Chester On Point

Why Millennials Shouldn’t Mix Social Media with Politics

Two of my five adult children (millennials in their thirties) are avid users of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Even though I’m writing this advice to them, it’s intended for the masses.
Capitalism or Socialism concept

Hey guys – it’s your old man here with some “unsolicited advice.” If you read it without bias, it could really help you. If you don’t, it could hurt you. So indulge me, if you will.

Anyone who visits your Facebook page instantly knows your political views. While I am delighted that you are passionate about the future of this country, your views and opinions could be considered extreme and quite polarizing to many others who are on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum. And you’re probably keen to the fact that everything you post, share, or ‘like’ immediately goes into the great vault of public information in cyberspace where it will be available for anyone and everyone to see. Forever.

Here’s the thing. Actually, two things you need to consider:

1)  Your real friends (people whom you’ve truly spent time with and could recognize across a crowded room) already know your views; in fact, they very likely share those same opinions. That’s because a shared view of the world is often the basis for a friendship. These kinds of friends do not need further convincing; you’re like the minister who’s preaching to the choir.

There is, however, another and probably much larger group of people who will see these posts. In this group are those who may be a casual acquaintance of yours or of a friend; or a friend of a friend of a friend whom you’ve just happened to accept as your Facebook friend. The people in this group may, or may not share your views, and because they don’t know and trust you as a real friend, your posts have little or no influence on their views. Most likely, they’ve already unfollowed your feed.

But there’s even a bigger reason that you need to abandon your political rants, sharing, likes, etc. on Facebook and other social media:

2) Your next boss, or prospective client, or future angel investor in your startup is going to want to know who you are and what you stand for, and you need them much more than they need you. They are going to do their due diligence to determine if you are a person they want to align with. It’s entirely possible that that key individual sees the world quite differently than you and will thus eliminate you from any consideration based upon your views. I’d hate to see that happen.

ON POINT – This is not some imagined or fictional scenario. It happens all the time much more than you may think. I’m a witness to it.

The bottom line is your posts and ‘likes’ aren’t helping to advance your candidate – or your issue – one iota. Zippo. Nada. Unfortunately, broadcasting your political leanings could end up killing the opportunity of a lifetime for you. Is it worth it?

Oh, and by the way.  This advice applies to all millennials. Even those in their fifties.

 

 

 

 

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If Your Best Employee Wins Powerball Tonight, Will They Show up for Work Tomorrow?

$1.5 Billion is a whole lot of loot. An almost unfathomable amount.

It is, by far, the largest jackpot in the history of any Powerball or any type of lottery anywhere on the planet.

While it’s hard to imagine being the winner, try to imagine that the winner turns out to be the top performer on your payroll. Would they give you two weeks notice? Would you ever see them again?

Okay. Let’s scale it back by many multiples.

If they were to win just a paltry $10 million dollars in the lottery, how many of your employees would quit their job?

That’s one of the revealing questions Gallup asks in its annual Work and Education survey. The percentage of Americans saying they would indeed quit after receiving this windfall has ranged from 31 to 44 percent. That means that at any point in time at least a third of your workforce would walk away from their jobs if they didn’t need their paycheck.

There’s little doubt that a paycheck (compensation) has a significant impact on whether or not your people are engaged at work. But if you want more than engaged employees – if you want them to be on fire at work and perform for you like they would if they owned the company – they need more than a paycheck. In fact, they demand six additional factors that, combined with compensation, form the 7 pillars of a great workplace culture:

compensation – money, perks, benefits, and work/life balance

alignment – meaningful work at a company with values that mirror their own

growth – opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers

atmosphere – a workplace that provides a safe, upbeat, enjoyable experience

acknowledgement – feeling appreciated, rewarded, and sometimes even celebrated

autonomy – encouragement to think and act independently and make decisions

communication – being informed about relevant company issues and knowing the company is actively listening to their ideas and wants honest feedback

Great workplace cultures aren’t built on simply paying high salaries. Employees who are in-demand need more to perform at their best and to remain in their jobs.

ON POINT – To ensure that you attract and retain the best possible people in your organization requires that you continually improve your workplace culture across all 7 pillars. So what are you going to do today to make sure that if your best employee wins the lottery – or if they receive an offer for a higher paying job from your competitor – they will stay with you for the foreseeable future?

Remember, money matters, but it’s only 1/7th of the culture formula.

See the video trailer of why I wrote ‘On Fire At Work’ here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coaching Quality Results in a Shortcut-Oriented World

In this new economy, time is the commodity that is the most prized. Seldom do you run into a colleague or associate who is looking for a way to fill some empty or idle time in their day.

Forced to do more with less, time-crunched leaders push their people to find the fast-n-easy solution when they encounter a problem such as an equipment breakdown or a customer service complaint. But the quick fix is seldom the right fix, and the Band-Aid approach to problem solving only lasts as long as the adhesive on the back.

When shortcut solutions become acceptable, employees are programmed to believe that speed trumps quality and cutting corners is the way to get on to the next thing. Even when luck plays its hand and the quick fix remedy is good enough, workers begin to exhibit a shortcut or ‘hack’ mentality. And that can prove hazardous to your organization.

Yes, speed matters. You don’t want the mechanic to take three weeks to complete a brake job on your car. But you don’t want him to finish it in three minutes, either. There’s a monumental difference between working efficiently and expeditiously and doing a rush job.

To establish a workplace culture where your people are driven to find the right solution in a timely manner, follow these three simple rules:

1. Be outcome driven. As Stephen Covey so brilliantly stated as the 2nd of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Your people should know where speed fits in to your organization’s values and what the ultimate objective must be in their daily decision-making process. If you demand quality above all else, let them know that in most all situations, good enough is not good enough when better is possible.

2. Follow up. As you delegate, make sure you consistently circle back to see how problems were solved. Look for teachable moments in both the good and bad situations and rather than give the lesson, ask workers what they’ve discovered through the experience.

3. Reward the process. When your people go out of their way to find and apply creative problem solving techniques, draw attention to it and give appropriate recognition, regardless of whether it led to a successful result. Let your people know that you appreciate them investing themselves in finding the best solutions, for the challenges that your organization faces, not just the quickest or easiest.

In 1776, Lord Chesterfield famously quipped “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”  That quote is as applicable today as it was back then, perhaps even more so. So if you’re tired of seeing the same old problems rear their ugly heads and you’re after sustainable results, coach long-term problem solving strategies.

ON POINT: Assign an ‘A’ thru ‘F’ grading scale to various projects to let your people know which tasks can be rushed and which need to be handled with great care. Whenever quality matters, clearly assign an ‘A’ to the project and remind your people that efficiency is important, but shortcuts are unacceptable.

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Power Up Your Culture by Empowering Your Front Line Service Providers

My appointment was scheduled for 9:50am and I had arrived 5 minutes early.

At 10:20 I was still seated in the waiting area growing more frustrated by the minute.  (Full disclosure: I’m what you might call a “Type A++”).

At 10:16, I was ushered back to the dental chair and was welcomed by the dental assistant who then prepped me for the procedure: a crown on a bottom rear molar.  A few minutes later, Brian, my dentist came in, numbed me up and told me he’d be back shortly after the Novocain took hold.

39 minutes later, Brian returned to find me sitting upright on his stool with steam emanating from my ears. I didn’t have to verbalize my discontent, it was obvious. He kindly thanked me for my patience (something I don’t possess) and then motioned for me to assume the patient’s position back in the R.C.O.P (reclining chair of pain.)

Fully aware that I was not a happy camper, Brian didn’t leave the room again until the procedure was complete.

On my way out, I stopped at the front desk to settle the account and schedule the follow up appointment. Holly, the front desk staffer, had obviously been tipped off to my less-than-perfect service experience. She took care of the transaction and then reached into her drawer and pulled out a $10 gift card to a nearby big box retailer. “You know, Mr. Chester, we like all our patients, but we especially like and value you.” she said. “We know how busy you are and it’s our goal to never keep you waiting. However, this morning we had an emergency when a gentleman showed up with several teeth that were broken off in an accident. Unfortunately, that knocked us off our schedule. Please accept this card with our apologies and a promise that we will try very hard not to delay you again.”

I felt like an idiot for acting self-important. After all, my time is no more valuable than anyone else’s, and things like this happen all the time. Lacking patience is not something to be proud of, but rather a character flaw I need to correct.

But moreover, I left Dr. Brian Levitin’s office feeling valued and important. Holly’s response to me was authentic and sincere, not some rote statement from a policy manual. I credit Brian for empowering his staff to do whatever they feel is necessary to turn a frown upside down. That’s the epitome of a service-based culture.

ON POINT: It’s an imperfect world. We all get trampled out there in the marketplace and, sometimes, our customers get trampled by things we (our systems and processes) do, or fail to do. It’s in those moments where we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the pack by having our front line service providers empowered with the tools, the training, and the autonomy to act without permission.

 

 

 

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When It Comes to a Compelling Workplace Culture, These Nerds Rule!

Just about every company in existence was started by someone (or several people) who saw an opportunity to make money in the marketplace. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

But one company – a high tech software firm based in Minneapolis – was started by three guys (who each self-identify as ‘nerds’) with the singular goal of creating the kind of company where other nerds like them would LOVE to work. As a result of their simple foundational premise, The Nerdery (age 12) has not only become a frequently awarded ‘Best Place to Work’ by the Minneapolis Business Journal and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it’s also a highly profitable firm that Inc. Magazine has listed as one of the fastest growing companies in America.

With locations now open in Chicago, Kansas City, and Phoenix, this is one high-tech company that’s firing on all cylinders. The founders and leaders know very well that their booming growth and tremendous success is tied directly to (1) the quality of the people they attract, (2) their proficiency in getting those people to consistently perform up to and even beyond their potential, and (3) their ability to keep those people on their payroll for as long as possible. In other words, they hire, inspire, and retain more than 500 employees who are on fire at work.

A quick glimpse at this fascinating organization reveals how they’ve tipped the old school model of employment on its ear:

• Each of the more than 500 ‘nerds’ at The Nerdery consider themselves to be Co-Presidents. They even wear that title on their company bracelet.

• At the Nerdery, seniority doesn’t rule supreme. In all cases, the best idea wins, regardless of whose idea it is!

• From Gardening to Chess to Bad Movie Night, there are more than 50 social clubs to join at The Nerdery. Each club was started by one of the nerds who had a passion for that interest outside of work.

• The Nerdery has a resident brewmaster, and they keep 4 kegs on tap all day, every day. And they offer free soft drinks, juices, snacks, cereal, etc. in their always-open employee cafeteria.

• To get hired, it’s not about your age, your college degree, or your work experience; it depends solely on whether or not you can pass the N.A.T. (Nerdery Assessment Test).

• Don’t put Fido in the kennel; bring him with you! The Nerdery is a pet-friendly workplace. And everyone knows that nerds love dogs.

Compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgement, autonomy, and communication. When searching for a company that personifies all 7 pillars of a great workplace culture to conclude my new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out – The Nerdery was a no brainer. (Can you say ‘no brainer’ when you’re talking about 500 brilliant nerds?)

I could go on and on, but instead, follow me on a guided tour of this award-winning workplace culture in this video:

ON POINT – Today’s top workplaces are winning the war for the best talent because they are intentionally focused on being the kind of workplaces that the best talent is intentionally looking for.

 

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How One Engaged Employee Can Create a Multitude of Flag-Waving Customers

It was midnight at the Omni Hotel in Amelia Island about 45 minutes from Jacksonville, Florida. I had just been dropped off by an Uber driver after a 4-hour flight from Denver and I was dog-tired.  I was scheduled to speak for a large conference of 600 C-level executives the next day at this high-end resort and had a 6am AV/sound check with the tech crew.

OMgr“Could your reservation be under another name?” asked Damon, the 20-something hotel employee after not finding a room reserved for Chester on his computer.

“Nope, it’s the only name my parents gave me,” was my somewhat snarky reply. “But since you obviously don’t have one for me, just give me any room you have and charge it to my card. I’ll make sure the group I’m presenting for adds it to their master account tomorrow morning.”

“And what group would that be, Mr. Chester?” Damon asked.

I gave him the client’s name and, after searching through his list of groups staying at the hotel looked up and muttered, “I’m very sorry. But we don’t have that group staying at our hotel.”

I was dumbfounded. There I stood 2,000 miles away from my home in the dead middle of the night, and it was becoming very clear to me that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. How could this possibly be happening? I thought to myself trying to remain calm. I had had this event on my calendar for 4 months! I thought my office had a signed contract for the date and had confirmed all the details.  And to make things worse, I remember that I had turned down another speaking engagement for the 27th several weeks earlier because it conflicted with the travel for this one.

I immediately called my assistant in Denver (now after 10p her time) and engaged her in a ‘highly spirited’ conversation as she searched frantically through her emails to try to find some documentation that would help me understand what had gone awry. Simultaneously, I plopped my laptop on the hotel check in counter and began madly surfing the client’s website for some information pertaining to this event. Within minutes, I found the client’s meeting announcement and suddenly, everything came into focus. I was at the Omni at 12:04 am on September 28th.  The meeting I was scheduled to keynote was being held at this Omni on the 28th…of October.

Damon was standing by watching all of this unfold. Sensing a meltdown on the horizon, he approached me and placed a room key in my hand. “Mr. Chester, this has obviously been a hard day for you. You don’t need a hotel bill to add to your troubles. You’re our guest tonight.” 

This turned out to be the second shock of the night, but in a good way.

You see, Damon didn’t ask me for my driver’s license. He didn’t even ask me for my credit card for incidentals. He simply handed me a key to a very nice room and then added, “I know you’ll have to get to the airport tomorrow to catch a flight. What time would you like a wake up call?”

“Well, I’m going to try to beg my way on to an earlier flight, Damon. And it won’t be easy. So I will need to get out of here around 5am.  It would be great if you’d make sure the phone in my room rings at 4:30am.” 

I warmly thanked him for his hospitality, and headed off to my room.

The wake up call came in 4 1/2 hours later.  I threw on my travel clothes and returned to the lobby of the Omni to see if I could get a cab or an Uber.  There in the lobby was Damon, smiling in front of the desk, waiting to greet me. He gave me a warm “Good Morning, Mr. Chester,” as he walked me out the front doors and into a limousine he had arranged to take me back to the airport. “Didn’t want you to have to incur another expense, Mr. Chester. This ride is on us. Travel safely back to Denver and we’ll see you again in 30 days.”

Astoundingly, Damon did all of this without ever asking permission of his manager or supervisor.

He didn’t have to. Instead, Damon acted as he would have if he owned the Omni.

ON POINT – There’s an immediate hit to your profits when you empower front line employees to make snap decisions like these, and they’re not always going to work to your advantage. That’s why most organizations are so stingy when granting autonomy.

However, when you: 1. train your people well, and then 2. trust them to make important decisions, and then 3. fully support them on those decisions whether they are right or wrong, you will create an army of smart-thinking, dedicated, loyal intrapreneurs.

And those are the kind of front line foot soldiers who can convert a one night stand into a wildly enthusiastic flag-waving customer for life.

Thanks, Damon.

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To Retain Top Young Talent, Stop Dangling Nebulous Carrots!

Carson, the son of a friend of mine, is an MBA whose passion centers on business mergers and acquisitions. Two years ago, Carson accepted a position with an investment bank that offered him an embarrassingly low starting salary that was packaged with the promise that he’d be seeing some nice bonuses as the firm closed large deals. Determined to prove his worth, Carson has worked a minimum of 55 hours each week, has received stellar performance reviews, and has even managed to bring in – and close – several profitable deals for the firm. While Carson highly values the experience he has received, his compensation has remained way under market value, and he has been given only a few small bonuses that aren’t even close to those the partners suggested would augment his small base salary when he was hired.

carrot and stickFrustrated, Carson has approached the firm’s partners about this pay inequity on several occasions, and each time they have placated him with hints of a big payoff in the not-too-distant future. Carson is supporting his wife and young toddler and has asked for specifics so he can plan accordingly. But using ambiguity as their primary tool, the non-committal partners have instead chosen to stall Carson with just sit tight for a while longer promises. What they don’t know (but will soon learn the hard way) is that Carson has interviewed with several competing firms and is preparing to make his exit. His decision to leave is final, and he told me that no matter what his current employer offers to keep him–even if it’s more than where he’s headed–it’s too late. He’s moving on.

One might think that the practice of dangling a nebulous carrot in an attempt to attract talent and motivate high performance would be extinct in the new millennium, but it’s still commonplace. Even the best-intentioned ambiguous promises have no place in the compensation strategy of a great workplace culture.

Here is a simple 3-Point strategy for keeping young talent engaged in a future with your organization:

1. Be Aware: Millennials aren’t buying into the “just keep your head down and your nose to the grindstone and someday good things will happen” mantra that many boomers bought into as young professionals. Today’s top young talent is way too impatient and skeptical. And when it comes to their career, they demand clarity.

2. Be Honest: Tell them what your intentions are for their future, and then follow through on those promises. If you aren’t certain about when they’ll be promoted or how much they’ll see in a raise, it’s far better to say nothing than to hint or suggest that something good is on the horizon. In other words, say what you’ll do for them, then do it.

3. Be Transparent: Just as dangerous as making promises you can’t keep is not making a promise when you can. Surprises are nice, but this is their career; not their birthday. Keep them in the loop when it comes to their future and discuss it with them often. If they need to improve in a specific area before you can promote or raise them, let them know what that is, and then help them achieve those benchmarks so they can grow with you.

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Excerpted from Eric Chester’s new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out – releasing Oct. 20th. PreOrder now and forward a copy of your Amazon receipt to christie@ericchester.com and you’ll receive a link to download Eric’s other 3 bestselling books for FREE! 

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