Archive | November, 2009

Lessons in Management from PeeWee Hockey

23 Nov

This past Sunday I took my 7 year old to his weekly hockey game.

That’s him in the middle. At this age it’s basically a helmet with a stick running after other helmets with sticks for an hour. Not pretty, but they gotta start somewhere! My son’s team is, unfortunately, not very good.

As we watched the teams warm up before their game this Sunday, the vision of the other team taking on-target slap shots from the point while our boys struggled to have stick meet ball, had one parent reminiscing about the Mighty Ducks movies and how while the other team always looked so good, the Ducks won in the end. (btw has anyone seen Emilio Estevez?) No such luck, we lost 1-0 and are now 0-4 on the season, but we have come really far over the past 4 weeks. The kids know where to go, the position they play and what direction to shoot. This was not the case the first week when we lost 7-0.

I did not put too much thought into the improvement the team has made until I was walking out the door with my son, going over some of the key plays he made and trying to distract him from asking me to take him for the obligatory post game treat. As we were about to leave, his coach came running over, crouched down next to him and spent the next 15 seconds going over all the great things my son did during the game. He got up and ran to the next kid and did the exact same thing. Then another.

I was amazed at what he was doing, not that I haven’t been amazed by the coach before. Last Saturday he had a baby and was still at the game on Sunday. This Sunday he made a Bris in the morning and was at the game in the afternoon. What was amazing was that the coach was not only making each kid feel special, but he had figured out the key to elevating his team, recognition. Nothing is more of a motivation to repeat a behavior then being told that said behavior was the right behavior. When a kid hears that he did right, he can’t wait to come back the next week and do it again.

Employees are like kids, except for the whole paycheck thing. The best way to motivate an employee and get them to repeat the great things they do is to recognize them for it. As managers we need to get our from behind our desks more often and recognize our employees accomplishments in real time, not at performance review time. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a timely, detailed message about something they have done well. Once they see and hear that they have been recognized there is little doubt that they are incentivized to do it again.

After the first game my son asked if he could switch teams, he couldn’t handle losing 7-0 every week. Since that first week he hasn’t asked again. Now he looks forward to having the chance to show his coach what he can do. They say the number one reason employees leave an organization is their manager. I’m sure this is true, but what part of management is it? I know one thing is for sure, if an employee feels like they are doing a good job and no one is noticing they are going to find someone who will notice. As long as they feel like their work is being recognized they will definitely stick around.


Volunteer to be Fired

20 Nov

Interesting post this morning for HR peeps on AOL’s asking for volunteers to be fired. AOL has asked 2500 to apply. Clearly they are asking for applications, because they don’t want some people leaving. So you apply to get severed, get an acceptance/rejection letter and, apparently, move on. In their offer, taking severance is a lot better than the getting fired option.

It can’t be that simple. Think about all the issues this system brings up.

  • What if you application gets rejected? Are you a loser? Winner? Both? How awkward is it going to be working for your manager after you get rejected?
  • What if 10,000 people apply? What does that say about your org? What does that do to the 7500 who will have to stay?
  • Why would they do this? Lack of talent planning? Do they not know who they want to leave? If they don’ t, they need to fire HR. Hey, maybe that will get them to 2500.
  • What if your on the fence about whether they’ll keep you, aren’t you more likely to apply to get the better deal?
  • Are they really so sure that enough people won’t take the offer? Is AOL such a great place to be right now?

Clearly, I think this is a terrible idea. Whoever thought it up should volunteer to get fired. Tim Armstrong made a huge mistake by accepting this proposal. He should know better having gone through the Google/DoubleClick acquisition. If you need to let people go, take the time to figure out who you need to let go and make it happen. The last thing you want to do is destroy the morale of your org in the process. Huge Fail!

Top of Mind

18 Nov

Any great sales person will tell you that one of the keys to sales is always being “top of mind”. This refers to a sales person or organization’s ability to be the first one thought of to provide a solution for a client’s challenge.  The goal is to be the first email or call the potential client makes to have the best opportunity to win the client’s business.

This past Halloween one of our sales people took this to a whole new level. He dressed up as Superman and went around to all of his clients dropping off candy. Just a great excuse to stop by and see how business is doing and if they needed us for anything. A great way to stay top of mind.

There is a great lesson to be learned here by training and OD professionals. How do we stay top of mind to our clients? How do we position ourselves to be the first one’s thought of to provide a solution? What can we do while not training or consulting to better understand the business and our client’s needs so that when they have a challenge they see us as a solution. That’s the key to being top of mind.

If you want to be consultative and strategic (I am not sure I know what they mean, but everyone seems to want to be) you need to figure out how to become the go to person or department. When your employees are chasing you down for help you’ll know you’ve made it.