We recently had Dr. Alan Zimmerman join us as a Webinar guest to help us become better leaders. He reminded us that we’re all leaders because we all influence people. As I have preached for many years, our emotional intelligence has as much to do with our ability to be good leaders and managers as our technical skills. While some of us are naturally born leaders most can certainly learn how to be much better. In fact, according to a recent Inc. magazine article, most business owners admit that they’re strength is not with the “people thing.” Less than 20% of them felt they had strength in that area.
Here’s a checklist based on Dr. Alan’s presentation which is recorded and can be accessed by HR That Works members anytime.
- Build rapport – You do that with caring, trust, and a proper attitude.
- Build respect – You do that with belief in people, demanding excellence from them, and acting honestly.
- Recognize people – You do this by acknowledging that they are important, observing their good conduct, and communicating your appreciation to them.
For each one of these leadership traits, Dr. Zimmerman suggested a handful of skills that would help you to be better at each one of them. Again, you’re invited to watch or listen to this excellent webinar.
P.S. As I noted in my conversation with Dr. Zimmerman, these factors also apply to self-leadership and self-discipline. To what degree are you creating a good internal rapport, treating yourself with respect and recognizing the good that is within you?
- Find out your numbers – Use the HR That Works Cost Calculator and get to the bottom line of your HR practices.
- Create a rolling 90-day game plan – You must plan to succeed and without a plan, you plan to fail. Focus on one strategic objective per month and update your 90-day game plan every 30 days. Make sure the leadership team knows what you’re up to.
- Reinvent performance management – First of all, realize that most managers and employees will be glad that you finally ditched the old system. Then, watch the Performance Management Training and the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) recorded webinar and then conduct a workshop to see how you can generate a performance management system that works organically for your company.
- Introduce the Creativity Checklist and Employee Suggestion Form and require that people use it The ideas you generate should help pay for the HR That Works program for many years to come.
- Create a social media policy that works – Involve the head of IT, marketing, and a group of employees to fashion an approach that works for all parties.
- Use the HR That Works Compliance Survey every six months – Doing so will ride you of unwanted claims in the process.
- Conduct an HR survey of your management team – The HR That Works Management Survey will let you know how the management team views the strength of your contributions and where they need more help from you.
- Bring your employee handbook to life – Fact is, most employee handbooks are boring at best. On the Employee Handbook page is the contact information for our graphics expert, Summer Bonne, who will help you getting your handbook act looking right.
- Ask yourself this when you hire: Am I more interested in creating the future or preserving the past?
- Have some fun! Be creative! Get out of the box! HR has a real opportunity to generate some positive dramas at your company- and we all know we need those!
Congratulations goes out to four outstanding women who completed the year-long HR That Works Black Belt training program!
From left to right Leslie Thomas, Lisa Hecker, Tootie Norton, and Brenda Boyer.
According to the Ethics Resource Center: 45% of employees say they witness ethical misconduct at work in 2011. Out of those employees, 65% reported the misconduct to management. 34% of employees said their managers behaved unethically.
Employees witness the following behaviors at work:
- Misuse of company time 33%
- Discrimination 15%
- Health/safety violations 13%
- Lying to outside shareholders 12%
- Stealing 12%
- Falsifying timecards 11%
- Sexual harassment 11%
- Accepting or offering kickbacks/bribes 5%
Talk about employment risks—here they are. The worst being robbing companies of an honest day’s work! To read more information about the survey go to http://www.ethics.org/nbes/
By Kevin Trokey
I hear various broker conversations that include a similar complaint: prospects don’t seem to truly appreciate the value of the value-added services being offered. And, even when they do, they don’t use them after they become a client. There are many reasons for this, but I’m going to focus on a few within your control.
I’m assuming many of the value-added solutions you offer prospects are intended to help improve internal communications: You set up websites, deliver valuable content, discuss year-round communication strategy, provide communication resources to improve performance management and maybe you even suggest ways to improve communication with their clients.
I’m also assuming you can empathize with these conversations, and you have prospects to whom you present your solutions—prospects who would clearly benefit from having them, but never hire you to get the job done. I’m just as certain that some of your prospects-turned-clients never use the solution as either of you intended. That lack of use almost always happens for two reasons:
- Lack of motivation by the client or prospect to do the hard work of implementing the new solution, process or procedure that you are offering. This is largely because you lead with a solution rather than with a conversation as to why the prospect may need the solution.
- We, as brokers, leave them only to consider the price of our solution—or worse, leave them thinking it is “free” and, by reasoning, has no inherent value—rather than putting them in position to weigh that price against the cost of their current action (or inaction, as it were).
Leading with a client-focused conversation is a topic for another article; for now, we’ll examine some ways to quantify the high “cost of doing nothing.”
Determining the cost of doing nothing for corporate communications
To illustrate, let’s evaluate the costs for hypothetical ABC Co., based on the following information. If your prospect can identify this information for their own company, you can help them quantify their financial impact of poor communication:
- 50 employees
- Average salary = $41,674 (avg. annual U.S. wage according to ssa.gov)
- Revenue/ee = $100,000 (avg. revenue for small business)
- Profit margin = 10% (according to smallbiztrends.com)
We’re going to evaluate the organizational impact of poor communication in the following four key areas:
1. Organizational vision
Employers need to be communicating to their employees about where they are now as a company, where they are going, the steps they need to take to move from the former to the latter, and how they are performing as an organization at any point in time. Those who don’t are disconnecting themselves from their employees and exposing themselves to the high cost of employee disengagement.
According to a recent Gallup study, the cost of disengagement is represented by the term “payroll efficiency factor.” In an average company, this runs 63% (leaving an inefficiency factor of 37%). That means for every $100,000 spent on payroll, there is only $63,000 worth of work being performed. Let’s calculate for ABC Co.:
- Annual Payroll = $2,083,700 (average salary x number of employees)
- Engagement inefficiencies = $770,969 (Payroll x inefficiency factor)
- Let’s assume that only 1/3 of that inefficiency could be attributed to this area, we still have a negative financial impact of $256,989
2. Individual performance
Let’s be honest, almost nobody enjoys performance reviews—mostly because few managers have been properly trained on how to do them effectively. Many elements contribute to effective performance management, but ongoing communication between managers and direct reports is key.
A study by the Hacket Group cites companies who excel in this area show a 22% improvement in net profit margin. For ABC Co., that translates to:
- Annual Revenue = $500,000 ($100,000 rev/ee x 50 ees)
- Profit Margin = 10%
- Net Profit = $500,000
- Increased profit due to improved communication in this area = $110,000 ($500,000 x 22%)
3. Customer communication
We talk often about the importance of employee engagement, but almost as important is customer engagement. The key to customer engagement is twofold. First, engaged employees will result in engaged customers. Second, we have to ensure that we are communicating the right message in the right way to customers. When we do so (according to Harvard Business Review), the results are also twofold: engaged customers will spend 23% more with us, and the dollars that they spend will also be 23% more profitable.
Again, let’s see what that translates to for ABC Co.
- Current annual revenue = $5,000,000
- Engaged annual revenue = $6,150,000 ($5,000,000 x 23% increase)
- Engaged profit margin = 12.3% (10% x 23% increase)
- Engaged net profit = $756,450 ($6,150,000 x 12.3%)
- Improvement in net profit = $256,450 ($756,450 – previous profit of $500,000)
4. Benefit program
We all know that employers want their employees to place the highest value possible on the benefits provided, and effectively communicating that is the key to maximizing that value. What we may not all know is the quantified cost of that value: According to the McKinsey Quarterly study, effectively communicating a benefits program can reduce costs by as much as 20%. For ABC Co., that translates to:
- Annual benefit spend = $729,295 ($2,083,700 payroll x 35%)
- Potential benefit program savings = $145,859 ($729,295 benefit spend x 20%)
Totaling the cost of not communicating effectively
Organizational vision $256,989
Individual performance $110,000
Customer communication $256,450
Benefits program $145,859
Those are significant numbers! They are so significant, you may struggle buying into them. Let’s assume that they are overstated a bit—or, overstated by a lot. Even if the potential cost impact is only 20% of that total, the “cost of doing nothing” for ABC Co. is still $153,859.
I don’t know about you, but I think $153,859 is a significant amount, especially in a company with $500,000 of net operating profit. When it comes to financials, you can either impact the bottom line (what we have identified here) or you can impact top-line revenue. For ABC Co., whose profit margin is 10%, the alternative would be to produce $1,538,590 in top-line revenue. It’s pretty safe to say that that would make you the best salesperson in the company.
So, there are four areas where we all know that communication is critical and likely four areas where you have been offering solutions that don’t pique the interest of prospects or get used by clients. Perhaps if you helped them see the high cost of their current practices, those prospects would find the urgency to work with you, and perhaps your client would find the continued motivation to use what you have put in place.
As I said at the beginning, understanding this high cost is the first step. The second is putting together an implementation plan—and taking the responsibility for its execution—that will ensure your solution is used, and used as intended.
If your solutions aren’t causing prospects to buy and aren’t being used by your clients that do buy, don’t blame the solution. The likely problem is that the known “cost of doing nothing” and “plan for implementation” are missing from the picture.
It’s a picture you are capable of completing, you just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I want to?”
About the Author
Kevin Trokey is President of Benefits Growth Network, a firm specializing in growth strategies for Employee Benefit agencies, departments and producers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Make sure you hire from the bottom of the barrel – Bad employees are great! They will all but guarantee you a life full of drama. Why be on easy street when you can have a work force run amuck with whiners, thieves, liars and con-artists? Besides, who wants to spend the time and money necessary to do extensive interviews, skill tests, background checks and character assessments?
2. Over promise and under deliver – Tell people what you think they want to hear. It’s a lot more expedient than radical honesty. The fun thing is there is absolutely no limit on the amount of promises you can make. If somebody complains about the last promise you made then make him or her a new one. The fact is people want to be lied to. This “walk your talk” integrity stuff is strictly for amateurs.
3. Keep your business plans to yourself – All this talk about sharing your vision, mission and goals is pure bologna. People like to be kept in the dark. Besides, if mushrooms can thrive in that environment why can’t your employees?
4. Control as much as you can – Spending your time trying to empower other people is just so exhausting. Better off engaging in control and manipulation so that they don’t dare think for themselves. If they try to revolt, then bring in the heavy artillery.
5. Give them all 2s – Everybody knows that the way to motivate people is to scare the “you know what” out of them. One of the best ways of doing that is to give them poor performance evaluations. They will be fearful for their jobs and be motivated to work like crazy just to survive. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to give them disciplinary notices on a regular basis whether they deserve them or not.
6. Create internal competition – Ever see rats climb all over each other in order to get at a piece of cheese? Don’t think this doesn’t work with your employees too. Make it very clear there can only be one good employee every month. This is a particularly appropriate strategy in the sales area. Make sure only one person in your sales organization gets that trip to Hawaii every year. The less in the way of best practices they share with each other, the better your odds of motivating them out of a scarcity mentality.
7. Bag the meetings – This business about holding team meetings is highly overrated. Besides, it just takes people away from doing their jobs. The last thing you want to do is give people another excuse not to do their work.
8. Work ‘em ‘til they drop – Squeeze every ounce out of your employees every chance you get. Never mind that you have to pay them overtime or that they may burn out and make tons of mistakes. There’s plenty more bodies where they came from.
9. Ignore today’s compliance obligations – There are so many personnel law obligations that trying to reach the “Golden Shores of Compliance” is a futile effort at best. Better off letting your exposures run rampant and deal with them in the courtroom. Besides, we just love our lawyers.
10. Train solely from within – Or, forget training altogether! Better off recycling ignorance than employing profound knowledge – which can only be gathered from outside of a system.
SPECIAL BONUS SECRET:
11. Forget your commitments – This bonus secret is a real powerful one and brings us full circle. Besides, your workforce probably isn’t very committed to you. They say they want to work for you for years and then they quit after only a couple of months. What’s up with that?
These secrets will all but guarantee your business failure. One last note: Just make sure you bleed the company to a point of extinction before you employ these powerful secrets.
NOTE: If management failure is not your bag, then take full advantage of the HR That Works website!