May 2nd, 2012
Behaviors that are genetically transmitted from generation to generation are know as instincts. Psychologists William James and William McDougall argued that people have instincts that foster survival and social behavior.
- Formed by Psychologist Clark Hull in the 1930’s.
- According to the Drive-Reduction Theory, people and animals experience a drive arising as a need from an unpleasant tension.
- They learn to do whatever they can to reduce that tension by reducing the drive. Like eating to reduce hunger.
- The body looks to achieve a state of equilibrium , or balance. The tendency to maintain this state in the body is called homeostasis.
- Homeostasis works like a thermostat in a home. Going through various stages of heating and cooling in order to maintain a set temperature.
The humanistic theory suggests that people are also motivated by the conscious desire for personal growth and artistic fulfillment.
Abraham Maslow concluded that people are willing to tolerate pain, hunger, and other tensions to achieve their artistic or political goals.
Maslow believed that striving to do, or be, something meaningful in life is essential to the human well being, just like food.
Many artists, actors, musicians, and writers commit to their goals even if they are unable to make a living by perusing their passions.
People strive to fulfill their capacity for self actualization. Self actualization refers to the need to become what one believe s he or she is capable of being.
The Value of Understanding Sociocultural Theory
The Sociocultural theory is the theory that focuses on the roles of ethnicity, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status in personality formation, behavior, and mental processes. The foods that people eat, they way they eat them, and different ways of greeting are all derived from culture. For example coffee vs. tea, or hamburgers vs. tacos. J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter while she was on welfare. She incorporated some of the darker elements of her own life, like the loss of her mother and her battle with depression, into the series. Now she is worth an estimated $850 million dollars.
The Secret to Becoming Motivated is…
- The secret to motivation is doing what you want to achieve, but everyone already does this.
- You already have the motivation to do what you think is important, so you do it.
- Everyone has different motivations based on what they think is important.
- Whether it is someone’s education, sports, art, music, or fashion, we all do whatever we think is important to us. Therefore, we are all motivated.
What is your motivation? What motivates you is not what may motivate another. Surveying your clients, employees and members every year is crucial because motivation triggers do change from year to year.
November 9th, 2011
This article has been excerpted from The Power of Loyalty by Roger L. Brooks, available from Entrepreneur Press.
Reward your customers — they’ll reward you with repeat business
The best way to motivate customer behavior is to provide an incentive or reward for that motivation. Rewarding your customers for a specific purchasing behavior is not much different than training your puppy. With enough repetition and positive reinforcement, your pup can be motivated to act upon instruction. That’s because the pup knows if he listens to your command, he’ll receive his reward.
Human nature isn’t much different. People can be motivated to take specific actions that accomplish their buying goals while also accomplishing your goals to increase their spending, frequency of visits or combination purchases (or comparative goals relevant to your line of business).
The question then is how do you motivate behavior? Below are five ideas that will get you thinking.
- Offer soft benefits that provide value such as special access limited only to members.
- Offer relevant promotions through various lines of communication, for example: e-mail, SMS text, receipt messages, statement inserts, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Up-sell complimentary products or services at the associate level.
- Offer sweepstakes, random rewards or special offers for a limited time frame, keep your strategy fresh and exciting:
- Strategically place messages (via signage, web banners, etc.) that will trigger motivating actions.
Motivate, But Don’t Mislead
Once you decide how you’ll motivate, always do so in an honorable way. Your customers won’t want to be misled into thinking they are receiving something greater in value that what they’ll actually receive as the reward.
Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said, “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”
Of course, the statement was made some 150 years ago and the President was referring to politicians attempting to fool their constituents; however, the quote resonates with me every time I see a program that offers empty loyalty. Such programs offer an elaborate program on the outside when, indeed, it’s only a facade to increase business. In time, savvy customers will see through the facade. Your promotional strategy to motivate behavior must be phony proof. Once your customers lift the hood and kick the tires, the promotions must stand on their own and offer real value, not empty promises.
Remember, whatever you do, don’t try to fool the customer! Loyal customers will catch on if the loyalty program does not have true value. This can also backfire and cause disloyalty amongst your customers and defeat the entire purpose of implementing your strategy in the first place.
There are two reasons why your rewards offerings should be upstanding:
- Loyal customers have earned the right to receive a valid reward. If they weren’t enrolled in your program, they may have taken their business elsewhere.
- Customers can see through transparent rewards.
If you want to be in the loyalty game, you have to offer attractive redemption items that are achievable for your customers to earn. If customers are willing to change their purchasing behavior and provide you with their loyalty, they will expect the same in return from you in the form of a relevant reward.
It’s the Little Things That Matter Most
If you put on your consumer hat, you’ll understand that it’s the little things that matter most. One component you should incorporate is providing feel-good loyalty. Feel-good loyalty is just what it sounds like, providing something that the customer will feel good about. Offering feel-good-loyalty incentives should be part of your overall strategy and will require some clever and creative thinking. Some companies offer free Wi-Fi, others offer free shipping. Whatever you decide, brainstorm hard, even hold an employee contest. but find your niche and add feel-good loyalty to the mix.
Photofiddle.com is an internet company that offers a service to turn your photographs into art. Simply upload a photo and you can instantly transform that image into pop art, impasto, a black and white sketch and even more. Once you create your personal masterpiece you then have many options for the type of surface the image is printed on (glossy photo paper, canvas, etc.). Finally, you can choose from a number of print sizes and framing choices.
Although Photofiddle doesn’t have a recognizable rewards program they do provide various levels of feel-good loyalty. Upon opening your order, customers see each piece is carefully packaged and accompanied with a pair of white cotton gloves. The label attached to the gloves reads, “All fine artwork should be handled with care. Please use white cotton gloves. Oils from your hands and fingers can leave finger prints. Jewelry on your fingers and wrist can leave markings.”
That’s a personal touch and that’s feel-good-loyalty. It’s doing the little things that matter most with customers. It’s thinking outside the box so that your brand motivates your customers and resonates in their mind. Providing the white cotton gloves with each order sends both a literal message and subliminal message. It reinforces the need to treat your artwork with care and that they treat all of their customers with care.
Roger L. Brooks is a respected loyalty strategist with more than 15 years of experience in developing, supporting, and implementing customer loyalty and rewards programs.
July 5th, 2011
It’s time to change your mind about money and wealth.
Freedom is more than financial, and living a wealthy life is about more than just making money.
Below are the top 10 principles you need to know when pursuing more money so that you end up with a happy, healthy, and wealthy life…
1. Give More Than You Take
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
To build true wealth, you must help improve other people’s lives as you improve your own. When you give more value than you take it helps everyone around you. Living this way means the growth of your financial wealth becomes a measure of how much you have given to others. Your success becomes an act of contribution.
Always remember, taking value may bring you temporary financial success but it can never lead you to happiness and fulfillment.
2. Live With Integrity
Never cause harm to other people or the environment, encroach on the property of others, or violate moral laws. Never insult, lie, or cheat for financial gains.
Follow the simple rule, “If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t”. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable telling your family about.
When faced with the choice between expediency and integrity, choose integrity because no amount of wealth can replace peace of mind and a clear conscience.
3. Find Your Inner Motivation
Building financial wealth is not an easy path. It is a long and challenging journey that requires a deep rooted motivation strong enough to see you through to the achievement of your goal. Superficial motivators like a fancy car or endless vacations sipping umbrella drinks on a tropical beach won’t cut it.
Below are four proven motivators that can help you stay the course long enough to succeed:
- Freedom from daily labor: This will allow you time to connect with family, indulge in your passion, or pursue personal growth so you can live your life to its fullest potential.
- Capacity to share: Contribution is a powerful motivator because the more you have the more you can share. Wealthy families have significantly empowered social and environmental causes through the charitable foundations they’ve created. Maybe giving is your reason for getting.
- Personal growth: When you’ve achieved financial freedom you will have more time to pursue personal freedom and achieve true wealth.
- Capacity to inspire: Your success will inspire the people around you to follow in your footsteps and pursue their dreams. By achieving true wealth you will have the chance to help people break free from the shackles of financial mediocrity.
4. Have The Courage To Find Your Own Path
As social beings, we are afraid to do things differently and independently. However, wealth won’t be achieved by conforming to the majority. Wealth comes from doing things that others don’t so you can acquire the wealth they never will. It comes from following your own unique path in life.
Dare to be different. Be brave enough to take on new paths and learn new skills so you achieve your goals — even if it causes you discomfort.
5. Discipline Is The Key
Wealth isn’t built overnight. Get-rich-quick is a lie.
Instead, financial wealth results from many little things done right that accumulate and compound over your lifetime. This is good news because it means anyone can do it. There are no magical answers or sudden strokes of luck required. Instead, success depends on simple daily habits like saving, investing, and re-investing. It depends on regular investment education through reading and listening to podcasts that develop your financial and business intelligence daily.
When you have discipline you take regular action that produces regular results. Without discipline you will fall prey to the leading wealth killer – procrastination.
6. Live A Modest Lifestyle
The foundation of wealth is delayed gratification. Spend less than you can afford so you can invest the difference for greater value in the future. Materialism doesn’t bring happiness but it does keep you from achieving wealth. It will keep you attached to the superficial rather than connecting to the deeper motivation that drives you to achieve wealth.
Don’t be fooled by the consumerism myth that being wealthy is about living a conspicuous lifestyle. Most self-made millionaires live modestly — that is how they built their wealth. The truth is lifestyle conflicts with wealth building. Your resources are limited and can only serve one master.
7. Create Supportive Environments
The path to financial freedom is not easy. Few succeed even with the best laid plans because life incessantly gets in the way by throwing up obstacles and distractions. The key to success is focused, consistent and unyielding action. To achieve this objective create a support system that maintains your focus as you work toward wealth.
Properly designed environments will literally pull you toward your wealth goals. Structure your relationships, financial habits, daily routine, family and work environments to support and reinforce you plans. Eliminate contradictory environments that distract or drain your resources. Shaping your environments is the most efficient path to achieving your goals with the least effort required.
8. Nobody Builds Wealth Without Leverage
Leverage is the key principle to building wealth. You will achieve greater results in less time when your efforts aren’t limited by your own resources.
Below are the 6 types of leverage you should consider using:
- Knowledge Leverage: How to work smarter — not harder.
- Financial leverage: Other people’s money.
- Marketing Leverage: How to connect with many for the same effort as one.
- Systems and Technology Leverage: How to get more done with less effort — automation, streamlining, standardized protocols.
- Time leverage: Other people’s time — employees, volunteers, assistants.
- Network Leverage: Other people’s connections.
You will never build wealth by trading time for money, and you will limit your success as long as you’re limited by your own resources. The key principle required for breaking through the obstacles that curb your success is leverage. It literally separates those who can build wealth from those who never will.
9. Manage Your Money Like A Business
Treat your money like a business because that’s exactly what it is — a growing wealth management business. Employ proven success principles in your wealth plan similar to a traditional business plan as follows…
- Competitive advantage
- Risk management
- Strategic planning
- Accurate record keeping
- Accountability milestones
You wealth plan should include all of these business principles while also incorporating your unique skills, interests, and resources so that it’s custom fitted to your personal life situation. You wouldn’t expect to succeed in business without a plan so why should wealth be any different?
10. Use Money Responsibly
You don’t own wealth: you’re merely its temporary guardian. Everything must pass including you and your money. Since you can’t take it with you the only alternative is to use it wisely while you are here and give it carefully upon death.
Always remember that money is a flow that passes through your control while you pass through this lifetime. Whether or not you use that temporary power wisely will determine the legacy of your life.
It will also determine if you lived with true wealth.
The goal for true wealth is not just financial success. It is about leading a balanced and fulfilling life that honors your deepest values. It is a about a life well lived.
As John Wicker wisely pointed out, “Wealth is not in making money, but in making the man while he is making the money.”
When you follow these ten key principles you will grow your financial wealth, and more importantly, you will grow personally.
That’s what true wealth is all about.
May 10th, 2011
Sales is an emotional roller coaster, and unless you figure out how to manage those emotions and keep yourself motivated, you’ll have a difficult time succeeding. This is particularly true during a downturn. The economy struggles and unemployment rises. Many companies cut back, there are fewer jobs available, and pressures to perform are greater than ever. It’s easy to lose our motivation.
However, even though the world around us may be dreary and depressing, that in no way reduces our personal need to do the best we can. That means we all have a responsibility to stay motivated.
It is amazing what a difference a few degrees of attitude adjustment can make in our performance. Try this little exercise. Tell yourself these things: “Business is terrible. All of my customers are struggling. Nobody wants to see me, and when they do, it’s just to complain.” Wallow in those thoughts for a moment, and note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
Now, think the opposite: “I have great opportunities. My customers need me more today than ever. I have valuable solutions for them. It’s a great time to have this job.” Roll those around in your mind for a while. Note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
As you reflect on this exercise, it’s clear that your energy, enthusiasm and drive to succeed come as a result of your thoughts. Here is one of the most powerful truths known to mankind: You can control your thoughts.
Going Beyond “Positive Thinking”
Succeeding in difficult times depends a great deal on our motivation. Staying motivated requires us to take charge of our thoughts.
I’ve heard dozens of salespeople say, “I’ve tried positive thinking. It just isn’t me.” I agree that it is difficult to patch a bunch of positive thoughts on top of an essentially negative personality. The issue is deeper than that. Let’s, therefore, examine the deeper issues.
At the heart of motivation lies a pair of powerful beliefs that you must embrace if you are going to successfully motivate yourself. Without a wholehearted commitment to these foundational beliefs, all the techniques and tactics for self-motivation are like spreading wallpaper over crumbling plaster. It may hold temporarily, but it is soon going to deteriorate into a mess.
Here’s the first foundational principle: You must believe that you can do better than you are now doing. The second is this: You must accept that it is your responsibility to do so.
It’s simple and commonsense, but, the more I observe people and salespeople specifically, the more convinced I am that the majority of people do not share these core beliefs. Rather, they are in the habit of making excuses for their situation. They believe fate, not their actions, determines their success. They believe success is for someone else, not them. They never really grab unto the first of these foundational principles.
Others believe that they can achieve greater degrees of success. They embrace the first principle, intellectually, but they never internalize the second. They become content with their situation and remain in pre-established comfort zones. They look at their manager as the person who is responsible for their success, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s their parent’s fault, or their spouse’s, or… the list goes on.
Whether you are struggling with a lack of energy that accompanies a bad day, or you’re depressed and frustrated with your lack of progress on a larger scale, examine your core beliefs first. If you really accept these two principles, you have the keystone in place to become highly motivated.
Having said that, here are a couple proven techniques you can use to keep yourself motivated day-to-day.
Have a Compelling Purpose
Have something you are working to accomplish. This can be an important and compelling goal like saving enough money for a down payment on a house. When you are working toward something like that, your emotions of the moment tend to be a lower priority than your drive to achieve. If you are trying to make money for a home for your family, so what if you’re tired or depressed? You get out and do it.
The same is true for having a compelling purpose. I believe that every salesperson should be able to articulate clearly his or her purpose in life. I once began a ten-week sales training program with a requirement that everyone write a two-sentence “life purpose.” Why? Because it gives power and focus to everything you do. In your job as a salesperson, there will be many difficult times when things don’t go your way. You may lose a big deal, or be unable to get anyone to return your calls. At times like these, it helps to view them within the context of a larger perspective: your life purpose.
Choose Your Thoughts
Proactively put positive thoughts into your mind. Make a point of taking charge of your mind and the kind of thoughts you choose to think. Wise and thoughtful people for ages have discovered an extremely powerful principle: Your actions arise from your thoughts, and you can choose your thoughts.
Controlling and managing your thoughts is one of the basic tenants of Zen Buddhism, for example. In the Christian context, the apostle Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Philosophers, educators, and thinkers of every generation conclude the same thing.
But the power of this truth is not reserved just for philosophers. Salespeople can use it as well. The reason you may feel depressed or anxious is because you are thinking depressing or anxious thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can change your feelings. Change your emotions, and you can change your behavior. Change your behavior and you can change your results. It’s not as difficult as it may sound.
Do this: invest in a couple of audio programs filled with good, positive stuff, or find something at the local library. As you drive between appointments and on your way home from work, listen to those tapes or CDs. You’ll find yourself thinking positive thoughts. Those positive thoughts will lead to a more positive attitude. That attitude will manifest in more focused actions. Those actions will lead to better results.
There is no limit to the amount of positive, educational material available to you. If you are not regularly exposing yourself to some of this, it is because you are choosing to not be motivated.
Succeeding in difficult times requires you to take charge of your motivation. Now is the time to take this most important step to becoming a true professional.
June 4th, 2010
A wise teacher was taking a stroll through the forest with a young pupil and stopped before a tiny tree.
“Pull up that sapling,” the teacher instructed his pupil, pointing to a sprout just coming up from the earth. The youngster pulled it up easily with his fingers. “Now, pull up that one,” said the teacher, indicating a more established sapling that had grown to about knee high to the boy. With little effort, the lad yanked and the tree came up, roots and all. “And now this one,” said the teacher, nodding toward a more well-developed evergreen that was as tall as the young pupil. With great effort, throwing all his weight and strength into the task, using sticks and stone he found to pry up the stubborn roots, the boy finally got the tree loose.
“Now,” the wise one said, “I’d like you to pull this one up.” The young boy followed the teacher’s gaze, which fell upon a mighty oak so tall the boy could scarcely see the top. Knowing the great struggle he’d just had pulling up the much smaller tree, he simply told his teacher, “I am sorry, but I can’t.”
“My son, you have just demonstrated the power that habits will have over your life!” the teacher exclaimed. “The older they are, the bigger they get, the deeper the roots grow, and the harder they are to uproot. Some get so big, with roots so deep, you might hesitate to even try.”
Creatures of Habit
Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Merriam-Webster defines habit this way: “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”
There’s a story about a man riding a horse, galloping quickly. It appears that he’s going somewhere very important. A man standing along the roadside shouts, “Where are you going?” The rider replies, “I don’t know. Ask the horse!” This is the story of most people’s lives; they’re riding the horse of their habits, with no idea where they’re headed. It’s time to take control of the reins and move your life in the direction of where you really want to go.
If you’ve been living on autopilot and allowing your habits to run you, I want you to understand why. And I want you to let yourself off the hook. After all, you’re in good company. Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do and achieve is a result of a learned habit! We’re born with instincts, of course, but no habits at all. We develop them over time. Beginning in childhood, we learned a series of conditioned responses that led us to react automatically (as in, without thinking) to most situations.
In your day-to-day life, living “automatically” has its definite positives. If you had to consciously think about every step of each ordinary task—making breakfast, driving the kids to school, getting to work, and so on—your life would grind to a halt. You probably brush your teeth twice a day on autopilot. There’s no big philosophical debate; you just do it. You strap on your seatbelt the minute your butt hits the seat. No second thoughts. Our habits and routines allow us to use minimal conscious energy for everyday tasks. They help keep us sane and enable us to handle most situations reasonably well. And because we don’t have to think about the mundane, we can focus our mental energy on more creative and enriching thoughts. Habits can be helpful—as long as they’re good habits, that is.
If you eat healthfully, you’ve likely built healthy habits around the food you buy and what you order at restaurants. If you’re fit, it’s probably because you work out regularly. If you’re successful in a sales job, it’s probably because your habits of mental preparation and positive self-talk enable you to stay optimistic in the face of rejection.
I’ve met and worked with many great achievers, CEOs and “superstars,” and I can tell you they all share one common trait: They all have good habits. That’s not to say they don’t have bad habits—they do. But not many. A daily routine built on good habits is the difference that separates the most successful amongst us from everyone else. And doesn’t that make sense? From what we’ve already discussed, you know successful people aren’t necessarily more intelligent or more talented than anyone else. But their habits take them in the direction of becoming more informed, more knowledgeable, more competent, better-skilled and better-prepared.
My dad used Larry Bird as an example to teach me about habits when I was a kid. “Larry Legend” is known as one of the greatest professional basketball players, but he wasn’t known for being the most athletically talented player. Nobody would have described Larry as “graceful” on the basketball court. Yet, despite his limited natural athletic ability, he led the Boston Celtics to three world championships and remains one of the best players of all time. How did he do it?
It was Larry’s habits—his relentless dedication to practice and to improve his game. Bird was one of the most consistent free-throw shooters in the history of the NBA. Growing up, his habit was to practice five hundred free-throw shots every morning before school. With that kind of discipline, Larry made the most of his God-given talents and kicked the butts of some of the most “gifted” players on the court.
Like Larry Bird, you can condition your automatic and unconscious response to be those of a developed champion. This chapter is about choosing to make up for what you lack in innate ability with discipline, hard work and good habits. It’s about becoming a creature of champion habits.
With enough practice and repetition, any behavior, good or bad, becomes automatic over time. That means that even though we developed most of our habits unconsciously (by modeling our parents, responding to environmental or cultural associations, or creating coping mechanisms), we can consciously decide to change them. It stands to reason that since you learned every habit you have, you can also unlearn the ones that aren’t serving you well.
March 30th, 2010
It is spring, a time for renewal and a fresh start. We invest time in spring cleaning around the house, plant flowers, wash off the lawn chairs in preparation for BBQ’s and fun times ahead. It is also the perfect time to do the same with your business. Consider this a season of renewal. Take a step back and look at your business, what needs to be cleaned out and spruced up? Do you need to invest in your website? Do you have a clear goal of what you want to accomplish this season? What role do you want your employees to take during your business’ renewal? New Year’s Day is not the only opportunity to get motivated and set goals.
Businesses have been cutting back and reducing their marketing budgets so much that they are not going to be ready to take part in the economic renewal. When is this finally going to happen? Now, there are signs everywhere. Restaurants have wait times, people are buying kids spring clothes and businesses that have worked wisely have actually expanded. As with the early signs of spring, you will miss the signs of the renewal if you don’t look for them.
Companies that continue to provide good service, new servics and keep their names out there have a greater change for growth. Give your customers a reason to take a second look. If we all think about Hallmark stores, we know that each season we go into their stores for a birthday or Easter card we know that seasonal marketing is everywhere capturing our eye to bring into their stores. The only thing that does not change is the good service we come to expect with each visit.
We all have experienced challenges during this economy but we must look forward to come out of it. We know that there is a day when we will finally be in a good place forgetting exactly when things all began to be positive once again. It is funny how we can remember when things began to go bad but not so much so when things began to be positive again. Working together with others we can keep ourselves focused on our own motivational programs with small rewards along the way.
Motivational tips for you and your employees:
1) Have a grip party for a 1/2 hour. Discuss light weight problems this economy has caused your company, have each participant find one funny solution and move on.
2) Hold a meeting outside in the beautiful spring weather to inspire a discussion about how you will renew your business. Ask each person to provide at least 3 solutions but how deeper discussion for a follow up meeting.
3) Thank your customers with added services and pleasant changes to your store or website.
4) Survey your customers for their opinions on how you could serve them better, why they do business with you and how you can motivate them to do more business with you.
5) Look to your competition, visit their stores and websites what is it that you found to be attractive about their business. Note the positive differences between you and them.
6) Read, research and rediscover your industry. What has changed since you went into business? Can you develop a niche in your industry?
7) Provide reward programs using platforms that focus on providing capitvating incentives that attract customers again and again.
Whether you are thinking about customer retention or buiding your business, use the freshness of the season to start you off in the right direction.
September 29th, 2009
Throughout history, most of the great achievements and incredible comebacks have been the result of an individual whose motivation to persevere was influenced by a coach or mentor. In science, art, politics, sports and business, there is a common thread of having been coached among those who achieve greatness. A coach doesn’t need to be a professional consultant or counselor. He or she could be someone within your organization or industry, or it could be someone from your personal life whom you respect or admire.
A study was undertaken on the Hawaiian island of Kauai by two researchers named Emily Werner and Ruth Smith. This study, which followed more than 450 people from childhood through their adult lives, was an attempt to learn why some people are motivated to overcome severe disadvantages while others from the same background seem to have been overwhelmed by their problems. This research continued for an incredible length of time: 40 years, to be exact.
According to the research, one of the most interesting qualities of these motivated individuals is their ability to recognize potential sources of support in other people, to look beyond the walls of their homes to find relatives, friends, teachers or other role models who can provide help. This very important finding illustrates the benefits of forming mentor relationships to encourage achievement.
Choosing a coach or mentor is like having an additional correctional device to keep you on target. An analogy of this premise comes from aerospace technology. Years ago, the military used inertial guidance systems on missiles. Unfortunately, once the course of an inertially guided missile is set, it proceeds along that path with no capability for adjustments. It’s like a bullet fired from a rifle. Even when the aim is good at the outset, if the target moves unexpectedly once the projectile is in flight, the shot is going to miss. And if there’s one thing you can count on in life, it’s that the target is going to be moving! In the Gulf War of 1992, the Patriot missile that defended Israel and Saudi Arabia was introduced. Unlike previous defenses, this system had an advanced self-adjusting navigation system that continuously monitored the missile’s trajectory as well as the path of its swiftly moving target. The Patriot was able to make whatever corrections were necessary, regardless of changes in the position or speed of its objective.
A highly motivated person uses a coach or mentor in the same way when he or she has targeted a worthwhile goal. A coach or mentor can assist you in making adjustments and navigating through difficult times.
Finding coaches and mentors is an important mission, and you will no doubt have several over the course of your life. It is critical that you choose them wisely. Your mentor is someone to whom you’ll be committing a great deal of time and attention, and who ideally will take a very focused interest in you as well.
May 13th, 2009
The U.S. Army’s top leadership recently did a very smart thing:
They listened to one of their enlisted men.
After returning from the war in Afghanistan, Master Sergeant Rudy Romero sent a long, insightful email to a former commanding officer about the suitability of the equipment that the Army provides to GIs. The recipient forwarded the message to a few colleagues who forwarded it to a few more until, ultimately, it reached the Army’s most senior enlisted soldier and the Army Chief of Staff. They took Romero’s insights seriously and, as a result, the Army is now making numerous changes to equipment design and procurement.
Every government agency (and every large organization for that matter) has a number of front-line employees, like Romero, who have a gift for identifying better ways of doing things. Just about everyone else has good ideas from time to time as well. The question is, does management encourage everyone to contribute their ideas and then implement the best ones?
Employees in most organizations would like to feel that their ideas can make a difference in their workplace. For many people, in fact, there are few things more motivating than seeing–and assisting with–the successful implementation of an idea they suggested. The scarcity of this motivational force may be one of the biggest reasons why so many government employees feel that they are powerless and unable to change “the system.”
All too often, supervisors overlook the possibility that their employees may be an untapped gold mine of good ideas. Sometimes this may be out of hubris, with the manager feeling that he/she knows best. In other cases, managers may ignore line employees’ ideas out of insecurity, feeling threatened by subordinates who prove to be highly competent and creative.
No one has a monopoly on good ideas, however. Managers who are aggressive about eliciting the ideas of their staff find that getting everyone involved in the effort to improve the operation has an incredible multiplier effect on the rapidity of the change process and the commitment of employees to those changes. To do this, managers need to foster a climate of openness that gets employees engaged in the process of innovation and organizational renewal.
This article outlines five practices which, implemented together, represent an integrated approach to innovation and employee motivation that has proven to be very effective in the government context.
1. Get to Know Every Employee
It is virtually impossible for a mid-level manager to motivate his/her employees without getting to know them. Whenever starting a new job, all managers should make a point of having a one-on-one meeting with each member of their staff. Managers who do not know what makes each employee tick will find it very difficult to motivate them. Similarly, if the manager does not know an employee’s strengths, he will be unlikely to find the right role for them. These one-on-one sessions are a great opportunity to encourage employees to contribute their ideas.
2. Challenge them to Improve the Operation
One way for managers to make it clear that they welcome input and suggestions is to give each employee a clear mandate in their work requirements to take a hard look at the whole operation and make recommendations for improvements. This sets down a marker that all employees are expected to contribute their ideas. It is equally important to comment on each employee’s efforts in this area at evaluation time.
3. “Customer for a Day”
Another mechanism manager can use to elicit suggestions is to have each employee be “Customer for a Day.” In offices that have customers, whether they be internal or external, it can be quite enlightening to look at the operation from the client’s point of view. The most engaged and creative employees (i.e. the “Master Sergeant Romeros” of the operation) will probably identify a long list of things that can be improved to make the customer’s experience more comfortable, transparent and efficient. At a minimum, the experience will sensitize employees to any hardships experienced by the customer. (Note: Employees would not really be “Customer” for the whole day. But they should be given sufficient time to go all the way through the process, and then to write up their impressions and suggestions for the supervisor.)
4. The Great Idea Award
It is also important to find a way to reward or recognize employees whose suggestions help improve the operation. One option is to establish a Great Idea Award and give the recipient a customized certificate. Other options could be to give them a logo item, a cash award or even a day off (depending both on what the parent agency permits and what the employee values most). Managers at agencies that offer cash awards to employees who make money-saving suggestions should find out the procedures and use that mechanism whenever appropriate.
5. Don’t Forget the Implementation
A crucial part of this whole equation is the actual implementation of the great ideas generated by employees. Without follow-through, the organization simply ends up with a long list of unused suggestions-and a lot of frustrated employees. To the extent possible, managers should put the person who suggested a great idea in charge of the actual implementation. The initiator of an innovative idea usually has a sense of ownership and is highly motivated to see their suggestion put into effect. Those managers who try to take the lead on all new initiatives will find themselves overworked and unable to accomplish everything they would like. By delegating the implementation, the managers can give their employees a terrific developmental opportunity, with the manager just needing to provide guidance and support.
These are just a few suggested methods for encouraging employees to contribute their ideas for improving their organization. Implemented on their own, each of these practices would have limited impact. The key is to use a multifaceted approach that continually reinforces the fact that employees’ ideas are welcome, valued, and rewarded. It would be awesome to see how much an organization’s effectiveness could be improved if all managers were to systematically seek out and implement these kinds of suggestions from front-line employees.
May 12th, 2009
Leadership is one form of dominance in which the followers more or less are willingly accepting direction and/or control by another individual. It is an influence process, the dynamics of which are a function of the personal characteristics of the leader, his/her followers, and the nature of the specific situation. Having others buy into an idea or goal because they want to is a true mastery.
During a challenging economy it is not the time to think that you have a capitve audience because jobs are hard to come by. If you do, “all will all come out in the wash” so to speak. You will begin to find that quality of work will begin to suffer, new ideas will not shared and production will be lackluster. This is the time to show your stuff and demonstrate your leadership skills. Bring out the side of you that understands individual circumstance and sincerely be part of the team. Walk the floor, have more meetings and have fun.
Do you walk in each morning making eye contact, conduct one on ones without relying on your supervisors to do it for you, do you keep things interesting by offering ongoing cross training opportunities? Is there a recognition wall, department newsletter and recognition program in place? Leadership style is something that you create placing your own personality on the title, leader.
A few examples of poor leaders:
The imperalist, an arrogant leader who walks around as if he/she was strolling amongst peasants. Their visits are so infrequent that when they are seen in departments, they cause a state of panic.
The climber, if there is no promise for prestige by attending a meeting or socializing with the lower ranks, forget it! They will not make an effort to even say hello; they will pass peers and subordinates in luncheons as if they were complete strangers leaving a trail of loathers behind.
The absentee manager, sometimes a good guy/gal but never around when you need them. They take the safe route at all times, skip important and perhaps confrontational meetings and fold under pressure. They are not supporters of the cause unless it is an easy one.
If you are interested in developing your staff and building motivational climates which result in high levels of productivity, as well as human satisifaction in the short and long run, then you need to think about your commitment to your role as a leader. Leadership style is the pattern of behaviors you use when you are trying to influence the behavior of others as perceived by them. While your perceptions of your own behavior and its impact on others is interesting and important, it tells you only how to “Intend” to act. Unless, it matches the perceptions of those you are trying to influence, it is not very helpful. For example, if you think you are “an empathic, people-oriented manager,” but your people think you are “a hard headed”, task-oriented person only, ” whose perception of reality will they act on – yours or their own? Obviously, their own.
How to provide direction and communicate to your employees:
a) Communicate clearly when providing instruction. Ask for questions, consistently check for understanding and their input along the way. Provide a clear statement about expectation, when the task is needed to be complete, where they can go for questions and remind them if they need assistance to communicate it right away.
b) Demonstrate and leave examples of the desired task or request.
c) Check in and see how things are going.
d) Provide kudos along the way to demonstrate appreciation and to provide a continued incentive.
Now more than ever be an active participant. Give praise and recognition on a regular basis with a fun sprinkled throughout. Host Fun Fridays with games and potlucks. Keeping the atmosphere positive will quickly result in good results. Experience the benefits of your efforts and enjoy it too!
October 6th, 2008
1. Do Not Catch the Other Person’s Disease
This refers to the negative thoughts and words of others around you, and the media. Stay away from the people you know will pull you down with their whining and complaining. Turn the TV. Read something inspirational,
or listen to motivational recordings.
2. Say Something Positive to Everyone
When you speak positively to others, you brighten up their day, and you can’t help but feel better about yourself. (Of course, with some negative folks, you
will have to work at this.)
3. Practice Positive Expectations
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who said, “There is another kind of poverty-one most people never think about-and it’s the poverty of expectations.”
When you expect good things to happen, they seem to take place, not due to some cosmic magic, but because you are LOOKING for the good things, and
you tend to MAKE them happen.
4.Use the Positive “But”
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the top left side they write Problems, and on the right, Blessings. For every Problem, he has them counter it with a Blessing. For example, “I lost a big sale, BUT I learned why and will be able to prevent that same thing from happening.” “I am overweight, BUT I am healthy enough to get on an exercise program and do something about it.”
5. Find a Reason to Celebrate
No matter how gloomy a situation is, if you look for it, you can find a reason to celebrate. “Each day, do something you can be proud of. Each night take
pleasure in remembering it.”
6. Do it Now
It’s tough to consistently feel good about yourself if you let your ideas pass, or you put them on hold. Conversely, it’s difficult to feel down or depressed when
you are in action, working toward some goal. What is it that you always wanted, but never have started moving toward? What’s stopping you other than you? Do it now!
Train for a week, and you can run a mile. Train for a few weeks, you can run a 5K race. Train for a few months, and you can run a marathon. Most of us — in our careers and our achievements — aren’t marathoners. We focus on one thing until it becomes good, yet abandon it before it gets to great. The truth is, there is no clear line that separates good from great. And you may be much closer to great than you think. – Unknown