What Message Are You Sending Your People?

message sending peopleYou work hard, you do all the right things and you exceed the expectations of your boss and your customers. Praise comes rolling in. In fact, you’ve done such a great job that the promotion you were hoping for comes your way. What could be better? Well, a raise to go along with that extra work would be nice. Usually it works that way, right?

Well, not always. Nothing can be more deflating than working hard for a promotion and being told you get more work at no additional pay. That’s what happened recently to a gentleman I was speaking with. He was so excited to get the promotion after accomplishing all of the pre-requisites that had been set out by his supervisor. He had a terrific performance review to boot. His reward was a company average merit increase for the year and no promotional increase. In other words, he achieved more and did more than people with average performance and was rewarded with the same pay and more work. And when queried, his supervisor and HR pointed at the other indicating the decision was made elsewhere.

So, how is the company doing at retaining high performing people? It wasn’t surprising to hear that the company has lost most of its highest performing people in the last year and a half. People are smart – they get the message they are sent, even if the message is not intentional. So, what message are you sending your people? Is it the message that you want them to receive?

The road you know

road you knowAn acquaintance recently reached out and suggested having coffee to catch up. We live and work on opposite ends of town, so he suggested meeting in the middle at a specific Starbucks. Knowing that particular spot, which is heavy to foot traffic, but a little more difficult to reach via car, I suggested an alternate Starbucks that is right off the freeway with a parking lot. Seemed like a great alternative to me and should have been easier for him.

So, I was surprised when he said “let’s stay with the original suggestion. It’s a little tougher for parking, but closer to the freeway.”

Mapping the route in my mind from the freeway to each location, I was still confused by the comment. The alternative location I provided should have been closer to him and closer to the freeway. Then it hit me – people tend to gravitate toward the road they know. It’s easy to flip on autopilot and just go. How often do you take the road you know in business? And by doing that, what opportunities to find a better way are you passing up?

Unintended Consequences

recycled cupsIt’s the end of cold season with lots of germs flying around. To help combat the spread of disease, an airline I fly regularly decided to no longer allow flight attendants to fill up a cup that a passenger brought on board. This includes water bottles, or in my case a cup for tea. Instead, they now bring multiple cups of water that can then be poured into the container brought on board. The change makes a lot of sense from a prevention of disease perspective.

What may not have been thought through is the impact to the environment. With the number of additional cups being used throughout the course of a flight, the impact can get to be fairly significant over time. Think about that in the context of business more broadly. How many times are decisions made with good intentions, only to have an unintended negative consequence? When you make a change in your business, how do you evaluate the impact to your business? How can you make sure your decisions don’t have significant unintended consequences?

It’s Just One Little Tweak

tweak businessA colleague and I were talking about a process he was overhauling. Like many, over the years this company had become bogged down with very long, inefficient ways of doing things. Working together, the group had come up with a better approach that would be much faster and allow the company to be much more efficient.

When it came time to implement, a key stakeholder said:

“We just need to make this one little tweak. It adds time, but it’s not that big a deal.”

The problem isn’t the one little tweak. It’s the accumulation of the “one little” tweaks. Change is hard and it’s pretty easy to get right back to where you started. Holding the line and making the change can lead to amazing results. How are you doing with not letting “one little” tweaks accumulate in your business?

Missed Opportunities

missed opportunitiesA good friend struggled for a few years with brain tumors. He went through ups and downs with treatment and went in and out of contact. Being a few time zones and a few thousand miles away, catching up was always an adventure. But he’s been on my mind for a few weeks now and I’ve been meaning to call. Sadly, another friend just reached out to let me know he passed away. We didn’t have a chance to say those last few words or have those last few laughs. And the last time we spoke there was more to say.

Missed opportunities happen all the time. Sometimes they are significant like the passing of a friend, other times small and go unnoticed. In business, the people and companies that outperform others see the opportunities in front of them. They grasp on and make them happen. How do you keep opportunities from passing you by?

Getting Your House in Order

getting your house in orderSeveral years ago my grandmother started clearing out her house – spring cleaning on a grand scale. While not cluttered, fifty years of stuff had accumulated and filled the three-story house. Grandma is a realist – at north of 90 she didn’t want to leave her family the burden of sifting through all the things that don’t have much meaning or value. And through that process, she also made sure the legal and banking documents were up to snuff. She was getting her house in order. She knew that at some point her affairs would be transitioned to her family.

The funny thing is – transitions happen all the time, whether in business or in life, but many times very little preparation goes in to making them successful. As a result, businesses that have been built over a lifetime languish after a transition because key elements in making a successful transition were not addressed ahead of time. Is your house in order? Or, is some attention needed? What steps can you take now to make sure your legacy is where you want it to be?

Even the Best Laid Plans

solutions riskOne of my favorite parts of the week is going to Zumba, a Latin inspired dance fitness program. Lots of great energy in the room, a fantastic work out and people who are genuinely excited to see you and be there. I regularly run into a woman in the locker room – creatures of habit we tend to find lockers next to each other. She hadn’t been in a while and was excited to be back. As she opened her bag to change, she realized she forgot her exercise pants

“I can’t believe it” she exclaimed. “I was really diligent this morning in laying everything out – I had a plan and can’t believe I forgot my pants.”

Luckily there was a store upstairs where she was able to find a pair of exercise pants. Figuring out her backup plan quickly allowed her to achieve her objective – making it to class on time.

Business is no different than life. How many times do you make plans, spend time and effort making sure everything is in place only to find that something falls through the cracks somewhere along the way? Even the best laid plans can go sideways. Building in back up plans when planning can help you stay the course to achieve your objectives. How are your plans? Have you thought through the various possibilities and developed a range of options to address the potential conditions you may experience?

There’s Money Everywhere

coinsA colleague and I were having coffee and brainstorming about business writing.  Having clarity of voice, keeping posts current, being relevant.  As we got up to leave, a shiny dime fell out of his pocket and sat brightly by itself on the black leather couch.  As he reached down to pick it up, he said:

 “There’s money everywhere!”

 And he was right.  Money can be found everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes peeled to find it.