Archive for the 'Motivation' Category

Why trust is a business best practice

Are you familiar with the term “dysfunctional family?”

The simple definition is, a family whose members don’t work and play well with each other. Such relationships typically create emotional, mental, sometimes even physical distress, and/or estrangement.

Sadly, we humans also create dysfunctional businesses. Perhaps this definition will sound familiar: A dysfunctional company is one whose teams don’t work and play well with each other. Such relationships typically create emotional, mental, sometimes even physical distress, and a casualty list.

Someone once said, “Friends we choose – family we’re stuck with.”  Since we get to choose where we work and who we hire, why are there dysfunctional businesses?

The answer is actually quite simple, and it’s the common denominator in both businesses and families: human beings. If your family, or company, is dysfunctional, it’s because of the behavior of the humans.

Humans aren’t inherently bad, but we are inherently self-absorbed. And one of the by-products of self-absorption is self-preservation. When self-preservation shields are up, mistrust flourishes, goals go unmet, and failure is likely. When shields are down, productivity, creativity, and organizational well-being are evident. But the latter only happens if the stakeholders believe there is a basis for trust.

If your organization is not accomplishing its goals and making progress, look around to see if there’s more self-preservation going on than teamwork. Where evidence of individual and departmental self-preservation is found, you’ll also find lots of dysfunction, but not much trust.

In his book, “Built On Trust,” my friend, Arky Ciancutti, goes so far as to say that trust is “…one of the most powerful forces on earth.” He further states that the two most powerful trust-building tools are closure and commitment.

Closure is implied when there is a promise to deliver by a stated time. It manifests when performance happens or, in the alternative, a progress report is delivered in advance of the date.

Commitment, Arky says, “is a condition of no conditions.” When the relationship between two parties is built on trust, there are no hidden agendas. And while commitment may not always deliver the end product, it does guarantee a report about the progress.

Even though closure and commitment are skills that often must be learned, you’ll find willing participants in your employees, because human beings desire trust.  If your organizational culture isn’t built on trust, it’s not the employees’ fault. Trust and dysfunction have one key thing in common: they’re gravity fed. They start at the top and roll downhill.

Humans perform better in organizations built on trust.  Knowing this, successful managers demonstrate trust-building behavior and instill it in others as not only the right thing to do, but as a business best practice.

Write this on a rock — If organizational dysfunction is a poison, trust is its antidote.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

Motivating employees is good business

Smart business owners know that there’s a direct link between motivating employees to be successful in their assignments and the success of that business. Want a good example of why you should be one of these smart managers?

Let’s imagine that your best employee has just resigned. How much will it cost – directly and indirectly – to find, hire, train and get that replacement up to the productivity level of your former employee? The answer is: maybe years. Scary, huh? Now ask yourself if you could be in jeopardy of losing good employees merely because you aren’t motivating them.

There are many ways to successfully motivate employees and all of them require managers to focus on the human beings with whom they work, and who desire to find their own success. Consider these six motivational elements.

1. Communication.

There’s nothing more fundamental to having loyal, productive and engaged employees than good communication. If you’re having problems keeping good employees, the low-hanging fruit for you may be to just start talking with – not to – your people.

2. Professionalism.

This is the aggregation of proper business, ethical and interpersonal behavior, and it’s critical to successful employee motivation.  Professionalism fosters pride and employee loyalty. Demonstrate your professionalism first and then help employees achieve and value their own professionalism. And don’t forget to recognize their progress.

3. Management style.

Check yours. Are you a leader or a driver? Managers who are drivers disregard others, consume people as a means to their end, and are identified by high employee turnover. Leaders value their people and encourage them to be successful. They can be identified by the double-digit numbers representing how many years their employees have been with them, and the multiple black digits to the left of the decimal on their bottom line.

4. Training.

Employee training pays operational and motivational dividends. It fosters knowledge, which fosters self-confidence, which fosters leadership, which fosters employee loyalty, which fosters customer loyalty, which fosters your bank account. How’s that for a training straight line to return-on-investment?

5. Recognition.

A robin noticed a turtle sitting on top of a fence post.  When the robin stopped to ask how he got there, the turtle replied, “Obviously, not by myself.”

When talking about what your company has done, be sure to manage your pronouns properly.  Whenever “I” can be replaced with “we,” do it. This tiny 2-letter pronoun is a powerful verbal high-five that resonates motivational energy throughout your organization.

6.  Fun.

Fun is very motivational. Make sure your organization finds ways to have fun at work. The people I know who are the most successful and the happiest are those who take their work seriously, but they don’t take themselves very seriously.

Write this on a rock….

Motivating employees to be successful in their assignments is not only good business, it’s also the right thing to do.


Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

Climbing the hill

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”

Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”

In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”

Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” When that truck was “in grandma” it wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.

Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

There are many hills in the life of a small business. Next time you’re faced with a hill that seems too steep to climb, tell yourself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.” Then “put it in grandma” and keep on climbing.

Replace worry & fear with business performance

In his book, Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon said his Osage Indian grandfather, William “Heat” Moon, taught him this about worry: “Some things don’t have to be remembered; they remember themselves.”

Owners are justified in worrying about their small businesses, but sometimes they waste emotional energy worrying about things over which they have little or no control, or aren’t likely to happen.

In the movie, Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy played Kit Ramsey, an action movie star also famous for being a pathological worrier. He leads a frightened and miserable life because he worries about strange things that would never happen.

Ramsey’s greatest worry was being captured, killed and eaten by space aliens. He also worried about being crushed by a gigantic foot, or that his body might burst into flames. Pretty silly, huh?!

Watching Murphy play this unstable character is hilarious. But it’s not funny or silly when you and I worry about things that, like Ramsey’s obsessions, probably will never happen.

·  Instead of aliens, how much do you stress out about your business being killed and eaten by the dreaded Internet competition?

Stop obsessing about online competitors. First, you should be an online competitor yourself. Second, without a fixed base, online-only competitors may have what customers need, but you have something more powerful: You know what customers want.

·  Instead of being stepped on by a giant foot, do you obsess about being squashed by one of the Big Boxes?

In The Age of the Customer, prospects often rule you in or out before they know how much you charge. You can establish a level of relevance with prospects and customers that no Big Box can, as they continue to focus first on being competitive.

·  Instead of bursting into flames, do you wake up in the night obsessing that your business might go up in smoke if customers abandon you?

In The Age of the Customer, you actually should obsess about customer expectations, otherwise they won’t really leave, you’ll just become irrelevant.

Instead of living a frightened and miserable life like Kit Ramsey, put that energy into performing so well that any competitor would be hard-pressed to take customers away. Build relationships with customers to the degree that when something they want pops into their heads, as Trogdon’s grandfather would say, your company remembers itself.

Write this on a rock -

Don’t live a frightened and miserable life. Replace worry with action and performance.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

RESULTS: What are your hiring plans for the year?

The Question:

Employment in the U.S. is still down. What are your hiring plans for this year?

16% - We will definitely be hiring this year.
5% - We’re probably going to be hiring this year.
61% - We only hire as business opportunity dictates.
18% - We will not be hiring this year.
Jim’s Comments:
There was a time when businesses hired in anticipation of opportunity, to make sure there was no delay in serving customers. But as you can see from our response this week, of the almost 80% who have no current plans to hire this year, three-fourths of them are waiting on opportunity to dictate their next step.

Employment growth has historically been one of the indicators of economic optimism. So when barely one-in-five of our respondents are making plans to hire, we have to be honest and admit that doesn’t bode well for the economy in 2015. However, as mentioned above, if good news could start taking over the headlines, those who plan to hire and those who would hire could turn the tide and result in over 80% of small businesses putting more new employees to work.

I’m working on more about this for an upcoming Feature Article, so stay tuned.  Thanks for participating.

Train yourself every day for the future

In the world of runners there are two kinds: sprinters and distance runners.  To be sure, sprinters must train long and hard to be successful.  But when it comes to the actual event, in 10 to 40 seconds it’s over.  Raw, explosive muscle power, pushing the body to the extreme, but not much mental taxation.
Like sprinters, distance runners have to train plenty; but their event often seems as much a test of mind, spirit and will, as it is a demonstration of conditioning, strength and endurance.
Small business owners are more like distance runners than sprinters.  Even if we have the fundamentals (strength) and the experience (conditioning), all of the stuff that we have to deal with, sometimes all alone, sorely tests our spiritual mettle (endurance).  Like a distance runner, a small business owner often moves forward more on sheer will than anything else.
In his inspirational book What’s The Rush, my friend Jim Ballard says, “When you feel overwhelmed and want to quit, pick out a landmark just ahead-a light pole, a house, a tree-and agree to run only that far.”

Jim is a runner, but his words are meant for every test of our strength and will. I use this mental drill when it looks like I am more likely to be prey than predator. I make an agreement with myself to just take things one day at a time - sometimes one hour at a time - and it helps me stay focused on the present stretch of the race.

However far ahead you place your light pole, focusing on that way-point instead of the finish line will help your mettle withstand the stress. You can’t cross the finish line halfway through the race. So if you can’t solve next week’s problems today, don’t let them trip you up today.

I have a little prayer that helps me get to my next light pole:  You and me, Lord, one day at a time.

On your mark. Get set. Go!




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