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Video: Create A Mission For Your People February 22, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace, business, career, communication, Employee Engagement, engagement, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, mission statement, workplace.
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Missions Statements are so muddled full of ambiguous language usually created by committee that has dumbed down and watered down any idea to be so empty of any meaning, that no one could take ownership of it. Don’t ever let a committee prepare your mission statement. So how do we fix it?



Video: Employees Are NOT Created Equal February 15, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in acknowledgement, attitude speaker, boss, business model, career, corporate culture, engagement, hiring, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, management speaker, manager, middle manager, performance, results, speaker, survey, time management, workplace.
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Too much effort is spent in managing people into conformity. The truth is that too many managers want one employee to be just like another employee – one who models the traits and gets the results management likes. It’s counterproductive when managers start trying to manage their employees the exact same way. It’s worse when they expect each employee’s results to be the same.


Managers: How To Handle 100+ Emails/Day February 9, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in advice, boss, business, business model, career, email, Employee Engagement, engagement, how to, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager, middle manager.
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Are you a manager who handles upwards of 100 emails per day? Well, the bad news is handling 100 emails a day is not management. That’s treading water. If you’re treading water as a manager, you’re doing it wrong.



When Managers Interview Over Their Heads November 17, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in boss, career, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture fit, culture of high-performance, customer, engagement, high-performance, hiring, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager, middle manager.
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It really isn’t a tough concept to wrap your head around – the chance that a manager is at some point going to interview a job candidate who is clearly superior to the manager in every way: charisma, performance, communication skills, relationship-building skills, leadership qualities, knowledge, experience, etc. So what does a manager do when interviewing someone like this?

The truth is, most managers would be afraid that hiring someone who clearly outperforms them would be simply hiring their own replacement. And so, sadly, many really great people get passed over as “overqualified” because of a manager’s own insecurities.

The truth is, a high-achiever might be just exactly what your organization needs – but here is the caveat – only if the Culture fit is right.

Hiring shouldn’t always be the best person – but should be the best person for the company Culture. Having a highly-focused, customer-focused, high-achiever on staff might be just the ticket to get the rest of your people to build a new customer-focused Culture of high-performance.

But most times this doesn’t happen because if a manager hasn’t been able to build that Culture already, then he or she obviously doesn’t know how to do it. That makes it unlikely that they could recognize good talent and Culture potential if it came along.

But nowhere is it written in the management handbook that a manager can not learn from an employee. Real good managers, employee-focused managers will do what is best for their employees and won’t act out of fear of looking poorly or inept. But the moment you pass over a great potential employee because of insecurity is the moment you look incredibly inept.

How Managers Poison New Hires November 17, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in accountability, attitude, boss, career, communication, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, Employee Engagement, engagement, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager, mentor, middle manager, onboarding, performance.
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managers poison new employees while onboardingThe truth is, new hires will get sucked into the Culture of the workplace faster than formal training will stick.

Managers who welcome new employees on their first day then promptly hand them off to any employee because they have a meeting to run to, run the risk of doing two things:

  1. giving a very poor first impression that staff and their contributions don’t matter – meetings do, and
  2. potentially poisoning your new hire by foolishly choosing some random employee and having them learn the real “attitude” of the place from someone disgruntled or actively disengaged.

You say you want to increase employee engagement and reduce employee turnover, yet you hand off a newbie to other staffers without a plan. What are you thinking?

Who is the employee with the best attitude, the best performance, the best engagement and the best intentions? That person is your new on-boarding mentor. Have a conversation with the potential mentor and tell them that because of their performance, you are placing new hires in their care to learn the correct way of doing things around here. Give your people positive responsibility and you will find that they rise to the occasion.

The first relationship that a new employee strikes up is usually the longest lasting relationship. Make sure your new hire gets mentored by the right attitude, the right work ethic, the right performance and the right engagement levels.

If you want to ensure the future Culture of your workplace is headed in the right direction, don’t just willy-nilly leave new hires with your staffers. The first few days are important learning times for new employees – especially for improving Culture. Make this a strategic move. You will have made your own job much easier down the road.

Will You Acknowledge Their Service? November 10, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in accountability, acknowledgement, attitude, attitude of service, career, culture of accountability, culture of service, focus, greatness, kevin burns, leadership, loyalty, motivation, security, service.
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November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada and Australia. It is Veterans Day in the United States. And although November 11 is the day marked to honor military veterans in the United Kingdom, the ceremonies won’t take place until Sunday.

On this November 11, how about we take a moment out of our own busy lives to, just for a moment, think about someone else for a change.

Perhaps you work with someone who has done military service or work with the spouse of someone who has done military service. Perhaps one of your own relatives may be former military. Why not think about them for a moment on November 11.

Look around. Look at all of this stuff you have been able to amass. Think of all the things you are able to do and all of the freedoms that you have. We live in some of the best countries in the world. Oh sure, we have our moments and we have our difficulties from time to time. And we don’t always get it right. But, we pretty much have it all.

There is a process in place that is as simple as a young man or woman who makes a decision to sign up for active military service. That one person along with thousands of others get trained, focused and deployed to protect the very freedoms and luxuries of life that we have. How hard would it be to say “thank you” on November 11?

Here’s how easy it is: on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month take a moment to just be thankful that you have what you have. Someone, maybe someone you don’t know, made a decision to stand up for you. Some lost their lives standing up for you and some returned home. Remember, it’s not the price they paid that is important, it’s the fact that they chose to do something important at all.

Will you acknowledge their service?

Bad Managers Are About To Be Found Out November 4, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in career, coaching, communication, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture of high-performance, Employee Engagement, engagement, future workplace trends, high-performance, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager.
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This is the end of the road for autocratic managers who hide in their offices and avoid their own people and decisions. This is the end of the road for managers are quick to blame, who offer poor communication direction and instruction. Because you can’t build a solid corporate culture by busying yourself with meetings or pretending to be swamped by stacking papers on your desk, filling out time sheets, pushing paper and constantly holding a phone to your ear. You’re not fooling anyone by starting your own fires just so you’ll have something that makes you look busy and important.

No, the job of a manager is to coach, to inspire, to motivate them to spend a little time each day improving the little things that add up to big performance. A manager’s job is to tweak performance.

Employees dislike being told constantly what they’re doing wrong. Managers should already know that. So by knowing that, why is it that so many managers still spend so much time harping on employees about what they’re doing wrong? Because there are a lot of managers out there that have no idea what they’re doing. And up to now they have been able to hide it. But, they are about to be found out. And that single fact alone should scare most managers and organizations as a whole.

The truth is, employees want to be coached in the same way athletes are coached. Sports coaches spend time each day with their athletes fine tuning and adjusting their performance. Think for a second about how well a professional athlete would do on the sports field if all the coach ever did was harp on them for what they were doing wrong.

Get with the program managers: there’s a new generation of worker that is expecting to be coached not crapped on. Your people don’t want you to do the work for them, they want to offer suggestions as to how they can do the work for themselves. Your job as a coach is to find a way to uncover the little a-ha moments of your people that makes them want to be better, to get focused and to engage themselves in their work.

And if you as a manager don’t think that you are able to act as a coach to your people because you’re too busy, then you’re in the way. Step aside and allow someone who can do the job to coach your people to the next level. Your people deserve better.

It Is Not The Work That Engages November 1, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in attitude, career, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture fit, Employee Engagement, engagement, Gen y, kevin burns, keynote speaker, millenials.
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Gen Y does not have a poor work ethic. In fact, it could be argued that their work ethic is better than that of Baby Boomers – just different. The truth is, Gen Y doesn’t engage in the same things as Boomers do especially when it comes to meaningless work, lack of direction from an immediate manager and poor corporate culture.

To engage the new generation of worker, you have to understand how they think. Every thing they have ever done in their whole lives has involved a menu: cell phone menu, computer menu, web site menu. Even choices that they have could be considered menus: what they would like for lunch, what career path they want to take, courses in school, etc.

Never bark out, “Get that done and then come back for your next task.” That’s not a menu. A menu is a list of tasks that they can accomplish in no particular order. Give them the choice and they will engage – even the mundane.

The new workers of today may end up with 14 different jobs over a 3-year span but that doesn’t mean they are not motivated. It means they haven’t found their “fit” yet. This is the first generation to put Culture Fit ahead of pay, benefits, perks and prestige. If it doesn’t fit, they won’t engage. So understand, it is NOT the work they are not engaging in, it is the workplace they are not engaging in.

This is important. It’s not the work that needs to be engaging – it’s the workplace.

Leave me a comment. I want to hear your opinion.

Corporate Culture Trumps Pay, Benefits and Perks October 28, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in career, communication, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, hiring, HR, kevin burns, keynote speaker.
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On Monday, I addressed a group of senior and executive level managers about the realities of attempting to create a “tomorrow Culture” using ten year-old managerial practices and ideas. One of the points I made was that the Resume is dying quickly.

Since the new breed of worker is looking more for a Culture-fit than they are for a job, you are going to start seeing resumes that have fourteen jobs in a three year period. So how can you find a “keeper” if they have no longevity in their jobs? You start by tossing the resume because it is distracting. If you haven’t figured out by now that the new Generation Y is looking for a Culture Fit instead of a job, you’re missing all of the really good potential hires.

They’re looking for Culture and you’re not spending any time building yours. They’re looking for Culture and you’re still taking out ads featuring job descriptions. They’re looking for Culture and you have no idea what it is. You’re not speaking the same language so they don’t understand what you want and you can’t have any idea what they want.

Culture trumps everything: including senior management, pensions, benefits, pay and perks.

And to prove my point, read this article from Inc. Magazine.

The Weak Link Of The Strategic Plan October 21, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in accountability, boss, career, change, conference, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture of accountability, ethics, kevin burns, keynote speaker, leadership, management, manager, planning, strategic plan, strategy.
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A strategic planning session takes place. All of the players gather around the table. Every item in the plan gets voted on – only those with a unanimous vote get included in the plan. The plan is developed and the chairman asks for commitment to the strategy. One by one, around the room they go, each answering in the affirmative.

But back at the office, the truth sets in. The planning session was a waste of time because you had no intention of doing anything in the plan. You already knew in the back of your mind that to accomplish some of these items in your department you would need a herculean effort. You had no intention of doing your part. You simply figured out that it would be easier to just go along with everyone else at the meeting than to explain why it wouldn’t work for your department. So you find a ton of excuses why your commitment hit a snag.

In other words, you lied. And because there was no “accountability” mechanism built into the strategic plan, no one will really know until next year, when give your commitment to another plan you have no desire in implementing.

After all, you only have six more years until you can retire. Why embrace all this change and work so hard when you’re this close to retirement. All you have to do is hang on through five more annual planning sessions and you’re home free. Let the person replacing you worry about it then.

Don’t worry about suffocating your departmental Culture by not embracing new strategic directions. The job is all about you – not those who still have their whole work lives ahead of them. Nope, you just have to figure out a way to get out of embracing new technologies and practices. You’re too close to pension to retire. No, you just keep developing your personal strategic plan of finding excuses for not embracing the corporate strategic plan.  Just keep watching the clock. You can do that because you’ve turned your back on your colleagues.

By the time everyone catches on, you’ll be out of there anyway – with your legacy of “do nothing” and non-accountability to remind your people of your ineffectiveness as a leader. Nope, your replacement will be as welcomed as a cool summer breeze. But you’ll have your pension – and the embarrassment of your leadership abilities to keep you warm at night.

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