Leadership Power!

Your Employees Need to Know the “Why” because It’s More than Just the Money

The purpose, or what I call the “Why” for what your employees do at work, is becoming more important to them than just collecting a paycheck.

I know this to be so because I witnessed this when I was a contractor and now as a consultant to contractors. This long-time trend has become the norm. And I think it’s not just a good thing… I think it’s a great thing.

This may seem scary to you. Or, you may be in disbelief that this could be true. A quick review of articles and blogs online will validate what I’m saying here.

And if you’re an owner or manager who is over 50 years of age, you probably grew up in the trades with being told, “This is what I want done”. There was no discussion. You were just expected to do it because your boss told you to.

But having worked with consulting clients over the last few years, all I see are Millennials and now even some of the Generation Z arriving at work.  This movement is in full swing, so doing things because “I told you so” is long gone. In general, they’re not going to engage their heart and soul into anything at work until they know the “Why” they’re doing something.

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Beware Actions Born of Boredom

Many a client throughout the years has told me when I said they were taking actions out of boredom with the status quo, “Bored? I can hardly catch my breath!”

Maybe… maybe not.

You can be crazy busy, but activity can serve to mask the underlying boredom that can creep into our life at work. This is especially so in a maturing company. The goal for leadership must be to make their companies perform consistently better, and this can take its toll.

Boredom usually takes hold because this never ending-process is tough and, frankly, boring. So, they respond to it by starting a bunch of new projects that take away attention from the main objective they said they were pursuing.

Here are just four ways boredom can play out in a bad way:

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Actions Speak Louder than Words – Fix Your Own First

“Do as I Say, Not as I Do” is a common refrain from a frustrated boss.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could say this and all your employees would do just this? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

If what you’re saying doesn’t match what you are doing, you’re busted.

The reason is all eyes are upon you all the time, and as the owner, you can’t hide. I understand that no one is perfect when it comes to everything they do as a leader, but the fact is your actions speak louder than your words.

Think of it this way: imagine your dad or mom are telling you as a young teenager that you have to quit smoking because it is dangerous to your health. The problem is they’re telling you this as the ashes are dropping off the cigarette dangling from their mouths.

You see it for what it is.

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No Such Thing as Accidental Company Culture

One of the greatest lessons I got came along very early in my consulting career. I was very fortunate to work with the great Steve Lowry of Lowry Services in Pennsylvania.

Steve shared with me one day as we were pretty far along in our scope of work that other companies he competed with could copy everything he does from his truck design, his marketing, and a whole lot more, but they could never copy his company’s culture.

He was not bragging.

Steve told me one day as we were wrapping up work on one of the staffing programs, “Al, the better I treat my employees, the better they treat my customers and the more successful I have become. When they make customers incredibly happy and feel like they are treated well, they are all in with doing business with my company for life.”Company culture has to be cultivated in every transaction and interaction. It’s either getting better or its getting worse. There is no standing still. It takes work and that work is always ongoing.

What can you do to make company culture better at your company?

Here are just five ways to get you started on a better path based upon the great company cultures I’ve seen and helped make better.

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If Nothing Gets Done… You’re Responsible

Don’t look around for someone you can point the finger at because it’s you!

I say this because I used to blame people at my company for what didn’t get done or for what got done poorly. And I was all too happy to point the finger of blame. Yes, I’m a New Yorker, but don’t waste time figuring out which finger.

My flawed approach changed when I was lucky enough to get accepted into a great contractor affinity group. The reason it all changed is I was exposed to very successful contractors who were willing to share the lessons they had learned along the way to becoming successful. All I had to do was ask a question of them and shut up long enough to listen to the wisdom they were sharing.

Again, as a New Yorker, this wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t going to blow this golden opportunity. I bit my lip so I could shut up long enough to listen to the help they were giving me.

And what came back time and again from pretty much all of my whining about my staff and what they either didn’t get done or did poorly was that it was my fault, not theirs.  This was tough medicine but I was ready to take it.

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Chief Executive Communicator

In this world of ever-expanding corporate titles there is the CEO (Chief Executive Officer); CFO (Chief Financial Officer); CTO (Chief Technology Officer); CIO (Chief Information Officer), CPO (Chief People Officer), to name but a few.

I suspect that in many cases a lot of these fancy “CXO” (Chief — fill in the blank — Officer) titles exist so people can feel good about how high they’ve risen in their organization.

I don’t really like fancy “C” titles because titles are not what typically helps you, a contractor, run your business.

That said, I’m in favor of a new title for you.

Chief Executive Communicator.

No, it doesn’t go on your Organizational Chart, and it’s not a paying position.

It’s someone at the very top level of your company in charge of communicating where the company is going and what’s in it for those who are helping you get there.

This probably means you.

So, what do I think a really great Chief Executive Communicator must do? Glad you asked.

Here are the most five most vital things you need to do to be successful.

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What to do if Employees are “Always” on Social Media

Question: Are your employees going to stop checking their social media feeds anytime soon?

Answer: No!

Question: What can you do about it?

Answer: A few things.

Question: Is this a new problem?

Answer: Yes and no.

Employees being distracted at work has been going on since they put in a water cooler in the breakroom. And since going on cigarette breaks were routine. And even when the first access to the internet allowed them to go “surfing” from the comfort of their office chair.

Social Media Distraction isn’t a new problem but rather an old problem expressed in a new way. That problem is time spent not working while at work. The Social Media Distraction issue continues to grow to an even higher and higher level of disruption of productivity in the workplace as more and more social media channels are created that compete increasingly for the attention of your employees while they’re at work and on the clock.

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Police State or Permissive Where Anything Goes?

I was working with a client a number of years ago and he was a fantastic contractor, as were his partners. The majority of my work was with this one partner who was a smart, effective and knowledgeable leader of their fast growing plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical company.

He was the rare owner who not only knew the technical side of the business, but he and his partners knew what it took to grow a company, which meant learning and implanting the business side of things.

My reason for being called in to consult was that they had experienced explosive growth and they were suffering the ill effects that came with it. He and his partners were realizing that the way they answered their phones, to the way they dispatched, to the way they had their Techs run calls, had to be fixed.

They (not me) had said they had the worst group of Customer Service Representatives (aka CSRs) ever. And what made it worse is that they had eight of them. Sad truth is… they were bad. At least, they were when we first started.

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The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

What’s the difference between a Leader and a Manager?

I get asked this question a lot when I do seminars and workshops. And even when I do 1-to-1 consulting. It’s a great question because this can be a confusing distinction between the two roles.

To me, a Leader has a vision and they share that vision with others as they try to move the company where they see it should be, so they end up where they want to go.

A Manager is busy getting the day to day stuff handled so the Leader can focus on the direction and the vision.

Leaders and Managers are both critical to the long-term success of any business.

But, there’s an issue that tends to pop up a lot when I work with clients. That issue is where there are Leaders and Managers and they are not sharing the same vision and they’re busy plotting separate courses for the company. It would be akin to have a car barreling down the highway with four people wrestling to grab the steering wheel and drive. Nothing good is going to happen in this scenario.

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Creating a Business to be Thankful For

“I hate my business!”

That’s what I hear periodically when I talk with Contractors. And to me that is sad. But, I get it.

For many, the business they started didn’t turn out the way they planned when they took that big leap and typically left a secure paying job as an employee to go for the brass ring as an owner. It seemed like it would be easier.

The most common complaints I hear are:

1. “This business is making me go broke. I have to keep putting in my own hard-earned savings, borrowed money or what I had hoped would be my retirement money to keep things going and nothing positive seems to happen.”

2. “I work all day and when I get home there’s more work to do. Things like billing, returning calls, putting together bids and a whole lot more than I realized. The day never ends.”

3. “I can’t do at 60 years of age what I did when I was 50 years old let alone what I did in my 20s, 30s and 40s. So, what do I do now?”

4. “I can’t stop working or there’s no business. Heaven forbid I get hurt or sick. It’s scary.”

5. “My employees are infuriating. They act like they’re the owner and I’m their employee.”

Yes, business can be hard. But, it doesn’t have to be.

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