8 Tips To Help You Become A Successful Intrapreneur

Prob-Solution

Last week, I defined intrapreneurs as employees who think and act like entrepreneurs, but inside a company. We do our best to actively contribute to achieving the goals of the company. This week, I’m going to cover some ways to think more like an intrapreneur and how to be successful at it.

Ask questions
To clarify, you need to ask the right questions. What problem can you solve? How can you help your team? Your department? The company? Can you implement a new tool to make your deliverables better? Also, it’s important to ask what types of things your customers want or need.

Actively look for products, services, or processes you can improve.
There’s usually a way to improve a product or service. If you can make it cost less than what is currently being offered, then you can help the company increase revenue.

You can also come up with variations on current products or services that can be sold as innovative, new features and upgrades. The same is true about processes. Modifying and streamlining a process can also save a company money.

Look for ways to improve quality
Who doesn’t like to get great quality for their money? Improving quality without adding cost, or keeping costs low, can be a competitive advantage. You can always improve quality. Usually, it is just a matter of the actual cost of doing it.

Get uncomfortable and think outside the box
In fact, just imagine there is no box or limit to your ideas. Step out on the edge and find that crazy, edgy idea. Give them the unexpected. You can create something that’s useful as well as inspirational.

Just make sure you think your ideas all the way through. Write them down, create an action plan, and fine-tune the idea to make sure you have something that’s workable.

The best things in life are discovered when we step outside of our comfort zones.

Get feedback about ideas before presenting them
Find friends or coworkers who can help you discover flaws in your solution before it’s proposed. Many times they’ll ask the challenging questions management or even customers will ask. So, feedback is key.

With that said, it’s important to keep ideas away from potential “enemies” as long as you can. Great ideas that will make you shine more, will also make someone else shine less.

Present your idea through a strong plan
Make sure you have a plan to implement your idea, one that includes steps, costs, etc. A plan will also help you to track your progress. This is a crucial point to succeeding as an intrapreneur.

Get support from a key player, especially an upper level manager
Nothing will help your cause more than a manager who believes in you and is willing to support and sponsor your idea. It also helps if your idea will help that senior manager with something he or she needs.

Don’t get disheartened at rejection
Keep going. Modify your current idea or create a new one. One of the things that will stand out the most, especially to leadership, is your tenacity and the fact that you don’t give up.

So there you have it. Eight tips to guide you as an intrapreneur.

What other tips can you add to this list? What advice do you have that can help budding intrapreneurs?

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Are You An Intrapreneur?

AA_Man_in Group2

I’ve always been the type of person who feels the need to push the boundaries of innovation, especially when it comes to using technology to enhance whatever role I happen to be in at that particular time.

This is one reason I tend to get bored quickly with whatever position I’ve occupied a company, whether it was technical writing or instructional design. These are great fields in which to have a career, and they do allow for a degree of creativity, especially instructional design. However, that’s not enough for me.

I’ve come to realize that I have more of an intrapreneurial spirit.

What is an intrapreneur?
Investopedia.com defines it as “an inside entrepreneur, or an entrepreneur within a large firm, who uses entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities.” Entrepreneurs create and lead new businesses, intrapreneurs create and lead new innovations, products, services, etc. inside a company.

This is so me! I love being assigned to special tasks or projects and develop them as if I was an entrepreneur. This is one of the reasons I’m embracing my new role leading research and development in the ed-tech company for which I work.

So What Does This Mean?
I get to use the company’s resources and capabilities to research and develop tools, and technological advances, then help turn them into a profitable solutions for the company. How cool is that? I feel as though I was made for this role!

Many times being an intrapreneur will provide you with greater job satisfaction. Think about it, you’re not only able to maximize the use of your creativity, but it generally means taking on the role of a leader. This allows you to actually make a meaningful impact in the company as well as build your credibility as an industry expert.

Is This An Option For You?
Being an intrapreneur could be the best option for you if you’re the type of person who continually feels the need to do something different. It’s a role that lets you embrace your passion for whatever it is that you want to do. For me, that’s education technology. For you it could be library science or marketing.

I get to use my natural curiosity and communications skills to satisfy my urge to do something different and control my own career. Plus, I can do it without worrying about making a huge career change.

Companies Need Intrapreneurs
We take the initiative and use our entrepreneurial spirit to help build the company’s competitive solutions through innovation and our out-of-the-box thinking.

This makes us some of the company’s most valuable employees, which can only improve our job security and hopefully improve our earnings potential.

What about you?
Are you bored or unsatisfied in your current role, but still like the company you’re working for? Do you feel there’s an opportunity for you to be an Intrapreneur within your company?

I’d love to read what you think about intrapreneurship.

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4 Tips For Improving Your Personal Brand at Work

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com

Have you ever worked with people who just didn’t give a damn about their personal brand and how they’re perceived at work? I mean they really think it’s OK to do things like hangout on Facebook all day, surf the Internet, or work on their personal pet projects. I once worked with a guy who did things just like this.

He would show up late to work, take naps in conference rooms, surf the Internet all day, making a ton of Facebook posts during work hours, and even work on personal research projects, sometimes all day. He argued that he wasn’t given enough work or responsibility to keep him busy throughout he day. He refused to reflect a positive personal brand and just did his own thing. When he was eventually fired, he actually had the nerve to feel as though he’s been wronged. Do you hear that big CLANG sound? Yeah, that’s the sound of his brass cojones smashing together.

Branding isn’t just a term that applies to marketing, it applies to employees just as much as it applies to a company. In fact, one could argue that by maintaining high standards in our personal brand, we can help increase the overall brand reputation of the company. Just ask Jeff Bezos and Tony Hsieh, the CEOs of Amazon and Zappos respectively. Both of their brands were built on excellent customer service.

OK, so here are four things you can do to reflect a positive, personal brand at work:

  1. Take responsibility for your actions, and above all else hold yourself accountable for your day-to-day performance. You never know when someone is using you as the measuring stick for their behavior, work ethic, or performance.
  2. Be authentic. As workplaces evolve from communication silos into more transparent enterprises, it’s essential that you communicate the real you in a way that makes your brand shine. People will know when you’re being fake.
  3. Be careful who you associate yourself with. In many companies there are naysayers and “lifers” who’ve just given up and settled in their positions. They’re usually the pessimists who rarely have anything positive to say. Do you really want to be associated with that person? Or how about the people who constantly goof off and rush to complete tasks at the least minute? Associate yourself with positive influences and even become one yourself. As companies evolve from being silos, negative influencers will eventually be weeded out.
  4. Be in Intrapreneur, someone who constantly seeks new opportunities to help your team or the company as a whole. Write proposals for new processes, software that will help your job, or even new business. Just make sure that the things you propose will help the company save money or improve efficiency.

We reflect our personal brands from the moment we search for a job. Our resumes and LinkedIn profiles are visual representations of our personal brand, as are recommendations and personnel evaluations. Good or poor performance can not only affect our brand at the company we currently with, but when we apply for other jobs, or even freelance gigs. I mean who recommends a poor brand, especially if it’s something they’ve tried and it left a bad taste in their mouth? So, take the time to invest in your personal brand; be the example of what your fellow employees want to aspire to, and the type of employee companies want to have lead their brand.

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Benefits of a Workplace Community

 Workplace Community, Community Social

Let’s face it, the command and control structure for running companies is dead! It just doesn’t work in the social, transparent, always connected world in which we live. Workplace communities are slowly replacing the more traditional, stodgy corporate information delivery methods, mainly because they don’t focus on delivery so much as sharing.

Kick starting a workplace community in your company could enable a more free-flowing dialog across a range of diverse groups, leading to significant leaps in innovation as well as communication. A programmer or trainer may read a blog post by a marketing manager, leading to a new product idea or an innovative design. A sales rep could read a market research white paper posted by a product manager and come up with a new market for one of your solutions. Forget information silos and think information communities.

These ideas can turn into conversations that can lead to more ideas. Communities that use social-based tool sets can capture these ideas and push them forward through community collaboration.

“The Social Era is about connecting things, people, and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that produce returns for any company that serves their needs.” – Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra.

The Internet and social networks have changed the way we interact with each other. Modern workplaces consist of a new level of engagement and knowledge sharing that is transforming the way companies operate. The social web has grown into a medium through which individuals have become empowered by the collective knowledge of the organization. We are connecting in ways we have never done before, and it all starts with workplace communities.

Workplace Communities

Workplace Communities help solve these key workplace-related challenges:

  • Employee development, performance, and growth
  • Productivity and efficiency
  • Innovation

Employee Development, Performance, and Growth

Less-skilled workers can connect with their more experienced colleagues through social networking features like the “Ask a Question” feature in LinkedIn. Having accesses to the expertise or skillset of coworkers and colleagues enables employees to actively participate in conversations about the content they are researching, enhancing its value and eventually allowing them to become content producers themselves.

The social aspect of sharing content not only opens up more social networking and mentoring opportunities, it provides opportunities for the employees to contribute. This can improve productivity and it can also ensure that learning and knowledge become a regular part of day-to-day operations.

Productivity and Efficiency

Workplace Communities strengthen existing relationships and enable exposure to second and third tier connections like we see in tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. These types of connections can greatly enhance the flow of information between groups with different interests. They help foster innovation via fresh perspectives, new ideas, and increased diversity.

“When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary ideas.” – Frans Johansson, The Medici Effect: What You Can Learn From Elephants and Epidemics.

Developing teams that are cross-cultural, cross-functional, and cross-generational is key to creating diversity in workplace communities. In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki states “greater diversity in decision-making leads to more accurate answers when pursuing solutions to complex or poorly-defined challenges.” Workplace communities provide a solid foundation on which to build a diverse knowledge base within the company.

Innovation

Innovation is one of the key areas where we can differentiate ourselves from our competition. Just as companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft drive the technology industry through innovation; workplace communities can increase the quality and amount of innovation within a company. They help to solve work-related challenges, using a variety of workplace solutions.

“Innovation comes from ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.” – Steve Jobs

Social Solutions

Social solutions enable employees to connect with each other and with the information they need.

  • Wikis – Employees can share their expertise provide a repository of knowledge that can improve performance and help new hires to hit the ground running.
  • Blogs – Employees can follow the blogs of internal experts and leaders, helping them to feel more involved to the overall vision of the company.
  • Discussion forums – Employees can share multiple perspectives on specific topics, and connect through our ideas and personal relationships.
  • Shared file repository – Like wikis, shared repositories are a way to help new hires access the knowledge and experience in order to hit the ground running while being more productive.
  • Video and Audio sharing – As with wikis, blogs, and shared files, video and audio repositories can be a way to help new hires hit the ground running while being more productive. They are also more aligned with how we (as a society) currently consume online media and information.
  • Learning modules – Learning has quickly become a natural part of our web experience through things like online college classes, watching professional webinars, or online research.
  • Social networking – Employees can connect socially and professionally all while providing a safety net for new hires, and mentoring opportunities for more experienced employees.
  • Social solutions provide a workplace community with a range of options that can lead to more opportunities for growth and development.

Workplace communities allow employees across the company to share their knowledge as well as key information. They enable an open dialog across across the company that cannot only increase innovation but also help boost the bottom line.

What do you think? Are workplace communities necessary in today’s organizations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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The Effectiveness of Quiet Leadership

quiet-leadership

Lao Tzu once said that “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

I firmly believe that effective leaders shouldn’t focus on themselves, or how well they can tell their team members what to do. I believe it’s best to find ways to help your team to think more critically and constructively. As leaders, we need to help our team members to think in such a way that we are almost invisible.

Higher-Quality Thinking
Most of the time we are trying to help our teams solve problems. The best way to do this is to change the way they think. I’ve touched on this before when I discussed performance and implementing cultural change in the workplace. In fact, one could say that changing the way people think is one of the greatest challenges to improving performance and getting people to solve problems. In order to do this, we have to inspire a higher-quality of thinking in our teams.

Higher-quality thinking improves the overall thinking of others around you as well as your team. It literally improves the way your team’s brains process information, and if you can do this, you don’t have to tell them what to do, they will know. Just look at how many organizations pay employees to think and analyze data and situations. Don’t tell your team members how to solve a task, ask them how they think they should solve it. Force them to think critically and possibly develop multiple solutions to a problem, then stand back and watch them solve it. Improving the way your team thinks can be one of the best and quickest ways in which they can improve their performance and benefit the organization as a whole.

Introverted vs. Extroverted Leadership
The more traditional approach to leadership has been to be bold and assertive, to be a dominant figure who provides commanding direction. However, in my experience, I’ve seen that this approach can stifle employees who are outspoken, independent, and who would otherwise take initiative. On the other hand, I’ve seen that quiet, more introverted leaders tend to be more successful with today’s workers by allowing them to step up and grow within an organization.

Psychology today states that as much as half of the population are introverts, in spite of the the popular view that charismatic extroverts are the ones who prevail in business. I think that this has a lot to do with misconceptions such as introverts are shy, anxious, and afraid of taking charge. However, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler Pd.D., author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength, states that introverts are merely more reserved and process information internally. They focus on deeper meanings and connections, and only share personal information with a select few people.

Bringing it All Together
Organizations are becoming increasingly filled with intelligent employees from a wide-range of backgrounds. Employees who bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to the teams on which they work. Add to this the fact that organizations continue to adopt a self-managing approach to their team structures, which in turn, encourages more independent workers.

Many employees today don’t accept passive roles in their organizations. They want to take action and be a part of the overall vision. They do not want to be repressed by a command and control system that forces them into a hive mentality. They work better with quiet, introverted leaders who know how to encourage high-quality, critical thinking skills; leaders that step out of their employees way and allow them to shine.

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Procrastination – lack of knowledge or lack of interest?

As my list of to-do’s continue to get longer and longer, both in my professional, personal and student lives, I often wonder how much of my perceived procrastination is because I don’t know how to do something or if I just have my priorities wrong?

There are definitely responsibilities in my life that are not interesting to accomplish, and more of those seem to get added to that list than the fun energizing ones.   I definitely tend to manage my time by due dates, although at times, even those need to be de-prioritized for a something more pressing.

Recently I was discussing with my manager an issue of a peer team being non-responsive to deadlines.  He told me that people don’t get things done because they don’t know how to do it or they don’t feel it important (de-prioritize).   I have been thinking about this a lot with my own internal de-prioritization.

I am a mom, wife, daughter, graduate student, e-commerce merchandiser for a large company, entrepreneur of a seasonal brick and mortar retail store, a person that wants to get into better shape and, although sometimes I forget, a human that still needs occasional downtime (a.k.a. sleep).

When managing yourself, a team of either direct reports or peers, or even managing up to a supervisor, keep in mind the reason why things may not be getting done.

Is it because someone doesn’t know what to do, or it isn’t a priority?

In both a personal and work environment, tasks that are less desirable, will take longer, or are more challenging are often put to the bottom of the list.  Balancing that with tasks that you truly are not sure how to tackle is key.

I am the type of person that needs all of the information to best make decisions, and often to even get started on a project.   In the ever changing nature of my job, that often leaves me stressed that I am late getting projects accomplished.   However, I look at other people in my workplace who constantly provide an overload of information and the minute by minute changes, where I wait it out for the final direction and give one set of directives.   Which is better?  Of course, I’m still figuring that out.

Often, I do notice that tasks or projects that I find myself skipping on my list are those that I am missing some point of knowledge that prevents me from either starting or completing.    When managing a team of people and you find that tasks are not getting accomplished, dig deeper, find out why.

Keep in mind that often, if you are the team leader, that others will not want to admit that they don’t know what to do.   Fostering an atmosphere of openness to ask the proverbial ‘stupid question’ and ability to admit when you also don’t know something, can work wonders in helping get to the underlying issue of why things aren’t getting done.

Another issue is that of prioritization or de-prioritization.  Does your team know what needs to be done first?  What tasks are most critical to the business?  What are the clear deadlines?   What are the one, two, three things that have to be accomplished today?   I know I need to start there and I’m sure my stress level regarding the rest of that long list will ease up.

If you’re feeling like me, ask yourself,

“What’s holding you back from that To-Do list?  Information or something more important?”

 I’d love to hear ideas you have for managing your responsibilities!

 

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Why Organizations Should Use Social Media

SM_Graphic

I’m an avid supporter of  organizations using social media. Organizations should use social media to create a place for open internal communication and knowledge sharing, as well as customer engagement.

First, let me just say that it’s important to link any social media effort with your organization’s overall business objectives; it’s crucial for leadership to plan out how social media will fit in with the overall vision and goals of the organization. As leaders, we have to push social efforts not only to positively change organizational behavior and how employees interact with each other, but also to change how they interact and collaborate with customers.

Social media allows organizations to:

  • Clearly state the company’s vision and provide more transparent leadership
  • Enable employees to feel as if they are a part of the the overall vision and organizational plan by creating a sense of empowerment
  • Create a more transparent environment of collaboration and innovation through knowledge sharing
  • Engage their employees and customers more effectively, whether it’s through promotions or customer support
  • Improve internal processes and decision making which often times relies on effective and clear communication

We live in a time of connected employees and consumerism, where the employee and consumer voices are more powerful than ever. They are expressing themselves through active communities in and outside of the office. This is why it’s crucial the organizational leadership take the time to engage employees and customers in order to build trust, and it should never be used as a way to simply broadcast a commanding and controlling message. Social media provides and excellent opportunity for leadership to bridge employee and customer expectations with their objectives.

It’s important that organizations adopt social media because it has become a natural part of our everyday lives, not to mention part of the ebb and flow of effective companies. Social media can positively motivate employees as well as promote dynamic forms of peer and customer connections through increased engagement. It isn’t just a trend or a passing fad, it has become a part of who we are.

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My Life in an Electronic Vacuum: Seeking Balance

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Have you heard anyone say this?  Finding a work/life balance is getting harder and harder, and the paradox for me is that the tools which are intended to convenience me, are the reason why I am losing my ability to carve out personal time for myself and my family.

Outside my back door is the raised vegetable garden I built by hand.  It is beautifully constructed, if I do say so myself, and this summer it has produced a dizzying array of produce. In these waning post-season days I can look out my second floor office window and see that there are cucumbers still on the vine, eggplant galore, and lettuce that is overgrown, and if I had the time I would go there to pick them, clean up the garden, ready it for winter.  Did I say that the garden is only steps from my back door?  Are you asking yourself why I haven’t tended the garden lately, or have you figured it out already?  Stuck in my office, I have many reasons why I do not visit my garden and enjoy its abundance, and all of them are electronic.

Are you tethered to your gadgets?

My day begins with several activities, in this order:  Turn on the computer, pour a cup of coffee, return to the computer and read my email – from all five email addresses.  I have two email addresses for the online school I attend, and from which I will soon have earned my M.B.A. in Internet Marketing; I have two personal email addresses, one that I have owned for 20 years and a newer one to which I am beginning to direct traffic – if for no reason other than every spam artist in the world has found the first; and finally, I have an email address for work.  Sometimes, between the time I go to bed and the time I begin reading the emails, 100 or more communiques have landed in their respective boxes. Once I am finished reading, deleting, or responding, I move on to the cell phone to check for text messages, and from there I check my two calendars, one for work and one for school, so I can begin to map out the day. At this point I am into the second or third cup of coffee.  I take a short break, maybe play a field or two on Angry Birds, and I begin the next phase of the morning. The rest of the day is spent at the computer, moving from program to program, to fulfill work and school commitments.

Online education is not easy, mostly because of the heavy reading and writing loads.  It is not unusual to be assigned a couple of hundred textbook pages to read each week plus case study research, and a heavy writing schedule to boot.  Then there is the blog project, for which this post is designed; it also takes time and thought. Research on the computer to verify the accuracy of information we share on the blog is necessary to maintain the integrity of the project.

My job carries its own burden of responsibility and thankfully I have a very understanding boss, who happens to teach online classes and therefore understands how tough it can be to manage one’s time effectively while maintaining good grades.  My job is with an online marketing firm which provides pro-bono services to non-profit groups in need of sustainable, capacity-building systems to manage their organizations.  I work in a virtual environment, with internet-connected teams of people, and often have direct contact with clients, too.  This means that we meet frequently online, in a virtual office environment, we share documents, and apart from these activities we are each responsible for blogging about social change initiatives, and we monitor and generate social media campaigns through the use of online digital dashboards.

Throughout the day I continue to monitor and respond to emails, intra-office messages, contribute to discussions on client projects, and answer telephone calls.

My day typically ends when my husband arrives from work around 9PM, and for the hour or so we spend catching up or watching a TV program, I am returning text messages and monitoring emails from my cell phone.  The last thing I do before turning in for the night, is check the computer one last time.

I joke about the day when I am finally free of school and working at a full time marketing job; I say it will feel like I am on vacation.  Secretly though, I fear that the time vacuum created by graduation will be filled with some other online, smartphone, blog, or tablet-based activity, and the cycle will continue, the electronic noose will grow tighter, and the concept I currently hold about what personal time is will no longer be a reality,  only a fond memory.

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3 Ways Evernote Enhances Productivity

evertnote_logo
Evernote is one of the most important productivity tools in my arsenal, which makes it an essential part of my everyday management and organizational process. Basically, Evernote is a tool for storing, organizing, and accessing content across all of your computers and mobile devices.

I use it to capture ideas and information as notes, audio clips, photos, PDFs, Microsoft Office documents, and web clippings that I place into notebooks and even stacks of notebooks. It offers a an efficient way to organize your projects, daily tasks, research, blog posts, you name it. OK, so how can Evernote enhance your productivity?

  • Keep track of your tasks, objectives, and overall goalsNo matter what you do for a living, you have to set goals as well as objectives to you help you achieve those goals. Evernote allows you to quickly map out your goals and objectives as well as the tasks you need to accomplish both. You can easily keep track of everyday tasks and to-do lists in order to keep track of what you’ve completed and which tasks still need attending to.
  • Quickly record ideas on the goIf you’re like me, some of your best ideas come when you’re in the car, out at the store, or pretty much anywhere that’s not in front of a computer. No matter where you are, you can use Evernote’s mobile app to record audio notes and take photos of objects or napkin notes so you don’t forget any of those great ideas. Your notes will automatically sync with your Evernote account and be available on any of your other devices.
  • Clip inspirational web pages and contentEvernote’s Web Clipper makes researching on the web a much more productive experience. The clipper is a plug-in for your browser. As you browse the web, you simply click the Evernote Web Clipper button to capture to the entire page or sections of it.
So there you go, a few ways Evernote can help enhance your productivity and make your life, work or personal, that much easier to manage.

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Is Money the Ultimate Motivator?

Over the years I have tried to find what motivates my team to do well in their jobs. I think I have found a recipe (I’m sure this is not THE recipe) but my recipe used in running my business for the past seven years. Hopefully by sharing a few of the ingredients you can freshen up your recipe for a successful team.

People want to feel valued. Give them a reason to show up every day. Tell them that no matter what small task they perform that it is essential to the overall business and without that, the business would not be successful. Help the entire team understand the goals and how everyone is needed to achieve those goals. Many times the behind the scenes employees are making ‘it’ happen for those in the limelight. Remind them that no one shines if there are burned out light bulbs and the entire business is left in the dark.

Ensure that every job has an element of fun. Now I am not saying that it is your responsibility to make sure employees are having fun at all times. However, there was something that motivated them to apply for the job, sell themselves to you in an interview and then accept the commitment to do that job. So many times, somewhere along this path, that enjoyment; fulfillment; sense of fun; is lost. Here are a few ideas to help keep or bring back the fun in your team.

  • Once a week, once a month, bring in breakfast to the team. Encourage a bit of informal water-cooler chat time to let everyone get to know each other and discuss things outside of work that means something to them. (kids, hobbies, trips, latest movies or television shows)
  • When someone has a big task that can be divided and conquered with a group, bring others in from their normal tasks to help out. Team members enjoy a change of pace and like being able to help out others. They become a part of something bigger. It can be a win-win for everyone involved.
  • Ask them what they enjoy most in their job. I know it is novel to actually ask someone, but it will tell you a lot just to ask “what part of your job did you enjoy most today, this week, etc.” It is amazing what you will find out. Use that information and try to have them do more of whatever that is for them. Again, another win-win, as long as their answer isn’t ‘going home’. But if it is, you know you need to dig deeper, that may not be the best person in the right job any longer.

Praise accomplishments, both big and small, along the way. Recognition is often left until the end of a project or sales season, when results are tallied and profits are gained. Although, don’t forget to give public praise for the steps along the way.

  • “Good job”
  • “Thanks for the extra effort to get that done”
  • “Great work in helping that customer have a wonderful experience”

These will go a long way to take a challenge or difficult customer situation and make it into one of the fun, fulfilling moments of the work day.

Loyalty is hard to find, sometimes you do need to pay for it. In an ever changing work environment, loyalty is not something that is at the top of most lists, neither the employer nor the employee. A great workplace culture will only take you so far, employees jump from job to job to make even a little bit more money. If you have found good people, you need to provide the financial incentives to keep them producing for you and not your competition. I have found that although I pay above market minimums, I cannot afford to pay the premium wages that some of my employees could command. So I make up for it by:

  • Creating sales incentives to help increase take home pay based on specific products sold
  • Paying for and providing food on busy days
  • Pay season-end bonuses (a practice that is not common for my industry)
  • Enable an aggressive employee discount on our products
  • Direct our donations to the schools and community groups that impact my employees

Here is a taste of my motivators. I know that these are nothing new, but I find in the day-to-day of everything we do, I need to remind myself to take care of those that, without them, the lights on my business would go out.

Share your thoughts:  What ingredients for success do you use to motivate your team?

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