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Employee Engagement Course – Free

Years ago I started learning about and practicing the art of Employee Engagement. I believe that if you are a business owner or a leader of any kind, engaging your people is the most important thing you should be thinking about in your work. Here’s why. Engaged people stay! Engaged people attract other people like themselves! Engaged people are the ones who give their discretionary time, talent, and energy to making work better.

But, engaged people don’t just happen. You can’t hire someone for their engagement. Engaged people become engaged because someone engaged them. That someone is their leader. That someone is you. But how do you do that? That’s what I’m going to share with you over the next six weeks.

I put together a training program that I’ve called different things over the years. At one time I called it “Best.Boss.Ever. – How to be the Best Boss Your People Will Ever Have.” Lately, I’ve just called it Engager Dynamics. Each of six lessons covers two specific skills. One of those skills teaches you how to challenge your people to become and achieve more than they ever thought possible. The other one teaches you how to connect with your people on a level beyond just the employer/employee relationship. Those two abilities, to challenge and to connect, are what I’ve found to be the essential abilities of a leader who knows how to engage their people.

Each lesson also has a section called “Change your B.S.” That’s belief system, and one called “Change your Habits.” Those sections get at the heart of how to make the skills we discuss part of your Leadership DNA. The lessons are between 30 and 60 minutes long and are in video format. I’ll post one per week starting next Monday. Until then, here are four 5 – 7 minute videos to get you thinking about Employee Engagement and why it matters to you.

Three Myths about Employee Engagement
Three Mistakes People Make about Employee Engagement
Three FAQs about Employee Engagement
Three Keys to Employee Engagement

The Sign Says It All

I haven’t posted in awhile, but I had to comment on this experience. Suzi and I went to the Dairy Queen near the intersection of South Street and Normal Boulevard in Lincoln, NE where we live. It’s an old school walk-up DQ but they’ve enclosed the front where you order. We like this one for several reasons. It’s close to where we live, but it also has cute swings for customers to use while enjoying their treats, and the staff always seem friendly.

On this visit, I noticed their marquis which said, “We have the best employees!” On the door as I went in another sign said, “Employee Appreciation Month.” When I walked up to the counter I said with a big smile, “I appreciate the employees here. You guys are always friendly and you have the best buster bars in town.” There were no less than six young people working inside and they were all busy but every one of them heard me and looked up to smile or laugh.

When a young lady stepped to the register to take my order, I told her what we wanted and then asked, “So, is this a great place to work?”

“Yes it is!” She instantly replied.

“What makes it such a great place to work?” I asked.

One young man who was working at a machine nearby looked up and said, “She likes working with me!” Everyone laughed. That humor and banter told me something about the work culture of that Dairy Queen.

By this time all the staff was migrating to the front of the store as if they all wanted to answer my question. Again, that told me something. Not one of them said anything about the pay or even the hours. Another young man said, “I think the management does a good job.”

“Really?!” I responded, “What do you mean when you say they do a good job?”

His answer told the story. He said, “They get to know us and they care about us. They let us know that people are more important than money.”

Do you know what I didn’t see at that Dairy Queen that night? I didn’t see anyone slacking. Everyone was working. I didn’t see any frowns. Everyone was smiling and having a good time. And, I didn’t see a sign that said “Now Hiring.” Hmm, I wonder why.

It doesn’t matter what your widget is, every business is a people business. If you take care of the people, they will take care of the business.

That DQ is always busy and it’s no wonder. Customers love a place where the people who work there love being there. That happens only when “Management is doing a good job.”

How do your employees feel about working at your place? If you’d like to learn how to create that kind of work culture (even if you don’t sell ice cream), type the word “Happy” in the comments.

A Story of Two Journeys

Every Thursday for the last few months I’ve attended “Perk Up Thursdays.” It’s a networking group that is sponsored by the “Focus Suites,” a project of Southeast Community Colleges Entrepreneurship Center. It’s a great time and I’ve met some wonderful people. There is always a “spotlight speaker” at the event and last Thursday I got to be that person. Here’s a video of my presentation.

 

Best.Boss.Ever.

I know! A lot of people don’t like the word “boss.” They think it sounds … well … “bossy,” as in “bossing people around” and “you’re not the boss of me!” and “I’m the boss so you have to do what I say.” I didn’t use to like the word either until I discovered that it can be used as a term of endearment.

When I was the director of an international school in China, many of the local Chinese staff referred to me as “Laoban” (boss). When leading teams in certain parts of the US many of my Spanish-speaking teammates would call me “Jefe” (boss). Even some of my English-speaking teammates have straight-up called me “boss.” None of those was being used derogatorily, they were used with genuine affection. So, I came to accept the word “boss” and even began to appreciate it because of what my teammates were communicating when using it.

Over the last 15 years or so I have used a specific question when I interview people regardless of the organizational level for which they were a candidate. That question is,

“Could you tell me about your best boss?”

I learned a lot about a person from their answer to that question. I learned, for example, how they like to be managed. But, I also learned a lot about great leadership from those answers. There are some pretty good bosses out there. There are some bad ones, too (I also asked people to tell me about them). But the good ones have these two things in common.

  1. They found a way to CONNECT with their people-as people.
  2. They were able to CHALLENGE their people to become and achieve more than they thought possible.

If you lay those two qualities down on a grid with CONNECT as the horizontal axis and CHALLENGE as the vertical axis, that will give you a 4-quadrant matrix that describes what kind of boss you are. The best bosses are well into the upper right quadrant of that matrix which is called “The Engager.” They CONNECT and they CHALLENGE.

When Leaders are Engagers, they have those qualities people use to describe their best boss. Do you want to be the best boss your people have ever had? Reply “boss” in the comments to let me know you do.

Another Super Star

Two weeks ago I wrote about restaurant staff who work hard to provide a great dining experience in the midst of all different kinds of customers. Just the other day I saw a picture of a sign someone had put up that said, “The whole world is short-staffed, be kind to those who showed up.” Great point! I kept that in mind last night when Suzi and I and another couple (different couple from the ones I wrote about before) did a progressive dinner date. We went to one restaurant for dinner and another restaurant for dessert (no, we don’t live our whole lives in restaurants). At dessert, I actually thanked our server for showing up to work today. That restaurant was busy and the wait staff was a bit harried and they did their best.

Every once in a while you run into a superstar like Bailey who I wrote about two weeks ago. She’s the one who put “orange juice” on top of our sundaes. This story isn’t mine, but I love it and wanted to share it with you.

Another Super Star

Several years ago I read a good book by John G. Miller called  QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life,  At the beginning of Chapter One he tells this story.

It was a beautiful day when I stopped into Rock Bottom restaurant for a quick lunch. The place was jammed. I didn’t have much time, so I was happy to grab the one stool they had available at the bar. A few minutes after I sat down, a young man carrying a tray full of dirty dishes hurried by on his way to the kitchen.  Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed me, stopped, came back, and said, “Sir, have you been helped?”

“No, I haven’t,” I said. “And I’m in a bit of a hurry. But all I really want is  a salad and maybe a couple of rolls.”
“I can get you that, sir. What would you like to drink?”
“I’ll have a Diet Coke, please.”
Oh, I’m sorry, sir, we have Pepsi products. Would that be all right?”
“Ah, no thanks,” I said with a smile. “I’ll just have water with lemon, please.”
“Great, I’ll be back.” He disappeared.

Moments later he returned with the salad, the rolls, and the water. I thanked him, and he was quickly gone again, leaving me to enjoy my meal, a satisfied customer.

Suddenly, there was a blur of activity off to my left, the “wind of enthusiasm” blew behind me, and then, over my right shoulder,  stretched the “long arm of service” delivering a twenty-ounce bottle, frosty on the outside, cold on the inside, of–you guessed it–Diet Coke!

“Wow!” I said. “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” he said with a smile and hurried off again.

My first thought was Hire this man! Talk about going the extra mile! He was clearly not your average employee. And the more I thought about the outstanding thing he’d just done, the more I wanted to talk to him. So as soon as I could get his attention, I waved him over.

“Excuse me, I thought you didn’t sell Coke,” I said.
“That’s right, sir, we don’t.”
“Well, where did this come from?”
“The grocery store around the corner.” I was taken aback.
“Who paid for it?” I asked.
“I did, sir; just a dollar.”

By then I was thinking profound and professional thoughts like Cool! But what I said was, “Come on, you’ve been awfully busy. How did you have time to go get it?” Smiling and seemingly growing taller before my eyes, he said, “I didn’t, sir. I sent my manager!”

The Point(s) Of The Story

That server was clearly amazing. And the author goes on to make his great points about asking the right questions like, “What can I do in this situation to make a difference?” rather than what he calls “incorrect questions” like, “Why do I have to do everything around here,” and, “Who’s supposed to be covering this area, anyway?”

I would also like to give some recognition to the manager in that story. How many managers do you know who would respond to their employee by actually going to the grocery store and buying that coke? That person understood their role in supporting amazing performance. In my book, that makes them pretty amazing, too.

One final point. There is a lot of complaining going on in the world these days, much of it is justified. But, there is also amazing happening. Keep your eyes open for amazing, acknowledge it when you see it. Better yet, be amazing.

Course Launch!

After three years of blogging and over 30 years of leadership in various organizations, I’ve decided to offer some of what I’ve learned in an online course. You may have seen my Facebook video last week. If not, here’s a link to that.

 

I’ve learned a lot about leadership over the years. I’ve learned from mentors and from my experience with success and failure. It has been my privilege to serve clients in multiple industries including healthcare, airlines, sports and entertainment, food manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, education, and several non-profit organizations.

When I transitioned from full-time ministry to the business world almost 25 years ago, I wrote the following personal mission statement: “to build relationships within my sphere of influence through which I can help people discover and achieve their capacity for excellence.” That has been my purpose. Now I want to expand that sphere of influence by offering this online course.

I know that the skills contained in this course will help people lead better. Whether they are new in a leadership role or a CEO or business owner, these skills will make them better because they will help leaders connect with and engage their people. In fact, these skills are transferrable to all of life, not just business or non-profit leadership.

Here’s a link to my new web page. There you will find a link to the free webinar called “Engager Dynamics Bookends.” Take 40 minutes to view the webinar. It might just be the best time investment you make all month.