Signs of Complacency in Employees

Do you feel like your employees might be becoming complacent?  Do you feel as though your team is not performing as well as it could be or as well as they have performed in the past?  Does your staff seem a little bit underachieving at this time?

This blog post will talk about the phenomena of complacency in employees and will go over the various signs and manifestations of complacency in your staff.  We will discuss the different signs of complacency on a team, and we will also touch on ways and means for addressing complacency in a team of workers.

Complacency in the Workplace

Complacency in the workplace.  This is every manager’s, foreman’s, forewoman’s, supervisor’s, boss’s, CEO’s, and head honcho’s number one fear in the workplace.  Complacency and an unwillingness to give it your all.  More so than anything else this right here is the death note of any business.  As soon as employees start to get complacent, business statistics plummet, sales drop, morale drops, revenue goes down, and risk factors for layoffs and terminations go up.  Another thing that happens when employees get complacent is that the competition then just jumps ahead and takes up more market space and more potential business from you and from your company.

So how do you handle complacent employees and workplace complacency?  The answer and the way out of this troubling crisis is a simple one and an important one.  To address workplace complacency, you want to do things like:

  1. Provide incentives within the team to increase production.  In the sales offices of any of the businesses that I own, one of the things that I like to do to address complacency and to get rid of it is to provide incentives and fun games and projects to increase my sales’ staff morale.  This always works.  When I see the morale starting to go down, I will start a bonus game and give out bonuses to staff who make certain targets.  This always gets the morale up and removes complacency from my team.
  2. Another way that I address complacency is by going over our products and services with our employees, and sort of giving them a morale booster on why they are there selling and providing those specific products and services.  A lot of times, people need a reminder of why they are in some organization or why they are doing what they are doing.  A little friendly boost in this direction goes miles towards helping to remove complacency.
  3. Yet another way to address complacency is a little more tricky.  What I have found nine times out of ten is that complacency comes from a specific person, not from the whole group.  Nine times out of ten, there is or are one or two people in the entire group that get complacent first, and then that complacency spreads and these individuals sort of bring everyone else around them down.  So if the above techniques are not working, I will often simply address the one or two individuals who I view to be the source of it all and I will confront them personally about it.  I will very kindly but very firmly demand that they change their attitude for the better.  This usually works and the whole group ends up benefiting as a result.

These are just three of my tips and tricks for addressing complacency.  This is not something that any workplace should have to deal with and it is a real shame when it does come up.  But follow the above tips and you will do fine.

Guide to Talking with a Job Applicant About Addiction History

We know now at this time that drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious issue and concern in our society, one of which is possibly worse now than it ever has been before.  We know and understand that this issue is actually huge and that it brings huge problems and crisis factors with it everywhere that it goes.

We know that since the turn of the century drug and alcohol addiction has stepped up and made itself into one of the single most if not the single most concerning and problematic issues in our entire nation.  We know that the issue with addiction as we have experienced it is certainly huge and that this is a crisis problem that will only get worse unless we do something about it.

From all that we know about how bad drug and alcohol addiction is, we can then extrapolate from that that, sooner or later as a business owner, you are going to come across someone who you are interviewing who has had a drug or alcohol addiction problem in their history.  Maybe this has already happened to you.  Maybe you already have some idea of how to support a drug addict in recovery.  Maybe you already know how to talk to an addict, or to someone who has abused drugs and alcohol in the past.  Either way, this issue has to be approached with care and consternation and a great deal of empathy too.

Addiction Support in the Workplace

Someone having a history of drug and alcohol addiction in their past is by no means a good reason to disqualify them from working for you.  By no means at all does that make sense.  In fact, the best way to address drug and alcohol addiction in someone’s past is to see how it can benefit them and how they can grow from it.

For me personally, I often try to find people to work in my businesses who are in recovery, because I know what they have been through and I know how capable they are now as a result.  I’m not the only one who does this too.  Follow these quick tips to ensure that you consider the recovering addict’s application correctly:

  1. Find out how long they have been sober for. The longer they have been sober, the less you have to worry, if you were planning on worrying at all.
  1. Find out what it was they were addicted to, and how much they were taking. Really get an idea of just how bad their addiction was, so you can get a feel for what they were going through at that time.
  1. Talk to them about how their addiction affected their lives and impacted them. Find out from them just what exactly they can take away from their addiction, and just what exactly they can actually learn from it.
  1. Find out what the person can bring to the table at your business, and how they are going to use their experience with their addiction to really dominate the marketplace that your business is in.
  1. Question the person closely as to their stability in recovery. Have they had any relapses?  If so, when?  Find out from them how stable they feel or don’t feel in their recovery.

Asking these questions and simply holding a conversation with the person should give you a really good idea as to how they are doing in their recovery.  Don’t be afraid to ask these questions too.  There is nothing wrong with asking them.  Talk to the person about it, and really get a feel for how they are doing in their recovery, and then make your final decision as to whether or not you want to hire them.  Most of the time you will want to hire them.

5 Tips for Coping with Criticism in the Workplace

The workplace is a tricky factor of American society.  This is a place where people sometimes do really well, and sometimes they struggle.  The workplace is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of American society, and it is something that we can all work on more.

One of the factors of the workplace that I would really like to see change is criticism in the workplace.  I get that work can be stressful sometimes, but that is no reason to be critical towards others.  In fact, criticism in the workplace, no matter who it is delivered to and who its source is, has absolutely no value or merit of any kind.  I strongly come down hard on criticism in my businesses, and I would love to see criticism totally removed from all workplaces.

Now, this is not to say that I do not believe in correcting wrong actions, or that I do not believe in addressing a negative situation and in using disciplinary actions when it is necessary to use them.  I do believe in that.  However, criticism is totally unnecessary.

Let’s take a look at the definition of criticism as the dictionary puts it:

  • “The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes, or the act of finding fault; censure; disapproval.”

How does that fit in at the workplace?  If an employee is doing something wrong, you point out the wrong action, show them how to do it correctly, and politely ask them to start doing it correctly.  It’s as simple as that.  Being critical towards people has no place, merit, or really any kind of standing when it comes to helping people do a better job in the workplace, or even when it comes to addressing a non-optimum condition within the workplace.

Five Tips for Pushing Past Criticism

Let’s say that, despite your efforts, you still cannot seem to totally remove criticism from the workplace.  Here are some tips for succeeding in this process:

  1. Don’t be defensive about it.  If you truly create belief in the idea that criticism has no place in the workplace, then your focus needs to be on removing the criticism, not defending yourself from it.  Seek to tackle the person on the subject of criticism, or go to their boss.  If the person you are getting criticism from is your boss, then go talk to their boss.  If your boss is at the top of the food chain, then tackle them on it.  If that doesn’t work, then quit and go get a different job.  It’s just not worth it to accept criticism into your life.
  2. Maintain a positive attitude and focus on forward thinking, not negative thinking.  A positive attitude breeds positivity, and a negative attitude breeds negativity.  Be positive, and criticism is less likely to follow you.
  3. Just don’t acknowledge it.  If you aren’t up to tackling someone on their criticism, then just don’t even acknowledge it.  Don’t grant it recognition by talking to the person about it, even defensively.  Ignore the person’s comments.
  4. Bring it to the attention of the higher-ups.  If you are being criticized by a co-worker, then bring it the attention of the boss, who’s responsibility it is to reduce criticism in the workplace effectively.
  5. Don’t be critical yourself.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we can be critical without even realizing it.  Be sure that you yourself are not in your own way being critical.

At the end of the day, the goal needs to be a total removal of criticism from the workplace.  If you want to talk about other ways to get rid of criticism, message me at my Per Wickstrom Facebook account.

Rebuilding Your Credibility: How Recovering Addicts Can Prove Their Workplace Resilience

I understand that drug and alcohol addiction can create a real flat tire in one’s life.  Well, let’s be honest, it’s more like getting all four tires slashed at one time, and then still trying to drive to the destination that is your life.  Even long after regaining sobriety and long after patching those tires, people still look at you funny while you’re driving down the road that is your life.  For some reason, no matter how stable and relaxed you are in your recovery, people often still question your credibility.

Listed in this article are five ways that you can make a conscious effort to regain your credibility after beating an addiction:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as this will remove the stigma and help improve your credibility. You can reach out to friends, family members or professionals.  It is a very human thing to do and shows that you are fully in touch with your recovery.  Your network will respect you for it and not judge you so much.
  2. Understand that life is change and that these things take time. Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable and is just a part of life, isn’t it?  For something as serious as addiction, it will take a while for those close to you to get over that and to grow out of the idea of viewing you as an addict or even just as a recovered addict.
  3. Sometimes you will fail, but you will always learn from whatever it is you are doing.  You won’t always be able to fully get your credibility back.  Nelson Mandela had a great quote on this topic that I have included here: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Adopt that same attitude in life and believe me you will learn from every experience you have in recovery.
  4. Keep a positive attitude that lasts a lifetime.  Even if people do not accept you instantly, know that they will soon enough.  Know that they will come around soon enough.  Know that they will bring you back into the fold, and your confidence is what will bring that about.
  5. Be more decisive with people.  Be commanding and in charge, and people will respect you for it and start flowing you more credibility.  When something unexpected happens in your life, what is your first reaction to it? Do you take care of it right away? Do you ask someone for advice?  Both are okay. Or do you wail your woes to every single person you meet that day instead? That is not so great and will lose your credibility.

At the end of the day, it is sometimes a tricky prospect to regain your credibility after having just gone through addiction and after having put others in your life through it as well.  Sometimes it can be difficult to really accept people back in after experiencing this, but you really do need to accept them as the alternative is really not so great.

If you ever want to jump back into life and really take your life back, you need to be able to engage yourself in recovery that lasts a lifetime.  And to do that, you need to get your networks up and running again.  To do that, you need to regain credibility with the people you know and care about.  To do that, you need to follow the above tips and others to make it clear to people that you are not an addict anymore.  Do this, and you will win in the long run.

6 Tips for Increasing Your Wealth Without Jeopardizing Your Health

Most of us want more in life.  It is pretty common, especially for business owners and entrepreneurs to want to get more or to want to achieve more, to want to accrue more wealth, and to want to succeed more and get more out of life.  And there’s nothing wrong with this either.  There is nothing wrong with not being satisfied with the status quo and with insisting on getting something better out of life.  That is totally fine I feel, and I, in fact, myself feel this way every day.

It is my sincerest belief that everyone out there should try to get more, should try to succeed more, and to try to take their lives to the next level, no matter what their goals are or what they are personally trying to accomplish in life.  I think it is a very worthy endeavor for people to work hard and to try to engage themselves and to try to get more out of life.  I think this is a natural response in human nature to try to and to want to get more out of life and to excel to greater and greater heights overall.

I do agree that there is such a thing as overworking, though I tend to disagree with most people on the subject of what is considered to be too much work and what is not too much work.  The way I see it, rather than working more or less, one simply needs to work smart and to do the smart thing when trying to engage themselves in a specific avenue or course of action.

How to Achieve Greater Wealth in Life Without Putting Your Life at Risk

Everyone wants to know how to make more money.  I’m pretty sure that that goes without saying.  More money is the desired concept here, and more and more people want that very badly.  To say the least, getting more money should be everyone’s goal, so they can provide more financial security and safety to their lives and to the lives of those who they care about.

Here are a few quick tips for how to make more money without jeopardizing your health:

  1. Get help from other people.  You have people who care about you, why not ask them to help you build your wealth?  Be it helping with a project, investing in an idea, or helping you with a physical project, your family is there to help you.
  2. Start working on it now.  Never procrastinate when you want to accomplish something.  Start working on making more money now.
  3. Revisit your taxes.  A great way to increase wealth is to simply pay fewer taxes.  As crazy as it sounds, re-looking at your taxes can save you thousands annually.
  4. Make your money work for you.  Make your cash actually earn you more cash, and do this by making wide investments in things that you know.  Never invest in something that you do not know.
  5. Take care of your health.  Your health is your number one priority.  Without it, no other area of your life will be able to survive very well.
  6. Rethink the future.  Really look into the future and figure out, by doing the math, how much money you need to make every month, week, day, etc. to make a certain amount by a certain time.  Putting it all on paper and actually doing the math will really help you figure out the details in the long run.

Ultimately, your decision is your own, and you can work towards more wealth in whatever way that you choose to do so.  Ultimately, this is the goal that you need to strive for, but you can strive for it however you see fit personally.

5 Ways a Recovering Addict Can Destigmatize Addiction During a Job Interview

One thing that I have learned very quickly as a result of working with recovered addicts, of operating drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centers, and as a result of being recovered myself is that it can and often is very difficult for recovering addicts to get jobs. The stigma that is connected to addiction is a serious, deep, and very harmful slash against someone’s reputation and it is pretty hard to overcome, to say the least.

My hope is to see a change in the perspective of a recovered addict. I want people to start to not see them as recovered addicts but to instead see them as someone who managed to pull through a crisis issue and a difficulty the likes of which no one would want to wish upon anyone else. I would like to see this issue brought down a notch, and rather than having those who feel as though they can’t take life by the horns and win because of their addictions feel let down, I’d like to see these people build off of their recovery and use their previous experience as addicts to truly find something new for themselves.

Listed below are a few tips and tricks that I think recovering addicts can use to remove the stigma of addiction during a job interview:

  1. First of all, you can’t go wrong by giving the interviewer all of the data. Honesty is and always has been the best policy in these types of situations. So just be honest with them. Tell them everything there is to tell them. Give them all of the data. If they ask about your previous addiction, tell them about it, what you used, how long you used for, how long you’ve been sober, etc. A good boss will respect and appreciate the honesty and your willingness to talk about it. A bad boss won’t, but you don’t want to work for him anyway.
  2. Go over how you beat addiction. For every second you spent discussing your addiction, spend ten seconds discussing your rehabilitation and recovery from addiction. This will really put it in their mind that you are clean now and that you are a recovered individual.
  3. Go over facts and statistics on relapse rates, and show how unlikely it is that you will relapse based on credible sources. Use your recovery counselors and support network as references. Be very open and very willing for the interviewer to examine this area of your life.
  4. Sell yourself. Really pitch yourself at how, because of your addiction and your recovery and what that did for you as an individual, you will be able to be the absolute best employee that the interviewer has. Use your recovery and your past addiction to actually make yourself look more desirable, not less desirable.
  5. All in all, some people just won’t change their mind about recovered addicts, and you have to accept that. There are some people who you just won’t be able to convince that you are a qualified candidate for their position, no matter what you say or how you act or what you do. However, probably about thirty percent of interviewers are on the fence about it.

The above tips are what will help you win those interviewers over to your side of the fence. Probably about forty percent of interviewers won’t have a problem with your history at all, and about thirty percent won’t want anything to do with you no matter what you say or do. Use the above tips to your advantage, and you will win the majority of the time and be able to get the jobs that you want to get.

Parent to Parent: Should You Disclose Your Past Addiction

I can understand that this particular subject matter could get a little tense and it could get a little controversial.  As parents (speaking from experience) we all suffer and struggle trying to think with the decision on whether or not we should branch out and tell our children about our past addiction problems if we had them.  On the one hand, we think that it could be a good thing because it might put things into perspective for our young ones.  On the other hand, though we might be a little bit concerned at the thought of doing this too as it might cause us to worry that they might think less of us, or that they might justify their own actions based off of our past ones.

Some parents choose to tell their kids about their past substance abuse.  Some choose to keep it hidden in an effort to protect them.  The honest truth of the matter is that I don’t think there is anything wrong with either decision, especially if it is made in the right way and that the parents have fully looked at and explored both options in their minds and how each route could go down.  In that case, I support parents of both sides of the coin.

What My Advice is on the Matter

Here’s what I think about it.  I personally believe in an all-out in the open, no subtleties, no withholds, no lies, no secrets type of approach to parenting.  I want to know everything about my kids, and since that is what I want from them, I am willing to afford them the same courtesy.  I feel it is only fair if I am asking for my kids to tell me everything that I, in turn, tell them everything.  That sounds fair, right?

Of course, I do have some contingencies.  I don’t tell my kids about my past unless I think they are ready to hear it, and I always consult with their mother before I do so.  That is my policy.  I feel as though children have a right to know all about their parents, just as parents have a right to know all about their kids.  In truth what it really comes down to is when you go about telling them about your addiction past and how you go about telling them about it and under what circumstances you tell them about it.  That is ultimately what it all comes down to I feel.

With this in mind, I invite you to come to a decision on which you think is the best decision.  I invite you to arrive for yourself a conclusion as to what you think will be best for your kids.  Consider points like:

  • “What have they heard about me so far and what kind of effect did that have on them?”
  • “Are they old enough?”
  • “Are they on the verge of experimenting with drugs and alcohol themselves?”
  • “Have they already started abusing drugs and alcohol?”
  • “What would be the pros to be telling my kids about my addiction past?”
  • “What are the cons to me telling my kids about my addiction past?”

If you write all this out and make a list and answer all the questions honestly and truthfully then it will be pretty clear to you and plain to you what you need to do to effectively address this situation.

As a last note, I strongly encourage you to consult with your spouse on this matter. Whether your spouse is the parent of your kids or not, I strongly encourage you to involve them in this process and the overall decision too.  After all, it is just as much his or her responsibility to raise the kids as it is yours, so they should have a say in the matter just as much as you should.  In the end, a final exercise to do to decide which is the best decision is to think on it and work it out in your head and to try to think about how it could be successful and workable and what might happen that might make it unworkable.  Whichever direction you are leaning towards after that will be the right choice.

Stress at Work: How it’s Affecting Your Home Life

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the elusive “Work-Life Balance”.  How is it that a scant, five to ten percent of American workers seem to be able to shuffle a huge amount of work and still have great personal lives?  In my experience, the majority of American workers fall into one of two categories:

  1. Focuses on work, work, work.  Excels in work.  Climbs the corporate ladder and makes big money.  Fails to have a really great social life.  Family life is fair to midland at best.  Doesn’t have a phenomenal relationship with kids and bond with a spouse is just “functional.”
  1. Great family person.  Has a wonderful relationship with the kids and the spouse.  Involved in many community activities.  Has hobbies.  Goes on trips and spends time with family and friends.  Barely makes it in the business world though.  Middle-class income level at best.  Punches a nine to five and doesn’t really do much more than that.  Makes enough money to provide for the family’s basic necessities and that’s all.

Why does a person have to choose between one or the other?  Why can’t someone do both?  Why is it that when a person works really hard and tries to excel at work and gets stressed out does it then come back and bite the person when they are at home?  Why does a person suffer or not advance at work, simply because that person is so focused on spending time with their family?  I don’t like nor do I approve of this arrangement at all.

How NOT to Get Stressed Out

I don’t want you to be stressed out at work.  I don’t want you to be stressed out anywhere.  I have some tips for you and perhaps some things that you can apply to your day to day life that will make your work a little less stressful, and that will thusly make your home life a little more enjoyable too:

  • When you are work, work.  Want to know the single most important tool that the really successful people do that makes them so successful?  They work so hard.  They don’t just punch the clock and “get through the day.”  Oh no, when they are at work they are always working, finishing projects, moving quickly, working while they eat, working while they commute, work, work, work.
  • On the same token, successful people do not become totally engrossed in their work 24/7.  Don’t take your work home with you!  Focus on not how many hours a week you work, but on how much you actually get done in those hours.
  • Successful people engage their free time in exciting and exhilarating activities.  Successful, stress-free people go to the gym instead of watch TV.  Successful and stress-free people get out and about and go for walks with their families rather than play video games.  Successful people take day trips on the weekend instead of stay at home.  Successful people work on home improvement projects in their free time instead of sitting around.  Being active in your home life is a key to not only beating stress but to also feeling more energized and more pumped for when it does become time to get back to work again.
  • Successful people and stress-free people do not get distracted easily.  When they are at work, they work.  When they are at home, they are at home with their families and loved ones.  Keep the two separated.  That is key.  Stress comes from dragging your home life into your work, and your work life into your home.  Just keep them separated!

A More Successful, Happier Life

Get your family to support you.  Get your co-workers and superiors to see you as a valuable asset to the business.  Do these things and you will be successful in the long run.  Just make it go right to really excel in the things that you do and you will be quite ready and quite capable of winning time and time again in both your life at home and in your life at work.

Leadership Is More Important Than Authority

A-True-Leader-QuoteI didn’t note who said that, and for a reason. Just look at the words. Makes sense right? Anyone could have said it and it would make sense. It so happens that the man who said it was General Douglas MacArthur, who led the Allied Forces in the Pacific Theater of World War II. This was a man who possessed and exercised a vast amount of authority. But anyone from a street-sweeper to a king could live well by those words and other similar words of wisdom.

Leadership vs. Authority

What is the difference between leadership and authority? History is full of notorious examples of those who abused and squandered their authority. But I am sure you can think of countless examples more close to home, the “Little Caesars” of the world that arbitrarily use whatever microscopic piece of authority they have to make their associates’ lives a little more difficult.

Then again, there are plenty of examples of those who earned their authority, whose position was well-justified, and who lived up to whatever title they were given. Similarly, you have benefited from countless people of goodwill holding relatively small positions, but who make others’ lives better every day.

There is nothing at all wrong with authority. It is necessary and has its value, but real leadership is more valuable and lasting than authority.

Leadership is Earned

If you follow someone as a leader, let us hope it is because you have some faith in their ability to make right decisions. You are putting some trust in them as a leader. As you see that trust well-placed, you will place even more trust in that person. A leader is constantly earning the trust of others.

Authority is Arbitrary


Leadership Is More Important Than Authority

Anyone can be given authority. A title, a name-tag, a stripe on the sleeve mean nothing. Only what you do with it matters. Only when you demonstrate your fitness to bear that title does it hold meaning. When authority is given only by family name or race with no regard for personal accomplishment, we end up with disasters. I’m not just talking about kings and queens but daily HR in an average company.

Nothing has more arbitrary authority than the arts and humanities. Ever read a scathing review from an art or music critic? What gives this person any authority whatsoever? They have invented authority based on nothing but air. It’s completely arbitrary – not real.

Leadership Means People Choose to Listen

If you are a leader, people naturally listen to you and it doesn’t matter what status you hold. And if they can only see status and not a person, it is their problem. But a would-be leader will tend to stand out no matter where they end up. Andrew Carnegie was born in a tiny house with two families living in it, where the living room was also the dining room and the bedroom. Charlie Chaplin spent his childhood destitute. Awarded no particular status, they nonetheless rose to epic levels of success and respect in their individual fields.

Authority Means People Must Listen

If you’ve been given the authority, the people under you “have to listen to you” or get fired or whatever. Think about that at the next staff meeting. Whether they WANT to listen to you is an entirely different matter. If authority enables you to command their attention, it becomes your job to make something good come of it, to positively direct them toward a constructive objective.

Leadership Means Vision

Leading others often means you see what other people do not. And it is hard work guiding others if they don’t envision the destination. It becomes the leader’s problem to articulate and demonstrate where everyone’s supposed to be going. The vision is often the one thing that gets people through the toughest spots. The leader will be the one doing the envisioning and the motivating.

Authority is Narrow-Minded

Authority often gets so caught up in the rules and regulations that it loses sight of the vision altogether. I am sure you’ve seen this countless times when trying to deal with a bank or a government. They can possess massive resources and authority yet no vision or creativity whatsoever.

Leadership Speaks to the Individual

True leadership appeals to the best in all of us to cooperate and work with one another to achieve a common purpose. It tends to bypass people’s inclination for in-fighting and pettiness. People feel personally invested, like they are part of something important.

Authority Speaks to the Mob Mentality

Authority will have a tendency to speak to the lowest common-denominator, people’s fears and prejudices. It can rally people to action, but that action is not necessarily constructive. Indeed it can be very destructive. Too many people are inclined to blindly follow authority. And I’m not just talking pitchforks and torches; there are much subtler versions.

Leadership Assumes Responsibility

A leader assumes responsibility, not blame, and there is a difference. When individuals choose to follow a leader, they do so by choice. The leader looked in the mirror and decided it was his or her business. Then someone else did the same thing and so on. The leader isn’t going around accusing imaginary enemies. A true leader will have a tendency to take the high ground. People admire this quality and will support it.

Authority Blames Someone Else

Authority can have a serious propensity for fault-finding and finger-pointing, or it will just say “not my department.” Authority wants desperately to keep its position, so it will do what it can to deflect the blame to someone else. It’s not always that way, but often such patterns are built into a corporate machine or political system.


Of course when I speak of leadership I mean effective and positive leadership. And when I speak of authority I mean the arbitrary and mindless brand of authority that is all too commonplace. Anyone in a position of authority can step up and be a real leader – and many do. And those without “authority” can take a positive leadership role in their own family, company, neighborhood, community, and in the world at large. We need more leaders!

Biography/Douglas MacArthur

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Employees

Parts of a Whole

Motivating Employees

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Employees

Quite a bit has been said about employee hiring, motivation, training, business strategy, organizational structure, and workplace efficiency – subjects which are distinct and separate from one another, yet coexist as a cohesive whole. If you think of all the above as entirely separate, you will miss how they work together and interlock. If you think only in terms of the vast subject of “business administration” you will miss the vital details and components that comprise the broader whole.


The core of a business or any activity is people. Without people you don’t have much of anything. Hiring, motivation, training, strategy, structure, and efficiency won’t go anywhere without people. Even these subjects are not the entirety of business administration, but they are a good start:


Choosing the right person for the job is your first step in maximizing employee performance. After you’ve reviewed some resumes you’ll come to the phase of the interview – the point where you must sum up a person’s potential without ever seeing them do anything and all in the span of a few minutes. You must make a crucial decision for your business with very little information, not to mention affecting the trajectory of an individual’s life.

There are a number of “trick questions” employers ask, but these are all available online and the prospective employee can Google them while in the waiting room. I prefer the approach of honest two-way communication to get an idea how they solve problems and overcome adversity.

One type of question which may or may not be a “trick” can act as a decent yardstick when trying to sum up a candidate. It is the “what would you do with this?” question. You hand them something or present a scenario – only you don’t specify if there is anything wrong with it or not. If it is something that needs fixing you look to see if they think it should be fixed and how they’d fix it. If it is something that isn’t broken you see if they would leave it as is, or perhaps improve upon it.

Once you hire someone, always take them on a trial basis (30-90 days is typical) and make sure they understand this. You’ll never know for sure how someone will do until they do it. You should certainly help them out and make sure they know HOW things are supposed to operate in your business.


Motivation and morale are a constant issue in any company. If you have people that start out highly motivated and stay that way, you are lucky indeed. People get burned out. They do the same thing over and over and get sort of “stuck” and eventually just quit. But motivation is essential. You could simply “hire and fire” and keep rotating people through, bringing in the new blood. But you lose veteran employees who may really know what they are doing. You aren’t going to be able to fix everything in someone’s life for them, but you can make an effort to enhance the workplace situation. Since we spend most of our time at work, when work goes better our lives tend to follow suit.

One thing you can do is send out a survey (sometimes called a pulse survey) on how people feel about their jobs, what problems they’re experiencing, what they’d like to see improved, etc. (Word of warning: A small percentage of employees believe that every convenience should be laid out on a silver platter or that the entire business exists for their personal benefit.)

Most employees look upon the workplace as a group effort to which all contribute, but there will be genuine complaints and requests. Maybe they really want a water cooler or coffee machine, or they have some really good ideas that should be acted upon. Let them know the surveys are confidential. When you’ve analyzed the results, take action and brief everyone.

Another avenue some corporations take is to mix it up as far as the workload goes. You can give each person another job that is completely different from what they normally do. An office worker might rejoice at spending an hour or two per day operating a forklift. A receptionist might love pulling weeds and mowing a lawn once a week. If you implement such a system you will probably notice your office staff getting MORE done in LESS time. That is because they had a chance to put their attention out into their environment instead of two feet in front of them staring at a computer screen within a cubicle surrounded by more cubicles which are uncased in walls. Give this system a try and see what happens.

That is certainly not all there is to motivation, but it’s a start.


Most employers are looking for previously trained and experienced people. But beyond that you will certainly need to train people in your specialized activity. No doubt you have developed know-how in your given field. On-the-job training is essential in any endeavor. Company POLICY comes into play in a big way the bigger you get. But beware of policy and protocol overshadowing the human element. Corporations often become inhuman, unthinking machines. When you call them on the phone you get nothing but machines – perhaps you have experienced this!

Your training, policy and protocol must be correlated to your GOALS and PURPOSES. All that you do is related to your mission statement, values, aims, etc., i.e. WHY you exist! Help your employees with their jobs. Help your customers. You and your staff may get so good at what you do that other companies look to you as an example and trade magazines start writing articles about you – then it’s on to Inc. and Fortune.


Setting goals and purposes and working out a business plan and strategy is nothing new. What may be new to some is how the overall planning and strategy can be precisely broken down into component parts.

It breaks down roughly as follows: The business formulates its overall goals. These are then broken down into major purposes. There is then an embracive plan for each purpose. Each broad plan is then broken down into a more brass tacks program or course of action. There are then smaller projects to accomplish individual steps. Each department and employee then does their part in terms of specific actions that forward the accomplishment of the overall goals, purposes, plans, programs, projects, and individual steps of programs and projects.

It’s simpler than it may seem, especially if you make a chart out of it.

If the company has a plan to deliver superlative service, then this is emulated and repeated throughout the company. The receptionist answers and handles calls courteously and efficiently. Orders placed on the internet are filled immediately and the product (whatever it is) delivered promptly. Customer questions and complaints are taken care of in a similarly friendly and professional manner. Staff meetings, memos, etc. must communicate and forward the planning and strategy. People need to know what is going on and what is expected. Strategy is more than words on paper; it pervades every part of your operation.

It is essential to use statistics, metrics and analytics in your day-to-day operations. You can measure and monitor anything using numbers that equate to quantity, quality and productivity. If a salesman sells five times the units anyone else does, you isolate what he is doing right, forward this and reinforce it. The person whose sales are near zero needs help or needs to be let go. You can monitor and manage any job or department through analyzing the numbers that reflect productivity.


The structure of your company refers to how you might lay it out in a two-dimensional form. In a small group you may do everything from sign up new customers and pay the bills, to fix the broken stair and pressure-wash the driveway. If you partner or hire someone, you may succeed in doubling your output. As you take on more territory you will undoubtedly hire more people. But you may find yourself in a situation where you’re stepping on people’s toes, they’re stepping on yours, etc. That is because you must now clearly delineate WHO is responsible for WHAT.

Set up departments and positions with specialized duties and ensure people are trained for their jobs (as described above). Just beware of the tendency to bureaucratize – one department says it’s the others’ job who then point back to the first department, projects stall due to red tape, etc.

Your structure should align with your purposes, planning, strategy, etc. When you have these things in place and functioning, you will see heightened productivity amongst your employees.


“Efficient” means:

1. (Of a system, organization or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

2. (Of a person) working in a well-organized and competent way.

You’ve heard of a “time-motion study”? These can be quite eye-opening. You need not get super-sophisticated. Simply look around and see what people have to go through in order to turn out a completed product. Is there wasted time? Is there wasted motion? Is there wasted money?

There are two distinct types of jobs. One is stationary and the other is ambulatory.

The stationary person should have all needed equipment (computer, buzz saw, etc.) right there and operational so he or she can do the job. The stationary person doesn’t have to constantly run around the shop (or office) for a pencil or a nail gun if their job requires those items.

The ambulatory person moves around due to the nature of their job. This is the delivery person, the driver, the runner, the assistant who darts about and gets things and makes things easier for others. They too require the needed items, but it is a different set-up. Get it?

Put it All Together

1. You hire someone you believe will do a good job.

2. They are already trained or you train them.

3. You train them on their specialty using company policy so they understand how it gets done at your business.

4. You brief them on the overall goals, purposes, strategy, plans, programs, projects, etc.

5. You monitor statistics, metrics and analytics, and use surveys in order to bolster what is working and remedy what is not.

6. You make sure people know WHO to answer to and WHO to go to for WHAT. You don’t cross these things up, but rather maintain the integrity of your organizational structure.

7. You make sure each job and department has what it needs to function with minimal wasted time and motion while taking into account financial restrictions.

8. Put all the above on charts so it is easy for people to track with and understand.

9. Then fire everything up and watch motivation and productivity soar. Do all that smartly and you’ll get a LOT – if not the MOST – out of your employees.