Employee motivation is an ever-present concern for most proactive managers. Interestingly enough, motivation can come from both functional and dysfunctional sources.
I've seen employees motivated for many different reasons: recognition, financial incentive, empowerment, personal growth, tension release, fear, and finally there's that weird Lord of the Flies thing where employees get motivated together against another employee.
In their book, Motivating Employees, Anne Bruce and James S. Pepitone describe the most effective ways to motivate a team. They describe the three C's which are vital to functionally motivating employees:
1. Collaboration: Be sure to involve employees in decisions and discussions where their efforts are involved.
2. Content: As they produce suggestions, act on those suggestions immediately.
3. Choice: Be sure to offer choices to your employees--even if you can predict what they will decide.
These three techniques actually empower your employees. Involving employees in decisions that affect them, or the outcome of what they are working on produces a level of buy-in that is hard to match any other way.
Bruce and Pepitone continue with an examination of Theory-X and Theory-Y motivation and management styles. These styles were originally presented in the 1960's by Douglas McGregor.
McGregor states that Theory-X managers proceed from the assumption that their employees are uninformed, lazy, and needy of high-structure.
Theory-Y managers, however, proceed from the assumption that their employees are qualified, intelligent, and capable of making proper decisions provided they are given proper goals, accountability, authority, and resources to accomplish their tasks.
Although Theory-X is the most effective approach during some situations, if you consider the amount of college-educated employees in the workforce today, it's easy to see how Theory-Y, if applied properly, yields much higher performance.
The authors continue with a formula for encouraging Entrepreneurial Thinking. Their five-step formula is:
1. Explain the organization
2. Demonstrate how the organization operates and generates income
3. Help your employees understand the competition
4. Encourage intelligent risk-taking
5. Inspire innovative thinking
Another great idea the authors present is to link motivation to performance. They suggest you develop a written-list of performance standards for meeting and exceeding the expectations you've agreed upon during collaborative sessions with them.
The authors talk about how important it is to weave fun into everything your organization does. This may sound like a unusual suggestion at first, but the authors point out that there is a direct correlation between fun on the job and employee productivity, moral, creativity, satisfaction, and most importantly--retention.
The final few chapters in the book discuss de-motivating factors (or individuals), and how to deal with them. There is also a good chapter on conducting effective employee-reviews.
Overall I recommend this book to any manager. It's a great book to re-read every so oft r/>
Mike J. Berry
I just read Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
This New York Times bestseller is an analytical exploration into social cause and affect. Using analytics, Levitt shows how he was able to detect administrative cheating in the Chicago school districts, prove that sumo-wrestling is fixed, and suggested which baby names will be most popular in 2015.
I can't say enough good about this book. It was compelling to read, and a great mind-opener about the value of the relatively-new field of business analytics.
Mike J Berry www.RedRockResearch.com
I can't remember where I first heard of the book Leadership and Self Deception, an international bestseller written by the Arbinger Institute. It's a short book, only 175 or so pages cut in a 5 x 8.5 inch format.
The cover is strikingly attractive, a collission of two black and white surfaces with some red spilling out.
The book talks about being "in the box" versus "out of the box" with respect to how we interact with people around us. As we create false impressions of reality around us, through our own rationalization, self-deception, lack of empathy, or fear, and communicate with others under these pretenses, we put ourselves "inside a box."
Being inside a box adversely affects our ability to maintain the trust, respect, and finally peace with those around us. Being able to recognize when we are leading ourselves "into the box" and taking proactive measures to stay outside of the box raises our emotional intelligence and helps maintain trust, respect, and peace with those around us.
Now let me say that the concept is groudbreaking, but the book is not. I could only get about half way through this book before I had enough of the watered-down leechy "you've turned one sentence into a whole chapter, again!" prose.
The book is written from a "corporate fairytale" perspective and I have to say I feel like I am being patronized like a seven year old at story time when I read this book. Instead of being to-the-point, the authors create a long burdensome drawn-out fabrication of actors and problems in a fictitious business culture. You are supposed to read the fairytale and apply it to your own reality.
I suppose nursery rhymes caught on well enough, so maybe that's why this book is an international bestseller. I would recommend you have someone explain the concept in the book to you, rather than spend the time reading it. If you do read this book, just read the first few chapters, then read the captions under t ick-figure drawings throughout the rest of the book to get the point.
I've heard people make references to Geoffrey A. Moore's Crossing the CHASM book for several years now but had't read it until this past week.
Moore's book is a must-read for any IT company trying to launch a new product. Although the concepts in the book are not novel (so admit's Moore) the book brings a vocabulary and metaphoric dictionary to the readers allowing marketing groups, investors, and techies alike to communicate about the playing field in a proactive manner.
Moore discusses the importance of delivering continuous innovation, instead if discontinuous innovation. Our new innovations need to help people do what they are already doing better, and not force them to abruptly change something that kinda works for something that they are not sure about that may possibly work better.
Moore introduces the Technology Adoption LifeCycle, complete with five categories of market segments. He discusses how to market in succession to each group:
- Early Adopters
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
Finally, Moore introduces some business concepts you may have heard of by now, like the bowling alley, the tornado, and the fault line.
If you haven't heard of these, then you need to get reading!
Recently, while attending the '09 Agile Roots conference in Salt Lake City, UT, Alistair Cockburn--the keynote speaker--referenced Miyamoto Musashi's 16th-century book called The Book of Five Rings.
I like Asian philosophy (and swords and such) so I picked up the book and read it. The book was written in 1643 by an undefeated Japanese samurai master who was so effective he was rumoured to have spent the latter part of his career entering sword-fights purposely without a weapon. Although meant as a battlefield manual, the book has gained popularity as a handbook for conducting business in the 21st century.
The book was translated into English by Thomas Cleary at some point and the edition I read was published in 2005. Improperly named "The Book of Five Rings," the book is actually a compilation of five scrolls.
The Earth Scroll: Musashi talks about how a straight path levels the contours of the Earth and how various occupations provide life-improving principles. He talks about observing patterns and learning from them. Certainly a great primer for any business trying to get across the chasm.
The Water Scroll: Here Musashi talks about how water conforms to the shape of its container. He suggests a separation of one's inward mind against it's outward posture, maintaining that one's control over one's mind must not be relinquished to outward circumstances. He translates these philosophies into about 80 pages of sword fighting techniques. An interesting modern parallel is found in Jim Collins book, Good to Great, where he talks about how the most successful companies are able to say 'No' and not be influenced by immediate but non-strategic opportunities.
The Fire Scroll: As with any book written by a 16th century samurai master, you'd expect a core discussion on combat strategy. The fire scroll is full of combat strategies, positioning, and pre-emptive theory. Very interesting. Did anyone notice how Apple's announcement of the latest iPhone came about 1 day after the Palm Pre phone was officially launched--killing it's market blitz? No coincidence there.
The Wind Scroll: The wind scroll contains a directive to study and be aware of your opponents techniques. Translated into business speak, this means one should always study ones competitors. Be aware of new offerings, partnerships, markets, etc. that they persue. Emphasis is placed on observing rhythms and strategically harmonizing, or dis-harmonizing with them as appropriate.
Finally, The Emptiness Scroll: This scroll discusses the value of escaping personal biases. Emphasis is placed on not lingering on past situations and being able to adjust quickly to new scenarios.
Overall I found this book 'enlightening' to read. If you like metaphors and inferences, or sword-fighting, then you will enjoy this book.
Mike J. Ber />www.RedRockResearch.com
John C. Maxwell's book, The 360 Degree Leader, is an excellent field-guide for navigating the challenges of leadership at all levels of an organization.
Maxwell starts his book by dispelling many common dysfunctional myths that are found at line-level, or middle-level management. Ideas such as "When I get to the top, I'll be in control," and "If I were on top, then people would follow me" are inaccurate adolescent attempts to understand the true nature of leadership--which is influence.
Maxwell continues by explaining the characteristics of influence:
- Position - Influence because people have to follow you.
- Permission - Influence because people want to follow you.
- Production - Influence because of what you have done for the organization.
- People Development -Influence because of what you have done for them.
- Personhood - Influence because of who you are and what you represent.
Maxwell gives examples of effective leadership in all directions: up, across and down.
To lead up well, he suggests you lighten your leaders load, anticipate your leaders needs and use their time wisely, and invest in Relational Chemistry--get to know what makes your leaders tick.
To lead across, Maxwell suggests you focus on completing your fellow leaders, instead of competing with them. Be a friend, don't pretend you're perfect, and avoid office politics.
To lead down, Maxwell suggest you develop each team member, place people in their strength zones, model the behavior you desire, transfer the vision from above, and reward the results you desire.
Overall this is a good book worth reading and re-reading every so often. I recommend it for managers at all levels.
Mike J. Berr >www.RedRockResearch.com
Jack Welch, in his book, Winning, talks about how to create great mission statements.
He says most mission statements are dull, uninspired, and even unhelpful. Most groups write their mission statement to describe only what they are in business to do. While this is not wrong, it creates a whole bunch of mission statements that all look the same among competitors, and are not really valuable.
Welch suggests that a good mission statement not only describes what the company is in business to do, but how they are going to succeed at it.
For example, "We are going to sell lots of chickens," is not as effective as "we are going to sell lots of chickens by growing the largest free-range chickens and advertising their value to the industry."
Following his logic, I did some research and found some interesting comparisons:
Ford Motor Company in Europe's mission statement (couldn't find the U.S. mission statement anywhere online) is:
"Our Mission: we are a global, diverse family with a proud heritage, passionately committed to providing outstanding products and services."
OK, so Ford's mission is noble, but there is no explanation as to how they will succeed at their mission. Compare this to Toyota's mission statement:
"To sustain profitable growth by providing the best customer experience and dealer support."
Toyota's mission statement expresses their intention to make money by providing the best customer experience and dealer support.
Indeed, their mission statement tells what they are doing and how they will succeed. This is an example of an effective mission statement.
There is a business principle at hand here: Ambiguity is the enemy to progress. It's nice Ford wants to provide outstanding products and services, but there is no formula or direction given in their mission statement as to how they plan to do this.
Toyota states it will succeed by providing the best customer experience and dealer support. Are they succeeding at this?
In 2007, Toyota became the largest seller of cars in America. As customers, we vote with our money. It seems then, that they are providing the best customer experience, and are fulfilling their mission statement.
On a lighter note, Enron's mission statement is/was:
"Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence."
Mike J y
I just finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Timothy Ferriss. Timothy Ferriss is a 29-year old self-made millionaire, TV actor in China, athletic advisor to more than 30 world record holders, Chinese Kickboxing Champion, first American to hold Guinness world record in Tango, speaker of four languages, and a four-world champion cage fighter. This book now makes him an author.
Ferriss's book is about beating Corporate America, and becoming content and happy using the newer technologies available to us today.
He provides a formula for successful entrepreneurship. One important point he makes is the need to find a market, before investing in building the product. He suggests this successful pattern:
- Pick an industry you understand.
- Target a product you can Create, License, or Resell.
- Look at competition to see how you need to differentiate your product. Examples:
- More credibility indicators
- Offer a better guarantee
- Offer a better selection
- Offer free, or faster shipping
- Micro-test your product (before you put any money into it), by using eBay, or Google Ad's. Microtesting is "probing" customers to see if they would buy the product. Some examples:
- Put an add on eBay, then cancel the add minutes before the auction ends, to see how much people are willing to pay.
- Build a dummy website, with item, description, pictures, and pricing. After the user pressed 'purchase now,' display a "Thank you but this item is temporarily unavailable." This enables you to test your conversion rate up front, without needing to invest in manufacturing, etc.
This way, you can determine up front if there is a market for your product. He suggests putting the price on a separate webpage altogether so you can measure the effects that changing the price alone will have on your conversion rate.
Ferris goes on to explain how to transform managing a business into automating the business. He suggests time management is a thing of the past. The key to living better today is to remove distracting inputs from our lives.
He talks about outsourcing every part of you business and empowering the outsourcers. He talks about only answering email one day a week, and having your cell phone message redirect people to you email.
The final part of Ferriss's book talks about what to do after you have successfully started and automated you business. He talks about getting out of your comfort zone, travelling, learning new skills, and new languages.
I think this book is an excellent read, and surprisingly cutting-edge. It's nice to read a business book about PPC, Google AdWords, and eBay microtesting. Makes me feel understood.
I just finished reading Willie Pietersen's book, Reinventing Strategy: Using Strategic Learning to Create and Sustain Breakthrough Performance.
Pietersen first sets the stage for the rest of the book by underscoring the need for organizations to be adaptable. He paraphrases Charles Darwin, concluding that is it not the largest, the strongest, or even the most intelligent of species that survive, but the most adaptable to change. He explains that corporations need to start thinking beyond doing things right, to thinking about doing the right things.
He explains that vision is different from insight. Vision is what the leader has in mind for the group. Insight is what the group learns about their customers needs, through studying their customers.
Pietersen describes a four-step process he calls the "Strategic Learning Process:"
- Situation Analysis (Learn)
- Strategic Choices (Focus)
- Align the Organization (Align)
- Implement and Experiment (Execute)
This process provides the basic toolset for gaining insight, and turning that into vision. Continuous learning is essential, Pietersen says, and he quotes Arie de Geus's observation that a company's "ability to learn faster than competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage" they have.
He continues, "Nature, in effect, suffers from two massive learning disabilities. When nature fails, it doesn't know why; and when it succeeds, it doesn't know why...therefore strategic learning is at the heart of successful adaptation"
Pieterson's goes on to offer a formula for initiating change. His formula is:
D x V x P > C
D = Dissatisfaction with Current State
V = Clear Vision for Change
P = Process for Getting it Done
C = Cost of Change
His formula suggests that if D,V, or P are not strong enough to collectively overcome C, change will not occur.
Pieterson concludes his book by suggesting Strategic Learning can be applied to our personal lives to enable personal growth. Appling it to such topics as Emotional Intelligence, and Personal Renewal, the Strategic Learning process can help us throughtout our life.
Mike J Berry www.RedRockResearch.com
I just finished reading Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, by Jim Collins. This #1 bestseller is the best business development book I have ever read. In fact--I would even say--I can recommend it with every fiber of my being.
Collins takes a team of 20 graduate students from the University of Colorado and dedicates roughly 15,000 hours of research to this book.
Collins's team explores why some good companies become great companies, and why the rest never do. Their research subjects were companies that outperformed the stock market index by an average of seven times during a fifteen year span. Their findings are novel and counter-intuitive.
The first major takeaway I got from reading this book is that great companies have learned to say "no." They don't pursue opportunities that don't meet certain internal criteria.
The second takeaway is that achievements, although seemingly "sudden" when viewed by outside groups, are really a long set of disciplined decisions made over time by these companies.
The third takeaway is that leaders of these great companies were not magnanimous superstars, instead they consistently seemed to have a compelling modesty about them.
A forth takeaway is that these companies seemed to consistently put their best people on new opportunities, not on their biggest problems.
Another concept Collins introduces is the Hedgehog Concept. This concept is that companies are most successful following opportunities that have three criteria:
- The team or corporation has a deep passion for the subject matter of the opportunity.
- The team feels they can become the best in the world at it.
- The opportunity is in-line with what drives the corporation's economic engine.
I think I could write a twenty-page review about this book. Let me just say you need to go and read it. If you read any business-development book this year, read this one.
Mike J Berry www.RedRockResearch.comWith a forward by Zig Ziglar, John C. Maxwell's book titled The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is an assured home run.
Maxwell breaks down leadership into 21 categories. He then goes to great lengths to explain each category and give real world examples.
He describes the progression of leadership by highlighting great leaders who have created momentum in others around them. For example, he explains that early in Michael Jordan's basketball career, he relied heavily on his personal talent to win games. But as he matured, he turned his attention more to being a leader and making the whole team play better.
Jordan is quoted in the book as saying, "That's what everybody looks at when I miss a game. Can they win without me? ...Why doesn't anybody ask why or what it is I contribute that makes a difference? I bet nobody would ever say they miss my leadership or my ability to make my teammates better." Yet, that's what made him such a great teammate.
Some of Maxwell's principles are predictable and conventional, but some of them are quite novel. I enjoyed reading about the Law of Magnetism and the Law of Connection.
The Law of Magnetism states that you are who you attract, and the Law of Connection states that you must touch people's hearts before they will trust you.
This book is a great reference for leaders in all stages of their career. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week bestseller, I highly recommend you buy it, read it, and consult it often.
Mike J Berry www.RedRockResearch.com