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Our New Blog For Building A Better Workplace March 30, 2012

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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Hey, have you checked out our Blog posts this week on BuildingABetterWorkplace.com?

Hire better. Manage better. Keep them safe.

How To Impact Your Workplace (Video)

How Radio Makes Better Managers

Test-Drive Job Candidates

I appreciate that you have been a follower and/or subscriber to this Blog. But, this Blog will, sadly, be coming to an end in a few short weeks. We encourage you to join us in our new location at BuildingABetterWorkplace.com.

If you would like to subscribe to our NEW RSS Feed, simply click this link: http://buildingabetterworkplace.com/?feed=rss2

If you prefer to receive our posts by email, then click this link: Subscribe to Building A Better Workplace – with Kevin Burns by Email

Come on over to the new location. Things are happening there.

This Blog Is Closing March 22, 2012

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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I appreciate that you have been a follower and/or subscriber to this Blog. It has been my pleasure to work for you. But as I attempt to streamlinhe our educational compenent, this Blog will, sadly, be coming to an end.

As we move all of our posting to one central Blog location, BuildingABetterWorkplace.com, this Blog will cease to exist after the next 30 days.

I encourage you to join us in our new location at BuildingABetterWorkplace.com.

If you would like to subscribe to our RSS Feed, simply click this link: http://buildingabetterworkplace.com/?feed=rss2

If you prefer to receive our posts by email, then click this link: Subscribe to Building A Better Workplace – with Kevin Burns by Email

Again, thanks for the opportunity to serve you. I hope you’ll join us at our new Blog location.

With gr-Attitude,

Kevin Burns

How To Make Simple Course Corrections December 13, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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Back in the days before 9-11, I found myself on an overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean to England. Seated all around me were drunken, Estonian sailors who had proceeded in 1.5 hours to drink the airplane dry of any and all alcohol. At only three hours into the eight-hour flight, I was becoming increasingly agitated by the drunken sailor next to me who insisted on practicing his 3-word English vocabulary replete with spittle, belches and the occasional waft of stomach gases.

The flight attendant, sensing my agitation, took pity on me and asked me to accompany her to the back of the plane. In the back galley, there were several seats occupied by other flight attendants and I was invited to take a seat amongst them and take a break from the beer-burpy-spittle sailor.

After about an hour of quiet, being served coffee and tea and a few munchy snacks, the Chief Flight Attendant asked if I would be interested in meeting the Captain and seeing the cockpit (remember, this was pre 9-11).

Upon opening the cockpit doors, I found the pilot and co-pilot facing one another and playing a game of cards to which the captain chuckled, “I’ll bet you’re wondering who’s flying this thing huh?”

The captain then proceeded to show me how it all worked. To my amazement, I learned that once in the air, the computer flew the plane. The Captain pulled up our flight path on the computer screen which indicated anything but a straight line.

“At 40,000 feet, it’s windy and our plane gets knocked off course all of the time,” the Captain said. “The computer’s job is to make a small series of corrections along the way to keep us on our course so we don’t end up in Spain when we were heading for England.”

This story illustrates the useful strategy of small course corrections versus the major reactive strategy of trying to recover from a serious, uncorrected error along the way. This same strategy can be applied to daily interaction and communication with employees to make small course corrections so that you don’t end up in Spain when you were heading for England.

The Annual Performance Review, as many managers have explained it to me, is like ending up nowhere near where you were headed. The Annual Performance Review only allows for major corrections – the big things that went unsaid for months and were never dealt with when they should have been.

However, Tweaking™ your employees daily in simple ten-second interactions daily will give your people better feedback, better direction and build better trust culminating in better loyalty and reduced turnover.

Remember, if you prefer chaotic crisis intervention, putting out major fires and stressing yourself out in dealing with setback, by all means, stick with the Annual Performance Review of having only one discussion around each employee’s performance per year. But if you want to watch your employees get better every day, watch them improve their performance, increase their engagement levels and come together as a cohesive team, then I suggest the Tweak™ Strategy for management.

Small course corrections are much easier to do but require you to pay more attention to your people.

 

For more information on how Kevin can help your managers get better at communicating with employees and building engagement, value and culture, check here: http://kevburns.com/speaking/tweak-a-new-management-strategy

25 Percent To Jump Ship In New Year December 6, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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As you gather for your Christmas parties, (sorry, Holiday Parties – my PC vocab is underutilized), be aware that this is likely the last party for many of your staff. If the numbers are right, and they usually are pretty close, almost every survey indicates that up to 25% of employees are willing to jump ship in the New Year as soon as a better offer comes along.

Y’see, as a manager, you’ve been doing a terrible job of building employee loyalty. In fact, while you are in your all-too-often management meetings or locked away in your office with the door closed, your staff are whining about their jobs and how they’re ready to jump ship at the first opportunity. It’s probably because you don’t say enough to them about how much you value their contribution.

Oh sure, you talk to them about how you fought for a raise and how your hands are tied by senior managment, but other than that, you really don’t say much do you?

The truth is, although more money is always nice, it isn’t the reason your people are secretly planning to leave. No, they’re planning their exit strategy because they don’t feel fulfilled in their work because no one tells them that their contribution is important, that the work matters or that their talent is recognized.

But you’re not comfortable with that are you? That’s too touchy-feely (Eew). Better to just keep it simple and throw out a few basic but non-commital platitudes in the “annual” performance review. That way, your ass is covered if they ever raise a stink about something you said that may have been heartfelt.

At this time of the year, people have gift-giving on their minds. Eyes and faceslight up when they get a gift. Think of how much your people would light up and light a fire under themselves if they got a regular gift: someone who articulates that they are appreciated.

But there will be no gift come the New Year. No, your lump of coal will be to train their replacement in the New Year. And when that person leaves, then you will do it again, and again and blame it all on a lack of employee engagement. It’s always easier to blame turnover on “problem” or “issue” employees.

But Employee Engagement isn’t the problem. Management enagagement is the problem. Employees will engage in direct proportion to their direct manager’s engagement of them. Without engagement, their is no employee loyalty.

Stop looking for tips and tricks to fix your people. They don’t work long-term. What works is honesty. Talk to them. Appreciate them. Be grateful for their work. That’s how you keep them. All it takes is a little humility. But that seems to be the problem doesn’t it? You think being humble equates to weakness. Not much wonder they’re leaving you.

For more information on how Kevin can help your managers get better at communicating with employees and building engagement, value and culture, check here: http://kevburns.com/speaking/tweak-a-new-management-strategy

Why HR And Management Are To Blame November 29, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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Below is an excerpt from Kevin’s forthcoming book, Tweak™ – Building A Better Workplace In 10 Seconds Or Less!

Ultimately, every organization having difficulty with turnover, staff retention, customer retention and recruiting can point their fingers and blame one of two things within their organization: Human Resources (the people they hire) and Management (how they manage them). That’s it. Simple. It’s either Management or HR to blame for where your company is today.

Are you employing the same kinds of people you did 20 years ago? Are you managing the same staff you did 20 years ago? Are you using the same technology from 20 years ago? Overwhelmingly the answer is “NO.”

So why are you hiring the same way you did 20 years ago and still using outdated management practices? The truth is, both conventional (what we’ve come to know as conventional) Management practices and conventional Human Resources practices are out of date. What ultimately holds almost every organization back is the people they hire and how they’re managed. And what propels and organization forward is exactly the same: the people they hire and how they’re managed.

Knowing this, why do you think so little effort is spent by organizations in training managers to a level of excellence and/or deploying a forward-thinking and highly-motivated staff of recruiters to go out and steal the best talent in the market?

Is it because companies are happy with mediocrity: a middle-of-the-pack performance? Or is it because that’s what everyone else is doing? We don’t think companies are “happy” with being in the middle of the pack – that’s just where they end up when they follow someone else’s model for management and HR.

Not everyone can be a Google or a Starbucks or a Netflix: industry/market leaders. Once your industry has a leader, everyone else automatically becomes a follower. Following another company’s management practices or their hiring practices or their training practices will only make you a shadow of what they are. That is no way to ever achieve market-leader status nor is it any way to ever be top-of-the-heap when it comes to attracting the best talent, the best ideas and the best managers.

When companies pay big money for expertise from outside resources, they had better be getting ideas and strategies that weren’t even thought of 20 years ago. I know professional “speakers” that if they were to open a book written in the last five years, they would have to scrap everything they’re currently preaching because it’s old, outdated and just doesn’t work anymore. Consultants offering up the same ideas they offered to clients twenty years ago shouldn’t be rewarded for not being current. Management trainers who regurgitate old concepts built on hierarchy, bureaucracy, planning and control should refund their paychecks. Google did not achieve market-leader status by doing what everyone else is doing.

This is a new time, a new market, with new faces employing new ideas, new concepts and new values. And the changes are only going to get bigger and faster. In fact, in the year 2015, seventy-five percent of your workforce is going to be either over age 50 or under age 30. That means you are more likely to see seventy year-olds working alongside twenty year-olds. Are your managers prepared to manage a 50-year age disparity? If you think you can manage a Gen Y the same way you’ve managed a Baby Boomer, because you’ve always managed that way, you’re sadly mistaken. You will not be ready and your company will suffer as a result.

For more on Kevin’s Tweak™ Management program, check out http://kevburns.com/speaking/tweak-a-new-management-strategy

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Kevin BurnsWorkplace Expert – Management Consultant – Keynote Speaker

Nine-Minute Seminar On Future Workplaces November 1, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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I have just posted a new mini-seminar on where workplaces are headed over the next three years. It addresses the challenges in management, generations and hiring. Take nine minutes out for yourself today and view the mini-seminar.

What The Future Holds – A Mini-Seminar

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Some People Need To Be Left Behind October 20, 2011

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I sat on a panel at a Chief Information Officers’ Conference this week with other thought-leaders from around North America. One of the questions posed to me concerned the push by populist politicians to gain points with the public by endorsing a “leave no child behind” policy when it comes to education and how a policy like this will affect workplaces in the future.

The truth is, although noble, it is not reality-based – at least not in the workplace. In the workplace, not everyone moves ahead. Some people get left behind. Some perform better than others. Some are management material. Some are not. Some are leaders. Some are followers. Some succeed. Some fail. Some are promoted. Some get laid-off. Many get left behind. Maybe you’ve been left behind once or twice yourself. If you did, I’ll bet it changed who you are and how you apply yourself. If it didn’t then you’ll likely be left behind again.

Success is not a right. It is a privilege. It is earned. It is not simply given away.

In the real world, we don’t turn low-achievers into managers and corporate executives. Bottom-achievers are the first to be laid-off when the economy turns. Look, we are already whining, moaning and complaining about poor service, low initiative, poor employee engagement, declining morale, rock-bottom motivation and terrible work-ethic. I’m not sure how lowering the bar so that more mediocre employees can squeak through university makes our workplaces better.

Sorry, but sometimes we need to leave people behind. Not everyone is a top-achiever. Not everyone is a star employee. Not everyone is future management material. If we lower the bar in education, the expectation next will be to lower the bar in employment. And that, in my estimation, is non-negotiable.

We need to raise the bar when it comes to personal performance, to how we deliver service, to how we engage in our work. Removing the consequences of not applying oneself seems counterproductive.

People need to experience difficulty and turmoil. It shapes character and resilience. People learn more from failure than from an easy ride. And I am all for those who do the work, make the effort and achieve what they are capable of. THAT builds better and more cohesive workplaces and I am completely and utterly in favor of that.

If you’re still having trouble with this, imagine a world that leaves no person behind when it comes to testing for a Driver’s License. Now do you see my point?

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The Critical Key To Succession October 13, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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Succession Planning is on the minds of many organizations today. As older workers retire, the challenge is to get the information out of the heads of the retiring workers and into the heads of a new generation of workers.

And this is where it all falls apart.

Don’t even try.

Yes, get the information out of the heads of your retiring workers. Yes, do whatever is necessary to get retiring workers to commit to disseminating what they know and yes, put it someplace where future generations of workers can get to it.

But don’t expect that the new generation of worker will WANT to put all of that information into their own heads. They won’t. They don’t. In fact, what’s the point? They change jobs more often than any other generation. Really? Do you want to invest in getting the info into their heads only to have them walk away from the job within a year or two?

No. Put it in a place where everyone can access it. Get it on video, audio, written word, seminar, workshop, PowerPoint but DO SOMETHING.

Generation Y is probably the best generation for being able to locate information only when they need it and not have to walk around with it in their heads. Theirs is a generation of written (albeit short form text code but it is written) word. They will want to access the writing or video or other media. That’s where it should be anyway – not wasting away in someone’s head where you’re going to have to try to retrieve it when they leave.

Think ahead.

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How To Build Better Teams And Engagement October 11, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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Organizations spend a lot of money on trying to build better teams, better culture and better communication in an attempt to build better engagement. Companies want their workplaces to be more warm and fuzzy, friendly and personal so that employees might connect better with their work, coworkers and managers. And yet these same companies still hire using the most impersonal (and broken) model available: ARIH (Advertise-Résumé-Interview-Hire).

Advertising job duties (instead of desired personal qualities), selecting shortlist candidates based on impersonal stuff written on paper (applications and résumés), asking interviewees questions from a prepared list of impersonal questions and then hiring based on who was best able to remain cool and detached from stress during the interview seems like a surefire strategy to hire cold and impersonal people. All you create are workplaces that make it difficult to build organic teams and a sense of personal connection to the work.

Still, companies complain about employee disengagement, employees who don’t feel a connection to the mission of the company, employees who lack any sense that their work matters, employees who don’t really like or respect their co-workers or their boss. Yet these same companies continue to use the detached approach to hire people who they will later complain aren’t connected to their work.

If the whole hiring process is based on disconnect, is it really a surprise that your people end up disconnected from their work, boss and workplace? Really?

If you want to change your culture and build your team organically, you must first change up those who do the hiring, conduct the interviews and set the tone for the expectations of the new employee. The first point of contact of most organizations is Human Resources and it needs to change.

Start hiring personable HR people who are prepared to have side-by-side conversations with potential employees instead of the adversarial model of job-candidate facing the power-panel of intimidating interviewers. Get rid of the “power trip” and start finding ways to make connections with candidates. Start building relationships instead of attempting to justify your job.

If you want to attract people who connect naturally to other people, their work and contribute to a warmer culture, you need to model that behavior for every new employee right from the very first contact with your company.

A couple of ideas that attract a completely different candidate can be found here http://buildingabetterworkplace.com/?p=971 Sadly, most HR people would find a million reasons why it can’t be done that way because it is out of their comfort zone. But it can be done and is being done. And it works.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

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A Place To Go To Die October 6, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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I spoke with a manager today whose employees score their workplace low on “passion for the work” while at the same time, that same company boasts of some of the longest serving employees in any industry.

Simply put, although the employees don’t have a lot of passion for their work, they are willing to put aside their apathy for the work and stick it out for 30 plus years – all the way to retirement.

Got a few of these in your own workplace? How would you manage and/or attempt to change a Culture like this?

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