SURVIVAL OF THE “FUNNEST”

I have been and always will be a strong supporter of employee engagement. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, without the people in our organizations we CANNOT get where we need to be. They are the vital cog in the machine that can get us to new heights of success. We may have the best “mousetrap” in the world, but if our people practices are weak…we as an organization will be as well.
Any of us can go out on the internet and find companies being praised and written about for having dynamic, fun, engaging and highly productive workplaces. And when this happens, retention, productivity, morale and bottom line results increase while stress actually decreases compared to the norm. As I so often have suggested to a) individuals and b) organizations as a whole, try to find a person or company to mirror the best practices of in your world. As in any scenario like this, choose wisely when selecting a mentor or organization to mirror and learn from. It may be someone that is at the level you aspire to reach. Maybe it’s someone or some organization that while seemingly not much more “bottom line” successful than you, is getting there in a much more interesting, fun, engaging way. And that way of reaching success is certainly less stressful and creates all kinds of other positives. The most glaring and important is perhaps a new, improved culture. And the right culture is what cures a lot of ills in today’s world for sure. The right culture creates much more ‘Team” and much less “I”, “We”, “They” and my least favorite of all the term “Management”……as in “Management says”, “Management thinks”, etc. Aaaargh! Not good!
How many of you are going through dramatic change right now in your lives, at work and/or away? And if this change was not self-selected but rather forced upon you, that is almost always a key stress point. It always is and will continue to be. Soooo, Mr. Obvious, aka Coach Dave, what the heck do you suggest? See, I already beat you to the question hanging out there. Here are a few suggestions, in list format. And for you leaders out there, here is a BIG point to make that I have learned from first hand myself….it starts at the top and then works its way down the organization. Some of this may require YOU to step outside YOUR comfort zone in order to a) show you are wiling to take risks, try something different, do exactly what you are asking your people to do and b) shift your workplace culture to one of continuing to work hard but also recognizing and truly implementing the culture of also playing together as a TEAM, showing another side to ourselves, being a real person, diving in and trusting it will all work out. And guess who always has the absolute biggest impact on this? It is always the leaders that are typically seen as more work than play, somewhat to very subdued, quiet, distant perhaps, driven, focused, etc. Guess what boss, this stuff ties directly to all of those things. Okay, enough preaching! Here are few ideas to get the brain waves bubbling and flowing out there.
  1. Create a committee of people from each functional area, aka The Fun Committee.
  2. Have a brainstorming session with NO limits at first; anything is fair game(as long as it is legal, ethical and morally acceptable – with no injuries incurred!).
  3. If this is the first time for doing this, target some sort of quarterly activity/event/gathering and PUT IN ON YOUR CALENDARS!
  4. Market the events, once established, via e-mails, posters, mentions at meetings, word of mouth.
  5. Always, always, always have a debrief after the event to learn from what went well, what didn’t and what feedback did we get to help in that process.
  6. START the same process over immediately for the next event, no matter how successful or seemingly unsuccessful the current one.
  7. Do NOT get discouraged. Change is hard and if this is “new stuff”…it takes time but will gather steam and momentum as time goes by!!
Remember, nothing worthwhile ever came easy. And making the workplace more fun for all is definitely a worthwhile goal. In fact, the most recent statistics indicate it not only increases productivity and morale(duh!), it also carries over to health benefits big time!! And who wouldn’t want more fun, less stress and lots more smiles in the workplace!
If you would like more specific ideas, suggestions or discussion…..call me, e-mail me, hit me on Twitter, Linked In, Facebook. I have lots of ideas but it all depends on you and your teams’ needs and desires. I am here to help!!

Setting Clear Expectations – A Key to Better Employee Engagement

Management training shows how to establish, write and communicate clear job performance expectations effectively and create a solid basis for appraisal and performance management efforts.
Setting performance expectations is absolutely one of the most difficult jobs for most managers. Why? Few managers or supervisors ever receive this type of in-depth training.
A mutual understanding of what managers expect from employees is essential for improved performance, employee success, and good employee relations overall. Not to mention worker retention, attendance and “presenteeism“.
Without clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Waste effort due to a lack of priorities
  • Waste time with unnecessary work
  • Endure increased stress due to uncertainty
With clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Understand what is important and what they should be doing
  • Understand why they are doing their work
  • Know how they are doing and when to ask for support
  • Recognize where performance improvement can occur

 

Too often performance problems revolve around this question and this answer:
Boss:  “Why isn’t my employee doing what needs to do be done?”
Employee:  “But, I thought I was doing a good job.”
Poorly defined performance expectations leave the employee questioning how to achieve job performance goals and leaving them no way to track their efforts to meet job expectations.  The result is that both employees and their managers become frustrated.  The manager is frustrated because the employee is not doing the things that need to be done.  The employee is frustrated because they think they are doing the best they can and the boss is still not satisfied with the work they are doing.
When results are easy to measure (for example: parts per hour or sales volume per month), defining expectations seems fairly straightforward.  But what about adding in error rates, new customers, profit margins on sales, or other issues?  All of a sudden, it gets more complicated.
Now, add in the more subjective, but extremely important, performance criteria such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, quality customer service, and others.  How can managers effectively communicate these expectations?
If managers cannot effectively communicate all job expectations, they cannot expect the employee to meet those expectations.
HOW to Set Employee Expectations
As much as an employee needs a job description to know what their role is, they might need expectations of achievement to sharpen their focus. Although every company will have its own desired level of performance from employees, getting the best work out of employees requires knowledge of each employee’s strengths and techniques to motivate them. Employees usually start a job wanting to do well; managers should work with them to help them to bring their enthusiasm to work every day.
Set job-specific goals tailored to the position and employee . A list of job duties is a starting point to develop a series of targets for employees to meet. Especially in long-standing positions where the role of the employee is clear, the company will know what achievement levels are best for the company. These levels might have to be adjusted, however, to match the skill set and experience of the person in the position.
Allow new employees time to get settled in the position . It’s an unfortunate reality that high expectations placed on star hires don’t always pan out; giving new staff time to ease into the position and mentoring from a senior co-worker will avoid disappointment. Set early expectations to be achievable; instead of a long list of sales or productivity targets, be realistic about what’s possible and ask your staff to meet only a few key objectives during the first three months. Remember new hires are unlikely to ask a lot of questions until they feel comfortable in their jobs.
Make expectations part of an ongoing conversation . Meeting with employees on a regular basis, once a month at least, to discuss goals and progress will help employees understand t the employer’s expectations. Regular meetings help managers assess the workload of each employee and can adjust it if necessary to help employees meet the company’s goals. Learning what interests and engages employees can help managers to distribute work in a way that promotes enthusiasm for completing tasks. Expressing confidence in each employee’s ability and reinforcing past achievement is key to maintaining employee motivation.

Develop short and long term goals . Specific targets for employees are easier to meet than vague platitudes about stronger sales or greater productivity. Remember that employees work daily in their jobs and therefore might have a better idea of what goals are realistic and achievable. Maintaining an open dialogue about workload is a good way to assess employee capability and to find targets they can meet. Specific targets allow for clear tracking of employee performance.

Exhibit role model behavior when it comes to performance . Set goals for your own performance and share them as much as possible with employees. This demonstrates you are not simply managing in a “top-down” fashion; you expect as much from your own work as from your workforce.

Why We Need Annual Reviews

Today there are a number of people and some companies that are either questioning the need for annual reviews or even doing away with them completely. And some of those companies make a strong argument for why they did so, yet in explaining why and how they made this happen, walk right into what I feel is and always should be part of the review process. The bottom line for me is that I still believe there is a need and a value for the “end of the year review” with each employee. But I also strongly feel that these become exercises that can cause more harm than good if not done properly, thoughtfully, on time and that also fits into a bigger picture of feedback throughout the year. It needs to answer the question “What’s the plan for me, the business and our goals”.
TOP 10 REASONS FOR ANNUAL REVIEWS
–    It creates the opportunity to align goals and objectives of the company and the employee.
–    They can provide a sound foundation for development, promotion and succession planning.
–    Holding these can actually help employees be more clear on their strengths, opportunities for improvement and what the organizations expectations of them are for the new year.
–    Annual reviews can help to plan a more customized training & development program, by individual.
–    It forces you to have conversations that may not have happened during the past year. These can help eliminate confusion or gray areas, as well as reinforce the key objectives of the organization as a whole.
–    When done properly and regularly, they can actually help reduce workplace discontent.
–   These meetings can actually help in developing better interpersonal relationships and in turn enhance team building.
–   This type of performance management conversation can be a huge aid in more fair and equitable wage & salary administration.
–   It creates another form of control and planning for both the employee and the boss(and company). CLEAR goals and objectives mean a better plan for all!
–   Lastly, it almost forces the manager and employee to communicate more honestly and specifically on topics both good and not so good sometimes. COMMUNICATION that should happen has to happen at these meetings.
So, if you truly want to increase your chances of making these types of conversations fruitful, keep a few things in mind.
#1 – Commit to a simple, short template/rating system that is easy to both apply but also explain to the employee as they are reviewed.
#2 – DO THESE ON TIME. If you choose to conduct them on anniversary dates, keep them in a calendar with reminders hitting your inbox two weeks(or more) in advance of that date. This gets you thinking and preparing ahead of time, not throwing it together just to do it at the last minute. Or worse yet, not at all!
#3 – Give the employee a chance to provide their feedback and point of view, with that information coming back to you the manager prior to actually conducting the review.
#4 – Make your feedback time bound, measurable and as objective and clear as possible.
#5 – Ensure that these annual review sessions are short and crisp. Forty-five minutes to conduct these meetings should be perfect if done properly.
For more help on this just e-mail or call me and ask about a new training module I have created entitled C.A.A.R. Yep, Conducting Awesome Annual Reviews is possible with a little help, planning and preparation.

BE SURE TO GIVE THANKS…ALL YEAR LONG

What’s that you say? Give “thanks”? Isn’t that just for Thanksgiving? Not in my book. The holidays are absolutely my favorite time of year to thank people for their efforts, dedication, accomplishments, loyalty and results for the past year. It is also a time when I always try to take a much more personal touch and check in on them to see how they are doing, what their plans are for the holidays, how they feel about the year just passed and what they look forward to in the new year.
Really let people know how you feel about them and that they are recognized and valued not just as employees, but as friends, confidantes, colleagues. In other words, the whole spectrum of “people possibilities”. Not just those at work. Why? IT FEELS GOOD. It makes us appreciate what we have to be grateful for in our lives with them. It builds long-lasting relationships that will sustain us through tough times ahead as well as build a better network of people to also help us celebrate our successes, exchange ideas with, learn from and most of all….count on!
Look folks, it’s a much more complex, demanding, challenging and often frenetic world we live in today. NOW is the time of year to make sure we really take the time to look around, see clearly and let people know you noticed them. It’s mighty lonely out there without that. And it’s been proven time and time again that no matter how independent someone may be or think they are, our health, vitality and longevity are positively impacted by strong connections to others. It’s true, no human is an island unto themselves.
So, thank you for helping me have such a wonderful, rewarding and awesome year to date in 2016. And please follow my lead and don’t just send an e-mail. Whenever possible, find the time and place to reach out to people face to face. And another great option is to send hand written cards, notes and letters. Just remember, while e-mails and texts can mean well and seem really easy to use, they also can be misread, misinterpreted, even missed completely. I myself have been proven guilty of that one. And it is always dicey and sometimes exhausting to have to clean up the mess we never intended to create in the first place! Hey, we learn from our experiences and I am no exception to that! One thing I know means a lot to all, even if they profess “that wasn’t necessary” is the personal thanks. To this day I have an array of thank you cards, notes and letters from Coaching clients who I am honored to have worked with in the past. Those personal touches and the time it took to do that little thing meant a lot to me. HINT!
So, what’s the message? Value relationships no matter what type. Nurture them. Celebrate and sustain them. Especially this holiday season. But also….ALL YEAR ROUND. They deserve it. And so do all of you!

Being Inspired and Having a Dream Makes ALL the Difference

In thinking about this month’s newsletter and the topic of inspiration and fulfilling your dreams, miraculously a “message” came into view. Late last night(Sunday) on TV, while struggling to sleep, the movie “The Rookie”(the baseball movie, starring Dennis Quaid) came on. By the time it got to the end, despite having seen it several times before, I was inspired to say the least. In it’s own way, it told the story many of us have experienced, dreams of where we want to get to in our lives and the obstacles, speed bumps and real-world stuff that sometimes gets in our path to those dreams and aspirations. Life, family, obligations and financial responsibilities are a few touched on in the movie and I am sure those same factors have impacted all of us to some degree.
“The Rookie” was based on the real-life story of a gentleman named Jim Morris. Jim began playing baseball at the tender age of three. Unfortunately he ended up through numerous family moves in Brownwood, TX. Brownwood High School had no baseball team at the time so Jim resorted to what most Texas males do…football. But he never gave up on his dream of playing major league baseball. He was originally selected by the Yankees in 1982, but did not sign until the next year with the Milwaukee Brewers. After suffering several arm injuries and never making it past single-A minor leagues level, Jim gave up his dream in 1989.
Jim became a high school phys ed teacher and baseball coach in Big Lake, TX while becoming a husband and a father of three little ones. While coaching his team, The Reagan County Owls, in the spring of 1999, he promised his team that if they accomplished the seemingly impossible goal of winning the district baseball championship and advancing to the state finals, he would keep his promise to them and try out for a major league team…one more time. Cut to the end and a) the team wins the district tournament b) Jim shows up with his kids “in tow” for a tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and…..after TWELVE consecutive 98 mph fastballs (you read that right), Jim signed a contract with them at the age of….35!
Jim moved up through the minors system quickly and when the Rays had expanded rosters in mid-September of 1999 he was called up to the big leagues. He was the oldest rookie in 30+ years in the majors and in his first game, in of all places, Arlington TX, Jim was called in to pitch to the Texas Rangers’ all-star shortstop Royce Clayton. He struck Clayton out, in front of his wife, kids and much of the town he came from. And he did so in just four pitches with the bases loaded. Wow!
Jim ended up playing only two years in the majors. He made four more appearances that year and sixteen more in 2000. Then, with recurring arm problems plaguing him, Jim was able to retire having lived his dream. He also has released an autobiography on Amazon entitled “The Oldest Rookie”. Jim now lives in Kerrville, TX and travels the country as a motivational speaker as well as taking an active part in his foundation, Jim The Rookie Morris Foundation. He works with underprivileged kids and conducts baseball clinics. To quote Jim today, “It’s a good life”. After much struggle, good for Jim.
So, why did this particular storyline resonate with me? Like all kids, I had lots of dreams growing up and many possible career ideas. But by the time I decided to go back to school for an MBA at the University of Missouri, I just knew in my gut that someday I wanted to run my own business. I had no idea what the basis of that business might be or that it would end up being just me as the sole employee. But I knew I wanted to do something that made an impact on people, their lives, their success and also how to deal with and learn from failure. Through a series of great companies, businesses and a bunch of different bosses, restructures, “revisioning” and CHANGE……it was time for a change for me. And time to take a BIG risk at a late age, 48. That is when I started my business. And the model then, while expanded, tweaked and retooled since then, still deals with what was and is of greatest interest and passion for me to this day. That is the people, clearly. Finding the right ones for your business, putting them in the right “seats on the bus” to optimize their(and your) chances for success, as well as how to manage, mentor and develop them more effectively. What’s the biggest challenge in business, generally? The people you work with and/or are responsible for in your roles at your various organizations. What also can be the most uplifting, rewarding, heartwarming and inspiring part of that business world? Those same people!
I had many who supported and challenged me to go down this path and I am forever grateful they pushed me, advised me, challenged me and have been there for me through thick and thin. Many of those folks are probably reading this right now. In 2003 when I started I had a slightly different vision in mind but in 2006-2007 I met a professional business coach. Which led me to hire one of my own to find out more about the profession, what it really entailed and to also help me figure out the real business model best for me. Funny how things happen and how they all work out. Without those encounters and people in my life, I don’t know where I would be today. I was really questioning whether I had made the right decision and why I felt something was missing. I no longer have those feelings or concerns.   To those unnamed “stars in my life”, I am forever grateful. And most I have or will thank personally next chance I get.
How about all of you? Who are your “stars”? Do they know how much they have inspired, encouraged or supported you along your path? Let them know! And be grateful. None of us goes along our paths alone, even if at times it might feel like it. And if you have dreams still to explore or fulfill, it’s never too late. Jim’s story (and mine), are walking testimonials to that.
One last thing, folks. If you haven’t heard, my first book is finally out and available on Amazon. It is designed to be a short, quick, easy read that might inspire you to try some new things with the people in your lives at work. Please check it out. Look for “Water Your People and Watch Them Grow” by Dave Goranson. It is available in paperback and in a kindle version.
  

Staying motivated through good times and bad

Here’s some real-world advice on how to stay motivated even during difficult times.
LIFE is an emotional roller coaster, and unless you figure out how to manage those emotions and keep yourself motivated, you’ll have a difficult time succeeding. This is particularly true right now. The economy continues to struggle and seems to always be in “recovery mode”. In addition to that, while there are jobs now opening up for people, lower pay has become more the norm. Many companies are still cutting back, and pressures to perform are greater than ever. It’s easy to lose our motivation.
However, even though the world around us may be dreary and depressing, that in no way reduces our personal need to do the best we can. That means that we all have a responsibility to stay motivated.
It is amazing what a difference a few degrees of attitude adjustment can make in our performance. Try this little exercise. Tell yourself these things:
“Business is terrible. Life is tough. Everyone is struggling. Nobody wants to see me, and when they do, it’s just to complain.”
Now wallow in those thoughts for a moment, and note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
Now, think the opposite: “I have great opportunities. People need me more today than ever. I have valuable solutions for them. It’s a great time to have this job. It’s a great time to be alive!”
Roll those around in your mind for a while. Note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
As you reflect on this exercise, it’s clear that your energy, enthusiasm and drive to succeed come about as a result of your thoughts. And here is one of the most powerful truths known to mankind: You can control your thoughts.
Going beyond “positive thinking”
Succeeding in difficult times depends a great deal on our motivation. Staying motivated requires us to take charge of our thoughts. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “I’ve tried positive thinking. It just isn’t me.” I agree that it is difficult to patch a bunch of positive thoughts on top of an essentially negative personality. The issue is deeper than that. Let’s, therefore, examine the deeper issues.
At the heart of motivation lies a set of powerful beliefs that you must embrace if you are going to successfully motivate yourself. Without a wholehearted commitment to these foundational beliefs, all the techniques and tactics for self-motivation are like spreading wallpaper over crumbling plaster. It may hold temporarily, but it is soon going to deteriorate into a mess.
Here’s the first foundational principle: You must believe that you can do better than you are now doing.
The second is this: You must accept that it is your responsibility to do so.
It’s simple and common sense, but, the more I observe people the more convinced I am that far too many people do not share these core beliefs. Rather, they are in the habit of making excuses for their situation. They believe fate, not their actions, determines their success. They believe success is for someone else, not them. They never really grab onto the first of these foundational principles.
Others believe that they can achieve greater degrees of success. They embrace the first principle, intellectually, but they never internalize the second. They become content with their situation and remain in pre-established comfort zones. They look at their manager as the person who is responsible for their success, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s their parent’s fault, or their spouse’s, or… the list goes on.
Whether you are struggling with a lack of energy that accompanies a bad day, or you’re depressed and frustrated with your lack of progress on a larger scale, examine your core beliefs first. If you really accept these two principles, you have the keystone in place to become highly motivated.

Setting Clear Expectations – A Key to Better Employee Engagement

Management training shows how to establish, write and communicate clear job performance expectations effectively and create a solid basis for appraisal and performance management efforts.
Setting performance expectations is absolutely one of the most difficult jobs for most managers. Why? Because few managers or supervisors ever receive this type of in-depth training.
A mutual understanding of what managers expect from employees is essential for improved performance, employee success, and good employee relations overall. Not to mention worker retention, attendance and “presenteeism”.
Without clear job expectations, employees can:
  •  Waste effort due to a lack of priorities
  •  Waste time with unnecessary work
  •  Endure increased stress due to uncertainty
With clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Understand what is important and what they should be doing
  • Understand why they are doing their work
  • Know how they are doing and when to ask for support
  • Recognize where performance improvement can occur

 

Too often performance problems revolve around this question and this answer:
Boss:
“Why isn’t my employee doing what needs to do be done?”

Employee:
“But, I thought I was doing a good job.”
Poorly defined performance expectations leave the employee questioning how to achieve job performance goals and leaving them no way to track their efforts to meet job expectations. The result is both employees and their managers becoming frustrated.  The manager is frustrated because the employee is not doing the things that need to be done.  The employee is frustrated because they think they are doing the best they can and the boss is still not satisfied with the work they are doing.
When results are easy to measure (for example: parts per hour or sales volume per month), defining expectations seems fairly straightforward.  But what about adding in error rates, new customers, profit margins on sales, or other issues?  All of a sudden, it gets more complicated.
Now, add in the more subjective, but extremely important, performance criteria such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, quality customer service, and others.  How can managers effectively communicate these expectations? If managers cannot effectively communicate all job expectations, they cannot expect the employee to meet those expectations.
HOW to Set Employee Expectations
As much as an employee needs a job description to know what their role is, they might need expectations of achievement to sharpen their focus. Although every company will have its own desired level of performance from employees, getting the best work out of employees requires knowledge of each employee’s strengths and the proper techniques to motivate them. Employees usually start a job wanting to do well; managers should work with them to help them to bring their enthusiasm to work every day.
  • Set job-specific goals tailored to the position and employee. A list of job duties is a starting point to develop a series of targets for employees to meet. Especially in long-standing positions where the role of the employee is clear, the company will know what achievement levels are best for the company. These levels might have to be adjusted, however, to match the skill set and experience of the person in the position.
  • Allow new employees time to get settled in the position. It’s an unfortunate reality that high expectations placed on star hires don’t always pan out; giving new staff time to ease into the position and mentoring from a senior co-worker will avoid disappointment. Set early expectations to be achievable; instead of a long list of sales or productivity targets, be realistic about what’s possible and ask your staff to meet only a few key objectives during the first three months. Remember new hires are unlikely to ask a lot of questions until they feel comfortable in their jobs.
  • Make expectations part of an ongoing conversation. Meeting with employees on a regular basis, once a month at least, to discuss goals and progress will help employees understand t the employer’s expectations. Regular meetings help managers assess the workload of each employee and can adjust it if necessary to help employees meet the company’s goals. Learning what interests and engages employees can help managers to distribute work in a way that promotes enthusiasm for completing tasks. Expressing confidence in each employee’s ability and reinforcing past achievement is key to maintaining employee motivation.
  • Develop short and long term goals. Specific targets for employees are easier to meet than vague platitudes about stronger sales or greater productivity. Remember that employees work daily in their jobs and therefore might have a better idea of what goals are realistic and achievable. Maintaining an open dialogue about workload is a good way to assess employee capability and to find targets they can meet. Specific targets allow for clear tracking of employee performance.
  • Exhibit role model behavior when it comes to performance. Set goals for your own performance and share them as much as possible with employees. This demonstrates you are not simply managing in a “top-down” fashion; you expect as much from your own work as from your workforce.

Creating the Right Work Environment

Employee engagement isn’t controlled by an on-off switch. Instead, you’ll find that most people will thrive in certain environments, and will flounder or become frustrated in others. While much of this fit is personal, there is a lot you can do as a leader to build and encourage the right kind of environment for your team.
Note, as I said before, that there are always going to be factors that are outside of your control. You may have two or more employees who have a personality conflict that you wouldn’t have been able to predict. Or, one of your staff members might have a situation in their personal lives that causes them to be distracted.
Because there’s so many moving parts involved at any given time, the point of this isn’t to have you thinking you can necessarily direct or account for every variable that’s going to come up. Instead, it’s to make you mindful of what’s going on around you so you can both get the pulse of your team and encourage top-level performance from them.
In other words, you have to set the tone for everyone else. Let’s look at how you do that…
#1 – Make Work More Enjoyable (While Still Being Work)
Does hard work have to feel like hard work? That’s a pretty philosophical question, and one that would probably garner lots of different answers from various business owners, executives, and managers. Some of us feel like hard work should be gritty and determined, while others insist that we are more creative and driven when we’re in a carefree state.
I tend to side more with the second group, and the feeling that work should be fun, within reason. In some jobs and situations, there just aren’t going to be a lot of laughs to go around. And certainly, some leaders are more comfortable than others with an environment where people are having a good time (remember, this is about you being the best leader you can be, not a clone of someone else).
But, when work feels joyless, you get lower engagement, higher turnover, and lots of other things that come from having grown men and women spending most of their time in a place they would rather not be. So, my advice would be to make work enjoyable, when you can, or at least try to foster an atmosphere of comfort.
#2 – Lead by Example
There is nothing in the world that inspires others like a good example. Actions always speak louder than words, and we instinctively gravitate towards leaders who won’t ask others to do what they wouldn’t do themselves. And conversely, we instinctively distrust those who don’t lead from the front by setting the right example.
As a leader, you have to exhibit and reflect the qualities you want from your group. Otherwise, you’re a figurehead – or worse, a hypocrite – who they feel is simply using them to get what you want. When that happens, you cease being a leader, regardless of whatever it might say on your door or your business card.
People follow leaders, but to become one you have to lead. And that means setting a consistent example your team can see and follow on a daily basis.
#3 – Encourage Teamwork and Cooperation
I’m a big believer that we are almost always stronger when we work together. Most of us are more energized and efficient when functioning within a team. This is even true in jobs or departments, like sales, that are based on individual performance. A strong group can encourage one another, share tips, and inspire more commitment.
There’s a big difference between a group that is working together for common goals, and a collection of individuals – no matter how talented – who refused to cooperate. Do everything you can to push your team in the right direction towards productive collaboration.
#4 – Give it to Them Straight
If you want to be effective in supervising and motivating others, you have to develop the habit of giving it to them straight. That’s not always easy, and some conversations are going to be tough. But, over the long run, it’s the only way to make yourself authentic and earn the confidence of those who are around you.
A side effect of being straightforward and genuine is that it will inspire others in your group to do the same, with you and each other. Better communication is always a good thing, because it means more efficiency and fewer nasty surprises.
#5 – Honesty Leads to Loyalty
Honesty and authenticity are also the cornerstones of loyalty, which is often thought to be nonexistent in the business world. While many of the employer’s I have worked with fret and complain about the fact that employees will supposedly jump ship with little or no warning, many of the same managers don’t stop to think about the role they play in the process. Because they aren’t honest with their staff, the team senses it and stops being transparent in return. When you are honest with your employees, and have good ongoing relationships with them, it benefits everyone.

What Handicap??

The following are some excerpts and highlights from an article posted to the internet on March 31, 2015, entitled “6 Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity”. This just hits the highlights!
If you’re a baseball fan-and even if you’re not-then you know that with spring comes Spring Training, wherein hope springs eternal. There have been quite a few pitchers who truly were and are inspirational people-you might say overcoming adversity is a prerequisite to succeeding in any sport.
When it comes to overcoming adversity, few compare to Jim Abbott.  In making the big leagues, Abbott truly was one of a kind-he is the only player to have played Major League Baseball with only one hand.

As a boy, he would throw a rubber ball against a wall, slip his throwing hand into his glove-which rested on the stump that ends his right hand-and then fielded the ball using his now-gloved left hand. But those rubber ball exercises gave Abbott great reflexes, and he went on to not just make his high school and later college baseball teams, where he not only pitched, but he also batted for himself-and even hit home runs one-handed. Wow!

He attended and pitched for the University of Michigan, where he won the Big Ten Player of the Year in 1988.  From there he made the US Men’s Baseball Team and won an unofficial Gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the following year he realized his dream and made it to the big leagues, signing with the then-California Angels.

But his crowning moment of glory was still to come.  After pitching solidly for the Angels, Jim Abbott moved on to the biggest names in baseball-and sworn enemies of every Mets fan out there-the New York Yankees.
The original Yankee Stadium was called “the House that Ruth Built,” and it saw more than two dozen World Series winners, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, the 1950s Yankees of Mantle, Berra, Ford and Casey, the 1970s variety with Reggie Jackson-suffice it to say it saw some of the biggest names and moments in baseball history.
Even amongst such hallowed baseball history, Jim Abbott not only showed himself to be an All-Star when it came to overcoming adversity, he earned baseball immortality and joined those other Yankee greats in 1993 by pitching a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium.  He also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he got his first MLB hit-an RBI.
No one overcame more physical adversity to make it to the major leagues than Jim Abbott. After that incredible no-hitter and a career that spanned more than a decade, he’s still working to inspire people, having appeared on Boy Meets World and making his living today as a motivational speaker. He certainly qualifies for that role!
Remember-with baseball, hope springs eternal.  Here’s hoping that there are a number of players who make a great comeback this year…and that they and everyone else who plays the game may do so with the same degree of determination and character as Jim Abbott.

Welcome Inspiration from an Unexpected Source

Iowa High School Wrestler Forfeits to Honor Opponent Who Died
by Bob James
Just days before Christmas, an Iowa high school wrestler collapsed during a match and died hours later. During the school’s first home dual meet since his passing, an opposing wrestler forfeited his match and drew the adoration of everyone in the gym in the process.
Austin Roberts of Spencer was 14-0 during his senior season when he collapsed during the championship match of the Spencer Tiger Invitational on December 19. He died within hours at Spencer Hospital. Amed Castro-Chavez of Estherville-Lincoln Central High School was on the mat next to Roberts that day. He had lost to Roberts earlier in the season and when the team returned to Spencer last Thursday, there was no one to wrestle Castro-Chavez in the 220-pound weight class. Instead of taking six points for his team due to the forfeit, Amed did something no one was expecting.
Castro-Chavez, with his team trailing 22-3, forfeited. He left his warm-ups on and went to the front row of the bleachers where Austin Roberts’ mom, Lori Roberts (in boots in front row above), and grandfather were seated. Amed told the Sioux City Journal, “I wanted to show Austin’s family respect because they are grieving. I told Austin’s mom that I wished I could wrestle Austin again because he was such a good wrestler.”
The entire crowd at Spencer Field House stood and cheered. Nate Shaughnessy, a columnist for the Spencer Daily Reporter, told the Sioux City Journal, “It’s not often hairs stand on the back of your neck at a high school sporting event… There are touchdowns and dunks and goals, but I’ve never felt anything quite like those few minutes in the Field House.”
When Roberts’ grandpa, Dennis Roberts, shook hands with Castro-Chavez, he simply said, “Thank you.” Castro-Chavez told him, “It was an honor to wrestle Austin.” All the while, the awestruck crowd looked on.
Amed Castro-Chavez, a high school wrestler from Iowa, reminds us again life is about so much more than points and victories. Wins and losses are forgotten, but the compassion he showed will never be.