Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Category: Employee Retention

Managers: How about a Stay Interview?

15 August, 2011 (21:46) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In chapter 12 of the new book, The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management, Beverly Kaye suggests that managers have stay interviews with their team members. What are stay interviews? Here’s an excerpt from the book explaining how one might be conducted…

I probably haven’t told you this often enough, but you are important to this team and to me. I can’t imagine losing you. I know we’ve been through a rough time lately, and I want you to know how much I appreciate all you’ve done and the way you’ve done it. I’d like you to know that I want you to hang in here. I’d like to know what you want next. What do you want to learn? What career goals are you thinking about? What can I do to help you reach those goals? I’d like to know what will keep you here. And I’d like to know what could entice you away.

Thoughts, Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: I have lots more “I-can’t-believe-I’m-saying-this-but-you-can-Stay-Interviews.” That’s where I berate team members for imbecilic blunders, but I can’t fire them because it’s too much of a hassle to replace them, and at least I know what I’ve got.

Wanda B. Goode: People like to feel appreciated. They like to know that they are making meaningful contributions. Talks like this are one way to let them know that they are valued. Beats having an exit interview any day.

Here are a couple of related posts…
Stay Interview: What, Why, and How?
The Stay Interview

You Become What You Focus On

3 December, 2009 (00:25) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Leadership Development, Management, Personal Development, Podcast - Management Tips | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

John Spence, author of Awesomely Simple, shares his management tip – Focus on the right stuff and surround yourself with good people. John packs a whole bunch of valuable information into this ten minute podcast.

icon for podpress  John Smith's Management Tip [9:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Can’t Say Thank You Too Often

3 November, 2009 (22:50) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Recognition | By: Administrator

Here’s another nugget from the book, Instant Turnaround, by Harry Paul and Ross Reck.

A Harvard Business Review research study found that most employees are excited when they start a new job. The excitement is short-lived however. In 85 percent of the companies surveyed the level of excitement declines sharply in the first six months and continues on a downward trajectory in the years that follow. One of the main reasons for this is that their managers didn’t thank them for a job well done, but instead, were quick to criticize them for their mistakes.

What these managers fail to realize is that if they would focus their efforts on showing sincere appreciation to their employees instead of pointing out mistakes, their employees would work harder and make far fewer mistakes. Saying “thank you” often not only energizes your employees, it makes you a more effective manager.

Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Thanks so much for pointing that out to me, genius! That’s super advice. You did hear me say, “Thank you,” correct? I’m already improving, aren’t I? By the way I’m expecting you to step up your game and become more productive as a result of my gratitude.

Wanda B. Goode: This seems so simple but it’s not. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s a lot easier to forget to say thank you and focus on the mistakes. A sincere thank you for the reminder.

A related post…

Just Say Thank You. (Period)

The Benefits of Training

4 May, 2009 (22:55) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, What Were They Thinking? Jeffrey Pfeffer notes that a country’s or company’s competitive advantage in the current economy depends primarily on its people’s skill, talent, and educational attainment – its human capital.

He goes on to cite a study on the cost-effectiveness of 18 corporate training programs that found the average improvement of employee job performance after training to be 17% and the ROI to be 45% for management training and 418% for sales and technical training.

Why? Because training, when effectively organized and delivered, provides the following benefits:

  1. Employees learn the skills and knowledge that enhance their performance.
  2. Reciprocity kicks in. Employees see the investment made in them by their employer. In return they work harder and become more loyal.
  3. Building of skills and abilities raises sense of competence and capability. Employees perform at a higher level because they have confidence in themselves.

So, why are we so quick to cut training budgets?

Joe Kerr: I haven’t taken a training class in 20 years, and look where I am! Management training is a joke. If anything, it probably set me back a couple of years.

Wanda B. Goode: I can think of a couple of reasons. First, it’s hard to quantify the benefits of training, but it’s very easy to quantify the savings when it’s dropped. Second, I think to Joe’s point (sort of), sometimes training programs are either poorly designed or poorly delivered. Frequently employees don’t even get a chance to use the training that they receive. In some cases, as with management training for instance, employees find that lessons/behaviors taught in the class are not adhered to, and in fact, managers are rewarded for the opposite. Whatever the reason, instead of fixing the problem(s), it’s easier to just throw in the training towel.

Here are a couple of additional posts on the topic.

In Tough Economic Times, the Expedient Budget Cut is not always the Proper Budget Cut

Leadership Thought of the Day

The Levity Effect

22 July, 2008 (22:54) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management, Team Building, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

I just listened to a podcast with Adrian Gostick over at the Cranky Middle Manager. It’s about his book, The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up, which stresses the importance of having fun in the work place.

According to Adrian’s research, those that have more fun at work are more successful. Companies with cultures that embrace fun achieve better results as well. Unfortunately, too many companies don’t buy into the fun thing. They believe that being serious is necessary to maintain credibility.

For more discussion on when fun is not fun, quick suggestions for snapping people out of a funk at work, and other interesting tidbits, tune in to the podcast. Those of you familiar with Wayne Turmel’s podcasts are aware that he is no stranger to humor.

Joe and Wanda, are you advocates of fun at work?

Joe Kerr: Absolutely! Everyone knows I like a good laugh. First time I meet with a new employee I end the meeting with a knock-knock joke. It’s really a mix of humor and a pep talk. It goes like this…

Who’s there?
Joe Who?
Joe Kerr will pound the living hell out of you if you screw up! Now get out there and start earning your salary.

Wanda B. Goode: I agree that we could all use a bit more levity in our lives. We spend a lot of time at work, so why not there?

Like anything else, though, it takes time and effort to come up with creative things to do. Adrian’s book can help with that. The benefits in the way of productivity improvements are worth the time spent. I also think humor and fun are a great way to enhance learning.

Here’s a post on a University of Florida study concluding that fun at work does lead to productivity improvements.

Would anyone like to volunteer any positive examples of fun or negative attempts at fun in the workplace?

Dream Manager?

23 December, 2007 (18:08) | Employee Retention, Management, Productivity, Training | By: Administrator

I just checked out a podcast that Wayne Turmel did with Matthew Kelley on his book, Dream Manager. Joe and Wanda, have you read the book? If not, click here. After listening to the podcast, you will want to buy the book.

Joe Kerr: Read it? I’ve lived it! I wasn’t aware that Matt did my biography. He owes me some royalties.

Wanda B. Goode: I’ve listened to it and enjoyed it quite a bit. Matt reminds me of Stephen Covey. His premise is that if people stop dreaming they start dying. Employees can’t be expected to be engaged on the job if they have no dreams. However, once they have dreams of their own, and are able to find a connection with them and their work, engagement occurs.

Matthew advises that companies hire “Dream Mangers,” whose jobs are to help employees start dreaming again in their personal lives and facilitate the achievement of those dreams by teaching them the necessary skills, creating action plans, and holding them accountable to those plans. Interesting stuff.

Employee Retention

16 May, 2007 (19:10) | Employee Retention, Management | By: Administrator

Attracting the best and the brightest is not easy. Keeping them can be even more challenging. How do you ensure you retain your quality employees?

Joe Kerr: I think the biggest thing is my ability to inspire and motivate the employees. They look up to me. I’m kind of like a father figure. They know if they work hard and make their own luck they might rise to my level.

I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago the whole crew had to work the weekend. I took time out from my barbeque to call in to the office and give them a pep talk. I threw in a lot of quotes from The Gladiator. I love that movie! Remember this one by Maximus? “You can help me. Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive.” Boy did I get them pumped up. I was really on a roll. It wasn’t my best, though. I had to cut it a bit short, because I didn’t want my beer to get warm.

Wanda B. Goode: I listened to an interesting podcast a couple days ago on Lisa Haneberg’s site. She was interviewing Dan Bobinski from the Center for Leadership Excellence. He mentioned the 3 necessary ingredients to retaining employees that all need to be in balance.

1) Quality of work – Make sure the work is challenging. Give the employees the necessary training to be able to achieve success.

2) Quality of the workplace – Make sure the physical working conditions are adequate. Foster a collegial atmosphere where people are respected, ideas are shared, etc.

3) Quality of pay – Pay a decent wage.

It’s tough to argue with that. One of the most interested things that Dan mentioned was an Emerging Workforce study that stated that where training was perceived as poor, 41% of the employees were thinking of leaving within the year. Where training was perceived as good, only 12% were thinking of leaving during the year. In fact, in most cases “doubling the training budget will result in money savings.” How about that!

Employee Training and Development

31 March, 2007 (16:44) | Employee Retention, Management, Recognition, Training | By: Administrator

As a manager it is important that your team members are qualified to do their ever-changing jobs. Obtaining training for them is one way to do so. Let’s find out how Joe and Wanda approach training.

Joe Kerr: I try not to train team members if I can at all help it. First of all it negatively impacts my numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I always put some money for training in my budget, but that’s only for sand-bagging purposes, so I look good when I come in under budget at the end of the year. I need to look out for number one.

Training is over-rated. Take me for instance. I haven’t had any training in years. Haven’t read a book since college, and it hasn’t impacted me in the least. This is the school of hard knocks! If employees can’t learn how to do their jobs on their own, I’ll find others in the market that can. Besides, who wants to spend big bucks training someone only to see them go to another company for more money? Talk about a slap in the face!

Wanda B. Goode: Training is a great motivator. It generates increased productivity. Employees are so eager to use their skills to the benefit of the team.

I push for as many training dollars as I can get, and avoid dipping into the funds for other purposes. Sometimes budget cuts get announced mid year. I try my best to avoid impacting training.

Realizing that training dollars are limited, I also work to maximize them. Our team uses the train-the-trainer method where a select few people attend a class and then train the rest of the team. It’s a lot cheaper, and it’s very effective. Peter Drucker stated, “Knowledge workers and services workers learn most when they teach.” I agree with that and have shared it with the team on many occasions. I encourage team members to constantly teach one another. I do my share of teaching as well. Everyone benefits as a result. The ideas that people come up with are amazing!

Some fear training their employees. They don’t want to spend money to train workers, only to see them quit and use their new skills to benefit a competitor. I don’t buy that. In Stephen R. Covey book, “The Speed of Trust,” there is a quote from an unidentified CEO. Someone asked him, “What if you train everyone and they all leave?” He responded, “What if we don’t train them and they all stay?” Now that can keep you up at night!

We need to retain good people in order to thrive in today’s global economy. Employees need to continue to learn and grow if we are to change and re-invent our groups and our companies. Employee training and development is essential for long term success.

Employee Surveys

11 March, 2007 (23:51) | Employee Retention, Management | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda, how do you feel about employee surveys?

Joe Kerr: Bunk! A waste of time. I hear from whining employees 360 days/yr. I don’t need a special occasion to get beaten up! I’m forced to go through the motions and put a plan in place to address concerns I can’t do anything about anyway. Leave me alone and let me get back to work!

Wanda B. Goode: It’s always good to get feedback from employees. No matter how easy we think it is for them to talk to us, some just don’t feel comfortable. An anonymous survey gives them and additional outlet.

There are some rules that I like to follow:

First, I encourage participation, but I don’t force it. If survey participation is low, your group/organization is probably in worse shape than you might think.

Second, I share all the data – the good and the not-so-good. There’s no need to filter. It’s also helpful to compare results with those of prior surveys in order to gauge performance.

That leads to the third rule – do something about the not-so-good. If you don’t use the survey as a way to improve, you squander its value. Furthermore, distrust and complacency will set in, resulting in a lack of participation. If you show an interest and act on the concerns you will slowly gain trust and improve the organization.

Salary Increase Request

25 February, 2007 (20:03) | Compensation, Employee Retention | By: Administrator

Occasionally one of your team members will come up to you and ask you for a salary increase. What approach do you use to address this situation? Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda to get their thoughts.

Joe Kerr: First thing I do is stall. I ask the person to set up a meeting with my admin. Then I tell my admin not to set up a meeting for at least 2 more weeks. If the meeting does get scheduled, I make sure I miss it due to a last minute conflict. I then ask the person to reschedule. Hopefully it blows over. Just in case I’m dealing with a persistent one, I try to dig up something negative on the person. I don’t typically take any notes, but I have a great memory for that sort of thing. Maybe the person didn’t finish a project on time, or came up short in some other way. I find it’s good to have things like that in the back pocket. I like to pop them when people are telling me how wonderful they are. It brings them right back down to earth.

Wanda B. Goode: I try to be proactive. I let people know that they can talk to me any time about compensation, but they are typically reluctant to take me up on it. So, I like to have salary reviews with team members, especially when times are tough. This sets expectations and avoids surprises. In any event, when someone wants to talk about an increase, I quickly set up a time to meet with them. It’s a very important topic to most people. Delays are not appreciated. In the meeting I explain the factors that affect pay in my company and where the person stacks up against those factors. I review the person’s compensation history and give him/her an idea of what to expect in the near and distant future with the understanding that things could certainly change. I find that although team members may not always like what they hear, they appreciate the open sharing of the salary decision process and how they are impacted by it.