Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

Three out of every 10 workers are not properly engaged at work, which can hinder a company’s performance. Check out these five tips to keep your workers happy and engaged and your company’s performance humming along.

Throughout 2018, Mind Your Business will be reviewing the highlights of the 2017 BizConCLE event hosted by COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Today’s article focuses on the lessons small business owners can learn about engaging their employees from Gallup’s Stephen Shields. Read the other stories in this series here.

There are a lot of things businesses can’t control: their competition, federal and state regulations, costs, etc. But there is, according to Gallup’s Stephen Shields, one factor that companies can influence and that’s their own human capital.

During a keynote address at the 2017 BizConCLE, Shields said the best way to manage this variable is by doing their best to engage the employees they have on staff. He defined the difference between an engaged employee and one who is not engaged as being the percentage of time they expend what he deemed “discretionary effort.” That is, that little something extra that isn’t in an employee’s official job description, but something they decide to do anyway on their own to help their organization.

So, how do you create an environment within your business that encourages this engagement? Shields laid out five tips.

Tip No. 1: Focus on the immediate supervisor of your employees (not the owner or senior leadership.) When Shields was a call center supervisor, for instance, he put on his calendar everyday that he would spend seven minutes each day walking the floor and talking with his direct reports on a personal level to establish more of a personal connection. This level of connection is important, he said, because people are emotional creatures, and not robots programmed to simply do a task.

Tip No. 2: Keep things simple. Ask these direct bosses, what is one thing you can do to better engage with the staff (such as the example listed above.)

Tip No. 3: Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them. That you listen and take their opinions to heart. You provide the resources to your teams to get the job done. And your employees understand the company’s mission and why certain actions are being taken.

Tip No. 4: Weed out people who aren’t going to be an engaged employee early on during the interview process. (Shields said it takes four engaged employees to make up for one actively disengaged worker.) Ask them during the interview what the most challenging thing about their last position was and how they handled that challenge? If they make excuses about that position, chances are they’ll make more excuses if you bring them onboard.

Tip No. 5: Hold everyone accountable. Don’t let your staff get away with not doing their jobs because that type of attitude will rub off on their coworkers.

BizConCLE is just one example of the many educational events hosted by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE each year to help give the business community the knowledge they need to make their business a success. Check out this list of upcoming events to find one that’s right for you.
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  • Next up: Heard Any Good Books Lately?

    Heard Any Good Books Lately?

    Multitasking takes on a whole new meaning when you’re on wheels. Get where you’re going and learn a little something at the same time with audio books.

    Confused about the title? I’ll explain shortly.

    As busy business leaders, we face lots of challenges doing our jobs or running our businesses. One of the most important challenges we face is the need for on-going professional education. We may recognize the importance of life-long learning, but who has the time and energy to do any of it?

    One simple strategy that I’ve found to deal with this paradox is to embrace the concept of the ‘University of the Automobile.’ Here’s how it works. Assume the average person commutes to work an hour a day over a 40-year work life. Do the math; that’s 10,000 hours spent in the car—even more if you use your car during the workday or for business travel.

    That is more time than you would spend in class, studying and doing assignments to earn both a BS and MBA degree. Most current business books are available free from your public library in CD format or for downloading to your phone or iPod. Plus, there are thousands of podcasts that relate to the business challenges you might be facing.

    So, make a commitment today to spend part of your daily commute learning. It won’t take long for ‘part’ to become ‘all’ of your commute when you see the value first hand.

    Where do you start? Ask your colleagues what they’ve been reading. Google ‘new business books.’ Or, check out one of the best business books I’ve read recently: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter and How They Can Help You,’ by Jack Covert & Todd Sattersten, 2009, The Penguin Group, New York, NY. The detailed summaries have useful content. Therefore, they help me determine if I want to read—or listen to—the whole book and make it easy for me to impress people that I actually did read the whole book.

    Hey, as Jim Collins might say, “… works for me.”

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com,440-449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  

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  • Next up: How to Assess Yourself

    How to Assess Yourself

    Playing to your strength is an important part of being successful in business. But how well do you really know yourself? The resources listed below will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how to leverage that knowledge to help your business succeed.

    Playing to your strength is an important part of being successful in business. But how well do you really know yourself? The resources listed below will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how to leverage that knowledge to help your business succeed.

    • StrengthsFinder 2.0: Uncover hundreds of strategies you can use to apply your unique strengths. 
    • How to assess employee skills: Here’s a 4-step plan to identifying your employees’ core competencies. 
    • Identify Skill Gaps: Here’s a handy chart to use that will help you pick out where the skill gaps are in your organization. 
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  • Next up: How to Make a 60-Second Sales Pitch to a CEO

    How to Make a 60-Second Sales Pitch to a CEO

    Read on below to learn what sales pitches pique the interest of the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company.

    I spent an evening with the CEO of a $3.6-billion company based in Minneapolis. We were at a conference held by the Young President’s Organization (YPO) at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    We walked and talked at the expo held for the construction industry. Really, he talked and I followed along to see how he conducted himself at an industry expo. I wanted to learn the secrets to how top CEOs get value from an expo since I have always found them to be time bandits. 

    Spoiler alert! He does not handle an expo like the rest of us mortals!

    When I say “expo,” you all know what I mean. There are tables of vendors set up around the perimeter of the expo hall and the food tables are in the middle of the room. The attendees of the conference are hungry, so they want the food in the middle of the room, but they have to carefully navigate the hall to make sure they don’t accidentally run into one of the salespeople eagerly positioned around the room. It’s kind of like running the Greek gauntlet in Homer’s Odyssey and trying to avoid Scylla and Charybdis (extra credit if you remember this obscure Greek reference from high school). 

    The expo salespeople stand by their tables and as soon as you come within earshot, they are eagerly reading your name badge, engaging you by asking where you’re from and then launching into a 60-second pitch about their product or service. They give the same pitch over and over hundreds of times per expo.

    I observed the following methods that my CEO companion used while tackling the expo:

    Get right to the point. The difference between how most of us handle ourselves in these situations and how this CEO works the room is simple: If a vendor doesn’t get to the point, and fast, the CEO of the $3-billion company will interrupt and say one of two phrases:

    Response No. 1: “Please get to the point.”

    Response No. 2: “You’re talking to the wrong guy. Do you have any other products or services that might be of interest to me?”

    Be polite but efficient. I thought he would be “Minnesota Nice,” but he was quick to interrupt if the salesperson was wasting his time. He often tried to help them understand why their pitch was not landing well. Some of the salespeople understood that they were losing him and deftly changed their pitch. Many just got flustered and restarted their pitch with the same or different words. He politely walked away to the next booth. I don’t want to give the impression that he wasn’t nice, just that he was completely intolerant of wasting time. He came to the conference with a shopping list and if what you’re selling doesn’t include what’s on his list, he’s not buying. 

    Ask good questions. When he did get interested in a pitch, he asked good questions. He listened. He asked more good questions. 

    Follow up when interested. If there are any salespeople reading this article, please know that the best you can hope for as an expo salesperson is that he will take your info and promise he’ll have one of his management team members follow up. As we were walking, I asked him if he was sincere about that or if it was just a line. He assured me that if he says it, he really is planning to have a manager investigate the new product or service. He doesn’t care if they buy it or not, just that they consider the new idea.

    In under an hour, we visited all 11 vendors at the expo. He gathered value from the ones that he found interesting. I am sure he’ll have his people call them when he returns to the company—the good ones at least! 

    Jonathan Slain coaches a very limited number of best-in-class contracting, staffing and entrepreneurial companies that want to double (top and/or bottom line) within the next five years. If you are ready to buckle-up, please go to http://autobahnconsultants.com/ or email Jonathan@AutobahnConsultants.com

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  • Next up: How to Master the Skill of Being Aware

    How to Master the Skill of Being Aware

    Dynamic leaders are keenly aware of how to leverage all their strengths. In her latest column, Monika Moss-Gransberry shares some of the lessons she’s learned about how to be aware of and leverage internal and external processes and environments.

    What makes a dynamic leader? The ability to make a difference just by entering a room. Not everyone has this talent, and it has everything to do with being highly aware.

    The place I most profoundly learned to make a difference with my presence is the Gestalt

    Organizational Systems Development Center, (Gestalt OSD Center). It was there as a student and then as a faculty member I was set on the path to self-mastery.

    I recall my mentor and teacher, the President of the Center, John D. Carter often said, “I want my clients to be able to play with all 52 cards in the deck—and the jokers.” This requires a keen sense of awareness.

    Awareness of your internal process and experience, awareness of the environment around you, and being able to shuttle back and forth and see how your thoughts, words, actions are impacting the environment and how the thoughts, words, and actions of others are impacting you is critically important.

    Gestalt theory and method have become one of the top five approaches to organizational change. For 40 years, the Gestalt Organizational Systems Development Center has been using Gestalt concept, theory, method and practice integrated with change theory and organizational development concepts to formulate and teach. This became known at Gestalt Organizational Systems Development.

    Change happens when a system becomes aware of something in a new way.

    Introducing a new experience to an individual or group expands their awareness and potentially their understanding of that experience. The the more awareness we have, the faster that change happens within us.

    Being able to make a difference with your presence in any room with any number of people anywhere in the world is the invaluable proposition that the practice of Gestalt can create. It is the self-mastery that allows for you to move authentically and strategically in the world with confidence and intention.

    Monika Moss-Gransberry is the president of MKM Management Consulting.

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  • Next up: How to Set Up a Board of Advisors

    How to Set Up a Board of Advisors

    “Never tell your problems to anyone; 20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” --- Lou Holtz

    “Never tell your problems to anyone; 20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” --- Lou Holtz

    The quote above from the former Notre Dame head football coach was referenced during a recent COSE Strategic Planning Course discussion about how business owners should best go about asking for help for their business. For a little context, the panel of SPC speakers were saying that when an entrepreneur is in search of advice, the best place to find it is from other business owners. 

    That’s where a board of advisors can come in handy for a business. But what’s the best way to go about setting up such a board? The SPC panel provided the following advice on how to put together a board that can help you work through your toughest issues.

    Board composition and setup

    So, who should you target to be on your board? People like you! You thought CEO was an acronym for Chief Executive Officer? It’s actually short for Consoling Each Other. These are the people who are going to have the best perspective on the various questions you have about staffing, sales, IT, and such because they’re living it too. Find people who have experience in a skill set that you don’t have. You’re a sales wonder, but struggle with marketing? Find someone who fills that gap. Pick people you will listen to, but avoid customers or vendors. You’re looking for neutral third parties here who aren’t afraid to voice their opinion and hold your feet to the fire.

    The COSE Strategic Planning Course can be a good place to find potential board members for your business. In fact, several speakers said they continue to meet on a regular basis with the other business owners they met during their SPC class.

    To avoid ties, try to have an odd number of people on your board. Also, setting a one-year term for board members is a good timeframe to start with to ensure there is a good fit for both the company and board member and to give the board enough time to understand the ins and outs of your business.

    Running the meeting

    Once you’ve settled on the makeup of the board, you’ll need to decide how often to meet. Setting up quarterly meetings is a good timeframe to start with. It’s also a good idea to pass along a copy of the agenda and any related materials so board members can begin preparing in advance. On the agenda, consider listing out how long you plan to discuss each item (e.g., 15 minutes to recap last quarter’s financials, 30 minutes on staffing, etc.) Designate a timekeeper for each meeting whose role will be to ensure the board doesn’t go over time on agenda items.

    If running a meeting is not your strong suit, don’t be afraid to designate someone to take on that role. You’ll also need someone to take notes during the meeting and then to distribute those notes following the meeting.


    Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about your board of advisors? Listen to what they have to say! It can be easy to coast along with your business. You need people who are going to ask you the difficult questions that you need to answer if your business is going to grow.

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