You’re Not Always A Fit

In a previous blog I talked about putting ego aside for the good of an organization. This time around I might be appear to be contradicting myself, but hear me out. Life in the scheme of the universe is but a blip and if you can’t have some enjoyment and fun in your work environment then what is the point? In life we all go through struggles with life partners, co-workers, customers, volunteers, board members and the list goes on. There are times when we achieve success and other times when fall flat on our face. The question one faces is that are your values constantly being undermined in the environment where you hang your hat. Do you find yourself compromising endlessly with your peers, partner, customers but not receiving any reciprocity? Are you feeling angry and isolated at most encounters with your cohorts because philosophically you are not pulling in the same direction? This is not an isolated incident it doesn’t mean you are flawed. People grow and evolve in different ways. They take different paths and directions and sometimes it is in everyones’ best interest at that juncture to part ways. If you dread being in the same room with some of your peers think long and hard at what the issues are that make it so difficult to deal with them. It is always better to try and resolve the issues at hand, but there are some instances where circumstances are such that things are beyond repair. In reality we are diverse and yes we can overcome many issues and hurdles, but sometimes we are not always the right fit for a certain business or partner, such is life.

Some Businesses Just Can’t Give Up the Past

I had a recent experience as a customer and it wasn’t a great one. I hate pointing fingers at a particular industry, but the car business seems to be holding on to the past with a vengeance. Yes I had an encounter with a car salesperson and it wasn’t pretty. Since I have been studying and to a great extent practising some aspects of sales in my own business I have an appreciation of the best and worst practices. In this particular experience it was much the latter. The sales representative talked continually, used high pressure tactics, switch and bait and argued with me about the terms of my current financial arrangements of the car I was financing with his company. His big spiel was he was going to save me money and put me into a newer and more technologically advanced car. When it came down to the the end of the negotiation it turned out the it was going to cost me more than $100 a month to get into the same car I was driving in the 2019 model. Then the kicker he whispered that I could could counter-offer what I wanted to pay and he would argue with his sales manager. At this point I am not going on with the story, sufficed to say you would think after all these years that this vertical would figure out there is a better way to treat their customers and do business. The problem is the car business is not the only vertical that is still hanging on to old and out-dated ways of selling to their base. Disruptive forces are already undermining their business model and if they don’t start treating their customers with more respect they will be become irrelevant.

The Secret To Employee Engagement Isn’t About Your Employees

If you want a great culture and true employee engagement, provide benefits that positively impact not just your employees but, more importantly, those whom they love.

Here are three tips for creating a benefits package that is most meaningful to employees and their significant others.

  1. Focus on health insurance.

If you want to attract–and keep–qualified employees, offer a robust health insurance package. Based on my ad hoc research of other companies’ reviews, this benefit had the largest impact on employee satisfaction. “Health benefits and retirement funds are consistently the top two employee valued benefits. Employees value working for a stable company and seek security for their family’s well-being.

I know a man who has worked for the same grocery store chain for over fifteen years. Throughout his career, he considered job offers from other companies, but when his son was born with cerebral palsy, his employer’s generous health care package provided the care his infant son needed without financially devastating his family. This employee was engaged and loyal primarily because of the health benefits.

  1. Make sure company parties reflect the work culture.

If your work culture promotes a team-building, “we are family” management process, it doesn’t make sense to offer a black tie formal holiday dinner for employees only. This strategy sends the message that family comes second, if at all. And the aftermath of this mixed message lingers long after the party is over.

  1. Remember: gifts go a long way.

Whether it’s celebrating the birth of a new baby with a fresh bouquet and some time off, encouraging volunteer efforts in the community, or providing a study manual, lunch, and some free time to study for a certification exam, gifts send a strong message that strengthens employee engagement. A simple gesture can go a long way.

Gifts also show appreciation to family members who make sacrifices when an employee has to work late or travel. This was expressed perfectly by a woman on a recent flight whose company sent her son a gift basket when she had to leave for a training seminar. “He was so excited to receive the gift basket, he didn’t even care that I was leaving for work,” she said. “My son just said, ‘See ya later.’” At Simplus, we welcome each new member of the company by paying for a free house cleaning. We have noticed how happy it has made the partners of our employees, and the money we have spent on this gift has given us ten times the benefit from making the partners of our employees happy.

When it comes to employee engagement, one size (and one plan) doesn’t fit every workplace. But by implementing thoughtful, meaningful, and practical benefits for your employees’ significant others, you can make valuable employee connections and create a positive work environment. They may just leave a raving review about your success online.

Taking The High Road

Continuing with the theme of my recent blog leaving your ego out of it. I continue to deal with some individuals in my volunteer working life that for reasons that psychologists could explain seem to derive pleasure in making petty attacks on my character for decisions that I make of moving our organization forward. This has been going on for some time and as much as I have been trying to placate these people I can’t seem to please them. On balance like any volunteer organization there are just a few of us doing the heavy lifting and the remainder of the people show up to meetings and either make suggestions, criticize and if you requested might roll up their sleeves to help with a particular task. At issue are the participants that spend most of their time just critiquing and contributing little else. They say as you get older you mature and I am hoping that axiom holds true for me. My temptation has been to react and defend myself and tell my detractors where to go, but a tiny voice inside me has been telling me to take the high road and avoid the temptation to get into a confrontation. So far I have been listening to my inner-voice and remaining calm and reserved. Internally of course I have had some choice words to say to my negative colleagues. Something interesting has transpired the other day one of the people who has been responsible for some of the negative behaviour has seemingly started behave in a far more collegial way towards me, so perhaps taking the high road was the correct strategy and better course of action than hostility and negativity that we often follow when we are confronted.

Mind-numbing presentations

Yesterday I walked out on a presentation I was invited to about changes in technology. This is not the first time I have done this. I have come to the conclusion that I have only so much time and power in my batteries and I won’t waste it on a boring and lack-lustre presentation. So what drove me out the door? The presenter spent most of his time talking to the screen effectively reading the script of the presentation to his audience. There was little interaction between him and his audience. He spoke in a monotone and just rambled on. The problem is that many workshops and seminars I attend look and sound like this. If you are going to spend financial resources on planning these kinds of events to attract new clients why not put the additional effort to captivate them by building a presentation that disseminates information in a way that uses humour, drama and gets the participants involved in the presentation. When you get in front of an audience and just read the deck it says you really didn’t prepare or you really don’t care that much. That’s a terrible message to send out to you audience. When choosing the member of your staff to give a public presentation pick someone who is confident and speaks well in front of people, not someone who is introverted and uncomfortable in public situations. You only get one opportunity to make a great impression and these kinds of interactions can work to attract to new business or send potential customers running in the opposite direction. I am sorry to say that more often that not I underwhelmed at the seminars and workshops I attend. People start putting more time and effort into your presentations.

Navigating your business and life during challenging times

It happens to everybody your life and business are going along smoothly and then dark clouds and a storm hits and everything goes out of whack. Sometimes it might be as a result of something you failed to do and sometimes it is just a random circumstance, but when it happens it can turn your life upside down. This kind of event is likely to happen more than once in a lifetime, so how do you deal with it when it occurs? If it is just one event then you can take action to deal with the circumstances surrounding that occurrence. What if it is a multitude of things happening at once that is weighing you down. There is no magic bullet, we all go through difficult patches. My first piece of advice is don’t suffer in silence. Look to friends and trusted advisors when things feel like they are spinning out of control. Often the perspective of someone not caught in the web can help paint a picture that is not as bleak as you think or feel it is. They also might have some ideas or solutions on how to move forward from your predicament. Try not dwell on the negative, but rather slowly work your way out of the tangled mess you think you are in. Sometimes you just have to get out of the office and get some fresh air to clear your head. Be realistic, not all situations can be resolved overnight. Some slumps might take longer to resolve than others. Don’t beat yourself up over something that has seemingly failed, it has happened to the best of us. Look back to other trying times and know that you have come out of slumps before and had success. There are no easy fixes or simple solutions. Life can be hard and complex, but experience teaches us that with the right attitude and good people supporting us we can achieve great things.

Technology overload

I have to confess I was born just before the technology era erupted. Now that we live in the digital age with the industrial age in our rear-view mirror, technological change takes place at a break-neck pace. There is opportunity, but on the down-side one can be overwhelmed with the amount of information and change that we have to do adopt with all this change coming at us. The challenge for small business owners is to decide which technologies are key to their business success. In addition they have to determine cost factors, and the ease that their employees can learn and implement a particular system and technology that relates to their business and markets. In terms of the marketing and sales side of business there is the whole discussion of social media and how it can help you reach your target market. There are a number of vehicles in the arena of social media and at first glance it can be overwhelming and confusing. As with any new venture take a deep breath and do some preliminary research to learn who the major players are. You can always reach out to your network to elicit some opinions of your valued advisors, and friends to suggest a good course of action for your particular business. The benefits of technology are that with the internet there is a vast amount of information on many topics that you can read and research to help you make an informed decision. Yes we live in an age when technology effectively means that things change almost on a daily basis. No you can’t possibly learn and adapt everything that is coming down the pipe. My advice is pick and choose the bits and pieces that are important to the continual growth of your business. Keep an open mind and heart.