Tag Archive: motivating_employees

From CO to CEO: Q&A with veteran Chris Hale on making the transition from military leadership to civilian business management

From CO to CEO: Q&A with veteran Chris Hale on making the transition from military leadership to civilian business management

Posted by SBOC Team in General Businesson Nov 9, 2012 8:04:36 AM

QAchrishale_Body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007. It isn’t always easy to go from a structured military environment to managing a civilian company. But veterans can bring a highly specialized skill set, discipline, and drive to help them excel in an increasingly competitive job arena. As the 43-year-old chairman and co-founder of Victory Media, a Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-based company that has marketed the military population to corporate America through different media since 2001, Chris Hale is intimately acquainted with both worlds. Business writer Robert Lerose talked with the former Navy officer about leadership and the “strategic advantage” that veterans offer.

 

RL: After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, you had a distinguished career in the military. Tell me about that.

CH: I went into the Navy Flight Officer Program, which is for people who don’t have the vision to become pilots. I spent about a year and a half after that as a navigator and communicator on a P-3, which is an anti-submarine warfare airplane. Then I moved up and became the tactical coordinator. He’s like the quarterback. When pilots fly the airplane over a submarine, the tactical coordinator handles the whole operation. I worked my way up to mission commander and was with the squadron in Jacksonville, Florida for a little over three years.

 

RL: When was this?

CH: The fall of 1993 through January of 1997. During this time, I did two six-month deployments to Keflavik, Iceland. I also spent some time in Sicily. After that, I did a three-year recruiting tour in Pittsburgh, which is where I’m originally from, and then left active duty at the end of 1999.

 

RL: Around the time you left the Navy, you co-founded a web-based military media company. You also worked as a manager for a Fortune 50 company. What was the transition like for you from military command situation to civilian management?

CH: I went through a civilian business school at night when I was at recruiting duty in Pittsburgh. There were a few things I had to learn. There are a lot of similarities, quite frankly, [between the military and civilian expectations]. In the private sector, projects require people with propulsion systems.

 

QAchrishale_PQ.jpgRL: What does that mean, “propulsion systems?”

CH: To take ideas, projects, and concepts to a point where they’re properly executed takes a propulsion system, or an engine, so to speak. It’s one of the core traits of leadership that you learn in the private sector. A lot of the skills I learned in the service were very, very transferable—leadership, teamwork, working in diverse teams, mission accomplishment, performance under pressure. In the military, there are serious consequences for not succeeding on a mission. In the private sector, you’re very accustomed to pressure-filled situations or performance under pressure or pulling all-nighters, if you need to, to get the job done.

 

RL: And the differences?

In the private sector, you don’t know where everybody stands. Some of the subtleties of corporate culture were new [to me]. It’s hard to tell where the rank structure is, where the social structure is, where the cultural structure is. It’s not visibly apparent.

 

RL: Your company bio says, “your principles have transformed corporate perspective on hiring military veterans from one of entitlement to one of strategic advantage.” Could you elaborate on that?

CH: Most organizations that exist to benefit veterans are based on the premise that there is at least a part of that veteran that is worse off because of their service. We take a very, very opposite approach—that you’re far better off because of having served. Those skills are so transferable. The things that you learn in the military prepare you for success in the private sector as an employee of somebody else, as a business owner yourself, or as what we call a hybrid of those two things, which is perhaps opening a franchise.

 

RL: You also believe “that military service is the best training regimen in the world and corporate America benefits from this every day.” How so?

CH: Don’t hire veterans because you feel it’s your moral obligation to do so. Hire veterans because these guys and women can transform your company and make it better. They’re model employees. They are like alumni of one of the greatest training organizations in the world—the U.S. military. When you hire a veteran, your company is benefitting from the training that the federal government has already invested heavily in. It’s a tremendous workforce development expense that companies don’t have to incur.

http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/running-your-business/generalbusiness/blog/2012/11/09/from-co-to-ceo-qa-with-veteran-chris-hale-on-making-the-transition-from-military-leadership-to-civilian-business-management

The 7 best TED talks for small business owners

The 7 best TED talks for small business owners

by Erin McDermott.

Got time for a bite-size bit of inspiration? Take a look at TED Talks.

What started as a small conference that shared new thinking on technology, education, and design (that’s where the T-E-D comes from) in the 1980s has grown into an Internet juggernaut with videos that together have drawn nearly one billion views. Many cities in the U.S. and elsewhere are hosting smaller versions of the TED Talk franchise and a feature in The New Yorker this summer suggests TED has managed to turn “ideas into an industry.” But there’s also plenty of smart stuff here for small business owners. Many talks feature innovators and entrepreneurs, with savvy ideas about marketing, leadership, and burgeoning industries rife with opportunities. The clips vary in length from less than five minutes to about the average coffee run, and are engaging, fast moving, and very funny at times.

Here’s a look at seven TED Talks that small business owners should make time to watch.

Lisa Harouni: A Primer on 3D Printing (14:05)

Have you been hearing a lot about 3D printing? It very well could be the next revolution in manufacturing: technology that, layer-by-layer, assembles even the most intricate of designs. The idea and the industrial-scale machines have been around for some time, but a new focus on their capabilities—from architecture and construction use to human bones to (seriously!) a whole racecar—has engineers around the world jazzed. Some experts believe these devices could become a household norm in the not-too-distant future. Watch Lisa Harouni, chief executive of London’s pioneering Digital Forming, in November 2011 and be dazzled.

David S. Rose: Pitching to VCs (14:42)

Seeking capital for your growing enterprise? Better get your pitch right before you run the gauntlet of venture-capital panels. David S. Rose, managing partner of Rose Tech Ventures, entrepreneur, and “pitch coach,” has been on both sides of the investors’ table. Here, Rose gives a fast-paced rundown of 10 things you must be able to express in your presentation if you want to win over the angels.

Daniel H. Pink: The Surprising Science of Motivation (18:36)

If you’re running your business based on traditional thinking about carrots and sticks when it comes to incentives for your employees, you might be wasting your time and money on outdated assumptions. Daniel H. Pink, the bestselling author of Drive, Free Agent Nation, and the forthcoming To Sell Is Human, has been changing perceptions about the 21st-century American workplace for more than a decade. Here, in this video, with nearly four million views, Pink talks about what science now knows and what some businesses are still doing—to their detriment.

Richard St. John: Success Is a Continuous Journey (3:57)

Need a pep talk? In less than four minutes, writer and entrepreneur Richard St. John recounts his own rise to the top—and his downfall after succumbing to the perks of success. (One tip: That sports car isn’t a solution to depression.) He outlines how he lost it and lessons for everyone on the importance of keeping your eye on the ball. (And here’s another good one from St. John at TED.)

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree (12:56)

Arguing with your partner may be a very good thing for your business. Why? Conflict can lead to progress, while colleagues who serve as an echo chamber are unlikely to help you break new ground. That’s the gist of former CEO Margaret Heffernan’s June 2012 talk. The question is: Who has the patience and wherewithal to find, listen to, and push forward with those who challenge them most?

For more info, http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/running-your-business/generalbusiness/blog/2012/09/27/listen-up-the-7-best-ted-talks-for-small-business-owners

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight
by Jen Hickey.

To get some ideas on how small business owners can motivate workers when cash is in short supply, business writer Jen Hickey spoke with Cindy Ventrice, the author of Make Their Day: Employee Recognition that Works and president of Potential Unlimited, which offers consulting, speaking and training to help companies create a positive work environment.

JH: How do “recognition” and “reward” function in the workplace?

CV: Recognition is an act between two people. It’s a one-on-one interaction between manager and employee that demonstrates “we value you.” It has an emotional component with lasting value. A reward is a tangible gift for something an employee accomplishes. Rewards are great if they’re tied to recognition. Giving a reward meant to act as recognition is much more short lived.

JH: What are some examples of recognition?

CV: From research I’ve done asking employees about memorable recognition experience, I’ve found it breaks down into four elements:

Praise: Giving employees positive feedback for the work they’re doing.
Appreciation: Thanking an employee for his/her efforts. This is not as performance-based as praise.
Respect: This element must always be present for recognition to take place. Without respect, praise and appreciation won’t work.
Opportunity: Find something that employee wants to learn and give them the opportunity to do that (e.g., special project, challenging assignment).

I’ve experienced a lot of push back from managers who think their employees are too busy and will not see an opportunity for a new project or special assignment as a form of recognition. Employees want their manager to know what’s important to them and to provide them with the opportunities to grow. It shows how well they’re valued.
JH: Why is it important to incorporate recognition into incentives?

CV: An incentive is neither recognition nor reward, but you can add recognition to the delivery of an incentive. An incentive is meant to encourage a certain kind behavior (e.g. getaway trip for top sales), whereas a reward is something given after the fact in appreciation for certain behavior a manager wants to reinforce but did not necessarily promise ahead of time (e.g., a 10-year anniversary gift). Both incentives and rewards have more value when given with recognition. It’s important to find out what an employee has contributed to the organization before giving a tangible reward/incentive.
PQ_QAcindyventrice.jpgJH: What type of nonmonetary reward/recognition can a small business owner offer employees?

CV: Low-cost recognition and rewards have proven to be very effective. Through employee surveys, I’ve found that 57 percent of meaningful recognition had no cost. Hand-written notes can be very powerful. People tend to hold onto them for many years and look back to them for encouragement. Other examples include keeping a white board in the break room for employees to write messages of encouragement or celebrate successes, remembering details about an employee’s project, and symbolic awards. Offering flextime or telecommuting could be an incentive or reward. This requires a certain amount of responsibility on an employee’s part, and a manager may want to set some parameters before offering such incentives.

A good manager knows what’s important to the individual and has tailored rewards to match. Flex-time/telecommuting is a great incentive for those in the back office, but may not work for an employee who needs to meet face to face frequently with customers. A manager must know his/her employees to tailor rewards to an individual’s needs/preferences.
JH: What are some concrete steps a business can take to foster inherent recognition in the workplace?

CV: Showing support and acknowledging employee efforts build inherent recognition in the workplace. Employees see recognition from their manager even when it’s not the original intent if a respectful work environment exists. The same goes at the organizational level.

A good starting point for a company is to look at its policies/procedures for anything that may create a disrespectful work environment. Conduct an anonymous survey among employees to identify patterns of perceived distrust.

Often times, a manager or organization is unaware of negative messages they’re sending. Saying “we value your opinion” and then not acting on or even acknowledging suggestions made or doing anything that says “we don’t trust you” can have a detrimental effect on recognition.

For example, I worked with a company that installed a key card system for security but employees thought it was to track their coming and going. Good communication was needed to clear this up. It’s important to have these conversations to determine what can be done to foster an environment of trust in the workplace.

Recognition can also come from a business’ standing in the community. A business known for its charitable efforts can foster inherent recognition in the workplace. Ask employees to pick a charity and give them company time off to participate. Positive public relations can provide recognition to employees, and a positive reputation tends to bring in higher caliber employees.

Offering training or classes can be an inexpensive way to show employees they’re valued. For example, I worked with a company that offered English classes to employees who were mostly Spanish-speaking.
JH: Explain the difference between tangible and intangible incentives, and which tend to be better motivators?

CV: A tangible incentive is something that can be held in your hand or put into a bank account. Time off is considered semi-tangible, as it can’t be held but can be measured. Praise, appreciation and respect are intangible incentives.

Refusing to let someone telecommute when work can easily be done from home or falling below industry standard for pay and benefits can be de-motivators. If your business can’t afford to offer paid time off, you must work extremely hard to find incentives to offset this.

For example, a company with a lot of students could offer unpaid time off for studying for exams. Or one with a lot of employees with school-age children could offer flextime or to work from home when a child’s sick.
JH: Why is it important to help employees identify their purpose in the workplace?

CV: Every employee should understand how he or she contributes to the company’s success. In a small business, it is much easier to connect employees to what they do and how they contribute to a company’s success. It’s one of the greatest strengths of small businesses, and why so many people love to work for them. Employees can see how they make a difference and have far more opportunities to build skills.

Think of each employee as cast members in a play. Production suffers if not every member—from the main characters to the stagehands—is performing his/her role well. This puts people with different responsibilities on equal footing.

It’s important to create a narrative for your business and tie that back to what each employee does. Encourage pride among employees for each part they play in bringing your products or services to customers.

Management Style Q & A: How the Power of Habits Can Make Businesses Successful

By Sherron Lumley.

Award-winning business reporter for The New York Times, Charles Duhigg (right), discusses his new book, The Power of Habit, about the science of habit formation in people, companies and societies. He explains the research behind the book, why habits exist, the secret to changing them, and how keystone habits set off chain reactions for sweeping business transformations. He examines the habit loop, making it clear why some companies struggle to alter course while others do so facilely. Duhigg provides insight to small businesses about changing institutional, employee and consumer behavior through the power of habit.

SL: Describe the backstory for The Power of Habit, where and when did you first become interested in the subject?

CD: I first got interested in the subject eight or nine years ago when I was a reporter in Kufa, about an hour south of Baghdad in Iraq. The U.S. military is very interested in understanding habits and I heard about an Army major who had figured out how to stop riots there by removing food vendors. What he discovered was that when people would gather, the food vendors would show up and the people would stay longer and the situation would escalate. By removing the food vendors from the series of events, at about 5:30 p.m. the people would get hungry and start to go home if there was no food. Crowds are collections of people with habits.
PQ_QAcharlesduhigg.jpgSL: Why do habits exist and what purpose do they serve?

CD: Habits exist because our neurology needs them. It would be mentally exhausting if our brains did not make everyday routines into habits, which are actually a combination of three parts: the cue, routine and reward. The cue is the trigger to the behavior or routine, which is reinforced by the reward.
SL: Could you give an example of a simple habit loop – a cue, a routine, and a reward?

CD: Yes. Recently, I would eat a cookie every afternoon and that caused me to gain a little weight. A trigger can be a time or place, the presence of other people or a ritual. For me, the cookie cue came between 3:15 and 3:45 p.m. each day. At first, I thought the reward was simply eating the cookie, but rewards are complicated, so I reconsidered it. Was it that I needed a burst of energy? Did I need sweetness? I did little experiments exchanging coffee breaks for the cookie breaks, and what I discovered was that the reward I was craving was socialization. I needed time to socialize and that was the real reward of the habit.
SL: Why do some people and companies struggle to change?

CD: Change is hard if they haven’t analyzed the cues and rewards. The brain tries to make the patterns in our lives, our every routine, into a habit. Most people focus on the routine part of the habit rather than focusing on the cue or the reward, which are actually more important.
SL: You discuss keystone habits in The Power of Habit. What are they?

CD: Keystone habits are those habits that cause chain reactions. For example, exercise is a keystone habit, which leads to people eating better and also using their credit cards less.
SL: How can small businesses use this information to improve performance?

CD: For small businesses, look at the employee habits that are driving organizational habits. There are also consumer habits, with their own cues and rewards and one problem is having the reward set too far in the future.
SL: Could you provide an example of a situation where an institutional habit could be changed to improve outcomes?

CD: When a crisis happens, this is often an opportunity for improvement. An example is a Rhode Island Hospital, which had bad communication habits, which led to mistakes being made in surgical rooms that led to deaths in some cases. They changed their habits by starting to use checklists and by having time outs before going into surgery, and those changes became the new routine.
SL: Lastly, in the book, you tell the story of how Alcoa changed one habit that turned the company around, could you talk about that?

CD: When Paul O’Neill—who went on to become Secretary of the Treasury—became the CEO of Alcoa, he wanted to make the company more profitable, but there had already been a big strike, so any change risked having people at each other’s throats. So, what he decided to do was focus on worker safety first, and by changing the institutional habits about safety, the company became more efficient, more productive and more profitable. Safety was a keystone habit that unlocked a chain reaction that created a top-performing company.

Top Chef Q & A: Lessons on Managing When Things Heat Up

By Susan Caminiti.

At Gramercy Tavern in New York City—consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in the country—Executive Chef Michael Anthony (right), 44, oversees a kitchen staff of nearly 70 people and knows a thing or two about leading a team in a pressure-filled environment. He recently spoke with business writer Susan Caminiti about learning to delegate, the best ways to motivate employees, and why it’s important for the boss to occasionally disconnect from the action.
SC: Running a kitchen is often portrayed as such a command-and-control way of leading. Is that accurate?

MA: It can be, but my style is actually a bit counter-intuitive to the restaurant industry, where the golden rule is that the guest always comes first. The number one goal at Gramercy is to take care of each other. When I first came here in 2006 and met [owner] Danny Meyer, I felt like we had a number of things in common when it came to managing people, and I felt drawn to his sense of respect and devotion to his employees. That business philosophy felt attractive and comfortable to me.
SC: How does it play out in your management style?

MA: When it comes to managing people, there’s no such thing as one size fits all. It’s one size fits one. Each person brings individual talents and needs to be motivated in a different way. By recognizing that, I’ve become a better leader and we’ve become a better team. I feel confident in my ability to cook great food and to teach people how to be great cooks, but we are a much better restaurant when we tap into the individual talents of the people I’ve chosen to be part of the staff.
SC: That sounds incredibly time consuming. How do you manage it?

MA: You’re right—it takes an enormous amount of time, attention, and energy but that’s part of the mission of being a good leader. Certainly half of my job is creating and cooking great dishes and serving them in a wonderful way. But the other half is effectively managing the folks that I work with. In my line of business we are bound by the hours of the restaurant and in our case it’s from noon until the end of the evening, sometimes midnight or later. Some of that meaningful conversation with my staff happens after the dinner service ends at midnight or 1 am. That’s challenging, so as a good manager I’m always trying to balance what’s best for the restaurant with what’s best for that individual.
PQ_QAtopchef.jpgSC: What mistakes did you make early on?

MA: As a young chef I made the mistake of believing that I could do it all. The problem with that is that you can’t sustain it. I realized through lots of guidance and time that if I don’t have energy to give to my team, I really don’t have much to offer.
SC: How did you overcome that desire to do it all?

MA: First, I’ll say it wasn’t a matter of not trusting people. It was simply a selfish decision on my part—I love cooking so much and I didn’t want to miss one moment of it. I wanted to be in the center of it at every moment. I think a lot of leaders are like that. In order to change I had to learn: How do I formulate my ideas, share them in a clear, poised way, and make sure that I create realistic and ambitious expectations for the people who work for me? I have to be able to take a step back to make sure we’re putting our top managers in a position to respond creatively to issues and problems that come up every day. It can’t always be me. And that’s one of the benefits of making employees feel understood and valued: they look forward to coming to work and appreciate those ambitious expectations. Champions want to be challenged.
SC: What if someone isn’t meeting those expectations?

MA: We have something at Gramercy called “continuous gracious pressure.” In practical terms that means if there is an issue with an employee, it sometimes takes active coaching on my part or on the part of one of my sous chefs. So if there is someone on our staff who is falling short and just not understanding something that’s important, it requires more individual contact and dialogue.
SC: How do you balance the time needed for big picture thinking and the daily obligations of running a very busy kitchen?

MA: I used to call that big picture time “walk-in time” because it would happen late at night when I would stroll through the prep and walk-in areas of our kitchen and hold ingredients, just waiting for those moments of inspiration to come up with dishes for the next day or week. It just wasn’t sustainable. I would find myself in the restaurant until 3 a.m. and then not in a good position to be back in the next day for morning prep time.
SC: How did you fix that?

MA: I figured out how many hours a day I needed to be productive in those creative areas and made it part of my schedule. So there are now 2½ hours in my week that are as important as any meeting or any lunch or dinner service. They are ‘do not book’ hours and they are sacred. Sometimes I’ll spend it in my office; other times I’ll actually be in the middle of the busy kitchen working on menu development and nothing else.
SC: What’s the benefit of doing it that way?

MA: What could be more important than taking the time to develop the cooking that we do? However, I had to learn to be disciplined about it. I had to communicate ahead of time with my staff to remind them what I was working on without getting frustrated. When I communicate well people are actually happy I’m doing this because there’s a payoff for them: new dishes, better organization, a better-run restaurant. So while it could feel a little off-putting in the beginning because it looked like I wasn’t responding to questions, people quickly understood and actually rallied around it.
SC: What is still the biggest challenge for you?

MA: All of it! But seriously, if I say no to something, then I better be able to be honest and open about why I’m saying no. And if I say yes, then everybody needs to understand why I said yes. If the reasoning is murky then it’s very difficult for people to turn around and offer creative ideas. They don’t understand what makes an idea successful or valid. In a highly creative environment, leaders have to make sure they’re not allowing their emotions—whether that be pride or insecurity—get in the way.

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight by Jen Hickey.

To get some ideas on how small business owners can motivate workers when cash is in short supply, business writer Jen Hickey spoke with Cindy Ventrice, the author of Make Their Day: Employee Recognition that Works and president of Potential Unlimited, which offers consulting, speaking and training to help companies create a positive work environment.


JH: How do “recognition” and “reward” function in the workplace?

CV: Recognition is an act between two people. It’s a one-on-one interaction between manager and employee that demonstrates “we value you.”  It has an emotional component with lasting value. A reward is a tangible gift for something an employee accomplishes. Rewards are great if they’re tied to recognition. Giving a reward meant to act as recognition is much more short lived.

JH: What are some examples of recognition?

CV: From research I’ve done asking employees about memorable recognition experience, I’ve found it breaks down into four elements:

  • Praise: Giving employees positive feedback for the work they’re doing.
  • Appreciation: Thanking an employee for his/her efforts. This is not as performance-based as praise.
  • Respect: This element must always be present for recognition to take place.  Without respect, praise and appreciation won’t work.
  • Opportunity: Find something that employee wants to learn and give them the opportunity to do that (e.g., special project, challenging assignment).

I’ve experienced a lot of push back from managers who think their employees are too busy and will not see an opportunity for a new project or special assignment as a form of recognition. Employees want their manager to know what’s important to them and to provide them with the opportunities to grow. It shows how well they’re valued.

JH: Why is it important to incorporate recognition into incentives?

CV: An incentive is neither recognition nor reward, but you can add recognition to the delivery of an incentive. An incentive is meant to encourage a certain kind behavior (e.g. getaway trip for top sales), whereas a reward is something given after the fact in appreciation for certain behavior a manager wants to reinforce but did not necessarily promise ahead of time (e.g., a 10-year anniversary gift). Both incentives and rewards have more value when given with recognition. It’s important to find out what an employee has contributed to the organization before giving a tangible reward/incentive.

PQ_QAcindyventrice.jpgJH: What type of nonmonetary reward/recognition can a small business owner offer employees?

CV: Low-cost recognition and rewards have proven to be very effective. Through employee surveys, I’ve found that 57 percent of meaningful recognition had no cost. Hand-written notes can be very powerful. People tend to hold onto them for many years and look back to them for encouragement. Other examples include keeping a white board in the break room for employees to write messages of encouragement or celebrate successes, remembering details about an employee’s project, and symbolic awards. Offering flextime or telecommuting could be an incentive or reward. This requires a certain amount of responsibility on an employee’s part, and a manager may want to set some parameters before offering such incentives.

A good manager knows what’s important to the individual and has tailored rewards to match. Flex-time/telecommuting is a great incentive for those in the back office, but may not work for an employee who needs to meet face to face frequently with customers. A manager must know his/her employees to tailor rewards to an individual’s needs/preferences.

JH: What are some concrete steps a business can take to foster inherent recognition in the workplace?

CV: Showing support and acknowledging employee efforts build inherent recognition in the workplace. Employees see recognition from their manager even when it’s not the original intent if a respectful work environment exists. The same goes at the organizational level.

A good starting point for a company is to look at its policies/procedures for anything that may create a disrespectful work environment. Conduct an anonymous survey among employees to identify patterns of perceived distrust.

Often times, a manager or organization is unaware of negative messages they’re sending. Saying “we value your opinion” and then not acting on or even acknowledging suggestions made or doing anything that says “we don’t trust you” can have a detrimental effect on recognition.

For example, I worked with a company that installed a key card system for security but employees thought it was to track their coming and going. Good communication was needed to clear this up. It’s important to have these conversations to determine what can be done to foster an environment of trust in the workplace.

Recognition can also come from a business’ standing in the community. A business known for its charitable efforts can foster inherent recognition in the workplace. Ask employees to pick a charity and give them company time off to participate. Positive public relations can provide recognition to employees, and a positive reputation tends to bring in higher caliber employees.

Offering training or classes can be an inexpensive way to show employees they’re valued. For example, I worked with a company that offered English classes to employees who were mostly Spanish-speaking.

JH: Explain the difference between tangible and intangible incentives, and which tend to be better motivators?

CV: A tangible incentive is something that can be held in your hand or put into a bank account. Time off is considered semi-tangible, as it can’t be held but can be measured. Praise, appreciation and respect are intangible incentives.

Refusing to let someone telecommute when work can easily be done from home or falling below industry standard for pay and benefits can be de-motivators. If your business can’t afford to offer paid time off, you must work extremely hard to find incentives to offset this.

For example, a company with a lot of students could offer unpaid time off for studying for exams. Or one with a lot of employees with school-age children could offer flextime or to work from home when a child’s sick.

JH: Why is it important to help employees identify their purpose in the workplace?

CV: Every employee should understand how he or she contributes to the company’s success. In a small business, it is much easier to connect employees to what they do and how they contribute to a company’s success.  It’s one of the greatest strengths of small businesses, and why so many people love to work for them. Employees can see how they make a difference and have far more opportunities to build skills.

Think of each employee as cast members in a play. Production suffers if not every member—from the main characters to the stagehands—is performing his/her role well. This puts people with different responsibilities on equal footing.

It’s important to create a narrative for your business and tie that back to what each employee does. Encourage pride among employees for each part they play in bringing your products or services to customers.