I recently watched a high school state track and field championship. At the beginning of the evening, the excitement among the athletes was palpable. Each athlete and team had such determination and grit — but, of course, not all of them were going to win their races or the meet.

At the end of the evening, I watched as one coach brought his female and male athletes together. Some had won their events, others had placed, and others did not. The young women and men did not win their overall championships, though they came in second and third, respectively.

It was clear they had wanted to do better. The coach rallied his team in the middle of the track, with their arms linked around one another, and talked about their journey through the season. He celebrated their accomplishments as individuals and as a team. After tears, hugs and laughter, the team walked away from this impressive display of coaching excited to train over the summer and head into the next season. (read more…)

Lisa was super-friendly and always eager to serve me. She was one of the main reasons I parked my car every week at the off-airport parking facility where she worked. Arriving at Acme Executive Parking, I would pull into the facility and Lisa would be the driver who always rode with me to the terminal. After I got out and retrieved my luggage, she would give me a ticket and then drive my slick-looking sports car back to the lot to park.

As a full-service parking facility, Acme could also wash my car, gas it up or change my oil while I was away. When I landed at the end of the week, I called the phone number on the ticket and someone (usually Lisa) would come to the terminal in my car to transport me back to the parking facility to settle my debt. Since I parked there 40 out of 52 weeks and frequently had other services done to my car, I was what you might call a premium customer. (read more…)

Engagement. Commitment. Morale. Satisfaction. Meaning. Happiness.

A lot of terms get kicked around in the human resources field and the so-called “employee engagement” industry to describe the worker attitudes they are trying to attain. Which of these terms is the right objective has lately become a debate.

“The idea of trying to make people happy at work is terrible,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton told Fast Company last fall. “Measuring workers’ satisfaction or happiness levels is just not enough to retain star performers and build a successful business,” he wrote on his company’s website. Businesses need their employees “engaged,” he argues.

Pick any two of the terms above, and it’s possible to find a consultant who is against one and in favor of the other, although the main debate has centered on “engagement” versus “happiness.” The arguments will continue fruitlessly until there is, first, better agreement on the meanings of the terms and, second, a better appreciation of the bargain employees make with their employers. (read more…)

The best executives with whom I have worked make a point of hitting the road.

Executives who get out of their offices and make treks to the front lines, as well as to customer locations, get firsthand impressions of what is happening, as well as what is not happening. And it’s not enough to show up.

You need to engage. Have real conversations about how the work is going, and especially listen to how people respond.

Ask questions. And, most important, listen to what you hear.

Hitting the road to discover what’s going on is time-consuming and wearying, but it is necessary for any executive who expects to lead with a clear head, and an even more clear vision of the future.

 

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

If you enjoy this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our newsletters on small business and entrepreneurialism.

Q. Should I let an underperforming employee go now, or wait until we find a replacement and why? They are not toxic, just time to move on.

yec_Manpreet Singh1. Give them the choice

Bad workers usually get warnings. Businesses are entitled to two weeks’ notice. And here, you have a decent worker who, while continuing to add value, has outlived his or her purpose there, to little fault of their own. So, the fair but not painless path is letting the employee choose between going or staying on to save money until either you replace them or they replace their income source. (read more…)