Archive for the 'loyalty' Category

How to Keep Your Headcount When Others Are Losing Theirs

A study by the Academy of Management Journal on the correlation between layoff and voluntary turnover found that layoffs will ultimately affect your ability to retain your best workers. They found that more than five times as many workers left voluntarily than were laid off during any round of workforce reduction.

You probably aren’t in a position to influence whether or not layoffs happen. So what do you do?

1) Treat people with utmost respect when conducting layoffs. Don’t treat them like criminals.  Those that remain are watching you. Your behavior sends a powerful message about how employees are valued.

2) Work to maintain morale. Those that remain have survivor guilt. They are overworked. They are fearful of losing their jobs. Those are some powerful demotivators. To counteract these focus on setting clear goals, communicate expectations,  celebrate small successes, and most importantly, keep your focus on your people.


Employee Recognition Resolutions for 2009

The New Year is traditionally a time for making positive changes. Many people resolve to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat less.

If you are a manager, why not make a workplace New Year resolution this year? There are things you can do that will improve employee attitudes, enhance service, product quality, and safety. Small changes can create big results.

I am offering the same seven resolutions that I offered last year because they are simple and will produce positive results.

1) I will resolve to spend at least 15 minutes each day simply listening to what my employees have to say. I will learn, among other things, what interests them, how they like to be recognized, and how they would improve their job.

Managers spend so much time ‘telling’ they can forget the value of listening. When I’ve asked employees to tell me what their managers do that makes them feel valued, listening is always high on the list.

2) I will resolve to connect the individual’s contribution to the organization’s objectives.

Many employees see no connection between the work that they do and the work of the organization. It is difficult for employees to feel motivated when they don’t understand the importance of their roles.

As the manager, you can connect the dots between what the employee does and what the organization does. Think about the organization’s mission, vision, and goals and how that translates to your department. Then distill that down to the individual employee. Communicate the connection at every opportunity.

3) I will resolve to offer five times more praise than corrective feedback.

Gallup research shows that 5:1 is the ideal ratio for increasing engagement. This can seem like a lot of praise, especially if you have a mediocre performer.

To provide the optimum blend, think in terms of acknowledging milestones, incremental progress, strengths, and valued behaviors. Show appreciation for additional effort, sense of humor, attitude, and a willingness to speak up about concerns.

You can even offer a positive word when giving corrective feedback. End the conversation by expressing confidence in their ability to change.

4) I will resolve to take one employee to lunch every week.

If you have a very small team, once a month may work. Try to get to everyone at least once in the first six months. During lunch, let your guest talk about whatever he or she wishes. Whatever you do, don’t make the lunch into a performance review!

5) I will resolve to put up a recognition white board and use it to note accomplishments.

Place a big white board and some dry erase pens in the cafeteria or another area where people congregate. Write notes of praise and appreciation to the team and to individuals. Encourage people to use the board for peer recognition as well. Erase items after about a week so that the notes are fresh and interesting. This will keep people coming back to read what has been written. (Idea courtesy of the BC Lottery, BC Canada).

6) I will resolve to identify a learning opportunity for every employee.

This doesn’t mean you have to send everyone to a costly seminar. Consider cross-training, new responsibilities, or even self-study. One of the top reasons people stay with a manager and stay engaged is because they feel challenged. Opportunities to learn is a prime motivator.

Find a way for each person to learn and grow that will improve their skills and level of engagement.

7) I will resolve to greet every employee I encounter, making eye contact and smiling, no matter how rushed I feel.

Does this sound too simple to be effective? Remember that employees want to be recognized and that at its most basic that means seeing and acknowledging the person. This takes virtually no time, but if you aren’t in the habit of doing it, it can make all the difference in the world.

Fast and Simple

Each of these seven resolutions takes no more than, on average, fifteen minutes per day. I know, I know that’s fifteen minutes that you  don’t have to spare. However, if you find the time, take the time, make the time, employees will make you glad that you did.

Choose one and try it on for six months. I promise you will see changes that result in improved attitudes and productivity.

Need reminders to make the habit stick? Sign up for free weekly recognition tips!

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2007

Starting Up a Service Awards Program – Employee Recognition

Q: We have recently started a Years of Service Program. Some employees are unhappy with the program because we are recognizing those who have been with the company for five and ten years. Those that reached five years service in previous years are not included. How do we start a program like this without upsetting long-time employees, some of which who have been with us since the beginning (fourteen years)?

A: The purpose of a service program is generally to demonstrate that long term service is valued. This means you need to initially recognize all long term service. regardless of the additional cost. If you don’t, you will cause ill will with the people you most need to honor.

To create a positive experience on startup you need to do four things:

1) Create a ‘from the start’ award that is very special. This will be an award that is never offered again. Give it to anyone who has been with the company since its inception.

2) For those that have been with the company more than 5 years, but not from the start, give them the appropriate 5 year increment award. For instance, for the person who has been there 8 years, the presentation would be of the 5 year award. In two years he or she would receive the 10 year award. During the presentation, management should acknowledge that the receipient has actually been there longer and that this is a retroactive award.

3) Put awards in place for lengthier service. I realize no one has reached the 15-, 20- or 25-year milestones yet, but they should be able to anticipate how they will be awarded.

4) Be sure that management gives the awards and prepares a meaningful presentation.

(for more on designing and implementing a program see this post)

All the best,


Pride as Employee Recognition

In Make Their Day  I talk about the recognition that is inherent in working for an organization that employees are proud of. It may be that the company produces a great product or performs a valuable service. It may be the organization is making a significant effort to become a “green” enterprise. It may be that the company is heavily involved in the community.

It is valuable recognition when people can say “I work for _____” with pride in their voices. Their affiliation provides recognition.

When the organization is a social service nonprofit, pride comes relatively easy. It is a little more difficult for a for-profit corporation. It requires an internal and external PR effort coupled with real work to create something employees can be proud of.

 Do you say “I work for _______” with pride? I would love to hear your story. Tell me about your organization. What do they do that creates this sense of pride? Lets provide some positive press for some terrific organizations!

A Scenario for Your Consideration

Can of Worms

Here is a scenario for you to think about and comment on:

The Employee Perspective. Veronica is a 23 year old registration clerk in a large university. She has worked there for five years and has always received top performance reviews. Veronica is organized, efficient, friendly and well-liked by her peers. She always goes out of her way to help others solve problems. She has had great ideas for improving the department. She knows that her manager likes her ideas because he has implemented several.

While she enjoys the work she does, particularly her interactions with the students, she dreams of moving into management.

The Manager’s Perspective. Omar has managed Veronica for the past four years. He has had frequent conversations with her about the quality of her work (excellent) and always recommends her for the maximum merit increases.

Omar is frustrated because, in spite of all his positive feedback, it seems like the only thing Veronica can think about is her goal of becoming a manager. Omar avoids the subject with Veronica because, frankly, it is rare for supervisor level position to open at the University. Theirs is a very flat organization. In their group there is only one management position, Omar’s. He is afraid that if he talks about the lack of promotion opportunity, Veronica will begin looking for another job.

The Recognition. Omar presents Veronica with a five-year service award at a team meeting. He talks about all of her strengths and accomplishments in front of her peers. After Veronica receives the award, her work seems to suffer. Her attitude, while not exactly poor, certainly isn’t anywhere near as enthusiastic as it once was.

She does her job but doesn’t go beyond what is expected of her.

Your Analysis

1) Assuming the award triggered Veronica’s attitude change, why do you think that happened?

2) What role do you think Veronica’s age plays in the problem?

3) Which of the four elements of recognition is most lacking for Veronica?

4) What could Omar do to offer the recognition that Veronica most craves?

Post your thoughts and I will comment as well.

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2008

Work Relationship Inventory for Managers and Supervisors

Because even the greatest managers can generally benefit from a bit of self assessment, I have decided to share this assessment tool with you.

By the way, the questions are valid for everyone, not just managers and supervisors…

The purpose of this inventory is to help managers and supervisors assess and improve their working relationships. What follows are some of the questions from this inventory along with my commentary.

Do the people you work with value the recognition you are currently giving them?

This question comes first because it is an excellent barometer of the health of your work relationships.  If the answer is no, or not as much as you believe they should value it, you will have one or two more areas that could use a bit of tweaking.

Two more questions:

Do people trust you? 
Do you trust the people you work with?

Trust is at the core of working relationship.
When you trust your team, they feel valued.
When they trust you, they give you the benefit of the doubt.

Do you communicate clear expectations?   
Do you listen to employee expectations and aspirations?

The way you handle expectations plays a large part in developing trust. Communicate clearly and honestly. Listen attentively and act appropriately. For information on a tool that can help employees assess and communicate their expectations in a positive manner, click here.

Do people ever laugh or joke in your presence?  
Do people feel comfortable sharing concerns? 

These two allude to how comfortable people are with you. If you keep your sense of humor (you have one right?!?) even during difficult times you will improve in both of these areas.

Can you provide a resounding yes!! to each of these questions? If so, feel free to complete the assessment. If no, what are you going to do differently?

When you are finished, leave a comment on what else you believe should be included.

Question of the Week – Does Your Organization Provide Flexibility

Question of the WeekLast week I offered some ideas for time off as recognition. 

There are some organizations where a manager or supervisor wouldn’t be allowed to give time off, offer flexible scheduling, or telecommuting. It is against policy. Productivity is measured by “butt in seat time.”

There are others organizations where the culture allows, even encourages managers to be flexible and focus on what gets done rather than where, how and when it gets done.

In Make Their Day I talk about the inherent recognition that comes from this kind of flexibility. When an organization or a manager trusts their team, allowing them to focus on results rather than how and when the work gets done, it sends a strong positive message. It also provides a kind of free, powerful recognition.

I want to hear from you!

1) Do you work for a highly flexible company/manager? Has that made you more loyal and productive?

2) Have you worked for a company/manager that refused to grant you flexibility in how/when you worked? How did this affect your work and/or your sense of loyalty?

Tell me your stories!


My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.

Visit my website today!

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