WHY EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION IS CRITICAL TO ACHIEVING A STRONG SAFETY CULTURE

 I was recently part of a group of Safety Professionals discussing various ideas on how we can recognize people who meet or exceed safety expectations. As we continued our conversations, I started thinking about how important it is to identify people who are committed to their safety and those around them. As I began thinking more and more about recognition, this thought came to my head. “You can’t build a strong, sustainable safety culture if you don’t know who exhibits safe behaviors.”

Another thing that hit my brain is that I realized that employee recognition is the cornerstone of effective leadership. I believe that as the competition for workers has escalated and the shortage of workers exists, one of the key ways to show that we value their commitment to safety is a critical path to maintaining a consistent workforce.

The most significant reason leaders fail to identify their top performers is thinking in ways similar to a phrase from President Harry Truman, “Just think of what our team can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit!” – President Harry Truman.

With all due respect to President Truman, this phrase is often misunderstood. The quote is intended to emphasize the value of humble leaders. But when misunderstood, it can deprive a vital piece of leadership information.

Some people believe the words, “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit,” indicate that you should not pay attention to, or even be aware of, those who are delivering outstanding safe behaviors or the leaders who are committed to the safety of their employees. After all, many companies seem to focus on the numbers. Numbers can identify a path forward. However, most leading indicator numbers may not be very actuated. The company I recently worked for only cared if the operations team met the monthly numbers, there was no accountability to determine accuracy. If we focus on the numbers, then numbers will not develop a strong safety culture. The only thing that determines your culture is the people.

If you have interpreted “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” to mean that individual recognition is not a good thing, step back and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know who is generating the best ideas?
  • Do I know who is supporting initiatives?
  • Do I know who is performing the work or tasks safely?
  • Do I know who the most encouraging person on your team is?
  • Do I know who is going out of their way to support their teammates?

If you do, give them, then give them recognition! Otherwise, if you continue to misapply the “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” sentiment and focus on production and leading indicator numbers, you will face an enormous leadership shortcoming and lose respect and trust.

So, what is employee recognition?

In general, it simply refers to all the ways an organization shows its appreciation for employees’ contributions to the company’s overall safety and business success. It can take on many forms. Companies recognize employees for things like:

  • Achievements
  • Exhibiting desired behaviors
  • Going above and beyond expectation

From the safety perspective, employee recognition focuses on the commitment workers make to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them. So here is the safety version of recognition:

  • Achieving risk reduction
  • Exhibiting Safe behaviors
  • Identifying unsafe behaviors performed by others 
  • Safety suggestions or ideas
  • Following company health, safety, and environmental protocol and procedures
  • Meeting or exceeding accurate and effective leading indicators (observations, inspections, training)

SO WHY DOES EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION DETERMINE THE SAFETY CULTURE

From a very early age, we crave recognition from parents, teachers, and friends. Unfortunately, our desire for a positive declaration is so strong that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one. If this occurs, employees and leaders lose the desire to achieve success and will focus on what they need to do to meet minimal requirements.

This continues to hold in most workplaces. However, if we can implement a successful employee recognition program, you will see an increase in the company safety culture and also achieve:

  • a higher level of retaining top talent
  • a significant increase in employee engagement in campaigns and programs
  • higher performance resulting in higher production
  • lower risk and safer behaviors

THE FUTURE

Recognition helps the workforce see that their company values them and their contributions to their safety and the success of their team and the company. This is particularly key when organizations are growing or looking for a change. It helps employees build stronger morale and confidence and motivates them to continue working safely and supporting the company’s goals. 

So, no matter how honorable the statement “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” is considered, we all must embrace the recognition of employees who exhibit vital safety behaviors and fully achieve the leading indicators.

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and is a strong passionate person of influence who is committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

WHAT MAKES YOU SUCCESSFUL IN SELLING SAFETY

“Those who really want success always work till they get it”

DENIS BAKER

Whether you like it or not, your ability to sell your suggestions, ideas, and programs determines your success and the health and safety of your workforce. The good news is that you don’t have to be a natural-born salesperson to succeed in the world of safety. However, if you have a passion for people’s safety and best interests at heart (with an eye for reducing risks), you already have the makings of a great salesperson.

Selling safety is not something they do to people, but as a collaborative process between themselves and the workforce and leadership. Great salespeople can influence the person or group and persuade them to adhere to what is right. Good sales skills can mean fewer injuries and a strong culture.

FIVE QUALITIES EXHIBITED BY SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PROFESSIONALS

Regardless if you’re trying to improve your skills or coach or mentor your team, I recommend looking for these characteristics. You will increase your sales skills by cultivating these five qualities.

1. They are Competitive – Effective Safety Professionals who successfully sell safety don’t want to sit at a desk, staring at their computer for 8 hours, and then go home. They live and breathe, selling safety to the workforce in person; it’s almost like a high. They’re often energized by the idea of exceeding company or facility goals and being rated the best in the organization.

Good salespeople seek out chances to improve performance because that makes them better. I say this often…………….” You can’t change a culture from behind a desk.”

2. They Listen – When you think about “sales,” you might picture a slick-haired, smooth-talking car salesman. He won’t take no for an answer, and he’s just running his mouth without listening to the customer. This stereotype is for bad salespeople. Good Safety Professionals shouldn’t treat employee interactions as a chance to pontificate what they expect. Instead, you need to ask questions and listen to their answers, suggestions, or anything else they want to discuss. You must approach these as honest conversations. You should still lead the path, but you need to allow responses. When you listen to the employee or leadership pain points, you can better align their needs with your directions.

3. They are Robust – I have spent much time researching and learning how to be a successful salesperson throughout my safety career. However, I have learned that selling safety can be a tough gig. The best salespeople are robust people. They are persistent in their approach. If you can’t sell it the first time, you reflect, analyze, and approach it differently 2, 3, or even 10 times. But, if it is correct, you never back down! However, let failure motivate you to succeed.

4. They are Confident – Confidence is the currency of selling safety. Selling your confidence means people see you as in control and informative — even if they are not fully onboard. It’s all about how you present yourself to people. Does your voice tremble when you talk, or is it engaging and bright? Even if you don’t feel confident, presenting yourself that way will bring trust and security to your pitch. At the same time, your tone and body language matter, your choice of words significantly impact your message.

5. They are Honest – Selling safety is not about manipulating people into buying into your direction. That’s not only dishonest and wrong, but it’s also an awful approach and will result in disrespect and loss of trust. Safety Professionals should be honest and transparent from the start and only want to sell something to improve safety. Be honest with the workforce about what you commit to. Can you meet their needs? Be realistic; if your team can’t meet their expectations, it will only frustrate them. And yes, that means being honest — even if being honest means losing a sale.

“Great Safety Professionals are relationship builders who provide value and respect to their workforce so they go home every day.”

DENIS BAKER

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Look, you don’t have to be a natural-born salesperson to be a successful safety professional. I encourage you to cultivate these five qualities to increase your sales skills. But remember, this isn’t something that happens overnight. Practice and grow your sales skills over time. Approach them like you would any other skill, and you will see an increase in success.

WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR INFLUENCE AND SELL SAFETY

Two shoe salesmen go to a remote island to break into new markets. After a few days, one salesperson calls the office and says, ‘I’m on the next flight. I can’t sell shoes here. Everyone goes barefoot.’ The other salesperson sends an email to the boss minutes later: ‘Get ready! The prospects are unlimited. Nobody wears shoes here!’ 

When you read this, you might have thought about how the first salesperson didn’t take advantage of the many shoeless people and how the second salesperson will be very successful. But, heck, maybe some of you are thinking, who cares, what does this have to do about safety. 

Let me respond…..

1. The first sale person is going to be out of work

2. The second salesperson will be financially secure and promoted quickly

3. The third thought, SALES HAS EVERYTHING TO DO ABOUT SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PERFORMANCE! 

If you go to Webster’s Dictionary and look up the word “sales,” it says “to exchange a commodity for money.” However, I believe safety and sales both fall in the same categories. I believe safety can be redefined as sales, and I know the only way to get workers bought in is for them to accept expectations and programs through your influence. 

When we think about it that way, there’s nothing creepy or sneaky about it. As we talk about influence, we are talking about building relationships, making a difference in people’s lives, and exchanging our services to safety values so people can go home every day.

The difference between average safety professionals and successful ones is staggering. Average safety professionals will hit their goals and objectives occasionally or meet some goals or some objectives, but not all. However, successful safety professionals meet their goals and objectives —EVERY time — in addition to establishing a consistently strong safety culture. 

The idea behind this topic is to provide information so that you can understand that safety professionals provide service to our customers. Meaning we serve our workforce and the company leadership. Safety professionals have little to no authority, so everything we believe or want has to be sold to every person. After reading this blog, you will walk away thinking of various tips and ideas to become a more efficient safety professional. Doing this will result in much more significant results.

If you want to exceed your current successes, read the 8 Identified Habits of a Successful Safety Professional. If you need to achieve higher performance, I strongly suggest you consider implementing and integrating the 11 Tips to Becoming a Successful Safety Professional. Following these habits of successful safety professionals will help you become one of the top-selling safety salespeople on your team — or even the organization.

SELLING HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PROFESSIONALS

  1. Identify and stick to your character – A clearly defined character is crucial to an effective sales process. And a safe person who sticks to that persona effectively generates buy-in. In addition, an effective safety professional must research and become very familiar with the processes and products along with all levels of employees. This gives you the right direction in your selling process.
  2. Use a measurable, repeatable sales process – Low-performing safety professionals let intuition guide them. High-performing safety professionals use a process that’s optimized to move as many prospects as possible from “connect” to “achieve.” Low-performing safety professionals sometimes let things slip through the cracks. High-performing safety professionals know the state of every person and what motivates people, what actions they’ll take next, and when. 
  3. Know your direction – Being able to sell our ideas is half the battle. Understanding what you’re selling is the other half.  People want more access to information (the why) than ever before. To gain their trust and add value, you have to know clearly know what direction to go and why it’s valuable to your workforce.
  4. Find shortcuts and hacks – Once an excellent safety professional identifies a successful strategy or technique, they use it — again and again, until it stops working. This is very smart. Safety professionals are constantly working against the clock, which means the more time they spend experimenting, the less time they have for actual selling. 
  5. Practice active listening – Most every safety professional I have interacted with struggles with listening (including myself). Successful Safety professionals are entirely present when they talk to people. They’re not thinking about another deal, looking at their phones, or sending funny memes to their team members. Instead, they’re engaged — and as a result, their conversations with buyers are deeper and more meaningful. Active listening may be one of the most complex skills since we typically care more about what we have to say. However, it’scritical. Not only will you build stronger relationships, but you’ll unlock information that’ll help you position yourself in the most efficnet direction. 
  6. Work hard – It’s 5 p.m., and your counterparts have already left the office. The high-performing safety professionals are still in the office. They are tired and some have families, but they’re still sending emails, scheduling meetings, and walking through the facility or site. The idea is that you must be engaged with the workforce and continually sell your ideas. You cannot change a culture from behind a desk.
  7. Follow up – Many safety professionals fail to effectively follow up after agreeing to help get things done or looking at options. When you fail to follow up, you have lost all respect from that person or group. 
  8. Personalize your message – Instead of following a script and approaching each associate with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, high-performing safety professionals are committed to learning as much as they can about a person, group or process and will tailor their message. These safety professionals understand their workforce’s unique pain points and explain why following and following their direction is crucial.

TIP TO BECOMING A BETTER SAFETY PROFESSIONAL

  1. Shadow your colleagues – Want to improve your performance? Identify the best safety professional within your company and ask if you can shadow them. Receiving coaching from your peers is a great way to get better at your job while building solid relationships with your coworkers.
  2. Practice your people skills – Successful safety professionals have excellent people skills. Its doesn’t matter if you have an extrovert personality or an introvert personality. What matters is your ability to build strong relationships, build respect, trust, and add value to people. Small talk is a great learnable skill — and one that’s crucial to your success. So whether you’re at a job site, plant, or in a meeting, practice making other people feel at ease. 
  3. Be a team player – So much of safety pop culture glorifies the lone wolf. But the best safety professionals know it takes a village to build a successful team.
  4. Know when to stop – Are you wasting too much time on discussions that just aren’t going in the right direction? If it is, end the conversation and walk away. The next step is to analyze why it went wrong and identify options from now on. Then, you must follow up and try to sell it again. 
  5. Be transparent – The days of telling associates anything is over. Don’t promise anything that doesn’t or will not exist. You could earn temporary success, but it won’t stay for long, and you’ll end up with bad reviews and a poor reputation. 
  6. Always solve problems – Who is your customer? Your employees! Safety professionals tend to be excellent problem identifiers but horrible problem solvers. Don’t identify issues and not provide solutions. A consultative safety approach allows you to be honest with your customers about their need to reduce risk and improve safety. 
  7. Roll with rejection – You won’t win every deal, and some people won’t like you. That’s part of being in safety. And while it’s essential to be thoughtful about how you can improve, it’s crucial to move on quickly from rejection. Experts suggest viewing rejection as proof that you’re pushing the limits. So, examine why you weren’t successful, ask for outside opinions when appropriate, and move forward quickly and positively to bigger and better performance.
  8. Take breaks – In safety, activity is often correlated with results. However, the more we roll out, the more stress and anxiety we create. Please focus on the top 3 things that will up the level of safety and follow those until they are well embraced and offering results, then consider additional options.
  9. Believe in what you’re selling – It’s easier to be passionate about — and sell — a safety idea when you genuinely believe in it. The most effective safety professionals follow the processes and believe in their values. Find happy testimonials from employees if you feel “meh” about something you’re selling. Examples of how your ideas have improved people’s safety — both big and small — will reinforce your motivation and give you proof that you are doing the right thing.
  10. Build personal relationships – One of my mentors is one of the best salespeople I know. He has taught me how to become an effective and successful salesperson, and I have used it in every company I’ve worked for. He is one of the most vital relationship builders. Everywhere he goes, he connects with people— not from a LinkedIn perspective, or the “let’s exchange business cards” way, but in a genuine, the humanist way that makes you want to talk to him again. As a safety professional, relationships are your success. You don’t need Don Draper level of charisma; on the contrary, a desire to help goes a lot further than a magnetic personality.
  11. They prepare ahead of time – An effective safety professional prepares and gets buy-in and approval before rolling anything out. That means they research and gather all the information they need before the first meeting. After that, you must go in with a contingency plan. This way, you are prepared for challenges or questions and can effectively respond to avoid losing the sale.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

There are many ways to succeed in safety. However, your ability to be an effective salesperson will result in success. By implying the habits mentioned above, you will provide a positive sales experience to your workforce. Demonstrating that you have the passion, knowledge, self-determination, and flexibility can take you from an average professional to a high-performing success story.

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and is a strong passionate person of influence who is committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

MY FOCUS THIS YEAR IS BUILDING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Build relationships by influencing what you expect, reflect what you desire, Become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.”

UNKNOWN

It’s a new year!! Many of you have come up with new year goals on improving and changing things. It could be eating healthier, getting more sleep, hitting the gym, or improving personal growth. But, let’s admit, this is a typical American tradition to forget or quit early into the new year. My goal is to focus on building stronger relationships with my coworkers throughout the entire year. 

But how do I build strong relationships with every coworker? Relationships give us the ability to build respect, trust and ultimately allow us to influence. As you look at your relationships at work, there is no one you spend more time with than those you work with. 

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member.

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member. Even though I have focused most of my last 15 years on growing my leadership, I tend to want things my way, and everyone else doesn’t know what they are doing or talking about. So, I want to change my approach to ensure I build a strong relationship with each person. 

Here are 8 things I am focusing on to build stronger relationships.

  1. I will focus on people through my perception.  Your self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-perception establish the foundation of all your relationships. How you view yourself and life shapes how you see and relate to others.
  2. “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” Caring about people isn’t automatic. Not everyone cares. I’m sure you’ve run into people along the way that it’s clear that they don’t care. You can’t learn to care, it’s not a skill, but you can decide to care. 
  3. I will really listen. This is a game-changer. One of the most remarkable ways to build relationships with anyone is to listen genuinely. I am often in a hurry to give my viewpoint. I always want people not to “STOP TALKING, QUIT WASTING OXYGEN.” So, when you slow down for a minute or an hour and truly listen, you communicate that you value that person. 
  4. Hurting people hurts people. When your response to a situation is greater than the issue at hand, the real issue is always about something else. Strong leaders figure out how to get to the real issue.
  5. I will admit when I’m wrong, ask for forgiveness and forgive others quickly. Taking responsibility for your actions is the core to achieving solid relationships. If you make a mistake, own it. If you treat someone poorly, ask forgiveness. You might be correct, but if you need to win, you’ll lose in the long run.
  6. I will determine how to add value to people. You can add value to people in simple ways. Adding value is no more complex than the idea of how you contribute to them. It can be as simple as a kind and encouraging word, and it can be as involved as a lifetime of mentoring. Your relationships with others will give you the knowledge of how to add value to them. 
  7. I will strive to encourage my colleagues. We all know the answer but let me ask anyway. Have you ever been encouraged too much by anyone? Of course not. Your encouragement will create a strong relationship and increase your leadership.
  8. I will build Trust through my strong relationships. When it comes down to relationships, Trust is critical. But, unfortunately, at times, we will reduce Trust. Trust is like having a pocket full of coins. When I build Trust, I place more coins in my pocket; when I reduce Trust, I lose coins. The idea is to never run out of coins in your pocket, and you will maintain a level of Trust. This reflects your character and, ultimately, who you are.

I identified these focus items by reflecting on the last couple of years, identifying what I do well in building relationships and what I need to improve on. Some of these will be easy to achieve; however, many will challenge me this year. But I desire to make this year a successful year in building solid relationships and exceeding expectations. 

Let me strongly encourage you to consider these 10 focus items and make the necessary adjustments to achieve an intense year!

“A relationship is not perfect, you will fight over and over, but as long as you make-up, everything will be alright.”

UNKNOWN

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and is a strong passionate person of influence who is committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

YOU WILL PAY A PRICE WHEN LEADING IN A CRISIS

“Great leaders are never stress-free,struggle-free, or failure-free.”

UNKNOWN

There is always a cost to leadership. When leading in this time of crisis, leaders must step up more than ever. However, the price of leadership will be much higher. Leading in a crisis is like a car engine, if you ramp up the RPM’s past the red line for too long, you are probably going to blow the engine. For many, ramping up our leadership means working longer hours, engaging in stressful situations along with making tough decisions. I know this can be hard and raise your anxiety, but you are what your people need NOW! 

So how can you lead in this crisis and maintain the sanity needed to be successful? 

Lean on the wise

If you think everything depends on you, then I believe you own too much of the burden. Maybe you ultimately have the full responsibility for the outcome, but that doesn’t mean that you must operate alone. Reach out and seek advice from those you trust and admire. We all have a mentor or two that can give you information and provide ideas and suggestions.  

Vent to those you trust

Leaders in high-stress situations need to talk to people outside their circumstances. As the pressure increases and the anxiety mounts, conversations with a trusted friend, counselor, or coach will help you reduce stress, anxiety, and regain a clear perspective on the situation. The result of doing this, is renewed energy and a drive to attack what’s ahead.

Increase your physical wellness

We think of stress primarily in emotional terms, but it has a significant physical component as well. Rather than getting less sleep because you’re so busy, make it a priority to get more sleep. The same is true for physical exercise—running, swimming, biking, etc. My wife and I purchased a Peloton bike in November. The investment in this bike has been the best thing ever in reducing our anxiety and building up my mental and physical strength. This has resulted in my ability to maintain the energy required to make difficult decisions and address difficult situations. 

Elevate your spiritual well-being

The most significant power for leading in chaotic times comes from above. It is tempting to spend less time reading the bible or praying when there are so many demands for our time. However, these practices are crucial to gain the wisdom, perspective, and peace that we desperately need. Remember the words of Martin Luther:

“I have so much to do that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

MARTIN LUTHER

I doubt I have said anything you don’t already know that many of you could add more information to clarify my knowledge. Still, as I continue to deal with the current crisis and cope with the extreme change in life and work, I am looking for ways to recharge and re-evaluate my self and improve my leadership. I hope this will help you do the same.

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

LOVE – HATE – DISCONTENT What’s Your View of Our World?

Recently, I was on a flight trying to get some sleep before arriving to meet up with my colleagues for a series of meetings. Usually, I prefer to take the first flight out so that the chances of a delay are reduced. However, I live 2 hrs from the airport and a 6 am flight is pretty darn early. So, I settled into my window seat and put on my headphones drifting off to the sounds of Ray LaMontagne. As people boarded, I realized very quickly that my flight was going to be a challenge. Two ladies sat behind me. And apparently, they began their early morning with several Bloody Mary’s.

Both women were VERY loud, vulgar and the one directly behind me would continuously slam down the tray and kick my seat. Her timing was impeccable! Every time I fell asleep, she did something to wake me up. Frustration began to settle into my soul. I would continually turn around and give her the evil eye, trying to get her attention to stop. However, I think it encouraged her to do it even more. I eventually fell asleep but awoke when she violently pulled the top of my seat backward. She was in haste to go to the bathroom and lacked a complete disregard for others around her.

I realized sleep would evade me. I took out my laptop and continued to listen to music with my noise-canceling headphones. The two of them were loud enough that I was able to hear their conversations (even with my noise-canceling headphones). I tried to ignore them, but the topics began to intrigue me. They were talking about politics, their hairdresser, husband, and boyfriend. I heard them bring up the cashier at the store and the “idiot” that made them miss a green light because he was on the phone (I would agree with them on that one). They talked about the ladies they were meeting for their birthday weekend and how annoying they were. They talked about how long it took the flight attendant to get them their drinks (I was praying she forgot). And this continued for the duration of the 3 hr flight.

As I sat there and went through all of his, I began to think about how people view the world we live. And I realized it’s all based on our perspective and the influences surrounding us.I thought about the phrase “love is, actually, all around.”

If you spend time pursuing social media, the web, CNN or Fox News, I believe you’d find that the current state of affairs is one consumed with hate and greed. Ethical values are hard to come by in the workplace, politics and within personal lives. It seems people with integrity are few and far between and that the underlying message to the young and old is that ” the world sucks, and then you die.”

I think the advent of social media and an increased interest in the 24 hr. news, we, as a society have become obsessed with the shockingly evil things that take place. The good in the world is rarely highlighted.

In the words of Hugh Grant’s opening monologue in the movie, “Love Actually,” he says this;

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate and revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually, is all around.”

As a frequent business traveler, I spend a large part of my day in and out of airports, traveling between cities, hoping to make my connection and eating high fat “travel” food. Airports provide a chance to catch up on phone calls, answer emails and work on projects. It is also a great place to people-watch.

Airports offer a simple look into society and the variation found in individuals. There are people happy to go on vacation and people frustrated because their travel plans have changed. There are some who’ve had too many drinks (remember the ladies behind me?) and others experiencing deep sadness as they travel to attend the funeral of a loved one.
One thing I’ve learned from the airport terminals and from sitting on long flights is that “love is actually all around us.”

I realize that we are not as bad as social media and the news make us out to be. Sure, I believe the world has changed. Our moral compasses have been compromised, and ethics and integrity have taken a back seat. However, in the modified words of Hugh Grant, mothers and fathers love their kids, grandparents cannot get enough of their grandkids, people will help others, and our hearts are generally kind. We do love each other, regardless of how we look, dress and the color of our hair. We ultimately know what is right and choose to make our own decisions. We are happy and sad, but we lean on family and friends to support and encourage us.

There is still a moral compass upon us, and we are a society based upon ethical business practices through the integrity of others. When someone is wrongfully influenced, leaders will arise to bring about truth and honesty. Although society has evolved over the years, I am determined to see the good that is all too often consumed with the sensationalism of hate.

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

Managing Work/Life Balance

 

o-WORKLIFE-BALANCEI recently began a new job. Yes, I said a new job. The last two years have been very challenging, but that is a topic for a future blog. Man, I wish I could keep a job like I keep my wife (we’ve been married for 32 years).

With a new job comes the need to re-balance the commitment to work with the commitment to life. That takes a lot of effort. Let’s face it, a new job not only takes a lot of effort to build relationships, learn the job and become familiar with the organization, but it creates a desire to make a great first impression.

However, our personal life is the most important. Whether you are married, dating or simply just like your alone time, work-life balance is essential to your physical and mental health.

As leaders, we want to set the pace and set the expectation. If you are a true leader, the best way to do that is to exceed your own expectations. I find many leaders do this by coming to the office early and staying late. In fact, if I come to the office and someone is already there, I find myself questioning my commitment and leadership. Even though I know better, I will fall into this thought process sometimes.

I think the challenge of work-life balance is one of perspective and mindset. I heard someone say,

In order to change the way we work, we must change the way we think.”

I agree, to achieve balance we must think like the leader we are and not the doer we want to be.

I’ve heard it said that being “busy” is the badge of honor among leaders.”
I used to model that saying. However, I realize I was merely wasting time. There is a time within the end of a day (for me about 9-10 hrs) where my concentration and focus lacks. I only exist at the office to create a perception. Longer days don’t generate accomplishments.

As a leader, here is what is needed to create a fair work-life balance:

  1. Make a list of things you need to do. And make a list of things you want to do. Create a combined list based on both “need” and “want.” This will generate a desire to accomplish both while creating a more enjoyable work environment.
  2. Identify your priorities each day. Priorities change, so it is essential to take time in the morning, and afternoon to re-evaluate and make adjustments.
  3. Schedule time in the early morning to give you an opportunity to achieve items on your priority list before people start interrupting.
  4. Look for ways or opportunities to overlap projects.
  5. Limit emails, answering calls or checking voice mail.  Set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to answer emails and voicemails. In fact, I have a code for my staff and family. If there is an emergency or critical situations, they are instructed to use the code, and I will immediately answer.
  6. Assign appropriate roles and responsibilities to your staff. This will reduce your workload and free up time to accomplish your priorities.
  7. Trust your team. Some of you will say this is easier said than done. If that is the case, I suggest you reevaluate your team members. Give them a challenge and the freedom to perform and succeed. I use the approach of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Meaning I let them do what they do, and we course correct as needed.
  8. Learn to say NO! It’s ok to say no. People will respect you more when you do. When we figure this out, we free up time to accomplish other things and spend more time with family or taking care of ourselves.

Creating a healthy work-life balance doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment and persistence every day. However, seasons do come and go. There will be situations where the balance is off, however, be persistent in trying to maintain and create the balance because a good work-life balance will create a better you and stronger relationships.

balance

 

I’m Arrogant! 14 Principles I Use To Reduce My Arrogance

I recently presented a Keynote titled “The 8 Attributes of Character Defined in Great Leaders”.  The talk was not intended to identify past and present Great Leaders, although there are many, rather it was designed to provide information so individuals could evaluate their current character and consider the adjustments required to achieve the character needed to become a Great Leader.

In the talk, I identified “Humility” as being one of the attributes found in Great Leaders.   Leaders are typically those who have ambition, are talented and confident when making decisions and interacting with people.  But I bet when most of us think of leaders, we don’t typically describe them with the word “humility” or use the term, “humble.”  If they did, it might not be viewed as a compliment.

One of the toughest things about teaching and speaking on leadership topics is the conscience guilt that follows you around when you are not following your own words, principles, and practices you teach or talk about. This is something I really appreciate. Because it drives me to always look at ways I can increase my influence and become a better leader.

As I continue to evaluate my leadership and my approach to people, problems, and solutions, I find myself dealing with a little of arrogance and pride. I believe I would consider myself just a bit arrogant.  Well, maybe even a bit more than a bit, depending on who you talk to.

Male manager calling his colleague

So I have been focusing on how I lessen my arrogance and replace it with more humility? The identified 14 principles that help me to lessen my arrogance and focus on my humility. It is a work in progress, and I often slip back one or two steps. But I feel it’s working.

  1. Don’t think of someone else when reading this blog.
  2. Recognize your arrogance.
  3. Know what you don’t know and admit it.
  4. Step in someone’s else’s shoes that you interact with on a daily basis and those who interact periodically.
  5. Dig deep into not so positive feedback.
  6. Acknowledge those who helped you get where you are or where you are going.
  7. Shut up and listen!
  8. Engage in conversations by asking questions.
  9. Walk around looking for things to celebrate.
  10. Quickly admit when you are wrong.
  11. Be quick to forgive and show grace to others.
  12. Be purposeful in speaking well about others.
  13. Take a seat at the lower table.
  14. Focus on strengthening relationships, not just results.

The great college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

C.S. Lewis said this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

 I believe humility is the antidote to arrogance. Arrogance will cause a person to fall and ultimately fail.  Humility will cause a person to rise as they fail.  People want to follow humble leaders.

So I end with a bit of a hope……May you make an everyday choice to lessen your arrogance and give credit where credit is due and acknowledge others for your success.  May you admit when you are wrong and know what you don’t know.

 If we can honestly accomplish this, then we can continue our growth as leaders.  But never forget this, IT’s NOT ABOUT YOU………..IT REALLY ISN’T!!!

Humility wooden sign on a beautiful day

9 Real Reasons Why People Leave Their Jobs

Why do people leave jobs? Good question. I have been actively employed in the professional job market for a while. In that time, I have enjoyed multiple positions with multiple employers achieving both high and low results. However, there hasn’t been one position that I haven’t learned something new or how to become a better leader. In fact, I’ve learned more, become more diverse and become a stronger leader through the character I’ve built through the various situations and interactions I encountered. I wish it were the way it used to be. People got a job, the employees worked hard, the company recognized their value and so employees stayed for 30, 40 or 50 years. Nowadays, most employees get 3-5 years out of a job and turnover has become a day in the life of an organization.unhappy ee However, in my research, I’ve found the cost of turnover and employee retention costs to be astounding. Here is some of what I found:

  • 51 % of workers are looking to leave their jobs (Gallup)
  • 40 % of employees are considering employment outside of their current firm within the next year (SHRM)
  • 34 % of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months (Mercer)
  • 74 % of all workers are satisfied with their jobs; 66 percent of those are still open to new employment (Jobvite)
  • Cost of replacing entry-level employees: 30 to 50 % of their annual salary (ERE Media)
  • Cost of replacing midlevel employees: 150 % of their yearly salary (ERE Media)
  • Cost of replacing high-level or highly specialized employees: 400 % of their annual salary (ERE Media)
  • 44 % of Millennials say, if, given the choice, they expect to leave their employer in the next two years (Deloitte)
  • 45 % of employees reported that they would be likely or very likely to look for another job outside their current organization within the next year (SHRM)
  • 47 % of Americans would leave for their ideal job even if it meant less pay (Adobe)

This information made me raise my eyebrows but didn’t really surprise me. Some of these are the reason(s) I left a job or two, and it confirms some of the feedback I’ve received in exit interviews.

So why do people leave their jobs? Here are 9 reasons I put together based on my experience and feedback from others.

  1. The Leader – More than 50% of people leave their job because of their boss. Whether it is a weak relationship or a lack of character and integrity, people will leave a job if they don’t feel comfortable working in that environment. People don’t typically leave a company, they leave the people. This is an accurate statement for me personally. I struggle with people who are poor leaders. Early in my career, I would merely find another job rather than work on my influence with that leader. However, I matured. I’ve realized that you can effectively influence your leader through your diligent hard work and your consistent character. When people see who you are in all situations, they tend to buy into the person and work to change their interactions and ways.
  2. BORED! – Same stuff day after day. People want to feel they’re moving forward and growing in their professional life. They want to have something to aspire to. If there’s no structure for advancement, they’ll look somewhere else. In the meantime, they’re likely to be bored, unhappy, and resentful-and that will affect performance. No one wants to be bored and unchallenged by their work.
  3. Overworked – There are seasons of being overworked. Stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed come with many jobs, but so does burnout.  If the season never changes, then employees will look elsewhere. Consider this,  it’s often the best employees, the most capable and committed and the most trusted that we overload most. If they find themselves continually taking on more and the perception is there is no end in sight, then they feel they’re being taken advantage of.
  4. A Blurry Vision – There’s nothing more frustrating than a workplace filled with visions, but no actions to achieve. I’ve worked at many places where the vision is posted on the website, are framed and hanging in each office. I even had a CEO tape our the company vision to every door in the building. However, I never saw the actions to achieve that vision. In fact, I bet you could still find some of them hanging after 2 years of leaving. What person wants to spend his or her time and energy in support of something undefined or merely hype and talk? People don’t want to spend their time and effort just spinning their wheels.
  5. Profits Over People – When an organization values its bottom line more than its people, the people go elsewhere. The result is a culture of underperformance, low morale, and even disciplinary issues. Of course, things like profit, output, pleasing stakeholders, and productivity are essential, but success ultimately depends on the people who do the work.
  6. Feeling Undervalued – It’s human nature to want to be recognized and praised for a job well done. And in business, recognizing employees is not merely a nice thing to do but an effective way to communicate your appreciation for their efforts and successes. This will reinforce those actions and behaviors that make a difference. When you fail to recognize employees, you’re not only failing to motivate them but also missing out on the most efficient way to reinforce high performance.
  7. No Trust – Trust is crucial to influence, and influence is required to lead people. Employees view your behavior and weigh it against your commitments. If they see you dealing unethically with vendors, cheating clients, or failing to keep your word, the best will leave.
  8. Lack of Transparency – Hoarding or not sharing information will cause people to leave. A person who hoards information does it to control the outcome.Patrick Lencioni’s masterpiece The Five Dysfunctions of a Team indicates the foundation for any good relationship is trust, and that foundation of trust just cannot happen without transparency at work. As a result, employees working for managers who share information will work harder for them, respect them more, be more innovative, and solve problems much faster.
  9. Corporate Culture – While it’s not the top for leaving a job, the overall company culture affects an employees attitude and ultimately influences their decisions to go. Some questions to consider when evaluating the company culture.

Does the organization appreciate employees, treat them with respect, and provide compensation, benefits, and perks in line with competitors?

Is the work environment conducive to employee satisfaction and engagement?

Do you provide events, employee activities, celebrations, and team building efforts that make employees feel that your organization is a great place to work?

Ultimately, many people leave their job because of the boss, not the work or the organization.

Job SatisfactionPeople create results. And Leadership is essential to attracting and maintaining talented results-oriented people. Ask yourself what you may be doing to drive your best people away, and start making the changes needed to keep them.

Texting, What Message are You Sending? Part 3 of 3

This is part 3 of 3 emails from my archives. Seems to be a constant need to re-publish these rules. I crafted this blog, not only because of my shortcomings but also my frustrations. In fact, I re-published all three blogs again because of my continued frustration. Do me a favor and read all three blog post and make adjustments in the way you craft and respond to email and texts. It will make the world a better place.

Texting is a convenient way to ineffectively communicate and lose the connection required for influence. Well, not always. Texting does have a place in communication, especially when the need is short and quick.  However, it has become the preferred method for long conversations or to communicate discipline, expectations and such. I actually had a CEO who preferred to terminate executive level professionals through a text. There was never any face to face interaction. Now that is wrong!

I believe face to face conversations are the most effective method of communication, however when the situation calls for texting, here are seven (8) texting principles I found to be very helpful:Fotosearch_k26085789

  1. Be careful with abbreviations. Texting is meant to be a fast form of communication, so we tend to use abbreviations and shortcuts such as “np” (no problem) or “u” (you). But there is such a thing as an inappropriate abbreviation and acronyms. Be careful!
  2. Watch your tone. Texting is a fast and easy way to communicate. Make sure you use words that set your intended, not perceived tone. Read it before you send it!
  3. Never send bad news via text. I had a CEO send a text to a VP threatening to fire him if he didn’t achieve positive results on a project. Two days later, the VP received a text from the CEO tellin g him he was terminated and where to turn in his vehicle and computer. I was shocked, guess he was scared of him. Keep texting positive or neutral. If there is a need for negative communication, schedule a face to face meeting, it’s the right thing to do.
  4. Don’t change meeting times or venues in a text.  However, you can confirm meeting times or places through text.
  5. Double check when using the voice-to-text feature.  The translation can be tricky. Especially;y with my mixed up Cajun accent.
  6. Don’t text during a meeting or presentation. This action is just rude!  Even if you are doing it under the table or behind a book, the presenter can tell.  As a speaker and trainer, it offends me when I see people looking at their phones. Pay attention!
  7. Darn, autocorrect!  This feature bites me often. Watch the auto correct feature.  An excellent way to fix this is to READ your text before you hit send.
  8. Don’t text and drive – This is a killer, literally. Did you know 35% of all vehicle fatalities involve texting and driving? Even people who text and drive, hate people who text and drive.

textingBy following these simple rules and abiding by proper etiquette, mastering the ability to craft and send valid emails and text can be an efficient easy and effective communication tool.

How we respond to emails and text can result in positive or negative consequences and determine our influence on others. Spend the effort and time to make sure your texts and emails reflect your intended message.