Company Culture

Cost of Unmotivated Employees – How Much are You Willing to Lose?

Do you have employees? If you do, are they all motivated to do their best, every day?

If you’re not certain that they are motivated, odds are they’re not. The cost of having unmotivated employees is something many business owners avoid thinking about; it’s that unnerving…

The first thing that pops into the heads of most business owners is unmotivated sales people.

Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Rating: 5/5

Good enough isn’t good enough for some companies. And those companies become great companies. Do you want to do that? The book tells you everything you need to know to go from good to great. In fact you may even get the impression it’s easy.

Jim Collins, with the research group, studied what exactly makes a company perform much better than the market or their competitors. I think the principles they found behind the great performance are what you’d expect them to be (except for one). But most people, me included, tend to avoid them because they’re not easy or “fun” to follow.

Management vs. Leadership – What’s the Difference?

Management and leadership are often thought of as synonyms. There’s a significant difference between management and leadership.

Wikipedia describes management: “… the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively.”

It’s possible you think that’s the description for leadership, but it’s not. But what is leadership then?

What is leadership?

Leadership is often seen as a part of management. But I can just as easily see management as a part of leadership. And you don’t need employees to be a leader.

Leadership is easy to understand through the characteristics of a leader. Here’s three most important qualities leaders embody.

1. Leaders have a vision of a future. They believe in their vision and they’re ready to work towards that future even without help. And they spread the idea in any way they can.

2. Leaders are good with people. Leadership is based on trust, which the leader gains by providing to the followers what they want. Only someone who understand people, can give them what they want.

3. Leadership requires charisma/enchantment. Charisma and enchantment don’t necessarily mean attractive looks. Voice, speech patterns, eye contact, clothes, and of course the words used, are often more important than looks. I recommend “Enchantment” by Guy Kawasaki (my review) if you’re interested in enchantment.

If those are most important measures of leadership, then what is management? I wrote earlier this week about manager’s role. To sum it up, managers work to enable a future. Managers take a goal, created by their leader, and then use the available resources to accomplish that goal.

Difference of management and leadership

Simply put leadership is empowering people to work, management is enabling the work. The difference of management and leadership is blurry and difficult to see in practice, because most managers embody some characteristics of leadership. And many leaders work as managers, or at least deal with their goal’s management issues.

Managing requires you to interact closely with your employees/subordinates/followers. Leadership on the other hand is possible without personal contact to your followers. Or at least contact to a small part of your following can be enough.

Personal contact is the easiest and most effective way to create a following, but leadership is first and foremost based on the idea, or the future, the leader believes in.

The only reason I categorize articles about leadership under management, is simplicity. I believe there’s a significant difference between management and leadership, but I also believe managers should understand how to lead.

Many schools teach management/leadership/etc. including degrees like bachelor of science in organizational management. And I guess you can learn a lot from them, but only if you choose to do so…

What do you think about management and leadership? Are they synonyms? Is one included in the other? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Review: Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

Rating: 5/5

After reading a few pages I knew I’d love this book. My belief turned out to be justified. The book is about enchantment and it is enchanting.

Guy Kawasaki worked at Apple when the first Macintosh was released. He’s job was to be the “chief evangelist”, marketing to put it simply. Later he’s worked for and started a few companies and written several books.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is his latest book. It describes, in wonderful detail, what makes something enchanting. It explains how you can be enchanting, make your product or company enchanting, and how to resist enchantment. And it is all done in an enchanting way.

The structure

There isn’t a plot to the book. Rather it tackles one aspect of enchantment at a time. This works perfectly well, though I usually prefer books written in “story” format.

Guy Kawasaki obviously knows exactly what he writes about, the book is a pleasure to read. Ideas are reinforced with examples, expert opinions, and studies.

Because of the simple one-idea-at-a-time structure, I’ll use the book as a reference book for a long time. Though I think some of the chapters and headings could’ve been a little more descriptive to make finding single ideas easier (fortunately there’s an index at the back that helps with this).

It almost seems as if there’s nothing about enchantment that isn’t described in the book. But still you’d like it to be longer, just to keep reading.

What is enchantment?

Guy Kawasaki describes enchantment: “Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. … It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

An enchanting person is someone you instantly trust. Someone who’s example you want to follow.

An enchanting product is one you believe in and tell all your friends about. One you’re willing to defend if others threaten its idea.

Apple is probably the most obvious example of an enchanting company/brand. They have a loyal following of enchanted people. Whenever a new product is released millions read the news.

But what makes Apple enchanting?

How to be enchanting

This is what the book does so well. It gives you an endless list of ways to be more enchanting. All the usual ways to interact and common situations are explained.

Want to enchant customers? Explained. How to create a movement? Explained. Want to score points in the eyes of your boss? Explained. How to use Twitter enchantingly? Explained. And so on and so on.

The risk with this kind of a book, or any business book, is to be too theoretical. Guy Kawasaki manages to mix in just enough theory to be trustworthy, but not too much to be boring.

Throughout the book, it’s clear the author understands and lives what he teaches. He uses examples of his own experiences, but not too many to seem arrogant.

Who benefits from the book

I’d say anyone who is in contact with other humans, will greatly benefit from reading this book. It’s one of the few books I’m sure to read again… and again.

As far as I know, no one has written a more comprehensive book about enchantment. Though many have written about social behavior and other related topics, no one describes what creates that sudden feeling of enchantment.

If you want a more theoretical view to enchantment or to just understand it better, there’s a list of books Guy Kawasaki recommends. But reading “Enchantment” will be enough for most people.

The end

As I wrote this post, I realized just how enchanted I was by this book. I could’ve gone on and on about what I liked about it.

To be honest the book isn’t perfect. But the flaws are small:

  • I would’ve liked colored pictures for example. I think colors would’ve made the book more enchanting ;)
  • And I hoped for a short checklist of the most important ideas. After reading the book, I have too many ideas and a short “where to start” checklist would make taking action easier.

Buy the book

Buy hardcover from Amazon

Buy audiobook from Audible (click here for a free trial = one audiobook free)

9 Things Employees Want from a Job

Employees as customers is an idea most companies have never heard of. And most companies that have heard of it, haven’t thought about it.

If employees are a company’s most valuable asset, then the idea makes perfect sense. You should treat employees as customers, as if you were selling something to them. And actually, you do sell something to your employees.

Employees are customers

You could simplify this idea and say, “Employees buy money from their employers, with their time.” In other words the time you spend working acts as the payment for your salary, which is the product you buy.

But it’s not that simple. You don’t pay with just time. And you don’t only get money as a reward.

You often spend more than half of your time awake at work. Fortunately you get more than money for that. Or at least you should.

If you’re unable to provide other “products” (rewards) for your employees, they’ll go somewhere else. This is especially true of your most talented and motivated employees. Other companies are happy to give them more than just money.

What else do you sell to your employees

So, money isn’t the only “product” your employees want from you. Certainty, appreciation, purpose, relationships, growth, challenges, opportunities, the list goes on.

The customer is always right, and the law of demand states you must provide what your customers want. So, you need to provide what your employees want.

That’s true if you want your employees to do their best. It takes a fraction of a second from a customer to notice whether or not someone likes their job. And that reflects to how well they do their job.

An unmotivated employee won’t spend time learning new skills. They won’t find creative solutions to problems. And they have no reason to stay loyal to their employers.

What employees want

Here are the basics of what employees want from a job.

1. Money. Unless you employ millionaires who are only looking for experiences, you have to pay your employees enough. Note that “enough” isn’t the same as “the most”. Other factors play a larger role in choosing where to work once you get paid “enough”.

2. Certainty. One of the basic human needs is certainty. How much of it you need varies from person to person. But for most people, work is the one place that should offer fair amount of certainty.

3. Challenges. The opposite to certainty. A job that never challenges you, is boring. And a boring job is worse than an uncertain job, for most people at least.

4. Appreciation. Usually the best way to motivate employees, is to show appreciation. People usually work harder for a status increase than a raise.

5. Purpose. The most satisfying jobs are those that offer a purpose you believe in. Charities work only because they offer a purpose for their volunteers.

6. Growth. People generally want to grow as humans. For as long as your job makes you a better person, you’ll enjoy it. This is closely related to opportunities.

7. Opportunities. Not everybody wants to be the CEO. But most people like the possibility to be promoted. Or at least to have influence on what they do on a day-to-day basis.

8. Relationships. Some people like to work alone, but most want to have people around them. Stronger relationships at work usually increase productivity.

9. Rhythm. Since working takes so much of your time, it also creates a rhythm for you life. Most enjoy this, as it adds to the feeling of certainty.

Think of at least one way to offer more of each of the things on the list. You’re guaranteed to increase productivity through motivating employees more.

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The Manager’s Role: What are Managers For – And The Top 3 Mistakes

What’s the manager’s role? Unfortunately managers tend to have a very different answer to that than employees.

Everything most managers do falls into one of two categories: things they’re forced to do, and things they want to do.

But they’re not forced to do many of the things they should do, and they shouldn’t do many of the things they want to do.

So, what should managers do? And please note, this guide is about management, not about leadership. These two are often mixed together, but a manager isn’t necessarily a leader.

What are managers for?

Manager’s role is something most people never seriously think about. And the first answers that come to mind are usually wrong.

Here are the five most important aspects of a manager’s role. The first three are commonly agreed on, though many avoid following the advice. But most managers don’t even want to hear about the last two.

You could compress the manager’s role into, “Enable your employees to work, and then stay out of their way.”

1. Take care of management issues.

Paperwork is precisely what managers are made for (sorry to be so blunt, but let me explain). Imagine a work environment without a person who takes care of the team’s paperwork.

There has to be someone who makes sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to do and where they should be.

But it’s not your job to tell anyone how to do their job. Don’t confuse this with denying help. Don’t micromanage, but be available to help if they need it.

2. Enable others to work.

Taking care of the paperwork is just a tiny portion of this. You need to make sure people have what they need to do their job.

Communicate with other departments to know you’re on the same page. Delegate projects and tasks evenly to make sure everything gets done. The list of simple, but really important, tasks that managers should do is long.

Most importantly, make sure people have ,what they need for their work. And make sure nothing is holding them back.

3. Motivate your employees.

Most managers will intuitively say something about motivating people if asked about the manager’s role. But most managers don’t actually motivate anyone.

Most managers don’t know how to motivate people. And it’s not high on their list of things to learn. What managers often do when they attempt to motivate, actually takes away motivation.

Goals can be good motivators, but only if they’re mutual. Too often managers set goals that aren’t interesting for the employees.

A goal is motivating if reaching it is rewarding. The reward doesn’t have to be money. Recognition is usually the best reward.

4. Give all credit to others.

After a successful project a good manager is forgotten. The team should feel they did it all by themselves without your help. And if your bosses call to congratulate, you tell them they should thank your team.

Your job is only to enable others to do a great job. You can congratulate yourself for hiring the right people, giving them the necessary tools, keeping distractions away, and so on.

Why should you give away credit? Because you only enabled the success. It would be like congratulating the Sun for a good wine.

5. Take all the blame.

This is the part where becoming a manager starts to look like a choice only an idiot would make. If something goes wrong, anything at all, it’s always your fault.

The extreme example: if you need to fire someone, then you either made a mistake hiring them, or you should’ve done something before things escalated into firing.

Never let your boss complain to your subordinates, it’s your job to be the buffer. It’s intimidating to be criticized by your boss. And it’s even more intimidating to be criticized by your boss’s boss.

Common mistakes

Besides forgetting (or avoiding) what the manager’s role is, many managers do these common mistakes. If you even avoid these mistakes, your employees will like you.

Top 3 Management Mistakes

  1. Don’t micromanage. If you tell people how to do their job, it looks like you don’t trust them. If you don’t trust your employees, then hire better employees.
  2. Don’t ask people to do anything you wouldn’t do. This is the easiest way to destroy motivation and company culture.
  3. Don’t highlight mistakes, ever. Always find a positive way to explain issues. Show how things should be done, instead of explaining how someone messed up.

As a manager you have a key role in building the company culture. The way you act will quickly reflect to the entire company. I have more experience of managers who don’t understand their role. So, please take the time to understand what you’re supposed to do.

In case you’re wondering what’s the difference to leadership, I’ll write about that later this week.

How would you describe a manager’s role? Do you have experiences you could share? The comments section below is just for that.

And feel free to send this to your boss, if you dare ;) (Co-workers and/or your equals in the company food chain, may be a safer choice. There’s a chance your boss is as unwilling to understand their role, as many other managers are.)

3 New Year’s Resolutions Every Business Should Make

People make new years resolutions and so should businesses.  Here are 3 new year’s resolutions every business should make.

1. Don’t think that the same things that worked last year would work this year.

Things change. There’s no real reason to believe that you could keep doing the exact same things you did last year.

More probably than not, you need to change too. If your competitors change for the better but you stay the same, you’ll lose.

You shouldn’t change your core idea, unless it no longer works. But you should take a long hard look at how you do what you do.

Is your marketing creating increasingly positive results? Do your employees’ motivation strengthen? Do you enjoy working more than before?

Change for the sake of change is pointless, don’t fix what isn’t broke. But never say, “It worked well last year, so it’ll work well this year.” There’s no guarantee that’s going to happen.

2. Make a list of your top three development priorities for the new year. And act on them!

A business should always know exactly what it needs to work on the most. Unfortunately these priorities are often forgotten.

Do your sales people need more training? Is your company culture holding you back? Are there any new challenges in sight?

Never think your business is “ready”. There’s always the next level, even if you’re already the best at something.

When you have the list, do something about the things on it. And do that something immediately. Don’t put it off or you’ll find yourself writing the same list next year.

3. Deliver more value to your customers.

Think of at least five ways you can deliver more value to your existing and future customers. Unless you can deliver more value to your customers, they’ll find someone who can top what you offer.

Could you promise faster delivery? Better customer service? More resources to customers? Closer relationship with customers?

People get used to the status quo. They get bored with it and they start to expect more. Your competitors will do their best to offer more than you. So, beat your last-year-you and wow your customers again.

Do you have another new years resolution? Share it in the comments.

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45-15 min Work Rhythm

How come some people seem to have more time in a work day? At least a partial explanation is their work rhythm; they know how to manage their time effectively.

Most people could divide their tasks into two groups: “primary” and “other”. Then they could assign times for the groups.

The “other” group consists of tasks that everybody does. Reading/writing emails, time spent on the phone, answering simple questions others ask you, etc. These are the things that take up a lot of time but don’t usually create a lot of value.

The primary tasks are your unique tasks. The ones others don’t do. If you’re a sales person then selling and prospecting are your primary tasks. If you’re a customer service representative then monitoring email is indeed your primary task.

The reason some people get more things done is because they understand the power of focus. They know it’s impossible to think about two things at once (you can hop back and forth between two ideas but you can’t consciously process more than one thought at any given moment).

So, the most productive people make sure their work rhythm allows them to focus singlemindedly on their primary tasks. 45-15 min work rhythm can help you do just that.

Dedicate the first 45 minutes of every hour to your primary work. Close your email application, don’t accept calls (unless you absolutely must), and close the door. Create time when you’re free of distractions.

The last 15 minutes of every hour are dedicated to the “other” tasks. Reply to emails and take care of other important tasks to have the next 45 minutes free for focusing again.

If you need more than 15 minutes for emailing than reserve the last hour of the day for that (and other similar tasks). Unless you’re unnaturally good at multitasking this work rhythm can enable you to do in one day what you used to do in two.

You should make sure your colleagues know of your work rhythm so they can contact you during the 15 minute part of the hour. It shouldn’t be too difficult to assure them or your boss that it’s a good idea; after all it’ll increase your productivity.

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3 Steps to Earning Employees’ Trust

Managers need their employees’ trust. That trust is more than just respect, it’s faith in the manager’s leadership and character. Getting into the inner circle of employees isn’t overly difficult but takes some effort.

The boss is by default an “outsider”. Being an outsider means a lack of trust. Every smart manager knows how valuable the employees’ trust is. But most aren’t willing to work to gain it.

Here’s the three most effective ways to gain employees’ trust and faith.

  1. Decrease your own status in the eyes of your employees. Ask for help when you need it and admit your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes and denying yours will only make you look childish.
  2. Let others take the credit and encourage them by trusting them. Don’t micromanage and let people do their jobs on their own. Just be available if someone needs your help.
  3. Stand up for your subordinates. Take responsibility when something goes wrong and don’t let your boss rage at them. Don’t accuse employees even if you had reason to do so. They will likely tell their peers about that and the story won’t be flattering to you.

The one thing that can keep you from gaining your employees’ trust is your ego. You need to be willing to stay on the background when things are going well. And take responsibility when things go wrong.

If you have your employees’ trust they’ll do their best even when you’re not around. And they can concentrate on their work when they know you take care of your part.

Maybe the most important benefit of having your employees’ trust is that you get to know what they really think. You can then address rising issues and problems before they can do much damage. If you were seen as an outsider, you’d only get to clean up the mess.

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How To Do The Annual Performance Reviews

The short answer is: Don’t do them unless you know exactly how. An annual performance review can easily waste a week of the employees time.

The actual conversation takes only a couple of hours. But the days leading up to it and after it are far from efficient.

Before the review people are nervous about what will be said. And the days after it are spent complaining about what was said (or understood). Unless you change the meaning of the review.

When you hear “annual performance review” do you link more positive or negative thoughts to it? Odds are you think of ten ways it can be unfair, unpleasant, and/or a waste of time.

The only way you can get the best results from the annual performance reviews is if you change its meaning. This change is essentially a change in company culture.

The best managers give feedback every day. Most of the feedback is positive. A simple, “Thanks, you did a good job with *blank*” is enough. This constant feedback builds mutual trust and creates an open line of communication.

When the time of the annual performance review comes it’s not negative. It’s a chance to build a stronger relationship. And both parties can learn from it.

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