Morale and Motivation

What is the source of motivation?

Can motivation be instilled, or is it something that individually control?

In workplaces today, you may hear comments that morale is down, what is the leadership going to do improve morale?  I don’t see this is a leadership issue, but more as an individual issue.  The part of morale that can be improved through leadership is when it comes to influencing a positive culture where team members are self motivated and feel valued.

As a leader, the right question that should be asked of your team is what motivates people individually in the workplace?  Why do people come to work everyday, and what drives them to continue to give 100% each day?  If, as a leader you are having those types of one on one conversations with your team, regardless of the level, you are well on your way to having positive and engaged morale within the workplace. 

In my environment, I feel very disconnected from what is going on when I have those days that I am behind closed doors.  It’s as important for me to be out with team seeing what is working, or not working for them; coaching them when the opportunity presents itself; and if nothing else just having informal conversations about what is going on with people individually. 

It is important that individuals feel connected with all levels of leadership, maybe not on a personal level, but at least on a genuine, interpersonal level.  It is important to remember where we came from in the workplace, and how we can use our experiences to mentor others for future success.  I have found that these connections are key to keeping morale positive, and individuals motivated to do their very best.

By nature, I am huge introvert, although, most that interact with me will wholeheartedly disagree.  If you invest connecting with people where they want you to connect with them, trusting relationships occur.  It is incumbent on us as leaders to develop and maintain those trusting relationships on a daily basis to ensure a positive culture exists.  When the culture is positive, morale is high and self motivation is increased.  People want to contribute more as a result.

The best environments are where team members feel that they “get” to come work and “want” to be part of something larger than themselves.  I love the fact that I “get” to go to work everyday, because I am motivated to have a positive impact on others everyday!

Have a great week!!

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The Problem in K-12 Education

The problem of K-12 education is something that is near and dear to me.  As a parent, as a member of the business community, and as the spouse of an educator, it is apparent to me that the problem in the classroom is what is allowed to occur outside of the classroom. 

It is not what is going on with students in their home life, but rather how the educational system is more concerned about data, scores, and labels.  As a result, school districts are focused more on standardized tests, rather than truly educating, teaching, and mentoring the next generation.

As I was growing up, you always heard of teachers speaking of the student teaching they had done, what their experiences were, and how they wanted to be teachers.  Today, there are more adults in the classroom and in administration that have never learned how to teach, and may not truly have the passion for teaching.  They are instructors as they are solely focused on test results. 

A teacher in my opinion, is an individual that truly has a passion for her students and can think out of the box to facilitate the learning process.  Teachers understand that true education is created when creativity is nurtured and when small successes are celebrated.  Teachers focus on the student as an individual learner, not as a part of the population in her class that did not pass the standardized test.

We need to get back to the basics in our requirements for teachers.  They need to understand what they are getting into when they agree to become a classroom teacher.  It is not an easy job, it is one of the most thankless jobs, but one that has more scrutiny in this country than most of our careers.  We should focus less on teacher accountability for test scores, and more on teacher responsibility in the classroom.  It is not an 8-3:30 job with summers off.  Teachers must, in my opinion, have coursework in how to educate and reach students, not just have a specific degree.  Instructors can be used in the business world, we need teachers, or rather educators in the classroom.

The way to improve K-12 education is to make it a requirement that our classroom teachers have actual documented teaching experience.  In other professions, we would not allow a surgeon to become licensed after only receiving an undergraduate degree in biology.  Or an attorney to become licensed because they have a liberal arts degree.  We should have the same expectation of for the teaching profession. 

Not every student is going to become an Nobel Prize winner, and not all students want to learn.  But at least create an environment where they are truly being educated rather than being labeled by their test scores.

There are a ton of highly qualified teachers with experience and passion for their students, unfortunately, in my opinion, they represent the minority in the profession.

That’s my rant for now…..

The Importance of Culture

Each work week, we each of us spend at least one-third of the weeks hours at our offices, for those of us that do not work remotely.  What we tend to do is forge strong relationships with our co-workers and get to know each of them personally, not just professionally.

In each of our roles, there are some team members that are innovators, motivators, individual contributors, and leaders.  The glue that bonds all of these people together and keeps them focused and wanting to return each day is not the paycheck (although that does help).  The bonding agent is the culture of the workplace.

As a leader, it is important to understand the cultural aspects of what makes a success team within an organization.  In call centers I have worked in, I have seen where those that can hit high numbers, were not always the best fit for other teams.  I am believer that if you can create a culture, and hire team members that embody the cultural aspects of the environment, the results will take care of themselves. 

As I have talked about in other posts, it is like a peer of mine reminded me about the movie Finding Nemo.  If you remember towards the end of the movie, when the fish begin swimming in the same direction, they are finally freed from the net.  Not one fish individually was able to become freed on their own, however, all the fish working together were able to become freed.  Having a common goal makes teams very effective.  Are you applying the Nemo Principle to your hiring practices?  Are you hiring those individuals that are team goal focused?  Are your front line leaders bought into this concept?  Are you compensating and rewarding your cultural values?

Developing the culture is a daily challenge for all leaders and one that will require constant work.  Once you get it where you think it needs to be, you will need to make adjustments, but keep your cultural beliefs at the core of your decisions.  In buying into this concept, your results will take care of themselves.  Attrition will be lower, as team members will not only hear that their perspectives matter, but they will see it in action.

Here is the first step…  Ask your teams what they like and dislike about their work environment.  Then ask them what they value in the ultimate work environment.  When you determine why they continue to spend one third of their week with you and their co-workers, you will begin having a stronger culture, and a stronger, more focused team.

Have a great week!!!

Be An Informed Consumer

Life is full of curve balls.

No, this is not a baseball metaphor for once, just a statement of truth.  All good intentions, at times have a way of not working out the way we plan for them to.  Does that mean we are making bad choices, or that we lack the experience to make the most informed choice?

I have been in the call center industry 22 years.  During that time, I and my teams have spoken with thousands of people who have run into to tough times.  When a person gets into this situation, are they asking the right questions of the company they are speaking with?  Even a better question, is the company asking the consumer the right questions for the best solution for the consumer?

At the end of the day, all of us run into bad situations.  Situations that we didn’t plan on.  Situations that may or may not be of our own making.  When consumers turn to creditors or service providers for assistance, it is imperative that communication be a two way street.  Consumers must be open and honest about their situation, and creditors/servicers must be fair and honest with the consumer.  Often times, this two way communication does not occur, and as a result, the consumer is the one left frustrated and in a deeper situation than they were before.

I have spent much of my career in the debt collection arena, and what I have found is that regardless of the specific industry, auto finance, medical, mortgage, student loans, credit cards, there are always alternatives to defaulting.  The importance of consumers communicating with their creditors, will almost always result in arrangements being made.  As a consumer, remember the following.

  • Don’t dodge creditor calls. 
  • Be specific about your situation.
  • Let the creditor know what you can do, versus what you can not do.
  • Understand any payment postponement options that are discussed and what you can do to mitigate standard monthly payment increases.
  • Be open to a two way conversation, and if the representative is not able to assist you, it is OK to ask for a supervisor or manager.
  • Don’t expect that the creditor is going to do everything you ask.  Most industries are heavily regulated and must be consistent in the application of the rules.
  • Don’t become upset at the messenger.  Often times the person representing the creditor is staying consistent with their policies.
  • At the end of the day, creditors and service providers WANT to assist their customers.

In my career, I have seen many situations where good people are going through a rough period.  As a creditor, I knew that if I was able to customer satisfaction one interaction at a time, I was creating a fan of the organization for life.

Creditors can not assist consumers who don’t want to help themselves.  Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.  It is the best way to make improve a seemingly helpless situation.

Have a great week!!

Blogging…Not Blah Blah Blah

Communication is an evolutionary process.  It began as grunts, groans, and pictures drawn in caves, but has evolved into what we see today.  Plastered on billboards, on our phones, on television, in print, everywhere our senses are, there is some form of communication.  Blogging, is a form of communication as well.  Regardless of the medium, communication must be meaningful for the receiver.

I have recently been reading different blogs posted in a variety of different communities, and one thing has struck me.  If the message is not meaningful for the reader, it will not be read. 

Like any form of communication, there is a sender and a receiver.  The sender, must anticipate what their receivers are wanting to see and hear.  However, the sender does not always know and understand their audience.  They assume that the audience is listening, until their perception of their audience goes silent.  When do they go silent?  When all they hear is blah, blah, blah. 

Why do people blog?  For some it is an agenda they are attempting to further; or a product they are talking up; or a service they are selling.  There are a myriad of excellent writers in the blog world, and I know I have only read a handful of their work. Their work inspires my to continue writing with passion and conviction.  I enjoy reading about personal experiences that writers blog about.  I enjoy reading about how people have turned adversity into success, and now are able to provide better for themselves and their families. 

For me, blogging is more therapeutic. It allows me an opportunity to get thoughts out of my head and clears my mind when I have a busy schedule. It is good to know that every now and then, there are tidbits of advice, or information that a reader of my blog can glean. My intent is not to preach, but rather do a defrag of my mind (to put into more technical terms).

Take the time this week to read some one’s blog and provide feedback on what they are writing about.  There will be blogs that you will read that are inspirational, and there will be others that you as the receiver of communication will hear…blah, blah, blah.

Have a great start to the week, and as always, if you have comments, please post them.  I will respond and I do appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings.