Building Morale

Continuing with some thoughts on leadership, here’s some thoughts on building morale on your team.  This is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a leader.

  • People need to know that they actually make a difference, not just complete tasks.
  • People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you.
  • It’s pretty hard to build morale on your team if you don’t pay people well.  People can’t eat appreciation.
  • In addition to giving raises and bonuses, there are creative perks that you can give people.
  • One of the biggest morale builders is simply asking people their opinions.  People in your organization probably have great ideas for making improvements.  We need to ask for those ideas.  The people INSIDE the system, are often in the best place to evaluate it.
  • The more you value people, the more they will be committed to you.
  • Great ideas don’t always come from the top.
  • Just because someone doesn’t ask for recognition doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it.
  • Hand-written thank you notes are amazing, and so much better than emails.  I’ve gotten thank you notes for sending thank you notes.
  • Taking 5 minutes to say thanks doesn’t cost a leader a whole lot of time, but it really can make someone’s day.
  • Always take the high road.
  • Praise publicly and correct privately.  I get this backwards sometimes.
  • You MUST give people the freedom to ask questions, the freedom to provide feedback, and the training that they need.
  • People matter.

On Time Management

I’m writing down some thoughts on leadership…not because I am an expert, but because I’m trying to learn and get better.  Here’s some things I’ve learned or am trying to put into play about time management.

  • If I don’t manage my time, then someone else will manage it for me.
  • Put first things first.  I realize that I need to do my most important tasks of the week on Monday, and my most important tasks of the day in the morning.
  • Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the day to organize your day is helpful.  I try and decide each day what one or two tasks that I MUST get done.  I hate those days when I go home and my wife asks me “what did you do today?” and I don’t really have anything.  10 minutes at the start of the day keeps that from happening.
  • It’s not the number of hours I put in, but what I put into those hours.
  • Effective time management is valuing myself.
  • Can’t remember who said this, but I’m trying to learn and live it.  It’s quality of time at work and the quantity of time at home that matters.
  • Plan to blow some things off.  I can’t do it all, so it’s better if I just plan NOT to do something and be honest about it.  It’s impossible to overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.  (Read that again.)
  • If I’ve got two really important things to do, and only time to do one, let a co-worker or someone else break the tie.
  • Write stuff down.  There are lots of tools for this (Google, Remember the Milk, post-its, and my personal favorite…Evernote.

On Systems

I’m writing down some thoughts on leadership…things I’ve learned or more like things that I am learning.  Today, here’s some stuff on structure, processes and systems:

  • The better your organizational chart, the easier it is to change it.  When we went through a staff restructuring, the reason it didn’t kill us is because the system was already pretty good.
  • The structure and systems serve us; we don’t serve the system.
  • The goal of a system is to make things easier and more effective, not harder.  Good systems aren’t unnecessary hoops for people to jump through.
  • Don’t wait until a process breaks to change or fix it.  As soon as you see a slide, that’s the time to make the change.  For example, the best time to improve a purchase requisition system is when finances are good.
  • Sometimes, it’s the system rather than the person that’s to blame.  For example, employees that can’t help you because they always have to check with a manager.  That’s a broke system…one that forces someone into making the customer unhappy.
  • We should constantly evaluate systems to see how we can make them simpler, faster, and more cost effective.  Systems are rarely perfect.
  • The people who are a part of the process are often best suited to offer improvements.   Sometimes, we overlook people because they aren’t the top-level leaders.  But as a top-level leader, my decisions affect them the most.  So if I’m smart, I’ll let them improve the system.
  • Let people from different areas provide feedback…they may see things that you miss.
  • Don’t wait for hassles to appear…look for potential ones and address it.
  • ystems usually aren’t forever…they need to change with technology, time and people.

On Professionalism

I’ve been writing down some thoughts on leadership…mostly stuff that I am learning or understanding more and more.  Today, I want to write about professionalism, which is something that is not talked about all that often. Acting like a professional, with experience and wisdom, is a key to being taken seriously.

  • You might be a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, but that attire is not always appropriate, depending on the environment.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you should be who you are all the time…if you’re going to meet the President, you should put on a suit.
  • Make a serious effort to return every email you get within 24 hours.  If you have to formulate a response or do some work, just shoot a quick message back and close the communication loop.  When people go through the effort to send an email, the least you can do is respond quickly.  You are not more important than everyone else.
  • If you’ve got an office, do your people use a professional and courteous voice when they answer the phone?  If you act like I inconvenienced your day when I call or pull up to a drive thru, then I’m forming an opinion about your organization.
  • Professionalism involves excellence, and noticing the things that people often overlook.
  • Don’t have internal conversations in front of outsiders.  I’ve been guilty of this before, but it’s not professional to talk about some things out in the open.
  • Make sure your signs and printed pieces look good.  Don’t tape things on walls…take some time and make an effort to make things look professional.
  • Make sure letters and the stuff on your website sounds good.  If you’re not a natural writer, have a natural writer do some editing.
  • Get things designed professionally. “I know a guy” will kill you.