Back to Back Issues Page - Employees - are you essential or expendable?
March 19, 2009

March - Management for the Rest of Us

If you’re a job seeker or job keeper, it’s a tough time being an employee. What once passed for exceptional performance is now expected performance as more work is done by less people, both cheaper and faster than before. And still the gloomy clouds threaten on the horizon.

This month I’m focussing on employees – are you essential or expendable? Leading companies who link profit and growth to loyalty, satisfaction and value know that employees are essential. This month’s article on the “Service-Profit Chain” model emphasizes the circular relationship between employees, customers and shareholders. (Like we need Harvard Business school dudes to tell us happy employees = happy customers = happy share-holders :o)

What does it take to get recognised round here?

This month I’d like you to tell me if outstanding work is recognised and how it’s rewarded in this tiny 2 question survey. Let me know…

Getting my house in order

In my other life as Performance Manager for Uncommon Knowledge, I’ve been busy getting our tiny team in order. We’ve been through a major re-organisation, and my to-do list looks like this;

  • Update our 12 month business plan and learning plan
  • Update our performance dashboard with our key measures and financial controls
  • Write and agree individual goals for team
  • Support team with creating Personal Development Plans
  • Organise team building activities including,
    * off-site days – we’ve just been indoor wall-climbing
    * “community service” volunteering, (using company time or resources to support local community charities or activities) - the big-boss coaches a high school entrepreneurial business team
    * team health checks – we’ve just done a “Signature Strengths” questionnaire, and will be doing a “Stages of team development” and team climate survey soon.
    * Ad-hoc team “mum” activities such as buying fruit for team after major server malfunction, getting gift voucher for new employee who coped amazingly with tricky customers.
    * Ice-breaker weeks – each day for one week we took turns in leading a 10 minute ice-breaker game, great fun for all involved.
  • Keep track with monthly one to ones and performance dashboards, and quarterly business reviews.
  • Review our employee renumeration package...

I trust this snapshot shows how seriously we take our team’s health, wealth and happiness. Thankfully I’ve ticked off a fair few of these activities, phew, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed!

Work is stressing you out…

Thanks again for taking the time to fill in the “Is Work Stressing You Out?” survey. In short, work is stressing you out!

  • 35% of you find work related stress exceeds your capacity to cope with it more than once every 6 months
  • 33% of you are affected about once every 6 months and 22% once per year
  • 10% of you never have work related stress that exceeds your ability to cope.

44% of you work for companies who take work related stress seriously, 56% of you don’t. Here are some of your comments or examples;

  • “Flexible work schedule, employee appreciation picnic, employee wellness program.”
  • “A common assumption is that if you are not stressed out, you are probably not working hard enough...”
  • “My company gives a lot of lip service to stress management and offers both a gym membership and an employee assistance program for counseling, but their poor management practices overall are the cause of the stress (constant reorganizations, overburdening good workers, and not providing training to those who are foundering), and thus the value of their stress management practices becomes quite diminished..”
  • “giving a couple of days off to "rest up" without addressing the ongoing cause of the stress”
  • “Two good examples are having a separate space to sit, have a coffee, take a 2 min break as needed during the day. Having regular feedback on job performance.”

For those of you who can take longer than a 2 minute break, this article “Perform Better – Use Power Naps” spells out why regular short breaks keep us at our mental best.

Warm Regards
Lyndsay's Signature
Lyndsay Swinton

PS If you participate in the survey I’ll let you in on the results next month :o)

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1. The 9 Principles of Quality Customer Service
The quality of customer service is the key differentiator between good, bad and indifferent companies. Good quality customer service keeps customers coming back; bad customer service drives customers away, taking their friends, family and workmates with them.

2. Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work
The "Service Profit Chain" model developed by Harvard University emphasizes the circular relationship between employees, customers and shareholders. This model can successfully be applied to your business no matter the size, and this article explains how.

3. Using Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Test for Team Building
Are you afraid that using Dr Martin Seligman’s “authentic happiness” tests at work might get you laughed out of the board-room? Fear not! Let me explain how Seligman’s signature strengths questionnaire built self awareness and understanding in my tiny team.


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