The 4 E’s of happy employees

The best way that I have found to keep employees happy is to make sure they have a healthy dose of the four E’s:

  1. Education. A business that is not learning (and applying) is a business that is shrinking. The business learns as its people learn. Give your employees the opportunities to learn – industry conferences, books, blogs (of course), mentoring, role-playing and involvement in new product offerings…anything to keep your employee’s minds sharp. An educated mind breeds productivity, creativity, and confidence. A stagnant mind breeds boredom, indifference, and employee turnover.
  2. Engagement. Involve your employees in something bigger than just themselves. An engaged employee brings purpose and meaning to work. This in turn drives their satisfaction, the satisfaction/engagement of the customer and ultimately the company’s growth and profits.
  3. Empowerment. Empowerment is the intersection of information, skill and authority. Give your employees the information to make decisions, opportunities to practice their problem-solving skills and the authority to do what is in the best interest of customers and employees…then get out of their way!
  4. Enrichment. Saying “thank you”, expanding responsibilities, giving a hand written note, implementing feedback, offering bonuses, and making surprise moments all add to the value of the employee experience. Learn to give back more than you take.

To be, rather than to seem

Most of us know someone who will say or do anything to further his or her own self-serving agenda. These people are two-faced. They are suck-ups. They seem at times to be a team player, but in reality they are only looking out for themselves. In short, they are hollow and lack any real substance.

Most of us are not these über-phonies described above. However, I think that most of us, to one degree or another, have these natural inclinations to want to seem to be more than what we really are.

So why do we have these tendencies? I think its part of our natural animal defense mechanism. As part of the scarlet king snake’s defense mechanism, it mimics the appearance of an extremely venomous coral snake. The praying mantis (or walking stick) appears to would-be predators as a harmless tree branch. We humans also use false appearances as a defense – a defense to guard our own insecurities and inadequacies.

There are 5 simple rules to help overcome being a phony:

  1. Stop hanging around image consultants. You’re not after changing the surface you. You’re after molding and defining your integrity and character – your true self.
  2. Work on yourself on your own time. When no one is watching, that is the best time to work on who you are. Silent, anonymous acts add more to our character than loud, attention-getting acts.
  3. Do what’s most important to you. Take time to list the things that are most important to you and make sure every daily action (or non-action!) you take gets you closer to what matters to you most.
  4. Learn to truly listen. I’ve found that the better listener you are, the more you learn from others which enables you to discover more about who you really are.
  5. Be true to your potential. We are all keenly aware of our shortcomings. Despite our shortcomings, innate in all of us is the potential to make a real difference. Live worthy of your potential!

In the pursuit of personal growth, remember the motto of North Carolina: To be, rather than to seem.

Doubting the value of my “ed-u-kay-shun”

I was browsing on the website of my alma mater the other day. What I saw shocked me and made me doubt the value of my university education. The following actual statements are found on faculty member’s web pages on my alma mater website (from the School of Business). I do not want to embarrass anyone, so I have purposefully left out the name of my university and the faculty members:

“I am interested in theory and reasearch methods…”

“From there, i was invited to a Doctoral program at Columbia University, but turned them dow to attend Harvard on full scholarship.”

“My students recieve the exact same training the exectutives from Firtune 500 Companies recieve.”

Wow! Can you believe it! I counted 7 spelling mistakes in only about 5 minutes of browsing. (Maybe this is where I got my bad spelling habits??) My heart couldn’t take it any more and I had to stop browsing. Now that I have blogged about it, I feel a little better.

Should I ask for a refund?!

[UPDATE: 5/1/07 Over three months and no change. I was in e-mail communication with the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the School of Business over three months ago- but still no change. Maybe they will care soon.]

A reminder…

It’s January 23rd. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions are?

Seth Godin’s vision of the web

Seth Godin has an awesome post about his vision of the web. He calls it Web4. What is Web4 you ask? Seth says it’s “about making connections, about serendipity and about the network taking initiative”. A few of my favorite ideas from Seth about how Web4 could be are:

I’m late for a dinner. My GPS phone knows this (because it has my calendar, my location, and the traffic status). So, it tells me, and then it alerts the people who are waiting for me.

My PDA knows I’m going to a convention. Based on my email logs, it recommends who I ought to see while I’m there–because my friends have opted in to our network and we’re in sync.

I’m about to buy something from a vendor (in a store with a smart card or online). At the last minute, Web4 jumps in and asks if I want it cheaper, or if I want it from a vendor with a better reputation. Not based on some gamed system, but based on what a small trusted circle believes.

Another idea I would add is:

Its Friday night. I am bored. My GPS phone knows that a few of my friends are available because it knows their schedules as well. My phone recommends a place to meet based on our GPS location, hang out wait times and our previous chat conversations, and sends out the invites to my friends. Once we decide where to go, my phone sends out a reservation alerting the club/restaurant/hang-out spot that we are coming.

What are your ideas for Web4?

Beauty is in the eye of…others!

Just having a few women smile at a man in public is enough to make other women consider him much more desirable, according to researchers.

Dr Benedict Jones of the University of Aberdeen recently released a study that he conducted to examine how other people can influence our decisions.

The volunteers first looked at photographs of four young men wearing neutral expressions looking directly at the camera.

The women judged two photographs of men and had to rate which of the two was the more attractive using an 8-point scale.

The same faces were shown again to the volunteers. This time, though, the male faces were paired with a female face, shown in profile, who either looked neutrally at the man or smiled at him.

The volunteers were again asked to give another attractiveness rating.

The attractiveness rating was downward by more than 10% on average if his picture had been next to a woman with a neutral expression. On the other hand, the attractiveness rating sharply rose by an average of at least 15% if the woman looking at him had a smile on her face.

What could this mean for marketers? Many women take their cues from other women when sizing something up a man (or products for that matter). This could be true in print ads, TV commercials, and especially in social networks.

In what ways can you incorporate cues from women with your products?

[By the way, the reverse was true for men: 28 young male volunteers took part in the same experiment, and their rating of the likeability of the male faces plummeted if the man in the picture was being smiled at by a woman. But if the woman had a neutral look, the likeability rating improved.]

A broken business

I have been trying to fix a constantly running toilet for the last few days. It seemed as though whatever I did, I could not get it to stop running. Then I had an idea: ‘Why not compare it to another toilet in the house that is working?’ After comparing the two toilets, I immediately saw the problem.

The same goes for business. If something in your business is broken, looking at it in isolation may not help you find the solution to fix it. You may need to look at another process that is working (even outside your own industry) to find a solution.

[For those that were wondering, my toilet problem was caused by a warped flapper…(cue the cricket sounds and the tumble weeds!)]