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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Month: May, 2007

Recognition Flop

24 May, 2007 (19:11) | Management, Recognition | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda, a few weeks ago we talked about the best recognition item you ever gave to a team member. Tell us about a recognition item that didn’t work out so well.

Joe Kerr: First of all, I don’t give a whole lot of recognition. My team members get paid to do a job and they do it. With that said, I do recall one instance a few years back that didn’t exactly go off as planned. I usually take my company’s Phillies tickets. My kid loves going to the park. We go as often as we can. One day I had a family emergency so I couldn’t make the game that night. I decided I’d make somebody’s day. I called Merideth into my office, thanked her for the great job she just did on her project and offered up the tickets. She told me she didn’t think she’d be able to clear her schedule. I told her how great the seats were and how she’d be crazy not to take me up on my offer. Then she told me she didn’t like baseball. Talk about an ingrate. I’ll tell you what, if I go out of my way to give someone some extra recognition, they had better appreciate it!

Now you’ve gotten me upset. That’s enough talk about the past. You’ve gotten me off my game. I’m a leader, I look out the windshield not the rear view mirror. I’m about vision. I’m about the future. I’ve got to be two or three steps ahead of the game to succeed in this business.

Wanda B. Goode: I’ve had some recognition backfire on me a couple of times. One time I gave a gift certificate to a steak house to a vegetarian. That didn’t go over too well. I just didn’t do my homework and didn’t take the time to learn about the team member. No excuses. I actually learned of my blunder from another team member. I quickly found out his favorite restaurant and picked up another gift certificate. I apologized profusely when I gave it to him.

Recognizing people takes time. If you try to take short cuts and you don’t make the time to learn about your team members, it can easily backfire.

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!

Hiring Freaks

8 May, 2007 (10:16) | Hiring, Management | By: Administrator

In his new book, Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age Tom Peters “declares war on the worthless rules, absurd organizational barriers, and petty corporate middle managers that stand in the way of creativity and success.” He advocates “hiring Freaks.”

Joe and Wanda, care to comment?

Joe Kerr: I believe I’ve said this before. I haven’t read a book since high school and I don’t plan to start now. There’s not a thing that I haven’t learned already in the school of hard knocks.

As far as freaks are concerned, I have my fill of them already thank you very much. I deal with them every day of my life. You can keep your freaks Tommy!

Wanda B. Goode: I have not read the book, but I like the concepts. We do need to expose ourselves to those that think differently than we do, people that march to their own drummer, people that are not afraid to break a few rules to follow their passion. I’ve had some eccentric team members over the years. Sometimes they can get you into a little bit of trouble, but they are like a breath of fresh air. They typically have interesting perspectives and very good ideas. Bring ’em on!

Favorite Recognition Item

2 May, 2007 (20:09) | Leadership, Management, Recognition | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda: What’s the best recognition item you’ve ever given?

Joe Kerr: That’s an easy one. Just this past year one of my guys did a great job. He put together a fabulous presentation for me. Made me look like a champ at the client conference.

I just had to do something special for him. So, the next time I came in from California I let him pick me up at the airport in my Porche. Imagine the thrill that must have been for the kid to ride in a car like that! Not only that, think of the inspirational message I sent. I was basically saying, “this could be yours one day kid if you play your cards right.”

You’ve probably heard the saying, “you’ve got to give to get.” So true. That Porche is my baby. I don’t even let my wife drive it! You just have to make sacrifices sometimes. I know the kid really appreciated it. Every time I see him now I give him the fake gear shift motion. He loves it! By the way, no damage to my girl either, so it worked out great.

Wanda B. Goode: I don’t really know how to answer this one. It’s really the receivers of the recognition that are the true judges. You’ll have to check with them.

I can tell you the best recognition item I ever received. It was before I became a manager. On the actual day I completed a project (on time and in budget) that was critical for the success of our subsidiary, my boss handed me a packet including 2 plane tickets, hotel reservations, rental car, spending money, and a pass for 2 days off, so I could take a long weekend at my favorite vacation spot with my spouse. He took care of every last detail to include flowers and a thank you note in the hotel room. I knew my efforts had a positive impact on the company. I was already proud of that. The recognition just really made me feel appreciated. It made me want to go out and do it again.

I try to do the same when I recognize people. I try to make it personal, timely, and match the accomplishment.