So It Really Is A Popularity Contest

So It Really Is A Popularity Contest

Good, Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal finally said it…”likability matters more than ever at work.”

Yes, you also need to know your subject matter and be able to perform like a pro, but just that alone is not enough.

If your a card or a jerk, no one wants to know you.

The old Jewish thinking about being a mensch, first and foremost, still holds true.

“Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others, and have mistakes forgiven.”

Employees also track employees likability on social networks and recruit those who can well represent them and make transformative changes.

What contributes to likability:

1. Be Authentic – an ounce of sincerity is worth more than a boatload of of b.s. — people see right through it.

2. Use Positive Cues – eye contact, smiling naturally, and a warm, varying, and enthusiastic tone make you approachable and believable.

3. Show interest in others – selfishness, narcissism, and I, I, I will get you no friends; show genuine interest in the other person–be cognizant of what’s in it for them–give a damn!

4. Listen – 2 ears, 1 mouth; close the mouth and listen to the other person–don’t just hear them, understand them, empathize, feel something!

5. Find common ground – look for shared interests or commonalities; we can all relate to others with whom we can identify.

Short and sweet, treat others as you would want to be treated (Golden Rule) and it doesn’t pay to be a ass! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

So Harry Basil was great at The Laugh Factory.

His costumes, impersonations, and audience involvement in his act was well done.

In the course of about half an hour, Harry spanned the gamut from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Leonardo DiCaprio, Eminem to Michael Jackson, and from Batman to Superman.

He was very animated and played with the people in the audience–so quick, spontaneous, and always in control.

This morning, I took this photo with Harry Basil at Starbucks.

As we started to walk away down the hall, my wife (who is wont not to take the greatest photos) says “Oh, I don’t think the picture came out, it was too close.”

And as we were going to start bickering, it was so funny…Harry pops up right behind us, and goes “Was it too close–let’s take it again.”

Another thing that happened that was interesting at The Laugh Factory, was when we were about to be seated, I said sincerely to the host “How are you doing this evening? Happy holidays!”

He goes to me, “No one ever asks me that. You know what? I’m going to give you seats right up by the front,” and he did.

It was a lesson for all of us about talking and treating people nicely–what goes around, comes around. 😉

Helping Employees Find The Right Job Fit

I have a new article in Public CIO Magazine (August 2011) on the topic of how to handle poorly performing employees.

Finding the right candidate for a job is much like finding a spouse — it requires the right chemistry. There’s a critical difference between having great qualifications and being the right person for a particular job, which is a concept that organizational behavior specialist refer to as ‘person-job fit.'”

When you see employees struggling, try to bring them up to speed in every possible way. If that doesn’t work, help them find a better position to continue their path of professional and personal development.”

Read the rest of the article at Government Technology.
(Source Photo: here)

>The Search For Servant Leadership in A Chilean Mine

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The Search For Servant Leadership in A Chilean Mine

I’ve been following the story this week about the 33 miners trapped half a mile below the surface in the collapsed mine in Chile.

The story of the miners survival is incredible, but so too are the implications of corporate greed and the neglect of the workers safety and how we treat people as objects rather than human beings.

33 people are stuck in a space approximately 500 square feet for 18 days until a 2.3 inch drill hole was used to discover their whereabouts this week.

The miners had lost on average 22 pounds each and were on rationed peaches, milk, tuna, and crackers every other day.

The pictures of the miners and the notes of love and hope that emerged from below the earth’s crust were truly inspiring, despite the way that they got trapped to begin with.

Yet, the miners now have to wait approximately 4 months for a rescue tunnel 26 inches wide to be completed to pull them to safety.

The fear, panic and duress of being trapped 2300 feet down in 95-degree heat in close quarters for so long is something government officials, psychologists, and family members are very concerned about. They have even reached out to NASA to help them deal with the effects of the prolonged isolation.

Amazingly, when we think about how technology could help in this situation, it is not necessarily a “super-duper” drill able to dig them out in hours or minutes that is the focus here or a transporter able to beam the miners up the surface in seconds, but rather a simple tool like a ladder placed near the ventilation shaft (as was supposed to have been for safety purposes) would have enabled the miners to escape to the surface.

Now instead of the mining company having done the right thing for its workers to begin with, they are now facing a lawsuit from the families of the trapped miners and potentially bankruptcy.

This situation is reminiscent of other companies that put their profits before their workers, like we saw recently with BP that didn’t have a simple safety shut-off valve on the leaking oil well, and now they are funding a $20 billion escrow account to settle claims from the Gulf Coast oil disaster.

Plain and simple, it does not pay to skimp on worker safety.

More than that, people are not only our most important asset—as has become cliché to say, but the whole point of our interactions at work is to treat each other right.

Of course, we need and want to be productive, to improve things, to reengineer business processes, enable them with new technologies, and leave the world better from our work, but to me the true test for us as human beings is to make these contributions to our organizations and missions and at the same time not lose our basic humanity.

If the cost of an improvement or promotion is some very real bodies that we must climb over to get there, then I say we are failing the true test before us.

We can make the same gains and more by treating people with kindness and compassion—the way we would want to be treated.

Let’s not deny anyone a ladder or safety valve or even in the smallest ways mistreat our employees.

The test of leadership is how we treat people in accomplishing our goals, and the long-term effects to us from our behavior in this regard are greater than any short-term technology or process improvements we can make by dehumanizing ourselves and hurting others.

>Five Ways To Motivate Employees With Meaning

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By Andy Blumenthal
(Published in Information Management)


Employees need to be motivated to perform. No, not just with money, and not even with a pat of the back (although both can go a long way to demonstrate appreciation for a job well done).

People need to know that their efforts have meaning and effect—i.e. that they are not in vain. This can have some of the biggest impact of all on motivating behavior, because people inherently want to be productive human beings and for their life to have some ultimate significance. This concept was best portrayed by Victor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor who wrote In Search of Meaning, and it is the basis of logotherapy, which has been shown to help sufferers of terminal illnesses better cope with the remainder of their lives.

When people at work feel that they have no chance to succeed, they may cease to find meaning in their efforts. This can lead them to decrease their engagement at work instead of going all out to prove themselves. As the Wall Street Journal noted in a recent article, this is what happens when golfers compete with extremely superior rivals like Tiger Woods, and they just “cave.”

Why this de-motivational reaction from people who care about doing their best?

From an IT perspective, this is like an Integrated Definition Function Model (IDEF 0) that examines input, process, output, and outcome: When loss is viewed as a predestined outcome, the process is seen as meaningless, and the input therefore as wasted. In the face of meaninglessness, people recoil to save their energy for something they feel that they can really have a shot at, rather than invest in something that they see as going nowhere.

If the above is true, then, why do some people “fight to the death” when their “backs are against the wall”?

My grandfather used to say, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Some people are able to confront what seem like insurmountable obstacles, and fight their way forward anyway.

This is the core theme of the “Rocky” character and the incredible success of the movie series. In every movie, Rocky represents the determination to succeed against all odds.

I believe that the essence of life is the search for an opportunity to make a meaningful difference, and when one is able to make a difference, that is inherently motivating. (And so of course, the opposite is true.)

So if you are a leader, and your employees are demoralized, how can you engage them so that they feel like their work makes a real and significant difference? Here are ways that work:

  • Visualize the end-state: Articulate for people a compelling vision and a clear set of goals as well as why they are important.
  • Take an incremental approach: Show people an incremental path forward; small wins can add up to big success.
  • Focus on the customer: Look together at positive downstream effects of their work on their customers (and other stakeholders).
  • Make use of their work products: No one wants to build “shelfware.” Demonstrate that you really do appreciate their efforts by actually using the work they generate.
  • Be a mensch: Treat people according to the Golden Rule; for example, it’s really a small thing to say “please,” “thank you,” ad even an occasional “how are you today?” By treating people with respect, you show that they are valued personally and professionally.

As a leader, what better way to motivate and drive personal and organizational success then to provide genuine opportunity to contribute of ourselves in a meaningful way, in a way where our efforts have an impact, are valued and valuable, and where everyone can succeed.