These are the people who set the image of companies. They become the company to the people who call, have a concern, or want to return an item. How much training do they receive in dealing with conflict? How many workshops are they involved in, and at company expense?

If we want to be optimally successful, we need to provide increased training in how to deal with people – that includes angry people – more professionally and successfully. And, to be most effective, it should be provided before the problem arises.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dealing With Angry People

Whenever you think you are arguing with a fool, consider the possibility that your opponent may be engaged in a similar activity.

From time to time, everyone has the opportunity of dealing with angry – upset – people. It can be with customers, employees, employers, or even adults and children in your home. It doesn’t matter whether it is a three-year-old or the CEO, the rules for success are the same.

Rule 1: Start  with yourself.
Make sure you are not contributing to the problem by being angry yourself. Take a deep breath and intellectually and emotionally “stand back,” and look at yourself as objectively as possible. If this is an ongoing occurrence, ask an associate or an unaffected observer to evaluate how you operate. 

Rule 2: Allow the anger – in the other person. A disgruntled employee, customer, teenager, or little child is upset. The best thing you can do is let them vent – even if you know they are completely wrong. The worst thing you can do is try to cut them off. After they have let off the steam, they are more ready for suggestions and solutions.

Rule 3: Listen - but not looking for a response. Don’t cut in. Don’t inject comments; just listen. You will gain some understanding, and sometimes, the upset person will get around to providing solutions.

Rule 4: Clarify. After the individual is done venting, attempt to playback the main points you heard. Do ask for clarification as needed – do so in a respectful manner.

Rule 5: Respond appropriately. “You forgot to plug it in, you stupid jerk!” is not an appropriate response.

Rule 6: Don’t argue.
It is surprising the number of people who think they win arguments. “Winning” an argument doesn’t happen for the participants.  No one wins an argument. If you walk away from an argument with a smug feeling because you “won” that one, look again.  Arguments are lose, lose situations; no one wins. Sometimes they think they do. You may have the last word. Your opponent may be visibly shaken. However, it may have nothing to do with a change of thinking, only that the individual is worn down, has given up, or decides the whole thing is a waste of time.

I have observed many lose – lose situations. You can read some for nothing. Just go to Amazon, type in “The Wrong Bottom Line and How to Change It,” do the “Look Inside” p. 23, or click this link:, in the index, click "Think Ahead." The incidents noted there are absurd.  They are also common. These are normally intelligent people who, in the heat of battle, make no sense, and think they have won when they have really lost.
Don’t argue; you will win nothing and can lose much.

Skillfully working with angry people can be very rewarding both personally and for the institution.