Category Archives: Business Brief

Business Brief November 12, 2012

Selling Epiphanies

Volume 1, Issue 31, November 12, 2012


With flags waving and banners flying we in the U. S. sense a feeling of pride in the air. Veterans Day celebrations ignite our senses with the smell of barbeque, family football, and of course, the many stories told of battles won. But above all that, this historic day raises our awareness of the cost of freedom.

For me, Veterans Day reminds me of the day we loaded up our four youngest sons to travel from TX to MCAS Miramar, CA to see our oldest son graduate from boot camp… what a trip it was! Thank God for Gameboys… yes it was that long ago. As we drove onto the base, we stared in awe at the endless rows of perfect Marines. I barely recognized my son… he stood tall and lean (about 30 lbs. thinner than the last time I saw him) with a determined look on his face. His hug was warm, but he never cracked a smile. Pride for his country and his uniform was set in the gaze of his eyes. He was ready to serve, ready to fight, determined to win… He was a Devil Dog! I shiver thinking about these mighty warriors.

How powerful would it be to have employees with such a sense of pride, such determination to push you forward in any market condition, against insurmountable odds? Once a Devil Dog, always a Devil Dog… hire a few Marines, or hire a Marine to train your soldiers… it’s hard to tell where they’ll take you. You see, selling isn’t just about a product, it is about believing in something and someone enough to bring the two together.

I think I’ll buy my son lunch today… pass it on.


Resources… building on exceptionalism

Empowerment – Definition and Examples of Empowerment

By Susan M. Heathfield, Guide

Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s own destiny.

When thinking about empowerment in human relations terms, try to avoid thinking of it as something that one individual does for another. This is one of the problems organizations have experienced with the concept of empowerment. People think thatsomeone, usually the manager, has to bestow empowerment on the people who report to him. Consequently, the reporting staff memberswaitfor the bestowing of empowerment, and the manager asks why people won’t act in empowered ways. This led to a general unhappiness, mostly undeserved, with the concept of empowerment in many organizations. Think of empowerment, instead, as the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. Empowerment comes from the individual. The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways.

Empowerment Is Also Known As:  Employee involvement and participative management are often used to mean empowerment. They are not really interchangeable.

Examples of Empowerment

  • The manager of the Human Resources department added weeks to the process of hiring new employees by requiring his supposedlyempoweredstaff members to obtain his signature on every document related to the hiring of a new employee. When the time problem was brought to his attention, he fostered empowerment by telling employees they no longer needed his signature unless the hire involved extraordinary circumstances.
  • John empowered himself to discuss the career objectives he wished to pursue with his supervisor. He told his supervisor, frankly, that if the opportunities were not available in his current company, he would move on to another company.
  • Mary took charge of her career by fueling her sense of empowerment when she developed a career path plan, met with her manager to ask for her assistance to achieve it, and set goals for its accomplishment in her performance development plan.
  • The company’s management style involved sharing the goals, sharing each employee’s expectations and framework with the employee, and then, getting out of the way while employees were empowered to set goals, accomplish their objectives, and determine how to do their jobs.

Empowerment is a desirable management and organizational style that enables employees to practice autonomy, control their own jobs, and use their skills and abilities to benefit both their organization and themselves.

Business Tips… delivering success!

Five Tips for Effective Employee Recognition

How to Reward, Recognize, Award, and Thank People Successfully

By Susan M. Heathfield, Guide

Employee recognition is not just a nice thing to do for people. Employee recognition is a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for your business. When you recognize people effectively, you reinforce, with your chosen means of recognition, the actions and behaviors you most want to see people repeat. An effective employee recognition system is simple, immediate, and powerfully reinforcing.

When you consider employee recognition processes, you need to develop recognition that is equally powerful for both the organization and the employee. You must address five important issues if you want the recognition you offer to be viewed as motivating and rewarding by your employees and important for the success of your organization.

The Five Most Important Tips for Effective Recognition

You need to establish criteria for what performance or contribution constitutes rewardable behavior or actions.

  • All employees must be eligible for the recognition.
  • The recognition must supply the employer and employee with specific information about what behaviors or actions are being rewarded and recognized.
  • Anyone who then performs at the level or standard stated in the criteria receives the reward.
  • The recognition should occur as close to the performance of the actions as possible, so the recognition reinforces behavior the employer wants to encourage.
  • You don’t want to design a process in which managers “select” the people to receive recognition. This type of process will be viewed forever as “favoritism” or talked about as “it’s your turn to get recognized this month.” This is why processes that single out an individual, such as “Employee of the Month,” are rarely effective.

A Working Example of Successful Recognition

A client company established criteria for rewarding employees. Criteria included such activities as contributing to company success serving a customer without being asked to help by a supervisor. Each employee, who meets the stated criteria, receives a thank you note, hand-written by the supervisor. The note spells out exactly why the employee is receiving the recognition.

The note includes the opportunity for the employee to “draw” a gift from a box. Gifts range from fast food restaurant gift certificates and candy to a gold dollar and substantial cash rewards. The employee draws the reward, so no supervisory interference is perceived. A duplicate of the thank you note goes into a periodic drawing for even more substantial reward and recognition opportunities.

More Tips About Recognition and Performance Management

  • If you attach recognition to “real” accomplishments and goal achievement as negotiated in a performance development planning meeting, you need to make sure the recognition meets the above stated requirements. Supervisors must also apply the criteria consistently, so some organizational oversight may be necessary. The challenge of individually negotiated goals is to make certain their accomplishment is viewed as similarly difficult by the organization for the process to be a success.
  • People also like recognition that is random and that provides an element of surprise. If you thank a manufacturing group every time they make customer deliveries on time with a lunch, gradually the lunch becomes a “given” or an entitlement and is no longer rewarding. In another organization, the CEO traditionally bought lunch for all employees every Friday. Soon, he had employees coming to him asking to be reimbursed for lunch if they ate lunch outside of the company on a Friday. His goal of team building turned into a “given” or an entitlement and he was disappointed with the results.
  • There is always room for employee reward and recognition activities that generally build positive morale in the work environment. The Pall Corporation, in Ann Arbor, MI, has had a “smile team” that meets to schedule random, fun employee recognition events. They have decorated shop windows, with a prize to the best, for a holiday. They sponsor ice cream socials, picnics, the “boss” cooks day, and so on, to create a rewarding environment at work. Another company holds an annual costume wearing and judging along with a lunch potluck every Halloween.

Rewards and recognition that help both the employer and the employee get what they need from work are a win-win situation. Make this the year you plan a recognition process that will “wow” your staff and “wow” you with its positive outcomes. Avoid the employee recognition traps that:

  • single out a few employees who are mysteriously selected for the recognition,
  • sap the morale of the many who failed to understand the criteria enough to compete and win, and
  • sought votes or other personalized, subjective criteria to determine winners

Knowledge Sharing… having an edge

Avoid too much centralization—and too much democracy. Raising the level of decision-making authority requires transferring information upward, which companies often forget to do or don’t do because of the high cost, resulting in decisions being made without having all the relevant information. You also need to avoid bringing too many people into the decision process, which can grind things to a halt. But be sure to involve all the key stakeholders. (Chapter 6)

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“Knowledge in itself serves no purpose; knowing what to do with what we know and doing it brings the result.” L.Seamans

In The News

Retailers Planning Small Business  Saturday Promotions

By Matthew Rocco          Published November 09, 2012                 FOXBusiness

Small Business Saturday is becoming a bigger factor in holiday shopping  season, at least in the eyes of small business owners.

Independent merchants are taking into consideration a potential opportunity  for increased sales on Small Business Saturday, which falls on Nov. 24, two days  after Thanksgiving and a day after Black Friday. According to an inaugural  survey released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and  American Express (AXP), 46% of small  business owners plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday as part of their  holiday strategy, while 67% expect to offer discounts that day. Out of those small businesses that plan to promote the day held in their  honor, 80% anticipate better year-over-year sales on Nov. 24.

The Small Business Saturday Insights report surveyed 500 owners or managers  of independent retailers. “In just three years, Small Business Saturday went from an idea to help Small  Business find more customers, to a permanent fixture on the holiday shopping  calendar,” Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN, said in a  statement. “According to the research, we are seeing the small business  community take ownership of the day and make it their own.”

Small business owners are primarily focused on creating coupons for future  offers, with 46% eyeing discounts as a way to attract customers. Meanwhile, 25%  will offer free gift wrapping, 23% plan on doing giveaways or contests and 20%  will give customers free items with purchases.

Despite being optimistic about the start of holiday shopping, small  businesses believe that communities are missing out on Small Business Saturday.  A majority (81%) of respondents said the day would be more effective if  communities hosted events.

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