If you’re spending eight hours a day (or more) in a job that you’re not crazy about, then you have three options moving forward. That’s right, only three! And whining at the water cooler about how much you hate your job isn’t one of them!
If I sound harsh, I’ll apologize, but I stand by what I said! You see, life is too short to “survive” a job that you hate. Which is why I wrote my latest column in The Globe and Mail that published earlier today.
Have you heard of Price’s Law? It may improve your employee retention?
Derek Price was a British physicist who is credited with identifying the mathematical relationship between (1) literature on a specific subject, and (2) the number of authors in the subject area. Price’s square root law (or simply Price’s Law) states that half of the publications in a subject area come from the square root of all contributors. So, if 100 papers are written by 25 authors, five of those 25 will have contributed 50 of those 100 papers. Price’s Law is obviously related to academic research and reporting, but I have observed an interesting parallel in the world of work.
Price’s Law at work
Repeatedly, in organizations, I have noticed that there seems to be a small number of people who seem to get the most work done. If I may go as far as invoking Price’s Law – half the work is done by the square root of the total number of employees in that department or division. So if the sales team has 10 people, half the revenue seems to come from three people in the group. If the first-line tech support team has 15 people, four people seem to respond to and close about half the support tickets. What if you have an organization of 100 people – do 10 of them get half the work done, and the other 90 the remaining half? That’s a scary thought! Now I know that Price’s Law doesn’t exactly compute in every situation, but my point is that this ratio generally applies – which is, a handful of people get the most work done. Continue reading →
My professional colleague and friend Steve Foran is on a mission to help one billion people become happier. And he’s well on his way! He does this through a variety of avenues, but primarily through his research and teaching on gratitude and the habits of gratefulness. Earlier this year, in May, he invited me to articulate once a day for five days, three reasons I was grateful (so a total of fifteen). It was a rewarding exercise, one that forced me to be thoughtful and deliberate. Since gratitude is an essential component of leadership and employee motivation, I asked him if he would be a guest contributor on our blog. He said yes! So in today’s post, Steve talks specifically about two needs you must meet for your employees in order for them to be highly-motivated.
There are two foundational needs that must be met in order that an employee be fully engaged in their work. It is not simply enough that leaders know these needs, but they must actively ensure these basic human needs are fulfilled.
The motivation for people to contribute their best-selves happens when the following two needs are met:
We’ve been talking all year on the blog about specific ideas to develop your employees, and today’s tip now brings us up to Strategy #23. It is to deliberately and consciously seek out opportunities to praise and acknowledge your staff for good work.
Be deliberate about praising and acknowledging your staff for their good work
In order to grow and develop, people need to know how they’re doing. In fact, back in Strategy #10, I talked about both why and how to give constructive feedback. The goal was that employees should have enough information to change their behaviours and actions for the better. But don’t just tell your staff what to improve. Positive feedback, praise, acknowledgement for a job well done is just as powerful a tool to develop your employees.
Two powerful reasons to do this!
When we praise and acknowledge, it tells employees what they are doing well, and therefore, encourages them to continue. That alone, is a really good reason to do it! But even more than that, recognition for doing good work builds morale. When staff feel good about themselves, they are more invested in themselves and in the department or organization, which means that productivity and performance will go up too. So make it a point to deliberately and thoughtfully recognize your staff whenever you can. Even though more is possible, a simple thank you that is tied to a specific action or behavior will suffice. Praise and recognition can be given privately or publicly, think about what will be more appreciated by the person you are acknowledging. It doesn’t matter how or where, just do it. Try it, I think you’ll find that praise and acknowledgement can be a simple, yet powerfully effective tool to develop your employees.
So …. I’d love to hear from you. Are you being deliberate about acknowledging and praising good work done by your employees? If not, why not? I’d love to hear more.
I referred to Strategy #10 above. But if you’re looking for more, you can access the complete series in our Video Archives.
One of my favourite hotels always has a large bowl of fruit sitting on the counter in their front desk area, available to any of their hotel clientele who want a quick snack. Recently, as I checked in one evening, I mentioned to the front desk agent that I felt the onset of a cold. She helpfully recommended that I boost my Vitamin C consumption. To which I laughingly responded that their fruit bowl never contained oranges, only apples and bananas. She paused, and then earnestly replied, “Oh, we tried adding oranges, but no one ever takes the oranges, just the apples and bananas. So now we just leave them out.”
The convenient fruit principle
At first thought, you might assume that this discrepancy exists because most people like apples and bananas more than oranges. But when you consider it further, the reason is much simpler. Apples and bananas are easy to eat, but oranges are not. As delicious as oranges are, you usually need a knife to eat them. And if they can be peeled, most times they are quite messy. So hotel guests looking for a quick and easy snack always pick the apples and bananas. I call this the “convenient fruit principle”, and it applies just as much in the workplace as it does at snack time.
Use the convenient fruit principle to motivate desired behaviour
This blog post was originally written in January 2014, and has been updated since then.
Over the years, I have posted many times about zero-cost or inexpensive ways to motivate employees. Each time my focus has been on ways to create a positive workplace atmosphere. If you can secure your employees’ cooperation and loyalty, you can improve productivity and performance.
Which is exactly what happened to me in January 2014 when a gourmet food hamper arrived at my front door! It was accompanied by a card – “Please accept this small gesture of my appreciation for your family’s patience and sacrifice during the company’s year-end close”. It was signed by a senior manager of the company my husband works for. What a pleasant surprise! Continue reading →
Today’s instalment is #19 in our ongoing series on practical ideas to develop and grow your employees. And in this one, I look specifically at one powerful way to increase employee engagement. It is to make it a point to celebrate and share small wins with the team and others.
Celebrate and share small wins
The reality is that while big successes are often recognized and discussed, the small victories tend to fly under the radar. Which is a huge missed opportunity for you, the leader, to create employee engagement. So make it a point to surface these smaller accomplishments, and not only will you increase employee engagement, but development and motivation as well.
In a previous strategy in this series (#18), I talked about using your staff meetings to review and analyze one thing that didn’t go as well as expected as a way to systematize learning from failure. This approach for sharing small wins is similar, but it focuses on successes instead.
Systematize celebrating small wins in your staff meetings
For every staff meeting you hold, establish a permanent agenda item called “Wins” or “Successes”. Continue reading →
For the past several months, I’ve been sharing specific employee development strategies on the blog via short videos: each time, one explicit, pragmatic, and actionable idea you can use to help your employees develop and grow into accomplished professionals and the future leaders in your organization. Today’s advice: implement a tuition reimbursement program.
Implement a tuition reimbursement program
A tuition reimbursement program is a great way to support learning that isn’t provided in-house, and to provide assistance to employees who want to further their education. Such programs are usually external learning curriculum provided by colleges, universities, professional associations and vendors in relation to industry certifications.
Now it’s true, an employee who takes classes may not finish the degree for several years. Continue reading →
Today’s blog post takes us to Strategy #14 in my ongoing series of video tips outlining specific ideas to develop and grow your employees. Employee growth is a natural outcome of employee engagement, and a sure-fire way to create employee engagement is to establish and monitor performance metrics.
Establish and monitor performance targets
We’ve all heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” It simply means that regular measurement and reporting keeps people attentive and focused. And when people know how they’re doing, they are deliberate and thoughtful about making decisions to improve their results.
So establish metrics. What are those vital few indicators that tell you things in your department are working as intended? Make sure that this is information that can be collected easily. Because if it’s too difficult, it won’t happen. Continue reading →
In our last video tip in our ongoing series on developing and growing employees, I said that it was critical to offer constructive feedback to your people. Key to continued employee growth though is that this constructive feedback be frequent and consistent. So today’s strategy for employee growth builds on the last tip. It is to schedule regular one-on-one conversations with each of your staff members.
Schedule regular one-on-one conversations with your staff
When thinking about regular one-on-one conversations with each of your direct reports, there are two things you need to consider – frequency and content. So let me address each one separately.