Getting caught up on my never-ending stack of periodicals on a cloudy Sunday morning, I read with delight and admiration about Salesforce.com’s creative approach to allowing pets at work — hardly surprising, it’s called Puppyforce.

But the cute name is not what differentiates it, and permitting pets at the office is not necessarily a new perk. What stands out to me is the strategically innovative way in which Salesforce went about designing their version of this employee benefit and the bona fide emphasis placed, in general, on building a highly engaged workforce.

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Puppies for Success

Fortune magazine’s Christopher Thaczyk describes how Puppyforce took shape via discussions on Chatter, the company’s enterprise social networking platform (think Yammer but tied to the Salesforce CRM). Incorporating feedback from employees concerned about allergies, hygiene and noise, Puppyforce ultimately took shape as a separate soundproof workspace with rubber floors and a reservation system. (read more…)

RadioShack is on the ropes. What can be done to save it? (read more…)

More than 50,000 books are published per year on leadership — how to be an effective leader, how to grow into being a leader if you’re not one, what qualities constitute a good leader. And it’s not just books — there are websites, magazines, blogs, training seminars, not to mention graduate degrees from major universities.

The market for leadership development seems unlimited. Why? Because nearly everyone sees him or herself as a leader, or at least a potential one. Leadership seems to be the holy grail for which all business people should be striving. But what if there is another side to this coin? What if leadership is not always where your focus should be?

Here’s the nugget: You can’t be a leader unless you have willing followers. So you must follow first. You must learn to be a good follower. You need to see life from the trenches, understand the mindset of those you may one day lead. (read more…)

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“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

The message didn’t really fit directly with the lesson that the professor was delivering. Perhaps that’s why I remember it most clearly from everything that he taught during that entire course.

In the late 1990s, I was taking a methodology class for teaching Social Studies at Roosevelt University in Schaumberg, Ill. The instructor did a wonderful job in helping his class understand the importance of making history come alive for students. We learned about engaging lessons with clear themes and plenty of opportunity for students’ creativity.

But where he really helped me as an educator was with a message that he shared following a conversation that he had with an executive at nearby Motorola. The topic of education had come up between the two men and the exec really laid into his professor friend. (read more…)

Chances are you’re over-thinking your millennial engagement strategy.

What’s really changed

I have this vivid memory of being the youngest and lowest-ranking person in a meeting about employee engagement. We had brought in the big guns to teach us about relating to Gen Xers. I listened to the talk about “this generation” with partial amusement, but mostly disbelief. Finally I spoke up. “OK, so I’m one of THESE people you’re so worried about engaging and including. I’d venture to say you’re worried about my loyalty and “flight risk” [I stayed another 20 years]. But the truth is, I can’t imagine that all the things you’re hearing we want aren’t universal. Don’t YOU want these things? Who doesn’t yearn to be challenged, included and heard?”

Yep, that’s the kind of audacious transparency you could expect from those crazy Gen Xers — no decorum.

Two decades later, I’m hanging around different tables across a variety of industries having almost exactly the same discussion, but this time about millennials. (read more…)