Empower Your Employees to be Mini-Marketers
Linda Keefe is CEO of Shared Results, a business focused on helping companies get employees to care about their vision and develop a “unified entrepreneurial spirit.” Keefe points out that employees are walking billboards for your business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Empowering your employees can encourage them to become mini-marketers for your organization, whether they realize it or not. The more empowered your employees are, the greater rewards your company will reap in terms of positive press, increased sales and higher bottom-line results.
Create An Empowered Culture
Rather than tell people what to do, use a questioning style of management. Ask employees what they think they should do in a situation and then listen to their answers. If their answers aren’t well thought out, ask them more detailed questions to prompt further thinking. Don’t jump in with the solution. Instead, create a safe environment where employees can think through their options and come to their own decisions.
Listen To Employees
In any business interaction, customers tell the company’s employees what they want and need. In order for employees to relay that information to management, they need to feel they’ll be listened to and taken seriously. Being customer-focused is no longer enough to gain market share; you need to be employee-focused as well. Listen to your employees as you would your customers, and respond to their feedback.
Reward Empowered Action
In a grocery store, an empowered employee hears the customers’ requests for a particular product and tells the manager, who orders that product for the store. Without a responsive manager who listens to employees and acts on their suggestions, the employee would keep such feedback to herself, resulting in lost product sales. In a restaurant, an empowered waitress listens to a customer’s complaint about the room temperature. The waitress knows the climate controls are kept in a locked box. Rather than tell the customer there is nothing she can do, the waitress talks to the manager on duty and attempts to work out a solution to keep the customer happy. In these examples, empowered employees gave the company positive press and earned the company repeat business and higher profits.
Six Myth-understandings Holding You Back
Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty International, heads the seventh-largest real estate company in the country. In his recently-released book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, Keller details six fallacies that may keep real estate agents from achieving success. These “myth-understandings” could apply to other professions as well:
Myth: I can’t do it.
Truth: Until you try, you can’t possibly know what you can or can’t do.
Myth: It can’t be done in my market.
Truth: Yes it can, but you may need a new approach.
Myth: It would take too much time and effort. I would lose my freedom.
Truth: Time and effort are not the deciding factors in success.
Myth: It’s too risky. I’d lose money.
Truth: Risk is in direct proportion to how well you hold your incremental costs accountable to producing incremental results.
Myth: My clients will only work with me. Only I can deliver quality service.
Truth: You clients aren’t loyal to you. They are loyal to the standards you represent.
Myth: Having a goal and not fully realizing it is a negative thing.
Truth: Having a goal and not trying to achieve it is a negative thing.
Excuses Heard on the Way to Jail
Now that April 15th has come and gone, and Nevada’s citizens have either filed their taxes or their extension forms, here are some arguments they could have used to avoid paying taxes (if only they had known). These are among the most common reasons people give when they protest having to pay taxes and end up in court, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS also warns that the tax court may impose sanctions of up to $25,000 on those who misuse their right to a court review merely to stall their tax payments, and reports that it is levying “increasingly severe penalties” on those pursuing such cases.
The filing of a tax return is voluntary.
Payment of tax is voluntary.
The IRS must prepare federal tax returns for a person who fails to file.
Wages, tips and other compensation received for personal services are not income.
Only foreign-source income is taxable.
Federal reserve notes are not income.
A taxpayer is not a “citizen” of the United States.
The “United States” consists only of the District of Columbia, federal territories and federal enclaves.
A taxpayer is not a “person” as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.
The only employees subject to federal income tax are employees of the federal government.
Taxpayers can refuse to pay income taxes on religious grounds by invoking the First Amendment.
Federal income taxes constitute a taking of property without due process of law, violating the Fifth Amendment.
Taxpayers do not have to file returns or provide financial information because of the protection against self-incrimination found in the Fifth Amendment.
Compelled compliance with the federal income tax laws is a form of servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not properly ratified; thus, the federal income tax laws are unconstitutional.
The Internal Revenue Service is not an agency of the United States.
Insurers’ Profits Reach Lowest Level in Decade
With the economy at a standstill, profits of the nation’s life and health insurers fell $5.3 billion, or 61.2 percent, to $3.4 billion in the first nine months of 2002, according to Weiss Ratings, Inc., an independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds and stocks. Industry profitability for the nine-month period reached its lowest level in 10 years as illustrated:
Driving the decline in industry earnings during the first three quarters was a staggering $9.6 billion capital loss on the sale of investments, compared to a $3.3 billion loss for the same period in 2001. Of the life and health insurers reporting a capital gain or loss, 71 percent posted capital losses as a result of the stock market’s dismal performance.
“Investments are an intrinsic part of the industry’s ability to maintain adequate reserves in order to deliver long-term policy commitments. Substantial portfolio losses over time force companies to compensate in other ways,” said Melissa Gannon, vice president of Weiss Ratings, Inc. “In particular, companies are forced to dip into their capital cushion to maintain reserves, since they cannot rely on investment appreciation to do so.”
Career Confidence Sinks to New Low
More than 26 percent of Americans believe they could lose their job in the coming year, according to a global survey of job confidence levels conducted by Right Management Consultants, a career transition and organizational consulting firm. “We are seeing a new level of pessimism among American workers,” observed Richard J. Pinola, chairman and CEO of Right. “The stalled economy, flat business prospects and months of uncertainty about the prospects of war are taking their toll.” Right’s Career Confidence Index, which measures fulltime American workers’ views of their career prospects and the job market, is calculated by tracking individual responses to four questions about personal job prospects and national employment outlooks. More than 1,000 employees are surveyed several times a year.
Seventy-nine percent of Americans expect unemployment to rise in the coming year, up from 77 percent who predicted the same in December. Eighty-three percent of workers said it would be difficult for a laid-off employee to find similar-paying work, a percentage that was unchanged from December. When asked how likely it was that they would advance within their current company in the next year, respondents were nearly evenly split among optimistic and pessimistic predictions. Fifty percent said it was possible they would move up in their company; 48 percent said it was not. Those percentages were similar to December results.
“It’s worth noting that nearly 30 percent of American workers said it was not at all possible that they would advance in their careers with their present employer this year,” Pinola said. “That is not good news for employers. Especially in difficult times, it is imperative that high-performing employees feel they have the opportunity, the coaching and the tools to develop within their companies. The economy will turn at some point, and companies should be taking steps now to secure their top talent.”
Hung By the Tongue
According to John R. Graham, president of Graham Communications, a marketing services and sales consulting firm, the words we use reflect basic attitudes about work and what’s expected on the job. Managers should watch out for the following phrases, which could indicate potential problems:
“But nobody told me…” The “I’m not to blame because I didn’t know” excuse is among the worst. There are many variations. For example, “Gee, I’m just the receptionist….” This anti-responsibility affirmation reveals how employees feel about their relationship to their work and indicates a lack of initiative.
“I didn’t think there was a rush.” The first three words are the key: “I didn’t think.” Better yet, “I didn’t give it any thought at all.” What must seem like a perfectly valid excuse by the person saying it, comes across to the supervisor or customer quite differently, revealing the speaker as someone who doesn’t think about what they are doing.
“They haven’t gotten back to me.” Whenever this is used, you can almost always be sure the individual is disorganized. It’s the “I forgot to follow up” excuse. How else have you attempted to make contact? Mail? Email? A personal visit? Have you been as persistent on this task as you would be in getting scarce concert tickets?
“I left messages…” Translated, “I left messages” says, “I believe my responsibility begins and ends with leaving a message.” In reality, only connecting counts. “I left a message” is an attempt to pass the blame to someone else for your failure to get the job done. “How can anyone expect us to….” Demands in the workplace are increasing. No doubt about it. And they aren’t about to go away. But if we don’t turn it around for the customer, either internal or external, someone else will – and there goes the business.
“I’ll do it as soon as I can.” This comment would seem to suggest an interest in responding positively to a request. Not so. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. It represents an “It’s all about me” attitude and communicates the message that one’s own priorities may be all that’s important. A more professional approach would be to ask when the person needs the request completed, and, if necessary, negotiating an agreed-upon time or date.
“I didn’t have time.” This is the classic excuse for everything from failing an exam to not having a job completed by the deadline. Why is it no one ever says, “I didn’t make time to do it”? Using these words today is entering the danger zone.
“I got interrupted and didn’t get back to it.” This particular excuse lays bare the fact that the worker is unable to manage tasks effectively.
“I’ll try.” Work is about doing, not trying. There are no points for trying. Believe it or not, we are accountable, not for what we attempt, but for what we produce.
“The Dog Ate My Suit”
Executives revealed the most unusual explanations they’ve heard from tardy employees in a recent survey by Accountemps, a temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Executives were asked, “What are some of the more creative excuses you’ve heard for why employees are late for work and meetings?” Here is a sampling of their responses:
“The dog was asleep behind the car and I couldn’t back out of the driveway.”
“My dog swallowed my car keys.”
“A helicopter landed in the street and I couldn’t get around it.”
“A long line at the McDonald’s drive-through held me up.”
“My car keys fell into the toilet.”
“The elevators in this building are too slow.”
“I forgot what day it was. I thought it was the weekend.”
“I couldn’t remember which time zone I was in.”
“My wife and son took both cars, and when I went outside there was nothing in the driveway.”
“I’m not late. I decided to change my hours to make them more convenient.”
Accountemps also revealed two perennial favorites from earlier surveys:
“I felt it was better to sleep in at home versus sleep at the office.”
“The bartender wouldn’t let me leave.”