Friday, June 30, 2006

More Truths About Employee Turnover

F. Leigh Branham wrote a short and to the point article, published in the American Management Association newsletter, that covers the subject well on one piece of paper which, of course, is extremely refreshing. The article covers six truths about employee turnover.

Truth No. 5 spoke to core of the situation, but not the core of the problem.

Truth No. 5: Managers Hold Most of the Keys to Keeping the Right TalentOne recent study showed that 50 percent of the typical employee’s job satisfaction is determined by the quality of his/her relationship with the manager. Many companies are floundering today in their attempts to improve employee retention because they have placed the responsibility for it in the hands of human resources instead of the managers. Many companies have begun to measure managers’ turnover rates and vary the size of their annual bonuses accordingly.

It just makes sense that the quality of the day-to-day interaction between managers and employees is important to both parties.

But the problem is that it is a culture problem. Companies that allow poor management are most often culturally corrupt. They say they stand for wonderful things. Perfect in all ways, but allowing bad management means you are also allowing favoritism, nepotism, egotism, celebrity and good ol' boy networks.

Turnover? Make It An Extraordinary Experience

This article tells a story about a restaurant owner with BIG problems that could be solved by doing one thing.

Attract, or develop, an entire team of frontline personnel focused on customer service excellence.

Create, energize, and retain an entire team of front-line employees that make such a satisfying impression on customers that they are inspired to remember the experience, return frequently for more, and make a point to enthusiastically recommend the experience to others.

If you don't know how to do that, find someone who can teach you how to do it. A book about creating a great team is yet to be written.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

US Army Basic Training: A Learning Experience

Well, as I have told many people, one of the things I want to talk about is those opportunities to improve ourselves through "learning experiences" that change our lives.

This is how I learned about the value of learning. And realized that becoming the best of the best was nothing more than having the desire and energy to learn how to become the best of the best.

By the time I entered the work force, I knew I wanted to manage and lead people. It had cost me time and money to learn, but I was ready at age twenty-eight. Because I was terrified to speak to groups, after six years in college I still hadn't completed Speech 101. Seven times i had dropped out of the class. So I volunteered for the draft and after a week in Basic Training I knew I was going to learn how to be a leader. Despite my begging to, as I had done all my life, just blend in, the Drill Sargeant made me the Platoon Guide (Platoon: 48 soldiers). I was the oldest, biggest, and, while he didn't tell me, he knew it was time for me to grow up.

A week later, the day I grew up, I was calling out commands, marching all over the place, and listening to every word that came out of Sargeant McClellan's mouth. He told me he was going to tell me how to become a leader and he did. After years of playing sports, including four years of college football (Pacific Lutheran University), I finally had a mentor that who interested in helping me determine what I was going to do with my life.

Actually he was the first person I truly, truly listened to when they tried to help me. My parents were educators so I got a lot of advice. But, of course, I knew it all. I had been the Principals kid in a small logging and farming town, so I had to resist learning or get my butt kicked every time (seemed like everytime) my Dad disciplined someone.

Sargeant McClellan was about a foot shorter than I am, but it took me a month and a half before I realized he wasn't towering over me. He drilled into me that it's "all about being the best of the best and the only way to become the best is learn how to do it. Every day, one by one, keep learning. I'm in the Army helping idiots like me because I flunked out of high school, but until I am the best Drill Sargeant I am going to bust my butt to learn how to become one. And you, Mr. Sovde, are going to learn how to be the best Platoon Guide (of 5 platoons). We are going to be the top platoon and we can't do it without you being the best."

We were number one, he was number one, and the learning experience was number one.

After two years in the Army, I went back to Pacific Lutheran for a year to complete the speech course (it was painful-learning how to speak came later) and raise my GPA so I could get into Law School. I took a heavy load and made the Deans List with a 4.0 GPA.

My teachers, parents, and friends were somewhat surprised, to say the very least. If they had met my Drill instructor, my first mentor, they would have expected nothing less.

He was an awesome individual. I am so fortunate I met him.

He's right. The best of the best is what it's all about. Doing it right is what that's all about.

Team Excellence: Leadership and Selflessness

Interesting article in this weeks Knowledge at Wharton on-line newsletter. While many of the article aren't about team leadership, I recommend the weekly newsletter to anyone who enjoys reading about business excellence. I am especially fond of the school after it published my favorite book on leadership and management.

The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit By Giving Workers What They Want is a must-read (own) for anyone who wants to create a great employment experience for themselves and their employees.

Having reached the summit of Mt. Everest five times, Breashears knows what he wants in a team. Surprisingly, he's not necessarily looking for the best climbers. "I look for talented people who believe in their craft, not those who are looking for praise," he said. "The most important quality is selflessness. I knew that no matter what, no one would leave me behind," he joked.

Sharing a common goal and vision is critical, and no one's ego can take precedence. "People who say 'me first' can be dangerous on Everest." Indeed, in Breashears' experience, the teams that operate best have a higher objective than themselves. Humility makes a great leader. "The kind of leader I want wakes up and asks, 'What did I do wrong yesterday, and how can I fix it today?' Your team doesn't need to like you, but they have to trust and respect you," he said. "A leader who puts his interests first is a highly demoralizing force."

Breashear makes a number of accurate statements about teams, leadership, and character, but few businesses have the ability to create teams that "have a higher objective than themselves."

Sales, Service, Sports: Ya Gotta Believe

I love the Seattle Mariners.

They are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball because of team leadership (much to my surprise), believing in themselves, and team chemistry (character).

This excerpt, from today's Tacoma News Tribune, is from one of thousands of articles written every year about how professional sports teams succeed.

Whats gotten into the 40-39 Mariners?

Just about everything.

The chemistry is very good on this team, Hernandez said. We are all in this together the pitching, the defense, the offense. We are together, and if one guy doesn't get it done, the next guy picks him up.

We believe in ourselves, we pick each other up and that the history of this month. That why we're winning.

The same is true for frontline sales and customer service teams, yet the majority of them are still going through the motions. The concept of an entire team of top achievers-that a team must have in professional sports-gets lost in the various forms of the 80/20 Rule that justifies the lack of teams comprised of achievers. Justifies failure to create a unified team focused on being among the best of the best. if not the best!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Employee Surveys Hide Real Problem

I love reading these articles that point out an employee survey has faults, but it is important to the success of a company...or is it?

If you have to spend money on a survey to determine employee satisfaction, you need a new way to interact with your personnel. This article praises Gallup for their acclaimed 12 Question Survey, but it then goes on to discuss a consultants view point of surveys. She has her own 100 question survey, but what exactly does it tell a company?

They both seem to take the long (expensive) road to understanding the degree that management has failed to know what their staff thinks about them despite the fact that they see them every day, day after day, one by one, month after month.

I wonder what surveys Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Costco have needed to spend (waste) money on in order to determine what their employees think about things.

Know, Grow... Learn, Earn...

As novice without a clue on a number of things about how to get a biz going, I have been reading two great books that I desperately needed to read if I am ever to get this under-funded (as in no-budget startup, not low-budget startup) dream off the ground. Thank you Seattle Library system for consistently bringing recently released business books to your shelves.

The awareness of "the condition my condition is in" has led to many changes thanks to
CrazyBusy Overstretched, overbooked, and about to snap! written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. The book was exactly what needed to re-focus my efforts to organize, organize, and organize. As I read the Amazon reviews, pro and con, I agree with most of them. As with most books, the information and advice is not always new news, but I felt the author was speaking directly to Big Dave and his ability to put things off until...whenever. I loved this book.

The other book written by Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Esasiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling is full of excellent advice and interesting exercises.

On page 22, I was almost done with the book as it challenged me to give serious contemplation to the marketability for my management training service, this blog, and my future success in general with this exercise: Step 2: Identify the Urgent Needs and Compelling Desires of Your Target Market

My market, sales and customer service leaders and organizations, has few with urgent needs and compelling desires that translate to understandingng how a top quality "people management system" will solve all problems and generate optimum revenue levels.

The urgent need seems to be avoid change no matter what the situation.

The compelling desire isn't considered because of that same fear of change.

I am looking for the few with a compelling desire to be the best of the best and an urgent need to do it now!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Container Store: Smiles = Reputation

My copy of this weeks Newsweek had the interesting piece, Everyday Brilliance, about a company focused on doing it right. The Container Store has it nailed. Great merchandising, enthusiastic employees, and low turnover.

I love reading about "an employee-training program so intensive, the salespeople in effect, become the packaging." To many customers, frontline personnel are the business. Smiling personnel inspire customers to remember, return, and recommend.

THE CONTAINER STORE: On my latest shopping trip to the Container Store, the manager tried to recruit me. "Our best customers make our best employees," he smiled, slipping me a
card with the motto HIRING NEAT PEOPLE! Now wouldn't that be a bit of heaven, I mused, spending days in this clean, well-lighted place, dispensing hope in the form of robust plastic storage crates, linen-wrapped file boxes, sheer mesh baskets that glide into sturdy racks with the whispered promise: I will help you fight back the inevitable chaos of your life.
I could get into that, I thought, falling hard for the philosophy of the company's 37 stores devoted to storage and organization. Founder and CEO Kip Tindell calls it an "Air of Excitement: Three steps in the door and you can tell whether or not a retail company has it." Well, yes. Three steps in his doors and something inevitably hits you: unlike those overmerchandised mega-stores that come across so adorably on TV, people are smiling here.

If there's a design formula at the Container Store, it is to connect the customer directly with the merchandise. So they ripped the packaging off the products—revealing their essence—and created a prettier image of control and order. "But these products do not sell themselves," says Tindell. "They are too multifunctional." So he designed, too, an employee-training program so intensive, the salespeople, in effect, become the packaging: enthusiastic, informed and deeply familiar with the product line (their 40 percent discount encourages such familiarity—that offer's looking even better).
Tindell is the guru-in-chief, fond of motivational training concepts like "The power of the wake," by which he means being mindful of the effect you have on others. All full-time employees get immersion training, "240 hours, compared to the in-dustry average of eight," he adds proudly. He's rewarded with loyalty and low turnover. "This is solutions-based retail," he explains. "We have to transcend value by adding emotional response."
Sharon Tindell, who began with her husband in 1978 when they opened their first store in Dallas, and whose design sensibility touches every product, says it best: "We call it getting the customer to dance."
—Dorothy Kalins

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's Common Sense

If all of the most popular business books have been saying this ongoing theme for decades now, maybe they are right and it works. All the technology and systems will not be as important as a good front line of employees.

Common sense is still the greatest innovator.

Well said
Hal Becker

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Zealand Herald

How to build good teams
Wednesday May 17, 2006By Philippa Stevenson

Winner-take-all reality TV series suggest teams and teamwork are inevitably a dysfunctional mix of high-maintenance drama queens and kings, borderline personality disorder types, graspers, and backstabbers.
It's enough to make you swear allegiance to the adage that the best committee is a committee of one.
Fortunately, for an increasingly complex world, the group dynamics featured on TV shows such as The Apprentice and Survivor are about ratings not function.

Great article. One of the best I have ever read. Professor Wertheim had me interested the moment I realized that, after his accurate views of The Apprentice and Survivor, that was his last reference to either show. He got right down to talking about how being on a great team brings out the best in people.

He has the value of a team leader nailed.

* You cannot overestimate a manager's influence on team performance. As one executive who oversees a successful performance management system says, 'Over time, a team becomes a reflection of the manager'. Managers with a weak performance orientation produce teams with lacklustre performance. Managers who care little for their team member's engender conflict between employees and the organisation.
* Companies must invest the time and resources necessary to get the right person in the manager's position. Having no manager at all is a better choice than saddling a team with a bad manager.
"For better or worse, teams and organisations will succeed or fail based on the quality of their managers. Lousy managers drain productivity and morale. Great managers drive maximum performance. The principle is simple and straightforward. The hard work is finding and developing great managers to lead your teams."

There is nothing of value I can add to this other than "
Here, Here! Well-said" (written)

Team Leadership is the difference between ordinary staffs and extraordinary teams.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Whole Foods on 60 Minutes

John Mackey sold me. He has built a huge company by accepting nothing less than the best.

I love this article. Whole Foods is an awesome model for employee empowerment. As he said, "And I realized, why don't we let them decide for themselves... " Why not get everyone's opinions on everything. The frontline staff votes on who stays on the team and who doesn't fit the standards of "engaging, fun, and interactive with the customer." Everything he said during the interview was about striving to do the right thing for customers, employees, and the company.

You can feel the energy and excitement when you walk into a Whole Foods store. As a low to no budget team leadership trainer, I don't shop there myself (as in not yet), but it is where i take people to show them what OneByOne Team Achievement will no for their sales environment.

Customers judge, consciously and unconsciously everything the see, hear, smell, and "feel." A memorable experience in a Whole Foods-people and products-leads to customers inspired to remember, return, and recommend.

Camaraderie, Team Chemistry, Esprit d' Corps

Sunday afternoon thoughts.

A team, or an organization, that wants to become the best of the best has to learn how to create extraordinary levels of teamwork (camaraderie, team chemistry, esprit d' corps), get everyone working together for a challenging common cause, and it has to be a great place to work.

That's why most businesses don't even try. Those leadership tasks are all difficult to do without a plan, a team-focused management system, and the ability to sell the vision. And, most importantly, the ability to do-it-right with fair, honest, and ethical practices.

It starts with a Servant Leadership mindset and team-focused leadership system.

How many high-test frontline team leaders want to do anything as painful that? Be humble? Work for them, serve them, help them? Inverted pyramid leadership? Huh?

How many are willing to get off the Me Bus and hop on a We Bus?

The current reality is that there haven't been many, but in most cases it takes a very few minutes to explain how they benefit. All managers-no matter how power hungry, the size of their ego, or whatever else may be wrong with them-understand the benefits of an entire team of happy achievers. When they learn how easy it can be, they are sinners reformed. They know they are blessed with different leadership awareness and a new passion for team achievement.

There I go selling my biz. Well, tonight is the night. I am going to tell my world-potential clients, friends, family-that I am finally open for business.

I am looking for a multi-location sales or customer service organization that will allow me to implement The Excitement Program in an underperforming store. One location, one remarable team achievement story and I'm off and running.

It's interesting that this
article on team building covers a lot of ground, but says very little about the value and benefits of focusing on creating and maintaining extraordinary team skills.

Why doesn't it?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's Everywhere, Everywhere You Look

I just received my daily google alert for front line employees. There were 15 articles written about the importance of inspiring, educating, and retaining frontline personnel. They are the reputation of the business. How they impress people, or depress them, is what can make or break a business. In the minds of the general public, they are who you are. When they are not at the top of their game, customers don't blame them, they blame their employer, their leader.

As well they should.

I love Google Alert. Why don't you do one right now for "front line employees" and see if you get a little excited about thinking about being in it to win it. This article was the one on top. I didn't read the rest of them because this article broke it down pretty well. That and I already know about the topics. But you may not, so why sign up and see for yourself at
Google Alert.

My alerts-engaged employees, employee engagement, esprit d'corps, esprit de corps, camaraderie, team chemistry, team culture, frontline employees, front line employees, frontline leadership, frontline management, front line leadership, front line management, team leadership, team management, team building, teambuilding-give evidence to the huge importance of engaged employees.

They also give evidence to few companies actually knowing how to engage their employees-a huge source of information, insight and intuition-in a daily focus on improving the team and the business.

Leadership is the always the difference...

Well now, the moment of truth has arrived. Once again I loaded up the wagons and took off without giving much thought to the blind horses. As a solo operation, until my partner can quit his day job, that happens a lot. C'est sera, sera.

I've been reading about what goes into creating and maintaining a business blog. I’ve spent the last two weeks with the insights and opinions of Naked Conversations, Blogwild, and Blogging. I enjoyed them all, but now I have to follow their advice or come up with a better way than they suggest.

This weekend I am finally going to market my business. I am going to expose myself to a huge market that needs my help, but I have no idea if they want help becoming the best of the best.

I am also going to send it to my friends, many of which I met through my employment experience, because I want them to know I am still talking about the same things.

It just makes sense. The hours spent at a sales or customer service location busting your butt all day long for a commission, or just to keep your job, are the same whether you are going through the same motions every day or every day is the excitement and energy of being a part of a frontline team that is truly special. An entire team of achievers who love working together.

Another long day or a day of learning, improving, and achieving.

So the “follow their advice or come up with a better way” question has me pondering why I have a blog. Number one it is honey to There is no number two, but I'd be thrilled if people choose one of the programs I have listed. (As of this moment, none of them know my business exists or that I recommend them.)

In sales and customer service, leadership is the difference. Leadership that attracts.

Fact: I have never advertised for personnel because my teams were also responsible for recruiting potential achievers (Qualifications: Like to have fun and have a friendly personality.)

So, here we go. I have no idea if anyone is actually reading all the headlines about the value of engaged employees. My business, OneByOne Team Achievement, is an employee engagement program. It is like nothing you could imagine. It is simple. Everyone gets it. It is in their best interests to go back to work and make something of themselves. Team Leaders, managers, and frontline personnel doing their part to help each other.

Step # 1 Entire Team of Engaged Achievers

Sales or customer service teams seldom have an entire team of quality achievers. They seldom have the 20% of a team that is responsible-according to the 80/20 Rule-for 80% of the productivity, performance, revenues...whatever. The only twenty-percent number is usually the number of frontline staff coming and going, week after week, month after month.

In other words, there are few sales or customer service teams that are even close to having an entire team of excited, energized, and enthused achievers. There are few frontline team leaders with a plan to create an entire team of achievers. Few with a system for leading and managing them.

They don't know how how to do it. Most companies don't show them how to do it because they don't know how either. Even businesses acclaimed for great service, often have less than 100% achievers. Nordstoms, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Costco are all highly focused on great service, but few stores have an entire team of achievers.

Most people don't think it can be done.

The achievement books I have listed are full of leadership tips, insights, and perspectives. Engagement, team skills, and a passion to be the best are some of the basic themes of the books. How to do is in everyone of those books. (A step-by-step approach is not there, but it will be in my book.)


People support, often with a passion, what they help create.
Ask your frontline staff what they think you need to do to create an entire team of achievers.

If it makes sense, do it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Mission: "The Best of the Best"

The goal is to be the very best. It's the goal of every business that actually becomes one of the best of the best. But few do because, as Jim Collins writes in
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Other's Don't, it takes leadership with more than a vision of becoming extraordinary. It takes "Best of the Best" motivation, a best of the best mindset, and methods that create great teams and organizations.

But most of all, it takes leaders passionate about success and winning. Leaders who will "burn the mills" if that's what is needed. When I read that in Good to Great, it gave the book credibility because that type of commitment is exactly what is sometimes required if you want to be the best.

"Do-It-Right" is the goal of every Level 5 Leader. Leaders who make decisions based on the "good of the team," the employees, and the organization. Leaders who are in it to win it, but want everyone else to win as well.

In a sales or customer service team, this type of leadership is rare. The reason is simply that they don't know how to become the best of the best. They have never seen it done or been taught how to do it. And even if they had, not everyone will rise to the occasion and go for it.

The experts on team achievement-professional baseball, football, basketball-know that to win it all in team sports requires motivation, mindsets, methods and a mission to accomplish the goal.
But it also requires something few leaders know how to do in sports or business. To be the best requires extraordinary team chemistry. In business and the military it's called esprit d'corps and it is the key ingredient to becoming a truly extraordinary team.

Anyone can do it, but it starts with a positive answer to "If you knew how to do it, would you want to create and lead a team focused on becoming the best of the best?"

I hope so. It's a lot more fun than just going through motions, day after day, one by one.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Finally, lets talk about team leadership...

June 1, 2006 Ten years of setbacks have been overcome. OneByOne Team Achievement is a reality and this blog is up and running thanks to all the advice I have been given in the past three weeks.

Thank you all.

You know I really appreciated your time, expertise, and caring about my problem. Caring about me. Thank you.

This blog is here to offer tips, tactics, and techniques for getting teams to buy into improving themselves and their co-workers (teammates) by engaging everyone in attracting or developing an entire team of top achievers who enjoy working together.

Early in my team leadership career, through the teachings of the J.C. Penney Company, I learned that when you give people what they want, they will give you what you want. For employees it is fairness, camaraderie, and personal and organizational achievement. For me it is a team focused on being a great team, being the best of the best.

The Enthusiastic Employee is so timely for me and my business because the book offers evidence, based on research results from over 2,500,000 employees, that explains why there is only one way-participatory leadership and management-to get top performance from all employees. One way to get everyone on the team to focused on doing what they can to help create, excite, energize, and retain an entire team of top achievers. Everyday, day after day, one by one.

Leadership skills that few sales or customer service teams ever realize.

Few frontline sales or customer service leaders have a passion to be the very best. How could they when they don't know how to become the best? Yet with new awareness and insights anyone can create and lead an extraordinary team.

I'm not a great writer. I know little about how to publish a blog daily. I do know, however, no one seems to be helping the most important person on a sales or customer service team.

And I know how to get every team member on the "Best of the Best" page.